Interview: Damien Jurado’s 50-State Tour

Pacific Northwest mainstay Damien Jurado has toured all over the world and recorded more than a dozen LPs, and now the singer-songwriter wants you to join him in planning an extended road trip through the United States.

Organized largely by fans, the “50-State Tour” will take in everything from living rooms to theatres, and is being set up one or two states at a time.

Damien Jurado

“All are welcome in,” Jurado told Pollstar, using a line from his “Maraqopa” track from the 2012 LP of the same name. It’s the first concept album of a trilogy that concluded with Visions of Us On The Land, an ambitious 17-track sci-fi/desert opus that dropped in 2016 to critical acclaim.

Jurado says the unorthodox tour allows him to become immersed in each state of the U.S. in a way traditional touring simply can’t.  Each state is being booked separately as sort of an indefinite residency, according to Jurado’s manager.

“We approach ‘standard’ venues/promoters as we reach out to fans and local community to set up shows in non-standard settings,” Bas Flesseman of Pollstar. “Houses, churches, barns, stores. All is possible as long as it is in the state and has a local focus.”

Armed with only a guitar to draw from his extensive catalog that goes back 21 years, Jurado is prepared to take requests and may even have new material to test out.

The first states are Ohio and Indiana, with tickets already on sale and new dates just announced. The shows kick off at Cleveland’s

Submissions for possible venues and opening acts can be sent to [email protected].

So what’s going on with the tour? Do you know where you’re headed next or is this sort of spur-of-the-moment?

We aren’t doing all 50 states in a row. There’s breaks in between. I think I would die if I did that, it would take forever – this tour will still take forever obviously. It’ll be like a week in a state, then another week in a state. Then I’ll go home for like two or three weeks, then I’ll go back out.

Then in that two or three weeks home I’ll pick where I go next. That’s basically how it works.

Luckily on this next tour I have Ohio and Indiana, which are right next to each other. But the next tour, you never know, it could be Texas and New Hampshire, or Maine and Hawaii.

It’s kind of cool, and the excitement of the thing is I don’t know where I’m going either. It’s very spontaneous. It’s a completely different, new model but very much based on the old DIY model of long ago. It’s smaller promoter operations. Mostly organized just by fans.


I imagine that can mix things up as opposed to a more traditional tour routing.

It’s true.  I was on tour last year, pretty much all of last year, with a full band. I love the band and it was an amazing, incredible experience, but also very exhausting. And financially it’s a lot different, too.

This method of touring, nobody is doing what I’m about to do. Your standard tour, it’ll be Detroit one night, Chicago on Tuesday, you’re not really seeing the city, or hanging out in the state.

You’re always this stranger in town, and it kind of sucks because in my 20 years of touring I can tell you, you’ll see a billboard for something, “This Saturday there’s a farmers market at, whatever, in Madison, Wisconsin.” Aw man, I’m going to miss it by a day.

I just think why am I doing that anymore? I should just, like, hang out and play in a state as long as I can. For me it’s like a state residency.

Sometimes just seeing a venue doesn’t really give you an idea of what a city is actually like.

That’s the point I’m making. When you’re on tour and you’re traveling from state to state you barely have time to go to the bathroom half the time. It’s just like why am I doing that anymore?

This is America we’re talking about. So if you have to travel, that drive from Atlanta to Orlando – that’s kind of a far drive! Or, like, Orlando to anywhere, really (laughs). Anywhere in Texas is far.

This is all sort of based on what we do in Europe. I’m not just playing Paris and London, I’m playing London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, I’m in England for a while. Why don’t we just treat each state like this? It’s almost like, do America how you do Europe – it’s no different.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Apart from helping set up the shows, fans and other interested parties are submitting to be the opening act for each state too, right?

It’s great. Once we announced this tour, you wouldn’t believe the response. We were just overwhelmed and still can’t keep up with the submissions from fans and artists and people who want to make posters or host a show or be the opening act. It was insane, it was totally insane.

What are the shows going to be like?

It’ll just be me. The reason being is because a lot of these places are smaller, some of them are houses. My catalog is a lot of songs from a 21-year career. I want to be able to go into my career – this isn’t going to be like an album tour, this is going to be more of a career-based tour.

Usually touring is only for promoting a new album, for the most part. Bands didn’t used to do that. They used to tour whenever the hell they wanted to, so I’m kind of going back to that.  So yeah, I’m going out with a full arsenal of material. A lot of it is going be request-heavy.

It’s refreshing for me, really, not playing the same set every night.

Speaking of songs, the closing track from your latest album, “Kola,” was recently used on a TV show.

Yeah it’s “This is Us” on NBC. It’s a great show. It’s funny because I don’t really watch TV but my girlfriend and I and just sort of started watching that show, and I really liked it a lot, thought it was really great writing. And I just fell in love with the show.

I think I was on tour months ago and they said, like back in the fall, they wanted to use my song on the show and I was like, “Oh my gosh, yeah, yeah!”

Mark Neeley

Are you already working on new material?

Yes. That’s all I can tell you.  Yes, I am working on new material.

I think the songs just sort of keep coming. As soon as we wrapped up that album as far as production and stuff, I was already writing new material. So I’m sitting on a lot of songs currently right now.

I have a lot of, a lot of songs. If you took all my albums, the EPs and extras, that’s a lot of material. But there’s also a ton of material no one’s ever heard, a whole library of songs that no one’s ever heard. Not that I’m saying it’s good; that’s why songs don’t end up on records. For the most part the artists don’t want anybody to hear it.

Anything else to add about the tour?

I have a lyric in my song “Maraqopa” that goes, “All are welcome in,” and that’s basically my motto. It doesn’t matter the age, I’m trying my best to keep the shows all ages. That’s really important to me.

Will you play my back yard in Fresno? Maybe I’ll submit.

 Do it, man! That’s what I’m saying. It’ll be great.