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 for music. We are sure they have key insights to share and stories to tell. Here’s one from Afton Wolfe.
Americana Highways: How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?
Afton Wolfe: I have been developing my recipe for Cold Brew (homemade blend of medium-dark roast beans and super dark roast Death Wish ® Espresso) simple syrup, almond milk, and 4-5 ice cubes in a large mason jar. It makes about 6-7 days worth, and I take it in a pitcher with me, along with the tools to make it again. I never have the time, though, and now that my digestive system is more used to the smoothness of cold-brewed coffee, I have to have it. So, feel free to bring me your best local cold brews if you catch me out there, or some great local whole beans, in case I can find a blender in the next weird Airbnb.
AH: What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road for music?)
AW: We stayed in this Airbnb in Jackson, Mississippi that was wall-to-wall, floor-to ceiling … lions. Pictures, rugs, stuffed lions, porcelain lions, lion toilet paper (yup), lion plates and glasses – all of it. Here’s a picture of my bandmate Seth Fox posing upon arrival.
AH: If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?
AW: No matter what I say, I’m going to immediately regret it, but I’m gonna say Hunky Dory, because it has “Life On Mars” on it, among other fantastic songs. Plenty of honorable mentions, but the ones that immediately came to mind upon finishing the last sentence were Beck – Odelay, Björk – Vespertine, Outkast – Stankonia, Guy Clark – Old No. 1, The Beatles – Abbey Road, or Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine.
AH: What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip?
AW: I can barely keep up with my glasses on the road (or at home for that matter), so I’m not usually carting anything sentimental with me. I always have the watch my Dad gave me a long time ago. I always have my notebook in which to write cheeky observations and stolen poetry. And I keep some pictures in my wallet of my wife and my nieces. But I’ve got copies of those at home, because I’ve lost my wallets plenty of times.
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)?
AW: Economics dictates some; it’s tough to pass up free food. And it’s rude. I eat pretty early in the day and very late, because I can’t eat too shortly before performing, or else it becomes a much different kind of show that’s even less appropriate than my usual stage banter.
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?
AW: Woodstock, New York. We went by the Radio station there and did a short set, but then we had to be on the road after just a couple of hours. We had lunch, and the town was delightful, and it’s obviously a portal to some pretty important ghosts, like Clarksdale or Muscle Shoals. We drove by Big Pink (which you can rent and stay at now, like a VRBO or something, but we didn’t know that until we were already there) and smelled those ghosts of Garth and Danko and Dylan and Robbie. If you close your eyes and find your Purple stillness, you can hear how the woods around the house would have contributed to The Basement Tapes.
AH: What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?
AW: “The only thing an old man can tell a young man is that it goes fast, real fast, and if you’re not careful it’s too late. Of course, the young man will never understand this truth.” ― Norm Macdonald, Based on a True Story (audiobook edition – listened to on the road with younger men in the van)
See other Key to the Highway interviews here: https://americanahighways.org/category/interviews/key-to-the-highway-series/ (click here for: Vince Herman Jimmy Smith 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 Sadler Vaden )
Sign up for our weekly newsletter here for your Friday reminder for this series and more: