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 Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter of Bloodkin.
Americana Highways: How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?
DANIEL HUTCHENS: I used to like coffee with a shot of bourbon. That’s still a great taste sensation, and makes me think of New Orleans, which is a welcome memory after all this time. As far as actually waking up these days it’s hot water with lemon.
ERIC CARTER: English Breakfast Tea or some sort of Black Tea with French Vanilla and a packet of some variety of some sort of cancer causing sweetener.
AH: What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road?)
HUTCHENS: I can’t name them because the weirdest ones are always stray joints you find on the way to or from somewhere, and they’re like dreams. There was one outside Richmond that seemed to be the headquarters for the local nightlife and drug dealers, and it was a constant party. There have been some that were definitely haunted, including one in Chattanooga that wouldn’t let you rent one particular room without knowing its history–I didn’t get that room but heard some stories. One in Mobile, AL that refused any credit cards or security deposit and was a weird labyrinth of hallways leading nowhere, and the rooms themselves were hard to find. Maybe the weirdest experience was once in Birmingham I was given the wrong key and walked into an occupied room, but it turned out the people were old friends of mine so I just sacked out on the couch. Again, I can’t name these places; they were always part of a dizzy montage, and they may not still exist, or maybe they never existed and it was all in my head, but I could say the same thing about all our rock and roll shows. I will give special mention to the Highland Inn in Atlanta, which is an old place with cats on the front desk, very European, and every room is different from the others. I spent several of the best nights of my life in that place, nightcaps after cool shows and celebrations, including with some dear friends who have passed on. I hear the place is being shut down, and if that’s true it’s really sad news.
CARTER: The Ole Miss Inn in Oxford, Mississippi. We’d stayed there several times before and it was usually fine and very convenient because it was within easy walking distance of downtown. This one time however, I believe we were all gonna share a room. I remember standing in the doorway with my bag, taking a look inside at the 3 or 4 beds that were all crammed together at weird angles, and I remember feeling strangely frozen and unable to enter this room. A Great Force was telling me to NOT GO IN. A really creepy feeling had washed over me, so I went and got a little single dwelling, where the bed took up most of the room , but I no longer had The Creeps. I found out later that the room I refused to stay in had some major insect issues once it got dark.
AH: If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?
HUTCHENS: None. I don’t want to be stuck hearing any thing over and over. Just the fact that I can’t change it drives me crazy. I’d turn on NPR.
CARTER: Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones because it’s the soundtrack to my soul and basically covers most of the music forms that I love.
AH: What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip?
HUTCHENS: I like to have my current work with me, whatever I’m writing, whether that’s on a laptop or a notebook, and some way to record audio, whether that’s a cell phone or the old days, a little cassette recorder. I get pretty uncomfortable if I can’t work. It’s like my version of meditation, in a weird way.
CARTER: I must always have melatonin in my bag.
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)?
HUTCHENS: I usually follow the direction of whoever I’m traveling with, or whoever I know who lives in that city, wherever that may be. Sometimes I’ll find a grocery store and make a little traveling kit: pieces of fruit, a box of cereal, whatever. I like little snacks and I’m not always looking for a big feast.
CARTER: Barbecue joints are always good or Mexican. Try to avoid the Fast Food places but sometimes due to time and because of the convenience, that’s what you get. Fortunately I don’t have any particular dietary restrictions and I’m not super picky.
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?
HUTCHENS: I played Dublin once, and I was there for maybe 48 hours. Also Paris and London. But just about anywhere I’ve played, in so many cases–you show up, play the show, crash out in the hotel–then you’re down the road. It’s a real bubble sometimes.
CARTER: This one is tricky, but there are lots of places in Colorado or in that part of the country that I’ve really liked. Some of the cities like New York, New Orleans or Chicago, and it would’ve been nice to explore some areas of Mexico or the Dominican.
AH: What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?
HUTCHENS: Sterling Morrison told me, “Always drink the local poison,” meaning the local beer or wine or whatever, and that always worked out great on so many different levels, including influencing the people you meet and helping you get a little glimpse of their lives. And Johnny Sandlin told me, “Always work with people you trust.” That one might seem kind of obvious, but in the Music Business especially, that little pointer has turned out to be priceless.
CARTER: One time in Memphis I believe, I had a chat with a Louis Armstrong impersonator who was doing his thang on a corner, and talk of Life on the Road came up, and I remember him saying “Well, enjoy yourself ‘cause it’s later than ya think!”
Find all things Bloodkin here: https://cosmosexschool.com/collections/bloodkin/products/black-market-tango and here: https://www.bloodkin.net
See other Key to the Highway interviews here: https://americanahighways.org/category/interviews/key-to-the-highway-series/ (click here for: Ben Nichols Bruce Cockburn Charlie Musselwhite Nicki Bluhm Jim White Danny Barnes Patterson Hood Jerry Joseph BJ Barham 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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