Key to the Highway: Ted Russell Kamp

Interviews Key to the Highway Series

Americana HighwaysKey to the Highway series photo by David Nowels 

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 Ted Russell Kamp.

AH: How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?

TRK: I love a few cups of coffee in the morning, and I take it with a little milk or 1/2 and 1/2.

AH: What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road?)

TRK: One time when I was doing a solo tour in Europe, I had a show booked at the Furuvik Country fair in central Sweden. I was doing it as a full band show and I was hiring a great band based out of Gothenburg, Sweden called Little Green. My good friend, Thomas Ponten, from the band, helped book the show and was handling the details for it. He emailed me and mentioned that it was really out in the country and the nearest hotel was about an hour away so they could book us there if we wanted. He said that on site there was a train car we could stay in too. I’m often up for an adventure and I figured it would be better to stay close as well. Then when we got to the gig, they showed us the train car.

It was actually 3 train cars that were part of the original Orient Express. I didn’t know this until then, but companies from each European country were involved with the train line so that passengers from every country could be surrounded by people who spoke their own language and could eat food they were used to. It was simply incredible to stay on this train car for a few nights. It was exactly like a scene out of the movie (Murder on the Orient Express) which I had seen many times as a kid and was like 5 star accommodations from the 1930s. Each car had its long hallway with all of the small staterooms attached. I had my own room with the cool bunks you could climb up into. It was an amazing and rare experience.

AH:  If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?

TRK: This actually happened to me in an old car I used to have. There was a Beatles Greatest Hits CD which was their 27 #1 songs on 1 CD. The car stereo broke and wouldn’t eject the CD so it was all I listened to in the car for a few months. You can’t really get better than that.

AH: What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip?

TRK: A good book.

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)?

TRK:  99% of the time I try to eat very simply on the road. Early on in my touring life I used to eat at every cool Indian restaurant I could find and sample every local or Ethnic cuisine I could. After a few bouts of food poisoning and getting sick in the middle of a tour, I only do that occasionally now. Now I keep it as simple as possible so I eat at Subway a lot and have a lot of grilled chicken sandwiches and salads.

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?

TRK: There are many. A running joke between me and my wife is that every time I get to a new cool city, I call my wife and suggest that one day we could live there and be happy if we ever get tired of the high speed of L.A. This has happened to me in Portland, Tucson, Missoula, Austin, Ashville, Gothenburg Sweden, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin and many other places.

AH: What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?

TRK: When I was in my early 20s, I had just finished college and was just beginning to try to make music for a living. One of the first older guys I played with (who was probably 27 or 28 at the time but he felt old and wise to me) was a saxophone payer named Dwayne. One day he told me that the best thing about living is that “If your life sucks, change it.”  He was a pretty cynical and cut and dry guy and these were definitely not the most philosophical words that have ever meant something to me. But the way he said it, hit a chord with me and tied into some of the things my Dad used to say to me when I was a teenager about learning to be responsible and be your own boss own day. So when Dwayne said this, it really stuck with me and has helped me stay in touch with what I am loving and what I am missing in life. Every time I find I am not as happy as I used to be, I can step back, try to assess what I am doing in my personal and professional life and try to find and make a change. When I realize, again and again as the years go on, that I can create a change and restructure the world I live in, it allows me to create new phases of happiness.

Find all things Ted Russell Kamp, here:

See other Key to the Highway interviews here: (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 )

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