Life on the Road, from a Violist’s Perspective

erica bryan,, behind the micNote: Katherine Holmgren, viola player in Erica’s band, is guest blogging this week. Enjoy!

Hello, my friends!

This week, Erica Bryan asked me to guest blog about my experience touring with her “behind the mic.”  I think maybe the band is tired of listening to my lengthy monologues about “Viola Player Injustices” and “Progress Updates on the Ant Problem in My Kitchen” so they thought a blog post would be a nice creative outlet for me.

kh 1The first show I played with Erica was earlier this year at a little coffee shop venue in Nashville. I still had braces on my teeth from jaw surgery (a tale better saved for my inevitable medical journal blog) and I wore my “cool” Nordstrom Rack leggings with the leather stripe on the side because growing up as a classical player means I own 1 cool outfit, total.  We played a small set for about 15 people and I prayed I would remember what key each song was in.

Fast forward a few months to this past Saturday when we played at our favorite Atlanta venue, Smith’s Olde Bar, packed with fans, friends, and family.  I no longer have braces and I have at least 3 performing outfits including a COOL HAT I debuted at the show.  We’ve played shows all around the South, taken selfies with goats, and logged a lot of hours on the road playing Mad Libs.  The band has become a little family and our performances get better and stronger with every show.

kh 2I love the hours we spend practicing, driving, laughing, and performing because they are all acting as building blocks for an incredible story.  I’ve been in Nashville for 6 years now and I can’t tell you the number of people I have either met or played music for who hold on to a hope that life is like American Idol.  We see these television shows where people are moved through a consolidated 6 month process to start from nothing and end with millions of fans.  This isn’t how life works! A young man or woman does not enter the company at the bottom of the corporate ladder only to find themselves in a corner office 3 months later. The people I’ve known who have competed on American Idol have worked for years to hone their skill–the show has been a lucky break in the midst of intense work and preparation. Luck and good opportunity comes to those who put in the work every day and are prepared for opportunity.

Donald Glover, a favorite comedian of mine and a former writer for the show 30 Rock, once said in a podcast that people looking at his success rate cannot see the hours he spent working on scripts and churning out ideas.  He put hundreds and thousands of hours into his craft so that when opportunity knocked, he was prepared.  When 30 Rock needed writers, he had a spec script prepared to send in immediately.  The hiring process was fast, but the preparation was slow.

Mkh 3y daily life has changed as I’ve started leaning in to slow success.  Every day is an opportunity for me to learn, practice, and reflect on the skills I am building for the future.  In Atlanta last weekend, Erica and Billy (our drummer) told me about a goal they set earlier in the year to play at least one show a month in the year 2014.  If you follow the band at all you know we played 3 shows in 24 hours the weekend before we were in Atlanta!  Erica was not focusing on the end result (which I’ve made clear is my face on a tour bus!) but on the day to day goals that include connecting personally with her fans, writing great songs, and playing as much as she can!  Look how far we’ve come in only a few short months.

I am loving this opportunity to work and be a part of something this special. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

About Erica Bryan

Erica’s passion for performing started when her mom brought her to her first theatre audition in Pennsylvania when she was eight years old. She didn’t make the cut. But the next year, she went back to the same audition and got the part. From an early age, Erica learned that with hard work and persistence, anything can happen. After her first show, there was no question that performing is what she would do for a living.
When she was twelve years old, her family moved to Roswell, GA, where she heard Country music for the first time. After listening to Reba and singing lots of Shania Twain karaoke, Erica decided she wanted to be a Country singer. Some years went by and, although Country music was always in the back of her mind, she started focusing more on her theatre opportunities, which led to her decision to study Musical Theatre in college.
While still in college, Erica performed professionally with Opera Birmingham, and spent her summers performing at theme parks and theatres. After graduation, she moved to New York City to continue her professional theatre career. While in New York, Erica got to train with Broadway’s finest actors and was cast in leading roles in Regional Theatres around the country. During one of her shows, Erica had the opportunity to perform with a Country band on the side. Call it coincidence or fate, but Erica was back singing Country music in the middle of a theatre contract, and she fell in love all over again.
After another year in theatre, it became clear to Erica that it was time to move to Nashville, TN and pursue her original childhood dream of being a Country artist. Shortly after arriving to Nashville, she landed a day job working for country hero, Reba McEntire, at Starstruck Entertainment. By night, she began crafting her own songs and writing skills. Within a couple months of songwriting, Erica’s songs started receiving the highest honors from the Nashville Songwriters Association. She recently released her debut single “This House Is Haunted,” and is receiving radio play in multiple countries. For the Country Record describes Erica as, “one of those rare multi-talented people who most only dream about becoming.” Erica is currently touring with her original music and plays keys, ukulele, and guitar to anyone who will listen.

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