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getting in the van
self-promoted touring. rocko dorsey, spring 2009.
by jeffrey d. walker

I'm not the first guy who had a dream about being a rock star. I'm not the first guy to have taken a few music lessons, and learned to read tablature. I'm not the first guy to get pretty good and join a band. I'm not the first guy to play a gig. And I'm not the first to go on a tour.

But today, March 13th, 2009, I am leaving to go on my first tour. It's taken me roughly fifteen years of gigging to hook up with a project that that went on a real tour. I've simply never had the opportunity, nor the luxury of having that much time off work.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about day jobs. I currently have a wonderful employer and I like what I do. But, if you have rock in your blood, you know that a day job is a little bit of a curse.

I'm not the first musician who had to get a day job. I'm not the first musician who hasn't achieved the fame, the notoriety, and yes, the riches that I had dreamed about when I dreamed of rock stardom. And so, I had to earn a living some other way. I'm also probably not the first musician to have been a little disappointed by that. That might explain why before, during, and seven years out of law school despite putting together a pretty successful career, I'm still slugging it out in bands on my evenings, on my weekends, any time I can do so without completely pissing off my wife, losing my day job, or killing myself from exhaustion. But I can't even say that I'm the first guy to have done all that.

But I did do all those things; several times over, and by way of more than one musical instrument and more than one band. And all those things seem to be culminating into this tour.

Rocko Dorsey is going out for 6 shows in 9 days. It's not the band as a whole's first tour. Rocko and D.D., the singer/guitarist and drummer, who are also brothers, have played the Austin Texas Rock Fest (our final tour stop this time) several times before with other bass players.

And it's not the first time I've gone on the road with them. Since I joined in 2005, I've gone with them on what I'd call "outings"; i.e., a four day weekend for a Vermont, Essex County, Syracuse set, or a three day weekend for a Philadelphia, Albany set. But never a whole week, never something I could legitimately call a tour.

It's not because I didn't want to. Like I said, work. Plus, despite the fact that I've been in more than one band, it's not because I haven't tried to tour before. Believe me, I've tried. But going on a tour isn't something you just up and go do, not if you don't have a record contract, or a promoter, or something like that.

I guess that's why, without any of those things, it's pretty impressive how long Rocko Dorsey has been touring. So, in the evening before our we left, after our last home rehearsal, I sat down with Rocko to ask him about this tour and self-promoted touring.

Walker: So this is my first time going with you, but when did you first do Texas Rock Fest?

Rocko: In 2005. We had applied to South by Southwest (“SxSW”), but heard about this festival. It had started as a charity for some person that needed heart surgery, but it’s evolved into a sort of anti-SxSW that features unsigned artists.

Walker: And what keeps you going back? I mean, New York to Austin is no short trip.

Rocko: The Barbeque. No... it's a great festival. It's Mardi Gras with bands.

Walker: So, for those who don't know, tell us how you got started gigging.

Rocko: I played my first show at age 15. It was in a coffee house, I had a semi-hollow body and D.D. played with a snare drum and a birdseed bucket. And it just evolved from there.

Walker: So, gigging in town is one thing. How’d you get started playing away gigs?

Rocko: We wanted to play more than local. I think the first couple of out of town gigs we got through other bands. That helps a lot; once you've played once in a town, you can network. We started in Jersey, Philadelphia, and we even played one time in Boston early on. Then, you extend it to three and four-day weekends. We did a lot of cold calling clubs in towns along the way a few months in advance, the pitch being that we needed another night.

Walker: And that evolved into longer tours?

Rocko: Yeah.

Walker: What's the longest tour you've gone on now?

Rocko: In 2004, we went out for an entire month, twelve states, twenty-two shows in twenty-eight days. That was the first time we were really like, "we could do this forever." I mean, it's not easy. We didn't eat good and lost weight. You sleep in the van in rest areas and Wal-Mart parking lots a lot. But, the connections we made on that tour, we're still using them today. Clubs close and people leave, but the people are still there. You just have to find them.


For me, it's completely exciting to be able to go on tour after all these years. In truth, I'm not sure if I'll ever have this opportunity again. I'm not saying I’m getting too old for this. I'm not callin' it quits, not just yet. But I'm also not a fool. The days of my life when I'll be able to do something like this are probably numbered.

But this tour, these next few days, I'm going to play with everything I've got. If you see me in the next few days, I'll be the rock star that I always wanted to be.

Rocko Dorsey will be appearing on its spring 2009 tour:

Friday March 13, 2009
9:00 PM
Spitfire Saloon
1539 W 117th St., Cleveland, OH 44107

Saturday March 14, 2009
5:00 PM
Indy CD & Vinyl
806 Broad Ripple Ave., Indianapolis, IN

Sunday, March 15, 2009
9:00 PM
Bearno's By-The-Bridge
131 West Main Street. Louisville, Kentucky

Monday, March 16, 2009
8:00 PM
The Rutledge
410 4th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201

March 18th, 2009
9:00 PM
Mia's pub
2109 Market St
Shreveport, LA 71101

Sat March 21, 2009
7:15 PM
Treasure Island
413 E 6th St, Austin, TX


A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.

more about jeffrey d. walker


# 24 with a silenced bullet
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by jeffrey d. walker
topic: music
published: 1.19.01


russ carr
3.13.09 @ 10:31a

Will there be T-shirts?

sandra thompson
3.13.09 @ 10:48a

I truly hope you have dynamite tour experiences, and y'all get a recording deal and you become the rock star you truly ARE.

I, too, wanna know about the t-shirts.

tracey kelley
3.13.09 @ 7:32p

Knock 'em dead, buddy! And yes! Cafe Press some T-shirts with the locations on the back!

adam kraemer
3.14.09 @ 10:59p

Wouldn't it be weird if you were the first guy to do all those things?


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