You know those girls who have their wedding planned by age 8? The ones that have a binder/scrapbook/thingy, full of ideas and magazine cut-outs, that weighs more than an elephant? The girls that buy every wedding magazine for $7.00 at the grocery store and have been "pintresting" their engagement ring for years upon years? Well...I applaud these women...because they know what they are doing, while I, on the other hand, have no clue.
I have never been that wide-eyed, 8-year-old-wedding planner. In fact, I never even really wanted a wedding dress because it just seems illogical to me that people spend thousands of dollars on a dress they'll never wear again. (Where are my logical thinkers at--please tell me I am not alone in this! It makes no sense!) And not only do you wear the dress one time, but you also spend upwards of $20,000 for ONE PARTY. (The average wedding in America, according to costofwedding.com, costs $25,000) AHHHH My logical mind gets stressed out even thinking about it! So much so, that I even toyed with the idea of just eloping and putting the money my parents told me I could spend straight into the savings account. But, alas, my mom convinced me with the line, "You only get married once!" and now I'm planning a wedding, with a wedding dress, and a pintrest board….so here we are.
The first thing I did when I knew I would have a wedding to plan was contact my cousin and Maid of Honor, Jeana. I've seen her adding to her wedding pintrest for a while, so I figured she knew what was up-- and I was right! The first thing she asked me was, "What are your colors?" I immediately welled up with pride because I knew the answer to this. The venue is decorated in purple and green, so naturally I responded, "I am going to have purple and green as my colors!" She responded, "What shade of purple?” Uh oh.This threw my pride for a loop because I didn't think far enough to the exact shade. After many arduous assessments, I determined that the venue's shade of purple was more of a mulberry. But then, it was hard to find mulberry bridesmaids dresses...so I expanded my horizons to other hues. After experiencing a real-life 50 Shades of Purple, I settled on plum. And that only took me about a month to figure out.
After breathing a sigh of relief that the shade of purple was taken care of, I started moving on to other things- like the wedding dress! Of course the only decision I made with the dress was that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I had not adequately prepared for all the possible options. When I got to the bridal boutique, they asked “What kind of dress are you looking for?” and I expertly said, “Um…white?” Luckily after trying on a few different styles, I narrowed down my options and ended up with a great and cheapish dress (well, except for the alterations I have to get done…which actually knocks it out of the cheap category-can we talk about how they never have wedding dresses in your exact size?! Someone blog about that...).
I still have many innocuous things to get done on my to-do list, such as flowers for the bridesmaids and what candle package I should get, but there are also other things on my to-do list, like, “buy a house.” So while I am 50 shades of purple trying to juggle booking my shows for the year, writing new songs, rehearsing with my band, working at my day job, and teaching voice lessons, I still try to find time for this wedding madness. Maybe soon I will find flowers for the bridesmaids...who knows what tomorrow will bring?!
Me and the family, saying "Yes to the Dress"
I've gotten to the age where all people ask when they meet me is, "What do you do for a living?" (If you're not at this age yet, just stop aging.) I'm pretty sure it hasn't always been like that. When I met new friends in Kindergarten, they didn't ask me what I did for a living. It was probably more along the lines of "Which Power Ranger is your favorite?" Or, "Which Ninja Turtle would win in a fight?" (Apparently we watched a lot of fighting shows in the Kindergarten days!) But now that I'm older, I kind of wish people would just ask me which Power Ranger is my favorite. (Pink, duh).
And maybe it's just me, but when I hear the question "So what do you do for a living?" I actually hear the words, "How much money do you make? Are you important? Are we on the same level?" And frankly, I'm over it. I've yet to have a job that defined who I am. While I've been in the midst of all my musical pursuits, my answer to this daunting question has been, "I'm a waitress. Barista. Front Desk at a Hotel. Nanny." And even in the seasons of my life when my answer has been, "Musician, Actor," I'm still over it, because even then I have to expound by rattling off my resume or what I've done that proves or impresses.
But the thing is, I never wanted to impress anyone to begin with. I'd rather just skip to the part where they tell me about their boyfriend, or the struggles they've dealt with recently, so that we can actually get to know each other. And maybe you have a job that you love and that's great! I applaud you, because I have not met many people like that! But, I think there's more to us than our jobs. It's our passions and interests that make us unique, or even more alike than we know! But we'll never know if all we do is talk about our jobs all day long.
My dad gave me a book a few years back called, "How To Talk To Anyone" by Leil Lowndes. In one of the chapters, Lowndes discusses how to approach someone. He says you don't approach someone by asking what they do for a living but rather by asking someone how they spend their time. This gives them room to say, "I'm an avid skier, so I spend a lot of my time skiing with my family!" And how much more interesting is that than talking about your 9 to 5 and 401 K's?! Then maybe you'll have skiing in common and can discuss all the best places to ski--maybe one day you'll go on a ski trip together! Who knows!? (This fake conversation I just made up is going really well!)
So for 2015, I propose this: let's stop asking people what they do for a living, and start asking people their interests or what they're passionate about. Then maybe we'll start our relationships with a deeper connection and live life more meaningfully, one conversation at a time.
