“Life on tour is hard. RYFO is here to help”. This statement, however simple it may seem, holds profound truth to me as it has been realized in my life over the past 4+ years. My name is Lee Humerian and I play drums in a band called Phinehas.
My first tour was also Phinehas’ first tour – a short run in the summer of 2009 that started where we were from in southern California up to Washington state and back. I’m pretty sure we did more driving than playing, but it was a chance for us to play out of state and get our feet wet in the road grind. Back then, when we weren’t driving overnight, we relied on family for a place to eat, shower and sleep.
That’s pretty much how it was for us for our next couple tours in the summers of 2010 and 2011. We would plan on playing a summer festival and book as many shows in between as we could. There were no tour budgets and no back-up plans – just (hopefully) enough fuel to get us to the next show. Twice we popped the radiator on our van. The first time we used my credit card for the repair and borrowed a family mini-van for a couple shows. The second time, we also blew a head gasket in our engine and couldn’t afford the fix. We were stranded in Cle Elum, Washington for three days until our friend Tyrone from Bakersfield drove 1000 miles one way (!) to pick us and our trailer up. This unbelievable display of kindness is one of COUNTLESS acts of selflessness we have experienced in our years of touring. I firmly believe that we wouldn’t be a band today if it weren’t for the love and blessing we’ve received by people like this.
Many of these kind, incredible acts have been poured out on us by folks we’ve met through the RYFO organization. RYFO is a non-profit advocate for outreach to musicians. Basically, they are a community of people who open their homes to touring musicians to provide not only a place to sleep, but full-fledged meals, clean showers, laundry, and many other amenities that are often difficult to find or afford while on tour.
We met a RYFO representative at a festival in 2010 and started staying in host homes consistently when we started touring full time in 2012. While playing shows every night is an absolute blast and something we in Phinehas are very fortunate to have the opportunity to do, touring can be very exhausting. After a while, the sleep-deprivation, poor eating habits, sweaty clothes and filthy van can get to you no matter how much or how little you’ve toured. That’s why we love staying at RYFO host homes so much.
Whenever we have the opportunity to stay at a RYFO home, we almost always take it. Rest is so invaluable in life, but it can be extremely difficult to come by while on the road. RYFO stays are so replenishing for me in every way: Physically, emotionally and spiritually. What they offer is so seemingly simple, but when you’ve been away from family for weeks, stuck in a dirty van and eating poorly and irregularly, a bed, shower and meal go a really long way. On top of this, there have been many times RYFO families have gone above and beyond their call of duty. We’ve had a couple drive 4 hours one way to pick us and our gear up from a transmission shop and take us to that night’s show, then drive us 4 hours back so we could pick up our van. We’ve had hot meals waiting for us at 4am after an all-night drive. We’ve received care packages of snacks and sports drinks. We’ve had long, deep conversations about life. I could truly go on and on.
Needless to say, the people involved with RYFO are incredible. We are so fortunate to know the people we’ve stayed with. Many of them have become like family to us, and it is only possible through their loving generosity. We in Phinehas are so thankful to be a part of RYFO – this organization and the host families a part of it have blessed us immensely. If you are in a touring band, we highly encourage you to sign up for RYFO. You’ll be so glad you did! If you have the heart and the means to host and these stories moved you in any way, then we would encourage you to apply to be a host home!
Grace and peace to you, and long live RYFO!
Lee Humerian & PHINEHAS