What am I doing?
I'm raising funds to bring my new show to peoples homes across the rural American West by horseback. This August I plan to depart and travel 3,000 miles with 2 horses over 14 months. Traveling by horse, moving through wilderness, dipping into small communities, living in a daily practice of putting my animals needs before mine will inescapably have a massive effect on how the show changes and how I change. As an artist and as a person who believes that curiosity is an essential practice in building a better world, I think traveling songs by horse will be a powerful way to share what I have with others and invite them to share with me.
I want to keep making new work that surprises my audiences and surprises myself. I want to make new work and deliver it in new vessels. I love eclectic performance, shows that continually subvert your expectations and repeatedly bring you to new plateaus of sound, or fun, or depth, or questions, or catharsis or productive discomfort. I feel comfortable in so many ways on stage now and I want to keep pushing myself to feel uncomfortable in new ways. That's an artists job right? To bang their head against the wall in search of something meaningful, something beautiful, something truthful to share with their audience. This tour is really two shows moving in tandem, the performances and the travel. They are in equal measure what I'll be sharing. I want to be raw and honest in my show and in how I communicate what I'm experiencing on the journey. Hardship, woe, discomfort, emotional and spiritual exhaustion are all things I'm expecting. That's part of the appeal. What is there to mine outside the comfort of the life I know? I ask this question and choose this experience with tremendous privileges as a white heterosexual man from New York City with a loving supportive family and community. Questions about those privileges will be part of the constellation of experience as I move through rural America.
Finding new homes
Going into peoples homes, trusting I can find homes, trusting my network to reach out to their cousins and colleagues and exes and pastors and shepherds and dentists and DJs to find me homes, trusting that I'll meet interested hospitable strangers along the way is a mode of faith. It's a faith supported by the experience of arriving at over 600 mostly strangers homes to be greeted with warmth, kindness and curiosity.
In this time where we see ourselves as remarkably divided, traveling by horse could be a great inroad to a conversation. It can inspire an invitation or a conversation where there might not have been one. I've met thousands of people playing in homes, all different kinds, but I'm trusting the horse element can help me find different people than my networks would normally connect me to. The horse tour is an opportunity to reach all types of new populations and communities in mostly new regions for me. The hope is to use that new reality expansively to give access to folks who are often missed on my more city based tours.
What's this money for?
Over the last six months I have raised just under half my budget from previous hosts, audience members, supporters of past projects and received a grant from The Speranza Foundation. That has allowed me to purchase a considerable amount of gear, continue learning and living in Boulder Utah while working on my show. Right now I'm reaching out to my larger network for the remaining necessities....
2 horses (whom you will soon meet) $10,000'
Vet services $2,000
Ferrier services $2,500
Supplemental feed for the horses $8,000
Press Person (PR) $3,000 to get features and stories about the trip in areas I’m heading towards so potential hosts can find me easily. This way its not just me always finding them.
Human food $6,500
The route and the plan (the broad version)
Aside from funding I'll be asking my network for any and all connections to potentially interested hosts along the route. The route will be taking me down the Continental Divide Trail through Colorado and New Mexico, cutting across Arizona through the Mogollon Rim and the Tonto Forest, linking with the Pacific Crest Trail in Southern California and traveling north on the PCT through Oregon then cutting across Idaho to conclude in Yellowstone or Missoula MT in fall of 2020. I'll be sharing more about the route during the campaign. The very nature of horse travel is one of shifting plans so parts of the route will change throughout the trip. Long Riders run into big trouble when they have a fixed plan and make choices according to it. Flexibility is an absolute necessity. This proves a huge challenge for setting up shows while on the trail. The system is to find interested parties within reasonable distance of the route, give them a large window of when I could get to them, stay in touch, and as I approach, continue to narrow that window.
Where am I now?
In July of 2018 I moved to be based in Boulder Utah a town of 300 people where I had met stupendous cowboys, horse people and wilderness folk years ago on tour. I found this tiny extraordinary place cause someone put it on my map. Over the last year they have become my friends, mentors, teachers and high counsel guiding me on my preparation. It's been grand to learn so much new information, to continuously be a student immersed in new languages and physical/emotional challenges. I don't feel I'm a naturally great student. It's something I desperately want to be good at and this process is pushing me towards it. Learning how to ride, pack, take care of horses, camp with horses, tend to all their needs has been a slow process and it's one I am currently in the middle of. It has required a level of patience, maturity and thoughtfulness that are not a part of my natural demeanor. I am in a world of new. It's beautiful, exhausting, illuminating and comes with lots of sore muscles and occasional bouts of overwhelming anxiety. Every day I wake up and start productively failing. At the end of each day I see I'm a bit closer, a bit smarter, a bit more capable of doing this thing.
Driven by curiosity
In the process of preparing for this trip I've made some dear friends with people I disagree with on a great many issues, probably most of the issues that are at the top of the American zeitgeist right now. We forged a connection through working with horses, eating food, asking about each others history and what the other was excited about. That gave us a foundation of respect and understanding where I now feel we could talk about anything with curiosity for the others experience rather than reducing them to their stance on an issue. It's been a great lesson and reminder in what makes a person and the kinds of connections I value. I believe deeply in complexity. I think we all have complicated stories that brought us to where we are. I want to stay curious and get curiouser about all people. I think curiosity can be contagious as can fear. I choose the former and will carry that ethos with me as I move through different communities.
But really, why do this?
I did not grow up with horses or in the wilderness. It's hard and new. Forces me to slow down and think. There is very little space for ego in this learning process and I feel more open to all deeper knowledge and criticism. It's forced me to think less like a person and more like a horse. I'm looking forward to more of that. Being a person has its limits. How hard this is and what kind of hard is what drew me to this endeavor and what keeps me in it. I've spent a lot of life trying to have good experiences or comfortable ones. I'd like to be interested in meaningful experiences above the rest.
The reward this project really produces is being a part of this journey and experiencing it with me. Also offering some other fun things I made. Here are a few pictures of Tour Tea towels you could choose from in the rewards and a physical copy of my debut album. In 2020 ill be printing my second album Glitterbones Bargain to vinyl and will make that available to my kickstarter backers first!
IF YA DON'T KNOW ME AND WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT I DO AND HOW I DO IT CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE WWW.MYNAMEISGIDEON.COM
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk is some kind of accident happening where myself or the horses are injured or worse. This is a risk I have taken under careful consideration. While traveling by horseback may sound dangerous my understanding is that it is less so than traveling on tour, spending countless hours in a metal box at 80 miles per hour, while engulfed amongst other metal speeding bullet boxes. We are used to seeing horses racing or leaping over jumps, but the reality of traveling by horse is that 99% of the time you are just in a solid steady walk. It's a lot of walking and then some more walking and occasionally a fast walk. There are indeed people from cities who have had a similar notion, they buy a horse and a hat, hit the trail and in a few days or weeks something awful has happened to them or their horses, but these folks are consistently the people who have let the romantic notions take hold while doing little research to understand what kind of training and preparation this kind of travel demands. I have done my homework, I'm doing more homework and have no illusions about how easy it is to gallop off into the sunset. This is why I took over a year to submerge myself in study and preparation before departing and have stayed committed that if I don't feel ready or my teachers don't feel I'm ready I'll continue training and preparing until that moment feels right. All signs point to being on track for an August departure.
My assessment is that walking with two horses after the appropriate training is relatively safeish and I've been learning to approach each moment with the caution and confidence that is required. Some have assumed I invented this notion of equine travel in the modern age. I did not. For those interested in learning more about long riding I encourage you to peruse The Long Riders Guild website and learn a bit more about this rich tradition and the diverse individuals, folks raised with horses and folks who got hoofy later in life, that have climbed into a saddle for long periods of time.
In my overall budget of 75K I have 5K for a contingency fund which would allow me to account for a variety of shifts in the plan. If a horse has a small injury and needs to rest for a while we will do so. If food or water is scarce beyond what I anticipated in an area I can put funds towards friends of the project trucking supplies out to us on the trail. I'll have an emergency spot finder with me and gps mapping system for back up. This means if we are lost beyond the normal bounds of navigation I can put us back on track. The spot finder is a button I'll carry on my person at all times that allows me to call for emergency medical assistance if something inescapably unfortunate occurs.
Emotionally I suppose a risk is loosing my mind and crushing my heart being too isolated from the people I know and love. It has already been difficult to be so far away from my anchors. I'm hoping the company and new family of horses will give me a different kind of strength and that the spaces of solitude from other humans between shows will expose me to some new contemplative experience, creative space, connection to nature and teach me about how to be a better human person.
Show wise the challenge is to complete a new show that is large and theatrical and full of all the things I love to do, but considerably paired down equipment wise. The materials for this show basically have to be under 30 lbs. The challenge is to build my biggest show with the least amount of stuff.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)