Musicians are fun. They love to joke and tell stories and bring the same energy to daily life that they take onstage during performances. After long hours, endless travel, and multiple venues, you would probably guess that a touring musician would have only one thing on their mind immediately after a gig: sleep. However, that’s not usually the case. The first thing they want is food!

It does make sense, when you stop and think about it. The stamina it takes to put on a high-energy performance burns a large amount of calories. A typical performance includes two sets that last around 50-75 minutes each, separated by a brief 10-15 minute intermission. Each set is a nearly continuous stream of music performed standing, and the instruments musicians hold weigh anywhere from 4lbs (alto saxophone) to 30lbs (double bass). Even the drum set player, who is sitting, spends an extreme amount of effort due to the coordination of motion between the hands and feet, not to mention the constant reverberation traveling through the hands and arms. Many drummers will bathe their hands in ice after performances to keep swelling at a minimum.

There is adrenaline coursing through a musician’s veins throughout the entire performance. Afterwards, their hearts race as though they just finished a marathon. In addition, the mental concentration it requires to be able to improvise and interact with the music in real time, note by note, is substantial. Taking all of these factors into consideration, it is not that surprising when the first thing out of a musician’s mouth after finishing a gig are phrases like “Where is the food?” and “What is there to eat?”

Jazz performances don’t typically end until 11:00 in the evening, sometimes pushing midnight after packing up equipment. This is very late in most towns, and local restaurants are generally closed, making food scarce. The only late-night meals available tend to consist of bar food, which is greasy, high in fat and cholesterol, and not a great contributor to the overall health of a touring musician. It often falls on the manager (myself) to have some food available or provide a healthy goodie bag for the musicians. And while venues usually provide water, keeping busy musicians hydrated is nearly a full-time job itself!

You may wonder, if water is usually provided at venues, why not meals? It is true that most venues do provide meals for musicians before the performance. However, it is usually earlier in the evening, an hour or two before the downbeat. Before the marathon has been run and all of those extra calories are burned. So if you have a group traveling through your town or performing in your space, think about having a midnight snack available for your friendly neighborhood musicians. Even something as simple as a sandwich can seem like a five-star meal!

For more information about the musicians with Night is Alive, please visit our web page ( or contact directly via phone.

Article by Kathy Salem, Managing Director, Night is Alive

Revised and Transcribed by Elizabeth Carney, Content Editor, Night is Alive

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