Halfway through his CD promotional tour, Eric Himan contemplates the contrasting roles of domestic and musician
Eric Himan loves to cook; more so rather, he says, "the instant connection with people that comes with food." Sharing the spoils of a six-month-long cooking class with friends and loved ones, Himan has found himself favoring the fare of Italian-American and Jewish cuisine, with a little Asian fusion for some Eastern flare. Yet the latter notwithstanding, it's still unlikely there will be any quick-and-easy stir fries printed in any one of Himan's cook-book collections. "I like the time-consuming [recipes]," he thinks aloud. "I like choosing dishes that take a long time." He even makes his own pasta.
Via this musing, it then occurs to him his predilection toward labor-intensive cookery may be directly correlated to his labor-inclined character. But he'll think more on that later.
It is hour 13 of the 22-hour drive back to his suburban Tulsa, Okla. homestead. The openly gay recording artist has been on the road since 9 a.m. "It's unglamorous," he says. At the halfway mark of his eight-month long "Supposed Tour"—promoting his seventh studio album, Supposed Unknown
—Himan jokes the tour's title actually means, "Supposedly going in any direction they want." He has spent the few weeks prior performing on stages in New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Harrisburg and at a private wedding. He'll be home for four days before getting on the road again for a show in St. Louis, then another in Tulsa and then onto Chicago to perform at the city's annual Market Days street fair, as he has every year for the last six.
"I love it," Himan says of taking the huge, street-fair stage. "I feel anybody's lucky to have a steady show; at least I have one gig."
In addition to being a Market-Days favorite, Himan also notes the good fortune he relishes in the personal rewards of his latest CD. He says Supposed Unknown
embodies a newfound, "quieter" sensibility on his part.
"In the past, I was always trying to be the biggest and loudest thing in the room," he explains, "to show that I wasn't just an acoustic guitar playing quietly in the back of a coffee shop. This CD is the quietest thing I've ever done … For the first time I didn't feel pressured by the studio, the clock or money … I didn't need to be loved or get everyone's attention. I had nothing to prove, and [the result]: I'm as outspoken as I've ever been."
However, the personal fulfillment found in his newly adopted, softer-said outspokenness does little in alleviating the ongoing hardships of being both a happy homemaker and nationally touring musician. The frustrations of which he attempted to share with a guest at the wedding he just played, but she didn't get it. She only saw the guitar and tattooed torso of a rocker playing for an appreciative audience, and not the soft eyes and face of a Midwestern boy next door looking forward to the unglamorous, 22-hour-long drive home—the guy who just wants to walk his dog, tend the yard and roast a chicken (with buttermilk garlic potatoes) for his partner and pals.
"She kept saying, ‘You love it. You're having so much fun. How can it be hard?'" Himan recalls. "I have an extremely domestic life in Oklahoma; as much as I love it, I also love my music career, and that's complicated: to keep my home, I can't be home," Himan emotes. "I spend half the year working my ass off, and half the year [cooking for] friends … My time off has a shelf-life of three to four days—then I need to be productive."
This sentiment calls to mind Himan's 96-year-old grandmother, who frequently asks him if he can—if he even knows how to—relax. To that, he simply says, "No. I'll relax when I'm 96."Eric Himan's "Supposed Tour" lands in Chicago for Market Days, August 13, 2011, and carries on until the end of the year. The complete tour schedule is posted to his website at www.erichiman.com (Market Days Schedule: Sat., Aug. 13 | Sun., Aug 14)