When does it stop being a party and start becoming a problem? Is there a way to steer clear of addiction? Every Wednesday, Mike McGowan, host of the podcast "Avoiding the Addiction Affliction," explores substance use disorders with expert guests. The podcast series is sponsored by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition.
Original cover art created by
Kelly P. of Kenosha, Wisconsin
Musician, writer, and entrepreneur
In a time when many people seem to acquire their self worth through social media followers and likes, Vanessa McGowan talks about letting our priorities guide our choices and decisions as we cope with life’s challenges. Vanessa is a New Zealand-born musician, writer, and entrepreneur based in Nashville, Tennessee, and Door County, Wisconsin. Vanessa’s “Musician’s Hierarchy of Needs” has implications for those in recovery as well as for those just trying to live their best lives. Vanessa’s contact information, her blog, her writings, and her music can be accessed at https://vanessamcgowan.com
[00:00:00] [Jaunty Music]
[00:00:12] Mike: Welcome everyone to Avoiding the Addiction Affliction, a series brought to you by the Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition. I'm Mike McGowan. A little over a year ago. I had the pleasure of having a great conversation with Vanessa McGowan, no relation, about alcohol consumption during the pandemic.
[00:00:30] She had written an article about it, and I've asked Vanessa to join me again today for a slightly different topic. That I'll just call finding peace and joy. For those of you that don't remember. Vanessa is a renowned musician, writer, and music career coach. Welcome back, Vanessa.
[00:00:49] Vanessa: Hello. It's great to talk to you again.
[00:00:51] Mike: Oh yeah. Did I add that? You're also originally from New Zealand?
[00:00:54] Vanessa: People are like, wait, she doesn't sound like an American. [laugh]
[00:00:59] Mike: Well, and, and I know we talked about backgrounds last time. I always, I find that fascinating. You know, I, I wanna start out with something rather simple because you and I talked, I think it was June of 2021 was when we chatted.
[00:01:13] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:01:15] Mike: And then. Well, let's start out with something simple. Where were you on July 4th? Slightly, right after we talked?
[00:01:23] Vanessa: [laugh] I was at the White House in DC and I was playing the White House 4th of July barbecue. And I will say, it's not like I withheld that information from you.
[00:01:32] Mike: Oh, right.
[00:01:32] Vanessa: It pop it. It popped up like, so last minute. I got a call on like Tuesday or something, saying, where are you gonna be this weekend? And I said, I'm gonna be working at the camp store and for Jake and the person, I think, I think before I could reply and say I was busy, then I got a follow up text saying, because we, we need you to play at the White House. And I was like, yeah, I think I can probably clear my schedule for that. [laugh]
[00:01:54] Mike: [laugh] What is that like to get a call like that?
[00:01:59] Vanessa: It was, I mean, so many of the cool things in the, in the music industry that pop up, are like that. I like last second. Most of the very big opportunities that I've ever got have always been last minute, because that's usually how random things happen. Especially if you, if you're stepping into a new group or playing for a new artist, usually you fill in and then if you do a good job, they keep you. In this instance I actually don't know why it was quite so last. But it was with Jennifer Nettles, from Sugarland who I have played with. I know the opportunity was last minute for her as well, so I'm not, not sure exactly what happened, but we basically got five days notice. You know, I worked so my partner owns the camp store and, and rentals down in Nicolet beach, down in the park here.
[00:02:40] And I've been, when I'm not on tour, I've been working for him, just helping him out. So because it was 4th of July weekend, you know, of course he's like... Yes, you need to go do this. He didn't try and tell me, I had to say to work, but I also knew that he was gonna be slammed. So I tried to work as much as I could.
[00:02:56] So I basically worked on Saturday morning until like 11:00 AM, got in the car, drove to Green Bay, flew to DC, got picked up by the secret service. [laugh]
[00:03:06] Mike: Oh, my.
[00:03:07] Vanessa: [laugh] Got taken to the hotel. The next day we did the barbecue, you know, I got to meet Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, which. I mean, it was, it's one of those things that you don't put on your bucket list because you don't ever think it's gonna be possible.
[00:03:21] It's like, it's, it was so overwhelming. I, I think I, I don't even know if I answered the question. I mean, that he Biden said to me hello, I'm Jill's husband. And I was like, hahaha nervous laugh. Like I don't what to say [laugh] but it was amazing. I mean, it was overwhelming and, and just. Being at the White House is, is a huge thing.
