Americana Highways’ Key to the Highway series photo by Melissa Clarke: “taking a short nap” at the Birchmere
Fans always clamor to learn more about their favorite, most beloved musicians and those who travel with them. There’s such an allure to the road, with its serendipity, inevitable surprises, and sometimes unexpected discomforts. This interview series is a set of questions we are asking some of our favorite roots rock Americana artists to get to know more about them and what they’ve learned and experienced on the road. We are sure they have key insights to share and stories to tell. Here’s one from Bill Kirchen.
AH: How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?
BK: I like it way a lot. I like it first thing, and cycle between black or with cream.
AH: What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road?
BK: Hotel Adler in the Black Forest was pretty cool. Ostensibly the favorite hotel of both Tina Turner and Marie Antoinette, so who am I to argue. You can bring your dog with you into the Michelin starred dining room. Woof woof.
AH: If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?
BK: I would hope it was something no one liked. It would stay unplayed, and silence would prevail. Peace and quiet is hard to come by on the road. No one’s made a recording that I’d want to listen to exclusively for weeks, not even Louis Armstrong or Ray Charles or Merle Haggard.
AH: What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip?
BK: Actual pro tip – if you’re gonna do any whistling, bring chap stick. For airplanes you’ll want noise cancelling headphones or ear buds. Add eye mask and neck pillow for overnight transcontinental rides. Tablet for reading, crosswords, etc. Oh, was that more than one?
AH: What is your relationship with food? How do you handle this on the road, and what’s your favorite dish on the road, (or restaurant, and what do you order there)?
BK: Though there’s lotsa food out there, you want to look for stuff stuff that’s not just brown or white. Watch out for those buffets. I can’t eat all I can eat. But if you’re going to eat fast food, go down swinging with Popeye’s Red Beans and Rice.
AH: If you could pause your life for a few weeks and spend some time living in a place you only have passed through, which would you choose, and why?
BK: The Colorado Rockies. Just spent some time in Rocky Mtn National Park, hated to leave. Incredible sights, cool crisp air, lots of critters. It made a hiker out of me, at least for a couple days.
AH: What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?
BK: Just breathe. Good advice for a surprising variety of situations. For example, I got this crucial singing advice from a wonderful voice teacher: if you have an opportunity to take a breath, do so. Same deal.
Find all things Bill Kirchen, here: https://www.billkirchen.com
See other Key to the Highway interviews here: https://americanahighways.org/category/interviews/key-to-the-highway-series/ (click here for: Rodney Crowell Todd Snider Elizabeth Cook Tommy Womack Eric Ambel, Dan Baird, Robbie Fulks, Malcolm Holcombe Jon Langford Steve Poltz, Lilly Hiatt Sarah Shook & the Disarmers ) Sign up for our weekly newsletter here for your Friday reminder for this series and more: