August 24, 2008
Oil Tops $115 per Barrel: Touring Bands Resort to Horse-Drawn Carriage, Mule
NEW YORK — Driven by rampant speculation, supply shortages, and growing demand from the developing world, oil prices climbed again this week, reaching a record height of $115 a barrel before stabilizing at the end of trading on Wednesday.
The travel sector has struggled to cope with rising fuel expenses, with most major airlines dramatically raising prices. And with gasoline expected to reach $5 per gallon by the end of the year, touring bands in low-paying musical sectors such as folk and bluegrass have begun to seek alternatives to traditional automotive touring.
For regional touring, several bands including Ollabelle (NY) and Old School Freight Train (VA) have adopted the horse-drawn carriage.
“People think we’re doing this shit to be folksy or something. No way. This is actually the only way we can afford to tour,” said Corey DiMario of Crooked Still, who recently traded his Toyota minivan in for a covered wagon and two mules.
But as the energy crisis worsens, even fertilizer and feed prices may become prohibitively expensive for these struggling musicians.
“I might have to quit the violin and go back to work on an oil rig,” said Scottish fiddle legend Alasdair Fraser, whose former employer, petroleum giant BP, has reportedly contacted him with a job offer.
Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas currently tour together by land in a rickshaw drawn by a Highland Cow. The two make trans-Atlantic voyages in a 25-foot motorless sailboat to save money on airline costs and fuel.
“To be living like this in the new millennium is absolutely f—ing ridiculous,” said Greg Liszt, who was forced to trade his 2005 Honda motorscooter for a donkey.