The Life of a Local Musician

October 30, 2012

From sleeping in tour vans to working wild hours to pay for a new guitar, the life of an aspiring rock star isn't always pretty, but many local artists say it's worth it.

Tara Wheeler talks with some of our areas most well-known musicians to learn more about the sacrifices they make as the follow their dreams, and a newly launched organization aimed at making their journey a little healthier.

As they launch their career, many musicians have to work odd jobs.

"I held three jobs at one time just to try to afford the gas to go to each gig, " says local musician Josh Mayo. Charlottesville favorite, Bennie Dodd did the same, "I drove a parts truck and that was a good way to make money; drove a cab, that worked pretty good."

From eating creative cuisine to working several jobs on very little sleep, these artists sacrifice for their craft. It's all with the hopes of making a living playing music.

"I daydreamed at work. I carried my guitar with me just so I could play my guitar out back on my break," says Mayo, who works with his dad as a locksmith. "Dad bought me my first guitar. He still supports the music, but he definitely supports me working."

Between life on the road, the diet and stress, living the dream isn't always glamorous. But our town is full of musicians chasing that dream.

"They want to do something they're passionate about, be the underdog and surpass the trials and tribulations and succeed, " explains singer/songwriter Eli Cook.

The starving artist is romanticized in movies and books, but the lifestyle can have serious long-term consequences especially when it comes to the musician's health.

"They have undiagnosed problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, other ailments they may not be aware of", says Dr. Joseph Orlick, "Or known ailments that they can't afford to take care of."

"Too many friends who have passed on because they had a disease or a sickness they didn't know they had," says local musician and co-founder of the Central Virginia Health Alliance for Musicians. "You see that enough and there's got to be a way to change it."

That's where CVHAM comes in; partnering with Dr. Orlick to provide affordable health care for working musicians. "They need someone to advocate for them, and say look, here's what you got. Let's come up with a plan you can afford then go forward with them partner with them, " says Orlick.

The program helps make the pursuit of a musical career a little less risky.

"It's important younger generations see it's a viable career path. You look at kids going to school, going to Berklee and studying jazz and classical and they're doing this because they love it and they think they can make a living and it's important we strengthen that feeling, " says Cook.

CVHAM is holding a kick-off music fest featuring many of our areas popular musicians. It's this Saturday, October 27th from noon until 1:30am at the Fry's Spring Beach Club.

The starving artist makes many sacrifices for their craft, but their health doesn't have to be one of them. Here's to always being up for an encore.

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