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Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, January 18, 2008, Music

The Musician's Guide to the Road: A Survival Handbook & All-Access Backstage Pass to Touring

by Susan Voelz
Billboard Books, 272 pp., $16.95

Musicians have written about life on the road since before paved highways, but none has gone into how it's done. Susan Voelz, violinist for Poi Dog Pondering and Alejandro Escovedo, takes what started out as a 10-page "pocket handbook" and expands it into a primer for those starting out and a readable glimpse backstage for the rest of us. It's incredibly basic in spots, Voelz taking three pages to list the contents of a first aid kit, but she spices things up with anecdotes and quotes from friends, bandmates, and experts like KGSR's Jody Denberg, Jon Dee Graham, booking agent Brad Madison, and Abra Moore on everything from night driving to radio interviews, load-in to afterparty. Voelz includes examples of stage plots and a variety of contracts to use in keeping the business side of a tour in order, at the same time offering ideas on how to kill time between actual performances with a plucky "been there, done that" spirit. Advice on road relationships and how to ease back into life off it are also included. It's not all sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but Voelz's insight is valuable and entertaining.

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