I’ve been following along with Savannah’s journey for the past three years now. She and her partner Drew, both musicians, have been rambling down desert and dirt roads, sharing music from their travels. Savannah has headlined her own shows, but also has opened for artists such as Emmylou Harris, 10,000 Maniacs, Harpeth Rising, Ernie Halter, Field Report, and performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Find out how they found their rig, where they travel to on tour and what it’s like working and sharing a small space with your significant other.
Savannah has been traveling ‘round for 3 years in a 1987 Ford Coachman campervan.
How'd you find your rig?
Our van search didn't take as long as expected. We went from talking about buying a van to searching Craiglist and purchasing one in about three weeks. We were open to all types of vans in the beginning, however we are both musicians so we knew we needed extra space for equipment and instruments.
Another factor in our van search is that Drew is over 6 feet tall. After trying out a few low-top vans, he decided that being able to stand in our van was a big necessity for long term comfort. We ended up with our 1987 Ford Coachman hightop after finding it listed on Craiglist in Buffalo, NY. It was the first van we actually looked at, and when we saw it in person, we decided to make an offer on the spot. It seemed too good to be true that the first van we saw in person would be the one for us, but it has worked out! We're still so happy with our decision.
What are some of your favorite features of your van?
One of my favorite things about our van is the flat front grill. I love that classic vintage look of these old, high-top vans.
We also just finished a renovation of the back of our van where we added a tile shower and large cabinet. The tile shower pan was a labor of love, but it's now one of my favorite things.
How long are you on the road? Off the road?
We spend our summers on the east coast near Buffalo, NY, where Drew and I both grew up. Our winters are spent in the southwest, mostly in Arizona. I tour and play shows on our way back and forth from east to west coasts every year.
Where have you traveled in your rig?
We've almost been to all 48 contiguous states and spent a month in Baja, Mexico. I'm spending the fall traveling solo in the Pacific Northwest, which is an area of the country I haven't spent a lot of time and am really excited to explore.
What’s your writing process like on the road?
Movement is very inspiring to me. When we're moving quickly, I make a lot of little notes in my phone. Small phrases or ideas that I'd like to explore later. Then I offset all that movement with big periods of down time to process and convert my experiences into songs. I pull out those little notes and see where they take me.
The places that we see and the people who we meet have really imprinted themselves into my music. My last album, Cliffrose, was inspired by our first three years of travel in the southwest, mostly on BLM land. Being able to spend a whole day alone out in the desert gives me time to decompress and open up space to write. It's a different pace out there—a more natural pace that your body is used to in a primal way. I think it's the way we're meant to operate.
What's been your most memorable show experience?
The first thing that comes to mind is a show I played in a yurt in rural Maine this summer. I play a lot of house concerts and listening rooms all around the country. Many are in houses or small churches/coffee shops that run a folk music series.
Once I was contacted by a promotor who brings in bands to play in Maine on his 9,000-acre beautiful property filled with mountain biking trails, a huge garden and had no cell service. I couldn't say no.
Do you have a favorite song you’ve written?
One of my favorite songs from the new record is a song called The Rocket. It was inspired by the fear that comes from trying new things and the courage to pick yourself back up again if you fail.
A few years back I was reading an article about all of NASA's failed missions to the moon. All the rockets they launched up into the sky in the 60's came crashing back down to Earth. Each one was considered a huge failure, but without them, we would've never eventually launched the Apollo 11. Each failure can be used as a lesson and a stepping stone to get to where you want to be. The Rocket was written to remind me of that.
How do you fund your lifestyle?
Drew and I are both full time musicians. We will do other random odd jobs if they pop up, but we don't have any other jobs that we consistently work.
Who’s inspired you from your travels?
I have met so many traveling musicians and artists on the road. I think this lifestyle draws in creative people because of the constant inspiration it provides and the financial freedom to be able to create your art. My good friends @therightlyso are a duo who I met in the music scene where I grew up in Buffalo. They moved into a van shortly after Drew and I did and have thrived on the road. I am constantly blow away by both @chandra.rae and @desert2district's art as well.
Do you always travel with a partner?
I've done a few solo tours over the years, but the bulk of all my traveling has been with Drew. Traveling solo vs with a partner are two incredibly different experiences for me. I love both in very different ways and feel lucky to experience both from time to time.
I've noticed that I feel a lot more inspired when I travel solo. I think not having to hold space for another person allows you time to figure out what you want. Who are you when you're the only one there to make decisions? It's really empowering to me to figure all that out.
This fall and winter I have a few weeks of solo travel in store—just myself and the van.
How’d you meet Drew & what’s it like sharing a small space together?
Drew and I met within the Buffalo music scene when I opened for a band he was fronting. He asked me to write a song with him for his acoustic record and six years later, we haven't stopped hanging out.
We did not live together before moving into our van, which I've come to realize is pretty crazy, but it didn't seem strange at the time. It was just the next step.
Sharing a small space with someone has its pros and cons. In a lot of ways, it has brought us much closer and more in touch with controlling our emotions. We've figured out what works, what brings out frustrations (like clutter and mess), and how to deal with tough things before they become a huge issue. Some days you just have to go for a walk by yourself to get the alone time you crave or blow off some steam.
Where can we catch you next?
I will be touring out west all fall and winter. You can find up to date tour information on my website below!
Follow Savannah & her music
Produced & edited by Kathleen Morton.
Written with photos courtesy of Savannah King.