Our band has been in the midst of some transitions lately. We are looking for a guitar player and a bass player, and while we are doing that I thought we would take it slow on shows until every spot was filled. However, an opportunity came up for us to open for Old Dominion in Atlanta on Jan 21. Old Dominion is rising to the top very quickly, claiming a spot on the Kenny Chesney tour this year, so I knew this was an opportunity we did not want to miss out on. Since all my effort in 2015 has been put towards this show (and wedding planning), I thought it was only fitting to explain everything that goes into putting on a show when you're an indie artist.
Step One: Confirm the show.
Once we were told that Old Dominion did, in fact, want us to open for them, I had to send out a text to people that are currently in my band to make sure they could get off of work. Some people could not make it on a Wednesday, so I had to quickly fill their spot with brand new people. I hired a lead guitar player, fiddle player, and bass player just for this show. It was stressful trying to find the best people to do the job on semi-short notice but I think we're gonna pull it off!
Step Two: Make Sure People Come.
The scary part about playing a show, especially on a Wednesday night, is that you are not positive who will actually be there! So, you have to do your best to promote the show. Luckily the venue helps out in that way and puts your poster up around town. Here is the poster we created:
We also created a Facebook event for this show in hopes that people will commit to attending.
Step Three: Decide the Songs
Once all that was taken care of, I sat down and figured out what songs we were going to play. It's tougher with all new people in the band, because we are starting from scratch on what they know. Also, I took into account that Old Dominion is a Country Rock group, so I wanted our set to be upbeat to match their energy. Once I picked the songs, I had to make sure I had chord charts for all the musicians and compile mp3's for them to listen to so they could learn them easily.
Step Four: Rehearse
Next step, once everyone has their music, is to actually rehearse the music together! We have not rehearsed yet, but I am planning on having 3 rehearsals before the day of the show. We will decide on who gets what solos (it's always a fight between the lead guitar and fiddle!) and even what instruments we are playing! I play piano and guitar, so I'll have to decide which instrument sounds best based on the sound of the band, or if I can just sing and not play anything at all!
Step Five: Get to the Show and Perform It.
Then, the last step, is to perform the show. This part makes all the other steps worth it-- unless of course you have a miserable experience with the sound engineers or break your guitar or any number of other things that usually go wrong--but when the performance actually goes right, it's worth all the struggle.
So, now that you know how much effort goes into just one show- maybe you'll be inclined to come out and see all of our hardwork! Hope to see you Jan 21--and if you're not in Atlanta, I'll keep you posted on our future tour dates.
The Erica Bryan Band recently released a cover video of one of our favorite songs, "Cardiac Arrest." At first, you look at the video and think, oh that's nice, they are singing and playing a song and someone is filming it. But, there is so much work that goes into making one simple cover video that I feel needs to be recognized!
This project started in August. We recorded the song at Starstruck Studios in Nashville and had our friends Hunt and Jonathan engineer it. It took about 6 hours total to record this one song because we had to set up all the cables, equipment, instruments, etc up. (usually that's set up in advance for a session, but this was a little spur-of-the-moment!)
Then, we sent the song to our mixing engineer, Jonathan (a different Jonathan), to do a preliminary mix, so that we could have something accurate to film to.
Once we got the first mix in September, we recorded the video. Our original Videographer was unavailable to do the actual filming that day, so our friend Cody stepped in and shot the video. (Cody is now the Director of Video Production at Warner Music Nashville...so basically we ended up having a ballin Videographer)
We recorded the video on the roof of Starstruck Studios in a hallway. It was the middle of September, so we thought it would be a nice fall day, but it ended up being 85 degrees. We were all sweaty and ready to get the filming over with, but luckily it only took about 5 takes for all the different angles. Once the filming was done, we had to wait for the song to be completely mixed so that our video editor, Skylar, could edit the video to the correct version of the song.
In about Oct, we got the final mix and sent all the files over to Skylar. Skylar finished the editing in November, which was too close to Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we decided to hold the release of the video until January.
Who knew it would take 4 months to complete this project of a "simple" cover video?! But, I'm glad we got it finished and could share it with you all. Enjoy!
For my own Christmas present, I made myself an Apple iPhoto book with pictures from my first year as a touring artist. It's fun to think back on the highlights of the year and how far you can go in only 365 days.
Here are some of the highlights of the year!
First show of the year at Bongo After Hours Theatre in Nashville, and my first time ever playing guitar in public! EEEE! That was a scary time.
My first song to ever be released on iTunes!
My first radio interview and performance on East Nashville Radio
My first music video of an original song!
Headlining a show at my Alma Mater, where I used to watch other Nashville artists come and perform!
The first time Kelly Clarkson ever watched my music video!
My first Writer's Round.
My first (and last) engagement.
Looking back, it's very evident that this year was a lot of first's. I spent a lot of time preparing in advance for these first's, and I'm so happy that I've accomplished so much this year. But, I know I'm not done. It's only the beginning, and I have a lot more work to do. So here's to 2015, the year of making seconds instead of firsts!
Sometimes I think I'm crazy. But sometimes, I think I know exactly what I'm doing.