[00:03:41] Like being on stage and looking up and seeing the White House, we were on the south lawn right by the White House. And it was, it was crazy. One of those things that we had truly like a, a life changing experience. And I think it's a foreigner too. Like I have an interesting relationship with patriotism because, when it comes down to it, I'm not American, but I choose to live here.
[00:04:00] And I had a feeling while I was there. Like. Oh, I think I, I think I get it. Like, I think I get the, the full on patriotism because it's in there's good and bad, but in the good moments, it's a, it's a wonderful thing. You know.
[00:04:14] Mike: Especially on July 4th.
[00:04:15] Vanessa: Yes. Yep. And there's like red, white, blue, like the branding is so on point there's red, white and blue everywhere. [laugh]
[00:04:21] And they were celebrating you know, I think they were celebrating first responders and, and people who had especially been affected by the pandemic. So it was, it was a really nice thing to be part of.
[00:04:31] Mike: Wow. I have to ask you when you get a call, what was, do you remember? What was your first thought?
[00:04:38] Vanessa: Well, I mean, when the first text said, you know, are you free this weekend? And I was texting back saying, no. And then the second one came through. I mean, I'm excited, but I'm also immediately going into like planning mode. Like, how am I gonna make this work? You know, I have four days.
[00:04:51] I have to like learn the songs again. I have to take time to listen. I've got a pack. I've gotta figure out the logistics of the travel. I kind of immediately go into, you know, practical mode. But the excitement side of it didn't really hit me, I think really until I got to DC. And then it was like, oh, this is, this is happening. And this is big. [laugh]
[00:05:10] Mike: Wow. Including the secret service picking you.
[00:05:15] Vanessa: Oh, it was crazy. They, I mean, truly getting to experience the security at the White House in the vicinity of the president was, it was amazing to see how it, it moved. Like like all of the secret service members move almost like at one unit, right?
[00:05:29] Like wherever he goes in the White House, they, they move with him, you know? There's an overwhelming security presence, which makes sense. And if you get a little towards the end of the barbecue, after we'd performed, it was the fireworks display, and they put the whole band quite close to the stairs where the Biden family was standing.
[00:05:48] And I happened to end up on the edge of the group. And I, you know, I was trying to get a good view of the fireworks and I, I remember edging slightly to the side, you know, a little bit too close to the stairs and they didn't say anything, but you just felt the presence of the secret service just kind of like move towards you, like, okay, that's enough.
[00:06:03] And you're like, oh, okay, sorry. [laugh] like, I'll take a step back. I'm not trying to get up the stairs, but it was just seeing that kind of stuff. You know, I feel like that's the kind of thing that when you see it on TV or see it in movies, you don't really know what it would feel like until you're there. And it's like, oh, this is an intense experience. Snipers on the roof and like machine gun, you know, dressed up security people everywhere. And it was, it was crazy.
[00:06:27] Mike: Okay, so that's 2020. So where were you this July 4th, 2022?
[00:06:34] Vanessa: This July 4th. I was at the camp store and I was selling...
[00:06:37] Mike: Door County.
[00:06:38] Vanessa: T-shirts and ice to tourists. Yes. Who were there having their 4th of July picnic.
[00:06:43] Mike: So you went from watching the fireworks with the president at the White House to selling t-shirts in Door County, Wisconsin?
[00:06:50] Vanessa: I did.
[00:06:51] Mike: Okay. And that's part of what brought me to wanna talk to you about this today. So in your blog, you kind of reflected on those two dates.
[00:07:01] Vanessa: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:03] Mike: And what you were doing. And what did you learn just by comparing those two dates about happiness and priorities.
[00:07:14] Vanessa: I think the comparison of those two dates became the sort of focal point because of the stark contrast. Right. But really the lesson has come over the last several years, in that, you know, pre- pandemic. I was a full-time touring bass player. That's how I met my partner up here, was on tour and.
[00:07:32] I was touring full time. You know, I, I didn't work a day job anymore. I got to basically just play bass for a living. And then COVID, obviously music goes away. I started working for Jake to help him out because he'd also lost employees because of COVID and so. The process of figuring out that I could be okay, not playing, you know, that I, my sense of self worth, wasn't completely tied up with music.
[00:07:58] That process was certainly not a quick one. Like it's been, you know, over the last two years, it's been slow for me to untangle those two things, but the two 4th of July weekends, and, and the reason I, I mentioned it in my blog. Was that I think I realized during this 4th of July weekend, you know, that if someone asked me if I was happy, I could say yes, you know, I was, I was fine.
[00:08:20] Like, I mean, working in a tourism industry during 4th of July weekend is busy and crazy. But generally speaking, you know, yes, I'm happy. And I think a lot of people would look at the dichotomy between playing the 4th of July White House barbecue for the president and working behind a retail counter selling ice.
[00:08:38] And they would assume that that would make me miserable. But what I've realized is that my sense of who I am and my sense of whether I'm worthy or not, is no longer tied up with whether I'm standing on stage or not. I know that I get to stand on stage. I know that I play bass to a really high level.
[00:08:55] I've worked really hard to get to that point where people will hire me to do those kinds of gigs, but. My inherent intrinsic value as a human isn't that, and it's been a huge lesson to learn, but I do think that it's the one massive silver lining for me from the pandemic and something that I am, even though I would never have chosen this way to learn it.
[00:09:18] I am really grateful for.
[00:09:20] Mike: I think a lot of us reflected in a similar way during the pandemic. Self worth is oftentimes really misunderstood where we get it from how we get it internal versus external.
[00:09:37] Vanessa: Well, I think that the pandemic threw a lot of us off our hamster wheels. You know, we've, we're so busy running on the hamster wheel that we've chosen that we've, don't take a second to even consider what it means anymore.
[00:09:50] And I know that's true for me that I, I remember hearing a story about a, an artist who'd quit music who just had said one day, like, nah I'm done I'm oh, I opening a coffee shop. And I talked to a friend of mine in Nashville who was also a touring musician. And both of us were like... Wait that you're, you can do that?
[00:10:06] Like that's, you're allowed to do that. You're allowed to just stop? [laugh] Like we were so used to just this constant... What's next? What's next? Like we must build upon this. We must work harder. We must keep our, you know, nose to the grind. Like I think. I think that the idea that you could do something different and be okay, isn't something you even consider.
[00:10:25] And then the pandemic kind of halted everything in such a way that not only did, could you consider it, but you had to, because suddenly there were no gigs and there was no standing on stage. And if standing on stage is the only way that you get a sense of self worth, then suddenly you either don't have a sense of self worth or you have to figure out another way to find it.
[00:10:46] Mike: I mean, I'll make these parallels as we have this conversation, but that reminds me of people that I've worked with over the years. Who've said, will I be okay? Who am I, if I don't do drugs? Who am I, if I'm not drinking, will I be okay. Getting off of that, that hamster wheel is a chore in itself.
[00:11:04] Vanessa: Oh yeah.
[00:11:05] And who am I, if I don't, I think you could insert anything into that. And if you can't answer it, you're gonna struggle, because whatever the thing is that you're inserting after that statement, it can't be your sense of self worth. No matter what that thing is.
[00:11:21] Mike: Yeah.
[00:11:22] You know, and like a lot of creative people I know, your creativity doesn't just end with your world class bass playing.
[00:11:31] You're an accomplished writer, speaker, trainer among others. And, and I saw on your website, something that you called. If I'm getting this right. The musician's hierarchy of needs. Did I get that right?
[00:11:42] Vanessa: Mm-hmm.
[00:11:42] Mike: And I thought there were a lot of parallels, not only to most of us who are living day to day, but also in recovery.
[00:11:51] Can you kind of go through your hierarchy of needs?
[00:11:54] Vanessa: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so I, I based it very, very, very loosely on Maslows. So I was just thinking about, you know, what, what it is. That we need as musicians to flourish, to be successful. And my idea of success, isn't winning a Grammy award or playing on an arena stage to 15,000 people.
[00:12:13] My, my idea for what success is and should mean is, is finding a way to do the thing that you love in a way that makes you happy. And sometimes the pursuit of those big accolades and awards actually doesn't make you happy. And then even if you do achieve the award. You're still not happy. So to me that isn't success.
[00:12:32] Success is finding a way to do the thing that you love and still achieve those goals and, and, you know, dream big. I'm not suggesting people shouldn't have big dreams, but you have to find a way to, to be happy and healthy too. Otherwise ultimately, no award is gonna do that for you. And I think one of the things that I try really hard to get.
[00:12:51] Especially musicians and artists to think about. First of all, the reason that financial security is number one is that: A: a lot of creative people think that if you consider your finances, and if you put any effort into making the finances work, then you're not an artiste, you know, that you're selling out.
[00:13:08] And I think that is ridiculous and unhealthy and totally impractical because if you don't have your finances covered A: you make bad musical decisions because you have to pick up every scrap of work that's thrown your way. So you end up playing worse music, which doesn't seem to me like a win. And you also don't get, I know that for me, the times in my life that I've had the, the least financial security, I've also had the least creative output because of the stress that the financial insecurity put on me.
[00:13:38] So the idea that forgetting about money means that you can play better music and be more creative, I think is totally counterintuitive. Which is why I think it should be first.
[00:13:47] Mike: Well, and let me stop you for a second. Cause what you just said is exactly the same conversation that I've had with almost every recovering person that we've talked to in these conversations.
[00:13:58] And you just mentioned stress.
[00:14:00] Vanessa: Mm-hmm.
[00:14:00] Mike: And when you don't have a job, when there's no way to pay the rent or the electricity, the stress that somebody's under. And for those in recovery, the temptation to go back to using, to numb those feelings.
[00:14:12] Vanessa: Right.
[00:14:13] Mike: Wrong. And I can't tell you how many people just give a gigantic sigh of relief when they get a job.
[00:14:21] Vanessa: Right.
[00:14:22] Mike: And that they can pay the bills again.
[00:14:24] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:14:25] Mike: It's so huge.
[00:14:26] Vanessa: It's huge. Yeah.
[00:14:28] Mike: What, what comes after you retain that, then where do you go?
[00:14:32] Vanessa: Well, so I think number two is inspiration. Because I think if you're not inspired, then you won't have anything to say, you don't, what's the point of creating.
[00:14:42] If there's no inspiration, if you're just regurgitating the same thing over and over again, then it's not gonna be interesting to anyone really. And I think that, again, this comes, the reason I put this second, is I do think that there is sort of toxic thing in the music industry where people talk about cutting everything out of your life so that you can be single minded about your pursuit.
[00:15:02] That if you wanna be an artist, you shouldn't have any, you know, there's no time for relationships. There's no time for family. I heard a guy on business radio in Nashville one night. Talking about this, a guy who'd written a book who, thankfully I can't remember his name because I would drag it through the mud.
[00:15:17] But he was talking about, you know, if you don't give everything to this, then the person next to you that is giving everything to it is gonna win that if you don't throw a hundred percent of your energy into this career, then you, you know, someone else will and you'll lose. And I just thought that there was like the worst most terrible advice you could give, especially to a young person. Because first of all, if you don't have a support network around you, of people who care about you and who you care about, then you're going to struggle with every other element of this, you know, every other element of life, but also of pursuing a fairly, you know, rollercoastery kind of career music is not a stable career.
[00:15:52] It's wonderful, but it's not stable. And you need stability in some other facet of your life to support you, but also. If you're not falling in love and falling outta love. And if you're not going on adventures and seeing the world, what are you gonna write about? [laugh] Like, what are you gonna talk about in your music if you don't have any experience?
[00:16:09] So I think that inspiration coming from life experience and from people and from travel and from books and movies and wherever you can find your inspiration, I think that has to come next in the hierarchy because otherwise everything else that comes after that is [inaudible].
[00:16:27] Mike: You know, it's again, you know, it's funny cuz when I ask recovering people in these conversations and others, about what have you learned in recovery?
[00:16:35] What what's good for you? What's new for you? They all reflect on inspiration. Taking a walk on the beat, watching the clouds fly by. The lady who created the artwork for this podcast has a group that gets together and creates art on her porch. But by the way, also is now more relieved that she has got a good job again and can pay the bills.
[00:17:00] Vanessa: Right.
[00:17:00] Mike: So, you know, that that sense of balance in your life is really important. Otherwise you go wacko.
[00:17:07] Vanessa: Yeah, you do. And I think a lot of musicians, especially experience going wacko first [laugh] and hopefully they realize it has something has to give. I mean, I've been very, very tunnel visioned with music in the past.
[00:17:20] And it has got me to achieve things. You know, I've been able to achieve goals because of my ability. To just throw it all in on one thing. But I don't think I was very happy. You know, I know that there were long stretches of time where I was stressed and I was emotionally miserable. And now that I look back, a lot of the things that I share on the blog and that I share with clients are things that I just wish I could share with myself 10 years ago, that I could go back and be like, Hey, it's okay to have a life.
