Tommy John Ehman schools you on the life of a touring musician in his single and video Road Band 101 — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
“Road Band 101 is about the journey, the life, the music and ‘the road’, where dreams are created and where dreams can be crushed,” says the Saskatchewan county singer-songwriter. “But no matter how hard it can get or how long it can take, the music will always win out when you’re obsessed with it — right down to your very heart and soul.”
He speaks from experience. Playing gigs all over Western Canada and beyond since 1988 has given the seasoned artist a great perspective on the passion, commitment and drive it takes to survive, thrive, and able to give it your all, night after night after night. In the ’90s, the pressure, lifestyle and rigours of playing four or five sets a night almost did him in. “I was completely burned out,” he recalls. “I weighed under 130 pounds; was gaunt and white as a ghost. It was an amazing run, but I was WAY overdue for a rest.”
After some recuperation at home, Ehman went back on the road with a fresh, healthier approach and an understanding that the music is as much a source of fuel as it is a passionate pursuit. “It can beat you up, tear you down and completely and utterly tire you out,” he says. “But then there’s the music … That’s what keeps you motivated.”
That motivation has produced the six studio albums in his catalog, highlighted by his most recent offering, 2019’s Day Night. All told, those releases have generated a slate of Top 100 charting songs, radio placements and media features. He’s been honoured with a number of Saskatchewan Country Music Award nominations, including current nods for Songwriter of the Year and Male Artist of the Year. He and his band have shared the stage with Canadian country luminaries like Doc Walker, Aaron Pritchett, Michelle Wright and more.
Born and raised in Craik, SK, and still living on his family’s fifth-generation farm, Ehman is as deeply connected to his home and he is to his music. While the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa has reduced his day-to-day activities, it hasn’t precluded him from writing songs, performing and paying tribute to those musical roots — and routes — that have shaped his artistry and life.
“I still have an overwhelming number of memories from those early days on the road, some good, some bad, but all part of a musical journey that I wouldn’t change for anything in the world,” Ehman says. “Would I do it all over again? I guess the answer is (and was) yes!”