After performing 18 times in 5 different West Coast USA states, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite photos from our Spring Tour! If you're new to my brothers + me, we're DERIK NELSON & FAMILY. Derik, Dalten, and I got signed to a national booking agency at the end of 2015, and we're currently booked for 70+ upcoming nationwide concert dates in 2017/2018 at Performing Arts Centers and auditoriums all over the country as a headlining sibling singing trio! (And: our mom comes with us, as our unforgettable merchandise saleswoman. She's adored by fans young + old!)
Our behind-the-scenes photos, anecdotes, + never-before-told fun facts are below! Enjoy!
And we're off!
How the four of us travel: an SUV and hitched cargo trailer! Derik's our trusty driver 95% of the time, and that's Travis the Trailer. Yep. We named him Travis.
The open NON-snowy roads soon turned into VERY-snowy roads on our first day of tour, driving from Western Washington to Orofino, Idaho. A freak blizzard appeared out of nowhere just after dark. We got stuck on a 7% downgrade on an Idaho mountain pass, and Travis the Trailer ended up SPINNING US: suddenly jackknifed across the highway. (Travis. You cramped our day, man) Luckily Derik was super calm, we stayed buckled up, a random stranger helped push us to the side, and waited. A couple hours later a snow plow drove by! We decided to make a go of it down the slippery mountain, and finally made it to Orofino with adrenaline for DAYS. WHEW.
An early morning for a matinee in Orofino, Idaho! We're our own crew, so Derik & Dalten load everything in by themselves!
FUN FACT: All the equipment we tour with has hilarious/weird labels + code names. It helps us immensely- the more specific name, the better. Every tool, bin, gadget, road box, and equipment piece has a name, and an exact place it gets put away.
One of the first things I do in a venue after surveying the traffic pattern (from trailer to stage, stage to green room/dressing room) is tape out the stage for our exact equipment footprint. To do this accurately + quickly, I have a neon orange WALKING tape measurer (blurrily pictured next to me, with an orange handle & wheels.) I began calling this thing Doggie, since you walk it like a dog to get your distance readings. Doggie is such a gem, and we srsly couldn't tour without him. #DoggieFTW
Derik, Marit, Riana, + Dalten! #NelsonFam
Perhaps the most endearing part of our tour: we taught a choir & music workshop in the morning following our public performance in Orofino. As we were driving away from the high school, a bunch of kids ran out and stood on this giant snow mound in front of their school sign with "heart" hands above their heads!!! They loved the workshop so much, they didn't want us to leave. *tears*
Clearwater River in Orofino. It happened to be RIGHT behind our hotel!
More Idaho mountains greeted us as we drove from Orofino to Boise Idaho. If you look on a map, there's really no easy or quick way to do this in snowy conditions with a trailer. The route the locals recommended was about 300 miles, but required slow going the entire way and no cell service. You could say this was an ALL DAY car adventure, made possible by amazing coffee in Kamiah, Idaho and really fantastic off-line playlists on Spotify.
Derik spent time before every show centering himself via "guitar noodling" with his loop pedal. Always super badass, IMO! I hope the trend will continue in future tours.
We drove many miles on this stretch of road before seeing another farm. I photographed the upcoming place where humans might dwell as proof, just in case we never saw any other signs of life. It was stunningly gorgeous though: snowy rolling hills and deep blue sky!
No makeup, black leggings, puffy coat + scarf was my staple outfit on cold Drive Days.
Just press OK.
We were totally overjoyed if we discovered a hotel had one of these little fancy instant pancake machines. We ignored all possible dietary or processed food risks. Just press OK. Have a pancake.
Walmart was always a welcome sight. We found these emoji pillows. You guys, our mom bought the UNICORN emoji pillow. Walmart win!
Vegetables + BBQ.
As two people who eat vegetarian most of the time, it's sometimes challenging for my mom & I to find places to eat along the way. Healthy, nutritionally dense, plant-based food is not always easy to come by. Surprisingly, this BBQ place (of all locations!) in the middle of Idaho had bomb vegetarian sandwiches!! YAY!
FUN FACT: in this photo, Dalten is recreating the bizarre opening seconds of the Styx "Too Much Time On My Hands" music video from 1981. Go watch it. You're welcome.
Our agent, Diana, came all the way from Virginia to see our Burley, Idaho concert! We had nearly 800 people in attendance that night, and it was such an awesome place to show her our live show experience!
Our mom, Marit, is our merch saleswoman. And she does an INCREDIBLE job!! She is the most personable, organized, beautiful soul to greet all of the guests who come to see our show. Look at this table design! Go mama bear! (Look closely and you will spy postcards featuring Derik's "clones" from our show. The clones regularly appear as our "virtual band," playing instruments synced with our live vocals!)
Mom makes these gorgeous earrings by hand, using Derik's custom printed "dn" logo guitar picks! They are a total hit on the road. Every single pair is unique, no two are alike! After this particular show, there was only ONE pair left!!
My mom and I at a roadside Nevada diner. I love love LOVE her so much.
Open roads from Elko, Nevada to La Grande, Oregon.
This day we drove over 500 miles! We were in a strange land where the only place to go in a town of 200 people is the gas station mart: the tentpole feature being an extensive VHS rental section, decorative ceramic plates, and sun bleached everything from 1992. After the time warp stop, we listened to a James Taylor live album and the new John Mayer Wave 1 + 2, and saw a lot of empty roadways, tumbleweeds, and open Nevada.
I always love when we first arrive: we see the auditorium space in its most open and empty state. Knowing those seats will be filled with hundreds of people in just a few hours is a magical thought and transformation every time.
