21 One-Man Band Tour Tips

Past One Day One Wheel Tours were a test of musical endurance. People from both sides of the street were left in my wake and treated to either a community service or an aural attack on their lives. A park tour with specified start and end times, and an invitation for fans to come and join the charade is something… different. Playing a park is a musical performance. I am not just riding/playing by someone walking their dog. I’m doing circles around lovers on a picnic endlessly for an hour. The presence of the music-making is nonstop and experienced for longer. The test of musical endurance has switched sides. We flipped.

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One-man band tours are no walk in the park, though literally they could be. You're not in a van with a band cruising to your next venue. You’re not on a house tour with your eye-candy boyfriend. And you’re not on a cruise ship playing with the house band by a pool. You’re on the street playing for food. In this case we’re on a unicycle, in a park. And we have instruments strapped to your body, head to toe. Don’t forget the clown bells jingling against the left breast. This is the cacophonous sound of circus music made by the Scream for Help! Park Tour. In route, and recovering from falls, I learned things about one-man band tours. Not a lot of things, because it was too damn hot and half the time I was discombobulated and seeing double. But some things were learned. Here is the ballyhoo: 21 one-man band tips to tour by.

  1. Focus on the hocus pocus of the music. Everything else should take a back seat, or be tied to the bumper.

  2. Arrange your fit-for-no-instrument music to fit the range of your collection of instruments. No one will know but you, if you keep your mouth shut.

  3. Tune your instruments if there’s time, not for the hell of it. Tuning is for stuffy orchestras. #Apitch

  4. If you’re on unicycle or stilts, run people over. You’re on a musical mission and can’t be stopped.

  5. Bring water. Unless you want to overheat and pass out mid-tour, leaving yourself open to robbery or dog pee in the eye.

  6. Play with knives. You’re the security guard. Protect your instruments, tip can and music-making ass. Lurkers are everywhere.

  7. Confetti cannons are a waste. Don’t blow your wad and don’t throw candy. You’re not Miss Dairy Days in a parade. #wastenot

  8. If homeless people pass by, make friends and pick their brain. They’re pros at shaking people down for poppy seed.

  9. If you’re feeling extra bold, rattle some rhinestones and busk the local golf course. They’ll pay you to leave. Say it with me, lunch money. #golfsucks

  10. Busking for one hour is pointless. Spend the day/night. Pack a pint. Put in the time and wear people down. They’ll break and dollar bills will fall out. #getpaid

  11. Snap pics with kids and give them a sticker or kazoo, then tell dad, “That will be a cool $20.” #itsahustle

  12. Take calls between sets and songs, or fake it. People will think you’re in demand. Use a flip phone to keep it creepy. #callme

  13. Stay in fighting form. If you need to take a break, but don’t want to appear out of shape, then run in to a car on your unicycle or fake a cramp.

  14. Stop and fight hecklers, you have music to defend. Unless you're grossly outnumbered. Then hit-and-run. Live to make music another day.

  15. If people see you and scream, pat yourself on the back. The musical spell is working.

  16. Busking is a pennies game. Play the biggest crowds at the busiest times for the most bang for your buck. #hustlesmarter

  17. Memorize a long set list. Accosting people with song-repeats is worse than assault with a deadly weapon. #savelives

  18. Instruments are the camel’s hump. Play them loud and proud. But don’t forget your natural instruments: whistle, yodel, snap, gargle, flatulate.

  19. Treat every tour stop like a job and people will tip like it. Fart off and you’ll be hired to clean porta potties. #workit

  20. Post tour blues are real. One week after your tour they’ll show up at your doorstep with razor blades and rope in-hand. You’ve been warned. #SuicideWatch

  21. Rehearse, rehearse, improvise, improvise. obsess over every detail, then forget about it and break a leg. Ride out in front of a car. #nopainnogain

Will I do another park tour? Probably not. But if I did I would try to break a leg while attempting to play my natural instruments.

Note: If anyone is injured or maimed during their one-man band tour, don’t blame me. This is merely a community service. Tour at your own risk and risk to others.

-Samson