Quit Your Whining – One Year Anniversary
one year ago…
one year ago i had just begun a great big adventure. i’d gotten my bachelors degree in music production that june, but rather than trying to find a job in some studio working for other people on other people’s music i decided to go see if i could get by, making my own music, and nothing but my own music. no compromises. the fastest way to make money playing your own music is by playing on the street, especially if no one knows who you are. one year ago, not many people knew who i am. so off i went.
i left my home in austria on september 21st 2010 to go traveling from vancouver, canada down, along the west coast of north america. on monday, october 4th i left my friend derek (aka impakt who you may know from our song the last stand) on vancouver island to catch a ferry from sydney to anacortes, washington. after a few hours on the bus from victoria to sydney, i arrived at the ferry station there to find that i hadn’t read the schedule properly and had missed the only ferry that left that day. for lack of anything better to do, i walked through the lightly drizzling rain to the closest supermarket to get some traveling food: nuts, granola and apples. i sat outside the supermarket on a bench for a minute and realized that this place united two things that tend to be separate in big north american cities. 1, there was a lot of foot traffic and 2, no cars racing by, since it was a parking lot. this is the ideal habitat for a street musician. i pulled out my ukulele and played for 2 or 3 hours before getting back on the bus to derek’s where i could spend another night and try to catch the ferry again the next day. i was very happy to find that i’d made enough money to eat for a week or more.
the next day i got to the ferry on time. i dropped my stuff on a bench and wandered around the deck checking out the scenery. in the back of the boat i saw a girl who also had a big backpack and so we started talking. her name was audrey. she was from france, and she had the same plan as me which was to hitchhike from the landing station all the way down to seattle. we call this synchronicity. as we were standing on the rear deck chatting i was played the uku like i so often am while she was juggling. suddenly she remembered the digital recorder that she had recently acquired and asked whether she could record me playing a song and film it too.
so there i was, i had just left the last bit on known territory behind, and was on a boat, crossing international boarders with a nice french girl and the cloudy drizzle that i had endured in front of the supermarket the day before had given way to sun and blue skies as far as the eye could see. naturally i deciding to play ‘quit your whining’, a song i’d written that summer while riding my skateboard along the river on my way to work (playing the ukulele in the city center of salzburg, austria) about how awesome life is when you realize how awesome life is.
i had finally managed to throw myself out of the nest, jumped in the deep end with no life guard on duty, put myself completely at the mercy of the world and it felt great. and to make sure that i wasn’t gonna be the only one who got to experience this someone was there to capture it on film.
the ferry also carried people’s cars across, so we began waling around — me still playing the ukulele — asking the other passengers whether anyone had room in the car to take the 2 of us the 77 miles (123 km) down to seattle with them. to my astonishment, i was the one who succeeded at this and not the pretty girl with the french accent. we parted ways again the next day and i continued my journey.
i stayed in seattle for a week, the same amount of time as i’d spent in vancouver and in victoria. seattle was a challenging city. i’d found a host on couchsurfing.org, who had sffered to put me up for my whole stay there, but there had been some sort of miscommunication and i never got ahold of him till after i left town again. i ended up staying with a guy — who hadn’t really wanted to host at all — for a few nights before i managed to contact another host who agreed to take me in on the super short notice.
when it came time to leave seattle fate smiled at me again. the seattle metropolis boarders directly on the town of tacoma, which is then followed by olympia. i read online that it is very difficult to hitchhike within a metropolitan area and the best thing to do is to take a cheap public bus as far as you can to the outskirts and hitch from there. i took a $2 but from seattle to tacoma and then went to the bus stop where i could catch a bus to olympia. it looked like the bus wasn’t gonna be coming for another while, so i got out my marker and made a sign saying olympia. i waited for about an hour in which i received about 8 dollars in bus fair donations, but sure enough 2 dudes stopped and said hop in. just as i got in i saw that my bus had finally arrived. i wondered for a minute whether the bus might be safer, but i’m glad i decided to risk it. lord only knows how far the bus stop in olympia would have been from the closest freeway onramp, and i had a lot of stuff to carry. these guys on the other hand dropped me off in olympia right at the onramp to highway 5 heading south and i kid you not, within less then 10 minutes a little girl in a big SUV with a license plate saying 2BAD or something stopped and not only drove me all the way down to portland, but brought me along to hang out with her friends for the evening.
