"Working on the road as a touring musician has taught me much with the most important being resilience." - Sally Jane

Posted: January 11, 2024
There is a lot to constantly think about and plan before you even get to the next gig. But traveling with a trusted companion makes life a lot easier.
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G’day Guitar Thills Readers, I’m Sally Jane, a country music singer/songwriter from Western Australia and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to chat with you guys. While I’m driving around Australia collecting articles, I thought for my first story I would tell you a bit about myself and talk about life on the road in Australia from a touring musicians’ perspective.

Firstly, about me: I have been practicing guitar since I was twelve years old and performing on stages from fifteen. I was always singing, and my parents would send me to the back of the paddock to sing my heart out. I’ve come a long way since those days where I'm now regularly performing across Australia, driving from town to town towing a small van. I graduated from the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) Junior and Senior Academies (2017 & 2020) where there is now an exchange program with Sister City Nashville USA.

Over the last few years, I have received many accolades for my songs including my first number one on Australian Regional Radio Charts with ‘Kiss You When The Rain Comes’ and a semifinalist nomination with ‘No Time’ for the Unsigned Only Competition. I’ve performed on stages across Australia supporting some of Australia’s biggest country names including Kasey Chambers, Graeme Connors, and Adam Brand. I’m fortunate to be supported by some incredible Australian and International companies through sponsorship including Thomas Cook Boot & Clothing Co, Wrangler Western Australia, Audio Technical and Takamine Guitars through Pro Music Australia.

As a veteran’s daughter I am a proud supporter of our Veterans where I’ve had the opportunity to sing our National Anthem at ANZAC Day services in my home state’s War Memorial as well as delivering live music in many Returned Service League clubs (RSL’s) across Australia. I also look forward to returning to the recording and release more original music soon.

Currently I am touring across Australia through 5 states with my Dad (Roadie/Manager/Chauffeur and sometimes Bouncer) to perform at the Tamworth Country Music Festival which is Australia’s and the Southern Hemisphere’s LARGEST music festival. 10 days straight of live country music in every pub, shopping centre and streets filled with live music.

Western Australia is the biggest state 2,527,013 square kilometres (975,685 sq mi) and I have had the opportunity to travel most of it to perform my music. The ‘Just Down The Road’ Tour got its name as we have traveled so extensively the past few years everything seems “just down the road” now which is an old Aussie saying Just down the road mate”. Starting in the WA Goldfields with shows in Boulder, Menzies and Kambalda we then hit the Nullarbor an isolated highway through the outback with Kangaroos, Camels and Wombats adding to the hazards of crossing a hot dry continent.

Life on the road is different each day. You never know when you’re going to blow a tire, get stuck in an out of season flash flood or break a guitar G string on stage. I have experienced all three in the past year, with the last one several times... embarrassing. Working on the road as a touring musician has taught me much with the most important being resilience, patience with a go with the flow attitude and to experience as much as you can and overcome all obstacles.

As well as the good times there are challenges with road touring. From making enough bookings to pay for fuel to balancing the groceries to ensure we meet quarantine requirements at border crossings, where are we going to camp the night if plans change (which it does regularly). There is a lot to constantly think about and plan before you even get to the next gig. But traveling with a trusted companion makes life a lot easier. We bounce ideas off each other and while we’re driving, we have business meetings in the truck. Learning how to adapt in different situations outside of your comfort zone is a challenge but a great life skill. Even writing this piece reminding myself to not write to Australian (just yet), I need to remember it’s not a ‘cute’, for you guys it’s a pickup truck, right must do an Aussie slang glossary for future.

For any muso wanting to start touring here are some of my top tips.

- If possible, travel with someone you trust to support you. It is a hard slog living on the road and as much as I love it, there are plenty of challenges it’s nice to have someone to lean on when you need it.

- Plan ahead. From your gear check list to a weekly meal plan it’s great to ditch unnecessary stress before you head off. Contact and book venues with plenty of notice and don’t feel rejected if they don’t respond or say no. It is just a business decision not a personal attack. We sent about 150 emails to one state for my latest tour and only 3 replied but they have rebooked and referred me to other venues so next interstate tour will be bigger.

- If you know the local musos in the area you are traveling to, don’t be shy to contact them. I like to ask local charge rates so you’re not undercutting them or out pricing yourself.

- Touring is a great experience and an opportunity to collect material for the next song, keep a journal.

- Most importantly enjoy the experience of performing, traveling, and living on the road sharing music.

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