Text by Brian Crawford
Edited by Melanie Stangl
Affordable to free accommodations and practice facilities ($15-$25 an hour) are coming to Pittsburgh by way of the Tour House, a new concept to encourage touring artists to put Pittsburgh on the map and grow the music scene at large. The Tour House will be located in Millvale, minutes from Mr. Smalls Theatre.
Touring artists provide a variety of opportunities for collaborations with local bands, enhancing the music scene as a whole. The idea is that local promoters would work with the Tour House as donors to pay for or help pay for the accommodations.
Meg Wills and Ty Miller of the band Young Lungs have experienced the need for a Tour House service. Ms. Wills recalls a time the group, through an act of charity, was essentially held prisoner. “We stayed in a basement once, where you had to enter from the outside. The people who owned it actually removed the stairs from the inside,” Wills recalls. “They locked us in their basement, and I’m talking creepy cellar doors. We slept on this concrete floor with drums all around us.”
She says it’s not uncommon to find yourself in perilous situations while on tour. Musicians are often at the mercy of strangers, but the idea of asking a stranger to take you in upon first meeting them can be a bit awkward. “Bands so often after the show hint [for a place to stay], but don’t want to just come out and say it,” she continues.
Shandra Peelman, owner of Siren Productions, is spearheading the initiative. She’s drawing on her experience as a promoter to assess the needs of bands and make Pittsburgh a more inviting space, so bands don’t have to be locked captive in creepy Pittsburgh cellars.
Would a Tour House make the difference? According to Wills, “Securing where you can stay just makes all the difference.” Bandmate Ty Miller agrees. In fact, he can’t believe it doesn’t exist already. He explained, “How is this not already a thing in major cities? I feel like it’s such a great idea.”
Peelman is looking for sponsors to get the project going, with donation levels as low as just $100. A sponsorship will forever enshrine your name on a plaque in the house. You can make donations at her sponseasy site, https://www.sponseasy.com/p/tour-house.