I think I speak for a large part of the population right now when I say my social feeds have been heavily saturated with Taylor Swift content. The global superstar just launched her sold-out Eras Tour, and my feeds (especially TikTok) have been nothing but show clips, reviews, outfits, and all things Taylor Swift.
No surprise then that this video showed up on my For You Page last week. A cover band based in Mankato, Minnesota is rolling around to gigs in Ms. Swift’s very first tour bus. After watching the TikTok tour of the bus features, I knew I had to learn more.
I reached out to Red Dirt Road on their website, and within an hour I was contacted by Emma Maruska, the powerhouse frontwoman of the band, and we set up a time for her to be a guest on The Small Town Tourist Podcast.
Emma isn’t just the lead singer of the band with a killer sense of fashion and vocal cords to match, she is also helping run their online communications strategies, along with bandmate Kristen. She’s the one that was responsible for me seeing the TikTok, capitalizing on the popularity of the Eras Tour (and using some creative hashtagging,) she got the band over 40,000 views on the video showing off the bus.
It’s not a secret that musicians spend long hours on the road, and traveling overnight and in the early morning hours can be a safety hazard. Emma shared that the band owners, Brian and Brent, met with a guy who apparently owns a bunch of old tour buses so the band could travel together with all their gear safely. They looked at a few other options but landed on Taylor Swift’s old bus, and got it at a decent price due to Brian’s handyness and skill set in order to do upkeep and repairs. Fittingly, the bus is named Taylor.
Looking at clips of Emma on stage, or watching her perform in person, you’d never guess that singing is new to her. She’s always been musically inclined, playing the trombone in the school band, but singing wasn’t a focus until she started a small band and played a few gigs with her brother. When the opportunity to be the frontwoman for Red Dirt Road came to her attention nine months ago, she lept at it and has been living the rockstar life ever since.
Well, as much of a rockstar as a college freshman can be.
That’s right, Emma isn’t just touring the Midwest with the rest of the band. On weekdays she is a student at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN studying Global Business Leadership with a concentration in marketing. The goal is to get her Master’s and become a Nursing Home Administrator. Friday’s roll around and she drives the 2 1/2 hours down to Mankato, singing all the way to train her vocal cords for performing.
She then loads onto the bus with her three other bandmates and they hit the road for the shows scheduled that weekend.
Emma said she’s looking forward to some new setlist additions the band has for their upcoming shows this summer and the energy the crowds bring to every stop they make.
Find Red Dirt Road on tour this summer and follow them online.
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