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  • Writer's pictureTommy John Ehman

"ROAD BAND 101" New Single!

Tommy John Ehman – “Road Band 101” - The Story

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It was a tremendous time to be a musician. There were literally hundreds of bars, nightclubs and caberets across western Canada that had “live music” every night of the week, even Sunday in some of them. And they were busy; every night; two-stepping, line dancing, dance lessons, ladies nights, Saturday afternoon jam sessions, drink specials, contests, bar fights, cops, arrests, hook-ups, rowdy drunks, flashers and dashers, all while the “Road Band” played their hearts out, night, after night, after night, after night.

It was the fall of 1988 when I decided to “hit the road hard, in a 4 piece band” and chase a musical dream and attempt to feed my insatiable appetite for singing and music. When I started, I really didn't know what I was in for. I'd been playing in weekend bands for a few years but it was nothing like what was to come, quickly and with a vengeance. But I was young, free of responsibility, full of confidence and ready to be A STAR!

Then you find out fairly quickly that it's not really as glamorous as you think it's going to be. It's hard. There's pressure to perform at your best every night, all night, 4 and sometimes 5 sets from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am. It's hot, it's smokey, people are drunk and belligerent and the manager is telling you to turn it up, turn it down, don't play that song, play these songs, your sound sucks, we can't hear the singer, the guitar, etc etc etc. It can beat you up, tear you down and completely and utterly tire you out.

But then there's the music. Ah THE MUSIC. That's what keeps you motivated. And the travelling, the band guys, the stage, the lights, the sound, the crowds that loves you, the late nights, the free drinks and of course to the young single musicians, the guys & the Girls. These are the “benefits” that made it all worth while and could override any of the negative parts of the job.

Some bands lasted for years. Others only a short time. It was definitely not for the faint of heart. In my first 'tour of duty' on the road in a band called Midnight Highway, I braved about 3 and 1/2 years from the fall of '88 to December 31st 1991. I was completely burned out. I weighed under 130 pounds, was gaunt and white as a ghost. (so I was told Haha)

It was an amazing run but I was way WAY overdue for a rest. I felt like I'd been everywhere in western Canada and could drive almost anywhere without the aid of a map. I sang hundreds of cover songs and wrote hundreds of original songs. I still have an overwhelming amount of memories from those early days on the road, some good, some bad, but all part of a musical journey that I wouldn't change for anything in the world.

Would I do it all over again? I guess the answer is (and was) yes!

After some rest and recuperation and a three year stint with a busy weekend band I once again ventured back out on the road for another 5 year run; but with necessary rest breaks between shows, much smarter eating habits, an exercise routine and far more attention to an overall healthier lifestyle.

Some might say I was a sucker for punishment, haha, but no, I was a sucker for MUSIC!


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