[00:17:50] You don't need to, to quit everything else to focus on this one thing.
[00:17:54] Mike: Selling t-shirts and ice is good too.
[00:17:57] Vanessa: Exactly. I mean, the thing is the reason that financial security is a hard one for, for creatives is that there is the stigma attached to, if you can't make your a hundred percent of your living through your art, then you obviously suck at your art.
[00:18:10] And that is, is isn't true. First of all, the, the musical middle class is basically gone. The industry has changed such that it is almost impossible to make a decent living through performing alone, but also it's just such a, a stupid way to look at creativity that you must be able to monetize this thing to have any validity, like it's such a, a toxic way to look at it.
[00:18:30] And unfortunately, I think there is a lot of stigma out there where people don't wanna say, I mean, I, even at the beginning of this experience working for Jake, you know, I would make a very big point. If someone asked me what I was doing there of saying, oh, you know, well, normally I play music. You normally, I live in Nashville, like, you know, the pandemic.
[00:18:46] And I got to the point where I was. Why am I saying that, who cares? First of all, this is a stranger I'm talking to and they don't matter, but also like, why am I so embarrassed of, of just working a job because it's working a job, like that's stupid and I've gotta stop. So I'm trying to, I'm trying to live my own advice as well. [laugh]
[00:19:02] Mike: Yeah. Well, you know, part of your hierarchy that I really connected with was your next one, which was intention.
[00:19:08] Vanessa: Mm-hmm .
[00:19:09] Mike: Um, and I, I love that cuz you, you say. Why am I doing this? Which if you're in recovery, you're asking a lot of times, why am I doing this?
[00:19:20] Vanessa: Yeah, well, and I, I sort of feel like inspiration and intention.
[00:19:24] And actually creativity. I feel like all of them, as far as the pecking order of the hierarchy goes, they they're all pretty interchangeable like intention and inspiration often come from the same place, you know, finding inspiration and, and finding your creativity is part of probably finding your intention.
[00:19:40] So these three to me do kind of live together in the middle. And I think that probably depending on the day, you're probably in one more than the other, but they're all, they are all still slightly different. Like you can be inspired, but not know what your intention is. And without an intention. A: it's much harder to achieve any kind of goals you set, but also it's much harder for other people to connect with you.
[00:20:02] And if you are creating art of some kind and you are trying to reach an audience, you do need to know what the intention is, so that other people have the ability to connect with that as well.
[00:20:12] Mike: Yeah. And, and how does creativity play into that?
[00:20:17] Vanessa: I mean? I think it's. I think it's about putting aside time for it, you know, so that you don't spend... Another mistake I see a lot of musicians making is spending most of their time trying to find an audience, but not enough time actually creating. And so then they end up in this, in this kind of cycle where they're constantly making content for social media and constantly trying to watch tutorials for the latest hashtag hack.
[00:20:45] And they're not actually creating anything worthwhile to then have the audience wanna check out. You know, it's like getting fixated with growth and with fixated on numbers and trying to build your follow account and, you know, build up your Spotify streams. You need to make sure that there's time set aside for actually doing the thing [laugh] and creativity and the creation of what, what it is that you are doing sometimes gets like left, not only to an afterthought, but almost like gets forgotten about completely well.
[00:21:17] Mike: And you had a quote, let me see if I can find, oh, you won't find financial security validation or inspiration in your social media follower account. [laugh]
[00:21:27] Vanessa: You won't, I mean, you simply won't right? Like it's, it's the thing, it's the thing that a lot of people just get like, so fixated on. That it's, you know, how do I, I wanna get to 10,000 followers, I mean I have this conversation with clients all the time, and if I'm like, why?
[00:21:42] Mike: Why?
[00:21:43] Vanessa: If the answer is like, oh, because if you have 10,000 followers, I, I know that that means that 10% of them are likely to whatever. Like, if there's a reason behind the numbers and I need to make this much money a month, and if I have that percentage of these people, you know, like if there's some kind of metric in mind, I get it.
[00:21:59] But if it's just an ego thing, and if it's just bragging rights, then you have to, to check yourself there because you're gonna pour all this energy into something that is utterly meaningless.
[00:22:09] Mike: Well, and for me, I think then you're also playing to the least common denominator.
[00:22:15] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:22:15] Mike: Which is people who are just into that, that numbers thing.
