Key to the Highway: BJ Barham

Interviews Key to the Highway Series

Photo credit: Cal & Aly

Americana Highways’  Key to the Highway series 

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 BJ Barham:

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

BB:  I take my coffee black. Morning coffee is a ritual for me. Me and a couple of the other guys in the band are total coffee nerds. On the road, we always travel with an AeroPress, a grinder and a few fresh bags of beans. Its nice to start your day off the same way. Some folks neatly make their beds, I brew a cup of coffee.

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

BB: Back in the early days of the band we stayed with fans/bartenders that would let us crash at their place. Some of longest lasting friendships I have in this business are with the kind folks that extended that kind of hospitality early on in our career.

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

BB: Depends on what part of the country I’m in. I have different artist for different landscapes. If I had to pick just one, its Springsteen’s “Born To Run” I can (and have) driven for days listening to nothing but those eight songs.

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

BB: My headphones. You’ve got to have headphones. Personal time on the bus is extremely important. I’ve learned that is one the keys to keeping the band dynamic positive. Finding time during the day to get away from each other and enjoy some personal space is crucial to a healthy band. Headphones also come in handy for my daily runs.

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)?

BB: I like to fancy myself a serious foodie. That is the one thing I don’t mind spending a little money on. I don’t treat myself to a lot of nice things on the road but I always try and eat well. I try to ask my chef friends what place I need to go in a specific town. Always a solid move to ask the locals as well. Life is too short to eat shitty food. A good meal can change the entire day.

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?

BB: Santa Fe New Mexico. Me and my wife try to visit there a few times a year and we just love it out there. There is something magical about the southwestern part of the country. Joshua Tree, Taos, Santa Fe. Southern Utah. Its where we go to recharge and slow down. Would love to spend more time out there.

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

BB: Don’t read the comments.

Find all things BJ Barham and American Aquarium here:

See other Key to the Highway interviews here: (click here for:  Patterson Hood Jerry Joseph 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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