"Blue Tacoma" singer Russell Dickerson has gotten very familiar with truck stops around the country. And long stretches of highway. For the past five months, he's been spending most of the week living out of a home on wheels, as he hits the road with Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker for their Summer Plays On tour.
Rather than rough it, he and his wife, Kailey Dickerson, decided to trick out their tour bus to make it feel a little more like home. That alone can be a challenge — it's tiny living to the 12th degree, considering the bus sleeps up to a dozen people (which includes Russell's band). But with a little ingenuity, they've come up with a system that works for them.
"At this point, we basically pack to go home instead of packing to get on the bus," Russell laughed. "We've got everything we need in there."
Check out some of the changes they've made — big and small — to make life on tour work for them.
"This is my favorite part of the bus," Russell said. "We installed a full bed with a Murphy desk and a nightstand back there."
At night, it's a bedroom, and by day, it can double as a workstation for Russell to work on songs. "I've got my own studio setup, where I pull out the Murphy desk, then I have a laptop and two studio monitors on a shelf, and a little interface for audio and a guitar," he added.
"Russell made me a chalkboard wall in our home in Nashville, so I immediately said, 'we need one on the bus here.' The walls are kind of orange-y, and I really wanted to get rid of that, too," she explained.
Kailey uses the cork board to pin up mementos of where they've been and writes out their schedule — running Wednesday to Tuesday, since they typically spend Wednesdays through Saturdays on the road. They'll include notes and jokes and scripture that inspires them, and she added a clock with a reminder to Russell — and the other guys in the band — to call the ones they love.
"I have some fake ones at home too, because I can't keep them alive," she laughed. She also stocked up on their favorite candle, too — PF No. 11 Amber & Moss — so the scent would make them feel close to Nashville, even when they're 1,000 miles away.
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"We have two of everything now: the same coffeemaker, the same everything that we would have at home," Russell said.
"I even got the same brand of bathrobes," Kailey added. Those little comforts go a long way in making you feel more rooted (even when you're constantly in motion), which is why they invested in real mugs instead of paper ones, too. "A lot of people just do disposable stuff — and we do that sometimes — but drinking coffee out of a real mug makes a big difference."
Whenever Russell and Kailey are back in her home state of Wisconsin, they load up with plenty of Spotted Cow beer from New Glarus Brewing Co.
They rarely cook when they're on the road — though they did bring out their sous vide machine at one point, slow-cooking steaks during a long drive — but that doesn't mean the dishes don't pile up fast.
"I'm not a very OCD person, but on the bus, I get extremely OCD. Any clutter is super distracting, since it's such close quarters," Russell said. "Any little thing is right in your face, so we try to keep things clean."
"We travel with games like corn hole, so it feels like a Saturday at home no matter where we are," Kailey said.
It may be close quarters, but the couple's learned to make the most out of every square inch.