We performed a lot of school shows, workshops, and assemblies on this tour in addition to our live public performances. In this photo, our performance was this elementary school's first school-wide assembly featuring outside musicians. It was a super rural, low-income area. They were immensely appreciative. We were so happy we could make these kids smile.
Loading in our equipment (on a wildly painted stage) in Sunnyside, Washington.
Our equipment is designed to be set up in the exact same order night after night for efficiency and sanity. Derik and Dalten have it down to a science.
We saw so many beautiful open vistas on this tour. Nevada is beautiful!
Our sweet fearless mama bear, Marit!!
P.S. it's pronounced [MAH-dit]. Like "Got it". Got it? :P
One of my favorite things to do is get a selfie with everyone in our workshops. We definitely left out a few hundred high school kids in this one, bc we couldn't squeeze everyone in!!
Sometimes the venue allows us access early in the day, so that our full show experience can be set up for our educational outreach session in the late morning/early afternoon! We love offering students a "sample" of what that evening's full show experience entails. It just means an early alarm, early load in, lots of coffee, and a nap mid-day ;)
For K-5, we offer an elementary music performance that features: puppets! This little guy, Hairy Gary, is a baby bigfoot and he is unanimously adored by all ages at EVERY. SINGLE. SHOW. He's the ultimate celeb, and kids always beg for him NOT to leave the stage at the end of his song! It chokes me up every time, and in those moments, I REALLY love this weird peculiar touring career.
We're not actually twins. But just for fun, we sometimes pretend we are, since 90% of the time our brains somehow do this weird thing where we know what each other is thinking/doing/feeling/etc. One time a few years ago, I tried to make Derik guess what I was thinking of, just by silently concentrating. (BTW, I chose a specific location in the USA we had never been, and have few conversations about, to avoid a "lucky" memory or commonality.) Derik guessed the specific place on the first try. We screamed, stopped, and have never tried that game since.
This was a beautiful artsy Waldorf-style school in Ukiah, California. One of our favorite school outreach programs we've ever done, hands down. The kids were so intelligent, musically curious, and very interested and appreciative of Derik's songwriting and lyric abilities. Several offered their interpretations of the songs we performed, and we had no less than 50 kids afterwards come shake our hands or hug us tight and say "thank you." Agh. Melted my heart into a puddle.
Prepping Travis for load-in was never been more beautiful, than under these gorgeous blossoms in Ukiah, California! Everything around us was lush green and springing to life. We unloaded our equipment in a garden with bees, hummingbirds, and singing birds all around. I even saw a snake. I don't like snakes... but it was memorable.
One of our favorite venues we performed in on tour: an amazing little theater in Ukiah, California!
Our lights and sound get elevated on these columns by an industrial winch. Derik is our winch operator!
Pre-show sound check!
I missed this incredible photo op because I was doing my makeup. I think the boys handled it on their own...
This is Briana, she's a talented calligrapher and has been a pen pal/"calligra-friend" of mine via snail mail and instagram for a couple of years. We FINALLY got to meet in person!! She's as awesome in real life as I thought she would be from our social media friendship all this time. She and her boyfriend came to our Ukiah show, and she even brought me this stunning hand-painted card, with the most adorable tiny owl totem from Germany. She made my week. Cheers to friends near + far, in-person or online! :)
THIS is my dream Tiny House. It wheeled into a grocery store parking lot while we were waiting for Dalten to emerge from In-n-Out, and I IMMEDIATELY KNEW I HAD TO SEE WHO OWNED IT!! I ran over to greet the guys coming out of the truck: they're the BUILDERS and designers of this tiny house! That's Dwayne, and the rest of his team at Thimble Homes, LLC. I freaked out. They gave me a tour inside, and I got to see all the details up close. Everything is luxury detailing: thoughtful hand-welded iron railings in the loft to redwood paneling, to custom cabinets, to stairwork, tiling, and space optimization that would just blow your mind. This tiny house is on the market for $87,000. I'm srsly THISCLOSE to starting a GoFundMe account just to raise the funds to secure this thing with a loan because helloooooo #housegoals
There was one day it seemed The Acts of God would not quit. We encountered torrential rain, thunder, lightning storm, hail, a SNAIL storm (not kidding: hundreds of snails emerged-- we could barely WALK without stepping on one!), and then, a tornado?! I will leave out the laundry list of logistical challenges of that particular day, but it was DEFINITELY one for the books!!
Derik is smiling because: In-n-out, starbucks, blue sky, t-shirt with Washington on it.
Christine & Marit. We call Christine our "LA Mom" because she's truly like a second mother to us, and treats us like her kids when we get to see her! So here's our awesome moms together. Dynamite people right here.
A secret tea and spice garden, hidden in San Luis Obispo!
One of our most unique load-ins and venues, a methodist church in Lompoc, CA!
Beautiful acoustics and wood paneling. We had an awesome closing night of tour!
Stained glass and beautiful A-frame. Definitely a memorable venue!
The San Luis Obispo farmer's market was so my jam!! I wanted to take all this citrus home with me.
Picturesque Lompoc, California. This home was next to the most adorable cafe, where I had the best salad of the entire tour. It was a great day :P
A sweet gift from a friend.
San Luis Obispo was a luscious green jungle!! So beautiful.
Spending the day with Christine, my LA Mom. I wouldn't have it any other way!
After our final concert in Lompoc, California!
Our last week of tour! It was so nice to see the sun for awhile!
'til the next tour...
If you enjoyed this little photo tour, please sign up for my mailing list right below. This year I'm blending music/touring, art + calligraphy commissions, writing projects, and confidence workshops into one glorious + adventurous... adventure! Email will be the best way to get up close + personal with me and the rest of my small (but growing!) tribe of lovely fans + friends, so I hope you'll join us! xo, Riana.