View for the road

Sacramento’s Musical Charis chimes in while on tour

Members of Musical Charis and Zuhg on the morning news in San Antonio.

Members of Musical Charis and Zuhg on the morning news in San Antonio.

Find out more at

Musical Charis, one of the city’s more popular and prolific bands, is currently out of town on a self-booked, 63-day tour of the United States. Called the For Love of Music Tour, the band started out with locals Zuhg in Arizona and Texas, then shot through the deep South, Florida, up the East Coast to New York City, then through the Midwest on its way back home in a 1990 Ford Econoline cargo van. Sounds like a cool, epic journey—complete with $40 hotel stays, last-minute gigs at open-mics and nice paydays. The band’s Blake Abbey and Jessie Brune caught up with SN&R via email to share their view from the road.

Do you make good money while touring?

We spend six months in advance booking our tours. In some cities, they’ve never seen anything like our show before, and they are more likely to give us a $500 to $1,000 guarantee, because we’ve traveled so far to play there and it’s an event to look forward to.

Tell me about an awesome experience on the road.

We played in Rockford, Ill., at a place called the Kryptonite [Bar]. There was a crazy storm, and it was a Sunday night, the bar was completely dead except for the bar owner and a couple of his friends. At the end of the night he gave us $150 just because he loved our band so much from the year before and was glad to see us again.

You’ve seen a lot of music scenes throughout the nation. What’s the best thing the local scene has going for it?

The best part of the Sacramento scene is that there are so many venues to play that all offer something special and unique. Some cities in America only offer three to five venues in town and it is sometimes difficult to find locals to play with.

One thing we are sorely lacking in the Sacramento music and art scene is the ability to properly promote the shows that are going on in town. Any time a flyer for a concert, event or art show is posted in Sacramento, it is ripped down by the city within 24 hours. It’s demoralizing for artists to spend $2 on a colorful, eye-catching poster just to see it thrown away by the city. In over 90 percent of the cities we play in, the streets are covered in show posters. … In Lincoln, Neb., for example, there are designated kiosks on several street corners with flyers, not to mention the countless bulletin boards in each local business with flyers and event calendars. The result? Packed-out bars, venues and galleries.

People say your band plays too many local shows.

We play music every day because we love it. We also treat it as a profession, as a means to make a living at doing what we love.

Somehow, bands embrace the idea that they should only play a gig per month to increase “draw,” but that means you would only play 12 shows per year! At that rate, it would take your average band five years to play as many shows as we play on a two-month tour. This not to say that we’re any better, or that this is a competition; it’s just to show that the “one-show a month” logic is off.

Can you think of any other job that requires only 12 days of work per year? It’s absurd. We play a healthy 150-plus shows per year, both local and national, and though it’s a lot of hard work, the payoff is worth it.

Tell me the best meal you’ve had on the road so far.

Magnolia Café in Saint Francisville, La., [and the] barbecue plate and jambalaya. Or Record Bar in Kansas City, Mo.: best pizza. Home Team BBQ in Sullivan’s Island, S.C.: best wings and barbecue ribs.

What do you miss most about Sacto when you’re on the road?

We miss our friends and family. We miss the Beatnik Studios. Jessie misses working at Capitol Garage and teaching music lessons to her students. We miss our band that can’t tour with us: Jeremy Dawson, Brian Jennings, Byron Tobin, Isabel Solomon, Jarrod Affonso, Jason Martin, Erik Fidel, Dave Middleton, Shawn King, Jack Matranga and everybody else whom we’ve had the pleasure of playing with.