Gigs, digs and mental health – ‘The Roadie Cookbook: Toured There, Ate That‘ launches in Manchester

My Dad was a professional museum, which led to him being away on tour a fair bit when I was growing up.

‘Gigs and digs’ were oft heard words in our house. And it’s all very rock and roll and glamorous, isn’t it?

Well like everything, dig (not always deep) below the surface and there are significant stresses and strains and elements to touring (and indeed when not, during periods of downtime) that can cause musicians and crew issues with mental health.

Well some clever so and so’s have come up with a wonderful idea. Well two wonderful ideas really.

Launched at Oxford Road’s Hatch, The Roadie Cookbook: Toured There, Ate That is a new charity publication created by live music crew members with the mission of funding Mental Health First Aid training for every tour bus in the UK.

Borne out of an idea by Production Manager Nick Gosling (Nile Rodgers & Chic) in April 2020 and curated with friends Production Coordinator Julie Cotton (Massive Attack), Production Assistant Athena Caramitsos, Backline TechRich House (Elbow) and Kel Murray (Stagehand, Music Support), the team set out to help their peers re-engage in the much-missed mealtime connection of crew catering by sharing recipes over social media and Zoom.

Julie Cotton and Nick Gosling by Jody Hartley

The team met through the Manchester music scene and recognised first-hand how food can bring people together when touring the world.

When the devastation of Covid-19 hit, live music stopped overnight, and tour buses stood still. While almost every venue in the world closed, home kitchens became the new catering hub for unemployed music workers.

As stories of memorable meals and secret ingredients in roadie comfort food took hold, so did the stark reality that isolation and mental ill-health was becoming commonplace within the forgotten touring business.

The idea of an industry cookbook was formed and soon turned into a fundraising initiative tasked with generating enough sales to secure crisis prevention training for those travelling on the road.

Julie Cotton by Jody Hartley

Julie Cotton says

Although Covid-19 was devastating beyond anything we could have imagined, a positive to have come out of the situation was for the industry to have an unexpected opportunity to reset.
During the last 18 months, we’ve all had a chance to reflect and work together to create positive change by working towards a healthier and more sustainable future in touring. With thousands of people being used to a different routine now, the transition back to working on the road will bring about its own challenges, yet delivering concerts and the experiences they bring to people is a vital part of good mental health.
By undertaking the Mental Health First Aid course, many of us have been able to learn how to better support those around us, and we want to extend that knowledge free of charge to our touring colleagues, funded through book sales.

Carefully crafted by backstage professionals, the book showcases a collection of 50 recipes, anecdotes and advice for staying healthy on tour. Recipes include The Killer Sandwich (you’ll have to buy it to find out more), Stage Left Satay Bowls, Tour Bus Nachos, and an anonymous ‘Loose Cocktail.’

Priced at £25, for each copy sold, 100% of profits will go towards charities Music Support and Stagehand to help continue funding and delivering Mental Health First Aid training and, importantly, normalise taking the Mental Health First Aid course.

What are you waiting for? Order your copy of the book at

More about the charities involved

Music Support is the ‘for the industry by the industry charity’ that helps the professional music sector when affected by mental ill-health and/or addiction.

The primary services comprise:
HELPLINE is run by trained staff with personal and/or lived experiences working in the industryMENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID TRAINING to give people vital skills to support the wellbeing of their colleagues (and themselves) CONFIDENTIALSAFE HUBS – backstage at major festivals where artists & crew can escape the mayhem and speak to mental health professionals Free access to NHS-approved wellbeing app THRIVE

Stagehand has been operating for over 20 years and is the working name of the Production Services Association’s welfare and benevolent fund, a charity established to raise and distribute funds for the technical touring crew who have hit hard times.

With the instant decimation of the concert touring industry since the pandemic began, Stagehand has faced its most significant fundraising effort since its inception and, to date, has raised over 1.8M in funds.

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