I Used To Travel Around in a Van and Play Music

While Kelly was pregnant with Dylan it seemed the question people asked most was “Are you scared about becoming a parent?” I could always answer easily with a swift “Nope!” I’m  really proud that I’ve walked into fatherhood feeling so confident, but, that’s not to say I didn’t sit in deep thought many times over the pregnancy and wonder how having a baby would affect my music career, especially during such a huge transition. I spent ten years building something successful out of Five Times August and I could just as well keep going with it, but, my gut says it’s time to expand my talents and try new things under a rebranding. But man, to start from the ground up all over again, at THIS point in my life?? What kind of musician does that?? Especially during this economy! Well, apparently me, I do.

Over the years I’ve seen several friends gracefully bow out of their musical aspirations upon having a baby. I certainly don’t blame them, there’s a lot of pressure at that time to come back down to earth and get one of those “real” jobs. If it’s tough making it before the kid it certainly isn’t going to be any easier once they arrive. When we found out we were pregnant I didn’t even really have a new direction yet, just scattered songs in a bunch of styles, trying to find myself musically again. I was worried that this would be the culmination of ten years “doing the music thing” and those new songs I had would eventually just dissipate after losing myself in parenting. I began to have visions of myself at 40 walking in on my son’s first garage band telling stories of “You know guys, I used to travel around in a van and play music,” trying to sound cool and hip but ultimately getting sighs of embarrassment. “Daaaad… come oooon… get out of here!” I don’t want to be that guy, I can’t be that guy. Not to say my son won’t be embarrassed by me at some point in his life, that happens to even the best of parents. I would just rather embarrass my son with stories along the lines of “You know, when I won my first Grammy…”

Yeah, maybe the Grammy thing is shooting high, but you have to think like that. That’s what makes us dreamers. Not only that,  you have to be confident that dreams can come true if you are seriously working at it. Whether you are an actor, singer, dancer, you almost have to have a certain amount of personal arrogance deep inside you to help push through it all. Do I think I could actually win a Grammy one day? Hell yes. Can I start an entire music career over and do it even better than I did the first time around while raising a new baby? I can and I will. I think that’s where fear subsided for me by the time Dylan arrived. I realized I am perfectly capable of living a dream, I’ve done it for ten years already and have been extremely fortunate to do it with my best friend and wife. We just get to bring the baby along for the ride now, that’s the only difference.

I think one of the major reasons I had any doubt to begin with was that I never felt like making music was my job until this very year. It dawned on me that one day people were going to be asking my child “What does your daddy do for living?” and he will inevitably answer in basic fashion “He sings and plays guitar.” It’s only taken me ten years to realize this is what I do. I’m sure the “job” title of it all has been masked by the fact that I love what I do. I also think most people do not acknowledge being a songwriter or musician as a real job. If you are a fledgling artist of any kind you’ve undoubtedly heard somebody along the way ask “Don’t you think it’s time for you to get a REAL job?” That sort of thing rubbed off on me for many years. I always felt like I was an aspiring amateur and never noticed the point of becoming professional. It didn’t matter what I had accomplished, it was all irrelevant. The mind game is that to the average person, if they don’t know who you are then you aren’t anybody to them, and when you are trying to be somebody, well, you feel like nobody.  It finally caught up to me that it didn’t matter who knew me or didn’t, I’m somehow doing it and that speaks for itself.

I guess what I’ve come to conclude is that if you have high hopes and aspirations for yourself in whatever skill, activity, hobby it may be and you aren’t quite where you want to be by the time you have a baby you can use them as inspiration to keep going instead of calling it a day. Maybe that sounds easier than it actually is, everybody is different. But, my advice is to try your best not to let anything stop you, not even the biggest life altering event of your life! It will be worth it when you succeed. You’ll be able to tell your child they can do whatever they want and be whoever they want to be in life and truly mean it because that’s exactly what you did.

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5 thoughts on “I Used To Travel Around in a Van and Play Music

  1. nick noe says:

    Truly inspiring post.

  2. Amanda P says:

    I love this! I have a 13 month old and am 6 months pregnant with our second child. I am also a full time student because I took a break from college to figure out what I really wanted to do and live in Haiti. Some people think I’m crazy but I know what I want and I’m going for it! I love your music, and obviously so do many others, so please don’t stop working 🙂

  3. Jessica White says:

    Hi there!

    Congratulations on having Dylan! I’m so happy for you and Kelly. I actually have a question mostly regarding the title of this particular blog. My boyfriend and I are planning a once in a lifetime, “yay we are finished with our undergrad degree” road trip along either the east or west coast. We live in WI so its almost in the middle. Since both you and Kelly have spent so much time on the road, do you have any suggestions for saving money, food, keeping our sanity… Etc? Thanks so much! Still loving your music since day one when I discovered it 🙂

    • Hi Jessica thanks for reading. Kelly and I have become pros at living a thrifty/happy life on the road, I have a few tips for sure.

      1. ALWAYS get kid meals when stopping for fast food. It’s a few bucks cheaper and will actually satisfy you more than you think (and you usually get a toy! hehe). But really, you’ll most likely be eating a lot of fast food and as I’ve experienced myself, it can really start to take it’s toll on your body if it’s one burger joint after another. Getting a kids meal will not only save you money but will encourage eating less of a bad thing than more. On the healthier side, keep an eye out for farmers markets. Also, you’ll save money on the first few days if you pack your own snacks and sandwiches.

      2. Look up free tours and attractions online. When you have your route planned do a little research and you’ll find there are plenty of free/cheap things to do everywhere. Caverns, parks, beaches, outdoorsy stuff. Small towns usually have a museum of some kind that’s based on donations. These small nuggets of entertainment will help you save money for bigger/ more commercial attractions you may want to see that are more expensive.

      3. Let yourself go a little insane, it’s all part of the experience. Make up stupid games to play in the car, make up stories, be creative, play music loud, roll down the windows when it’s nice. You’ll find something very liberating about putting your head out the window and yelling “SCHOOLS OUT!!! YEA!!!

      There’s a few tips for you,hope it helps a little!

  4. C. Estes says:

    link me some of Bradley James’s music plz, thanx

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