Since late August, I’ve been living in a bus. It’s a 1993 Ford E350 passenger vehicle. First it was used as a shuttle bus, then I believe it was used as a mobile party vehicle.
Now in 2018, it’s in the final developmental stages of becoming a mobile home/studio. The seats have been ripped out, and home comforts have been added. After some more mechanics get done, it’ll be road worthy once again, and ready to travel the country.
It’s a work in progress of course. At this point we have the necessary comforts – my comfy bed and chair, all of my music gear (and a padlocked storage unit to keep it in), a small DIY kitchen area complete with running water, a super cool futon that converts into 2 seeping cots, power converter, heat, food, etc. Our recording gear is modest at this point, we hope to grow in that area as we go along. Once we get it “officially” licensed as a motor home, it’ll be ready for the long Journey ahead.
Over the course of the next year or two, the Folk U Productions mobile studio will travel the country, providing DIY recordings for Artists that are just starting out. Of course, I will be sprinkling my own tunes across the land as well. My music has found a home in Madison; and while it does feel a little scary to leave the comforts of such a loving community, it’s that same Love from my community that makes me feel supported on this Journey. This is my home now – even if I travel for months at a time, I will be coming home to Madison ❤
Like any grand DIY endeavor, the bus has had us on quite the adventure. First and foremost, there is major lifestyle change. Between my partner and I, our possessions are simplified, completely stripped down to just what we need to be comfortable and productive. Many people don’t realize how little a person actually needs: food, water, bed, clothes, bathroom supplies, communication device…and…yeah, that’s pretty much it. Everything else is a luxury – hell, even half that list is a luxury. Beyond the basic necessities, everything else we have on the bus is for Folk U Productions play and creation: guitars, sound gear, laptop with recording software, interface and mics, a shitload of art supplies for merch making… I’d say over 2/3 of the shit on the bus is for Folk U endeavors.
We also make sure to try and take good care of ourselves in little ways; like getting good sleep, always having fresh coffee in the morning, remembering to stretch our bodies and breathe deeply, have Creative stimulus around, keep the space clean and free-flowing, etc. There are other small lifestyle adjustments to get used to: keeping up maintenance on our water system, self-contained chem toilet, bus mechanics, making these things part of our regular routine. Luckily we’ve lived this kind of lifestyle before, and are pretty well-suited for the adjustment.
I’d say the most challenging part so far has been money, unfortunately. To get a 25-year-old shuttle bus in good enough condition to travel across the country takes a fair amount of mechanical work, which is far more expensive than anything we’ve done to the inside. The engine work, front/rear end stuff, tires, alternator, a handful of other stuff I don’t understand because I don’t speak mechanic…the cost for getting it road-ready is almost equal to the cost paid for the bus itself. And ya know, shit happens along the way: ya thought it was gonna cost this much, turned out to be that much, thought it was gonna be ready this day, but it’s not ready til that day, thought you only needed this thing, but turns out you need that other thing first before you can get this thing…there are tests of one’s perseverance and conviction, for sure.
Thankfully, we’ve come too far to turn back now! Even though our launch date has been pushed back a few times due to the financial snags, we’re pushing forward as hard as we can. Today we pick up the bus from the latest run of repairs. We still need 2 front tires and an alignment, and then if all looks good, it should be road-worthy. The next goal after that is to get it licensed as a motor home and get it insured. At that point, we’ll gather our gas money and off we go!
I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m looking forward to taking my music on this Adventure ❤