[00:22:20] Vanessa: Oh yeah. I mean, it's actually not difficult to get numbers. I mean, there is a formula to, to make content go viral. That is a very simple formula. Like once you understand how social media works and you understand what their goals are, you can check the boxes to make something go viral. But, so what? If you get a bunch of people on your page, even if they do follow you, if they're not the kinds of ideal audience members who are actually going to interact with your content on any kind of meaningful level, and if they're not the people who are gonna buy your album or come to your gig, or even sign up for your mailing list, something as small as that, if they're just people who liked your silly reel that you made.
[00:22:57] It is, even if you get the numbers, it's still meaningless. Like you have to focus on what is more important. And that is the authenticity, the intention and the connection. And if you focus on those things, yes, it's a slower growth, but it's far more meaningful.
[00:23:12] Mike: Well, and then you wrap it all in a bow saying, now you have your team.
[00:23:16] Vanessa: Right.
[00:23:18] Which again is often people put that cart before a horse. They're saying like, oh, I need to, I need, I need a manager. And it's like, well, what do you think a manager's gonna do? Or a manager's gonna find me opportunities. Like no, a manager manages the opportunities that are already in your world. Like if you talk to any music managers in the industry, yeah.
[00:23:34] They have connections and they can help, you know, further things, but they don't manage something that isn't already flourishing. They come in when it's doing so well that the artists cannot actually manage the logistics anymore. I think a lot of artists think that if they, if they find the right team, they can outsource the hard work and you can't outsource the hard work.
[00:23:53] You have to just do the hard work yourself.
[00:23:55] Mike: Hm, man. [laugh] That's everybody who's recovering is just nodding their head...
[00:24:00] Vanessa: [laugh]
[00:24:00] Mike: ...to that statement. You know, I see people, one of the statements that I make all the time when I do talks. Is bowlers hang out with bowlers, gamers hang out with gamers, healthy people tend to hang out with healthy people.
[00:24:14] So the stronger that you are, the more likely your team is going to also be strong and support those realistic and healthy goals that you have.
[00:24:26] Vanessa: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And also the, the fact is if you, once you do have a team, those people are working for you. And if you don't understand what their roles are, because you haven't actually done those jobs yourself, like if you hire someone to book a tour for you and you've never booked a tour yourself first, they could easily do things that are not in your best interests. You know, this is the problem with artists that blow up really, really fast on like TikTok or YouTube. And they end up thrust into this position where they're famous and they have these like huge numbers. And they don't have any experience with the actual inner workings of the industry.
[00:25:02] And they get often get screwed by people who take advantage of them because they don't know any better. It's not getting a team on board isn't a magic bullet. It's something that happens at the end, which is why I put it last. It's the last thing that happens after you've built an audience, after you've figured out what is your intention after you've figured out how to stay financially stable.
[00:25:21] Like all those things have to come first. And then if you know, if things are going well, then you might need to manager or you might need a booking agent.
[00:25:29] Mike: And having them help you with organizing yourself for things that are really healthy rather than just...
[00:25:36] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:25:37] Mike: Yeah. Those goals.
[00:25:38] Vanessa: Totally. Yeah.
[00:25:39] Mike: It it's just, I love doing this.
[00:25:41] I I'm, we, so if I don't ask you since it's been a year, since we talked and what we talked about. After we talked about it, all these studies started to come out, Vanessa, cause you were asking me for your article about drinking in the pandemic and have I seen it gone up and whatever, and then all of a sudden, boom.
[00:26:01] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:26:02] Mike: And I know I sent you information that was constant all 72 counties where the only state in the country that reported an increase in excessive drinking.
[00:26:12] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:26:12] Mike: What have you seen. In your hub of vacation world up there. What have you seen in your travels also about drinking since we last talked?
[00:26:25] Vanessa: I mean, I, I definitely noticed that what you, like, what you mentioned that there were studies suddenly, you know, basically confirming what I had thought was probably the case, which was that we turned to alcohol to deal with the stress of the pandemic. And that what we were talked about was the fact that unfortunately alcohol is often the only coping mechanism that people have at their fingertips.
