Mates of State: A Family Affair

It's a typical Friday evening, and Jason Hammel and his wife, Kori Gardner, are getting their two little girls ready for bed. Hammel reads to 4-year-old Magnolia, while Gardner finishes giving 10-month-old baby June a bath.

The kids are ready to go to sleep, but for their parents, the evening is just beginning: This mom and dad are rock stars.

Hammel and Gardner are the founding members of the band Mates of State. Their five albums have been almost universally praised by critics. But to make a living as musicians in an era of declining record sales, these rock stars have to go on tour.

And with two young children, they've decided to make it a family affair. Gardner said she sometimes believes the lifestyle is a little crazy when the show ends at midnight and she then has to get up, sometimes three times a night, to feed baby June.

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But in the morning, it's back in the minivan and off to the next city and the next show. Neither Hammel nor Gardner see bringing their kids on the road as a monumental hassle.

"We were just like, these are our jobs, and rather than put our kids in day care like some people have to do, we're going to bring our kids along," said Hammel.

Things have definitely changed for the two since the kids came along. Hammel and Gardner's touring contract calls for rice milk and baby food. So when a club agrees to the band's contract, it provides not only baby food but also a surprise gift for a 4-year-old.

Magnolia has been known to bounce around the clubs during rehearsals, and she sometimes joins her parents' onstage for a finale. She brings her bicycle along for the tour and will ride around when they are setting up at a new venue. Gardner has chronicled the family's life as it travels around the world on tour. You can read its story here.

Hammel and Gardner freely admit this sort of extreme parenting is not easy, but they believe they can follow their dreams and still spend more time with their kids than most parents end up doing. They both agree it's a kind of organized chaos, resulting in happiness.

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