mid october portland quickly became too cold for me, so i decided to skip the other cities i had planned in oregon and headed straight for california. i spent a couple weeks in northern california making some great friends along the way, bought a big old dodge ram van and rolled into san francisco in early november.
i looked up an old flame there and she invited me to stay with her for as long as i liked. since san francisco is my home town i had already been planning to hang out there for about 6 to 8 weeks before continuing my journey south. i sold my big van and bought myself a smaller car, since i really didn’t need such a gas hog, when there are such awesome couch surfing hosts everywhere. in mid december my lady and i left san francisco together to go check out santa cruz together before she flew back to the east coast to visit her family over the winter holidays.
my plan to continue south from there was foiled however when the radiator in my car exploded just as we were rolling into the monterey exit. i was towed to the nearest mechanic and it turned out that not only the radiator was broken, but there was all sorts of water in the engine and the cost of fixing it would’ve been more than the car had cost. i was effectively stranded in monterey with a bunch of stuff. much more than i’d had while i was still hitchhiking. since i had no money to buy another car and didn’t really see the point in trying to hitchhike around southern california when my goal was to try to make music i decided to return to san francisco where i have some friends and i know my way around.
i was playing in the mission district, one of san francisco’s party neighborhoods one night between christmas and new years. people were dancing in the street and having a great time when a woman approached me and said i should come play at her restaurant/bar across the street some time. from then on i played there regularly for the next few months. i also played at other clubs and bars around the city, slowly making a name for myself. i continued to make most of my money playing on the street which is more lucrative, but it’s nice to be able to play indoors too.
over the course of the next few months i was astounded to see my internet presence increase rapidly. people had discovered the video of quit your whining and had obviously begun sharing it with their friends all over the world. the vibe of the video seemed to resonate with russians in particular as i began getting comments, messages and emails everyday from people requesting that i come play in russia.
in march i went to brazil to visit my father in rio for 6 weeks. i did some more couch surfing there and had some great little adventures, met some amazing people and even shot some more little videos. The Bridge
See The Sky
in may i returned to austria, where i had originally planned to enjoy the beautiful lakes over the summer. instead however i decided to comply with the many requests i’d gotten from russia to come and play for them. i’d posted on facebook that i was thinking about coming if people helped me organize some shows and give me a place to crash. sure enough, people responded and on june 7th i flew to moscow where 800 people to one show just to see me. i was in moscow for a week and then in st. petersburg for a week.
while i was in russia i was contacted by a guy from slovakia offering to help organize a little tour through his country, so after flying back to austria on june 21st i hopped in a train on the first of july and went to slovakia for a week and played 3 shows there. here’s some pictures. now the ball was really rolling, so after 2 weeks in austria i boarded a train to the czech republic where i played 3 shows in the last week of july.
now, in austria all the young men have to do either military service or civil service for 6-9 months. usually we do it right after we finish high school, but because of bureaucratic complications mine was delayed until now. on august 1st 2011 i reported for duty at the austrian red cross in salzburg and i will be driving handicapped people through town until may of 2012. while this means that my ability to play shows is slightly impaired by a 50 hour work week, i will not let this slow me down. i am young and healthy and i won’t accept excuses from myself. i will use this time in salzburg to work on a new album and a new set for next summer when i plan to tour all throughout europe in a van. i’m also planning on going to russia again, but probably not in a van. russia’s really big.
so yeah, that’s what my life has looked like since i stood on a boat singing quit your whining, one year ago, today.
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- Quit Your Whining – One Year Anniversary
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