[00:26:44] So they don't have any actual kind of. We're not taught life skills for how to deal with stress. So we turn to bourbon. [laugh] But your, what has been interesting lately that I've noticed is that there seems to be this push towards sobriety as well, especially in the younger communities, which is, I mean, kind of a heartening thing that it's coming from this place of, not like they've got themselves to a point of dire straits, and then they turn around and say, oh, maybe I shouldn't drink. That there is this kind of movement towards like choosing to not drink, not because they need to make that choice, but cause they just want to, and the, the amount of like NA beers that are now available the, the every time we go to buy some, you know, like beer, there's like pretty much every month, there's like a new flavor or there's a new company that's put one out. Like there seems to be a push to it now, which I don't know if that's like a pendulum swing after what happened during the pandemic that maybe everyone drank excessively for 18 months and then was like, oh, [laugh] this isn't good. I haven't actually seen Wisconsin specific stats to support that idea.
[00:27:50] But the news articles that I've noticed, it just seems to be, I guess I should preface this by saying, I don't know if it's just that I'm suddenly more interested in it or if it's actually, I am noticing more of them, but I feel like I'm seeing more reporting of this push towards choosing to not drink or choosing to drink less like it's becoming far less, there's far less stigma it seems around saying, oh, I'm not drinking or I don't drink. Whereas it's like, you know, the binge drinking cultures of Wisconsin, of New Zealand, of England, like, you know, we talked about the fact that it's everywhere. It would've, it was very weird and people would be like, push you. You know, if you, if you tried to say you didn't wanna drink.
[00:28:27] And I think now it's. I mean, at least for me, it feels like it's getting easier to say it. I hope that that's a trend. It's not just personal. [laugh]
[00:28:34] Mike: Me too. In fact, we're gonna do a a conversation about just that there was an article that a woman wrote about how to say no to alcohol. And it's like, how about just no? [laugh]
[00:28:46] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:28:46] Mike: It gave all these excuses, like the whole world, like the norm is to over indulge.
[00:28:51] Vanessa: Right.
[00:28:52] Mike: What's next for you now?
[00:28:55] Vanessa: Well, I am actually going on tour again. In a few weeks, we're doing some UK and European dates, which will be the first time I've been on tour overseas since the pandemic started. So that's gonna be really cool. I did get to go back to New Zealand in April, but up until then, it was the longest that I'd kind of been in one place for a while.
[00:29:11] So traveling will be fun again. I mean, I think that the pandemic. Another lesson that it's taught me is the impermanence of everything . So I say that we have a tour booked, but like I also, part of me has just become so used to things being canceled that I'm kind of like, yeah, we're supposed to go on tour at the end of August.
[00:29:29] And, and I will be excited if it happens, but I'm also, who knows if Monkey Pox is about to take over the world. [laugh]
[00:29:36] Mike: Who are you touring with?
[00:29:37] Vanessa: With Brandy Clark? So this is the artist that I am the musical director for. So, and she was the, the one that in 2020, we were in New York doing TV promo for a new record, right as pandemic kind of shut it all down.
[00:29:49] So we had a four month tour booked in 2020. And these dates that we've been doing, we just did another couple weeks, a little while ago. And then like three weeks in Europe, these are a lot of them are dates that were supposed to happen in 2020. And there's, you know, sort of, maybe not exactly the same tour being just mapped out now, but a lot of the same places.
[00:30:07] So, which is cool. Like it's, it feels good to finally get closure on that so that she has another album she's making and then next year it's gonna be like a whole brand new thing. So it's gonna hopefully feel like a bit of a restart.
[00:30:19] Mike: Oh, wow. And a restart for all of us too.
[00:30:21] Well, when you get back. Maybe we can have another conversation about your observations as you tour the world.
[00:30:27] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:30:27] Mike: Even if you don't invite me to go along with you, which apparently...
[00:30:30] Vanessa: [laugh]
[00:30:30] Mike: ...you do.
[00:30:32] Vanessa: I mean, you're more than welcome to come sell ice at the camp store. [laugh]
[00:30:37] Mike: Thanks, [laugh] I get the other, other job. Vanessa, it's always such a great treat to talk to you. Thanks for joining us so much.
[00:30:43] Vanessa: Thanks so much for inviting me back.
[00:30:45] Mike: Yeah. And for those of you listening, listen in the next time, we'll talk about more stuff like this, and then until then, stay safe. Tour the world.
[00:30:54] [END AUDIO]
The Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition’s mission is to support networking, encourage education, explore gaps, and realize solutions to improve treatment and reduce alcohol and other drug abuse in our community with a primary focus on families.