Touring truly has to be the great "gray area" of being a musician.
The great part is you get to make a living cruising around the world and playing in different cities every night.
The bad part for some is that you are always on the road, living out of a suitcase and crashing on floors.
Most musicians tour modestly (not by choice), because without selling a million records, it's the only way to make a living.
Nashville songwriter and country/rockabilly musician Chuck Mead did plenty of road travel through the 1990s and early this decade with his band BR5-49, including a few stops in Durango. When they went on hiatus, so did his touring.
That was three years ago, and now Mead is heading back out in support of his first solo record, "Journeyman's Wager." His next stop is at the Community Concert Hall on Wednesday night.
He's falling right back into touring.
"I'm warming back up to being on the road," said Mead earlier on this tour from Oregon. "I'm used to rambling around, but I like being a 'lives around the house' musician. But it got time for me to get back to work."
Work as a musician started out for Mead when he was a kid. He was raised by musicians who had a touring band, and he was recruited as the drummer when he was 12.
"I grew up playing in my folks' country band, and my Dad knew where I was every Friday and Saturday night. I learned a trade," he said.
Growing up in Lawrence, Kan., and being in a country band didn't limit Mead's musical taste, and he wasn't immune to the independent music underground of the late 1970s.
"I was always into the rock of Nick Lowe, the Clash, the Ramones and people like that," he said. "It wasn't the same old AOR (album-oriented rock) thing happening; I had a healthy disdain for Fleetwood Mac."
That contempt carried over to his work in a country band that existed within the Nashville underground, far from Music Row.
Both country and punk influences come out in his new release.
"I tried to do something that came from me but sounded different from BR5-49. I call this record half hillbilly, half pub-rock," Mead said.
He recruited numerous people to play on the record, and touring with Mead in "The Grassy Knoll Boys" are Mark Miller on guitar, bass and vocals; Martin Lynds on drums; and Carco Clave on pedal steel.
For Mead, the relationship between the punk-related music of his past and the country of his past and present comes down to one thing. Maybe this explains the number of tattooed, leather-clad people you see more and more at country and roots shows.
"It's honest," said Mead, quite deliberately. "And honest music cuts through all the crap."
Liggett_b@fortlewis.eduBryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.