How Treefort Musicians Stay Healthy On the Road 

"We're used to fine dining and fancy farmers markets, but you don't see that everywhere."

They were somewhere in South Dakota when the only food Rachel Lark and her bandmates had was meat—nothing but meat.

"Even the potato chips were bacon potato chips," Lark said. "Everything was meat-infused. We ate the food, because you never turn down free food, but for days afterward, we wished we would have not eaten for a day than to have eaten that food."

Struggling to stay healthy and eat well is a real challenge facing many of the musicians who made their way to Boise for Treefort Music Fest 2016.

"When I was on tour with my old band, we were really good about stopping at grocery stores to get food, so we were eating sandwiches and carrots and hummus and fruit," Lark said. "When you're one person on the road, and you're doing all the driving and booking yourself, it's hard to motivate yourself to go grocery shopping in the middle of an eight-hour stint of driving and figure out a meal."

Lark, who is performing at Liquid Lounge on Thursday, March 24 at 11:15 p.m., calls her music "reality folk," wherein she takes a traditional singer/songwriter aesthetic and mixes in electronic loops. Her songs explore sex, drugs and partying and, on occasion, meat. For example, "Warm, Bloody and Tender," tells the story of a menstrual night of passion: "Just like steak / pussy tastes better / when it's warm, bloody / and tender."

Though she is driving alone from San Francisco, Lark has a few tricks up her sleeve to help stay healthy along the way. For one thing, she never eats fast food. She brings her own pour-over coffee and treats herself to expensive superfood smoothies. She takes nine minutes every morning for her workout routine and when Lark eats in a restaurant, she mostly orders salads.

She has also learned to ease up on herself when it comes to eating poorly on the road.

"I practice a lot of forgiving myself for eating junk food," Lark said. "My lifestyle outside of touring has become very health conscious. I know I need lots of sleep and to be really healthy for at least two weeks before I get on the road," adding she feels lucky she didn't start touring until 2011, because there are now way more Whole Foods across the country than there used to be.

"I don't like thinking of myself as high-maintenance. I don't want anyone to think I'm going to freak out because there's no superfood smoothies around," Lark said. "That said, it is really delightful when you are in the middle of the country and you stumble upon a hippie co-op. It's like a mecca. It's like, they have dates! Dates, everybody! Dates!"

Musician Joey "Cello Joe" Chang also had to figure out how to maintain a healthy diet while on the road, especially when he started touring with his cello strapped to his bicycle.

What began as a necessity to get his cello around the Berklee College of Music in Boston bloomed into a plan to tour exclusively on his bicycle. After college, Chang joined a group of 15 other musicians from San Francisco and rode 5,000 miles along the California coast and into Mexico.

"Before that, the longest bike ride I had ever done was from my house to the coast, about 50 miles," Chang said.

The group rode cargo bicycles loaded with camping gear, instruments and a makeshift pedal-powered PA system.

"We'd prop up the back wheels and get people from the audience to pedal our bikes in place," Chang said. "We could plug the PA into that and do a show anywhere without having to be on the grid. We could play on the beach or in a plaza."

The physical demands of riding up to 30 miles per day for seven months called for special attention to Chang's diet. He sought local grocers and co-ops for organic foods, fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, organic meal bars and peanut butter.

Not everywhere Chang tours has healthy options, though.

"When you have to deal with that, it's rough," he said. "I played at a festival in Illinois and the food in the cafeteria was atrocious. Straight up tons of meat, mac and cheese, iceberg lettuce. Not what we were used to. We're used to fine dining and fancy farmers markets, but you don't see that everywhere."

Now, Chang takes a bag of healthy snacks with him wherever he goes and since that first tour, he has cycled through Utah and the Pacific Northwest, as well as on five-month tour in Europe.

Chang isn't biking to Boise to perform at Treefort Music Fest. He'll fly this time, and perform with his cello and affinity for beatboxing at Liquid on Thursday, March 24, at 10:15 p.m., right before Lark.

When Chang and Lark get here, they'll probably take music promoter Seth Brown's advice when it comes to eating in restaurants with local and natural food choices. Brown suggests Bittercreek Alehouse, Red Feather Lounge, Wild Root and Juniper.

"[Musicians] have some pretty unusual requests for the fanciest organic natural food or beverage that Boise may or may not have access to," Brown said. "Some requests are pretty easy to fulfill at the Boise Co-op, but [for] some items, we just have to explain that it is not available and find the next best substitute."

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