Jeff Plankenhorn

Key to the Highway: Jeff Plankenhorn

Interviews Key to the Highway Series

Jeff Plankenhorn photo by Helene Cyr

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 Jeff Plankenhorn.

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

Jeff Plankenhorn: I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was around 35. Black, with or without cream or sugar, cappuccino in the morning or espresso, iced lattes with oat milk, whatever works and is available. This morning I had hotel room coffee and it suited me just fine. I’m also a fan of Yerba Mate tea when I’m in a pinch. No jitters!

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

JP: The Mansion on O Street in Washington, DC for sure. Hands down. Every room has a wild and unique theme. There are hidden rooms and corridors. It is peppered from floor to floor with pinball machines. A host and hostess who have owned it for many years that will stay up and play unreleased demos of Bob Marley and The Beatles all night with you. A rich history of being connected to the Civil Rights movement and a cool connection to Rosa Parks herself!

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

JP: Stevie Wonder. Pretty much anything by Stevie Wonder. It’s my happy place. And I get to sing along at the top of my lungs. I’m also great at driver seat dancing…

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

JP: My Kindle. I’m a big fan of real hardback and paperback books, but that little device has proved invaluable when I want to start a new book on the road. It’s like a friend who only chats when you want them to!

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)?

JP: I LOVE trying new foods in new places. It’s a huge perk of what we do. I am also a big fan of asking a waiter or waitress, “what would you serve your family if they came in?” I get honest and delicious recommendations that way! Honestly I have such a hard time on the road, with food and my fluctuating weight. Today is a greasy spoon, tonight I may be able to be really healthy. I do my best, but it has been harder the older I get. Off the top of my head, I was on the big island of Hawaii and found out about a devilishly bad dish called Loco Moco. A bed of white rice, hamburger patty, brown gravy, fried egg, and maybe some green onions. It’s amazing. Also, not to be too snooty, but I live for Ikura sashimi — salmon fish roe. I don’t know anything that feels so good going down. My whole being tingles when I eat it.

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?

JP: I’ve been landlocked my whole life and only visited beaches and large bodies of water for very short lengths of time. Maybe that’s why “Alone At Sea” is such a nod to “go out on the ocean,” and “find a little island.” A few weeks by any large body of water will do. I find it very soothing and almost meditative. Anyone care to loan me a beach house?

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

AH: Two come to mind and they are both from Ray Wylie Hubbard:
“Always be gracious and grateful.”
“If you are not the closing act and your set ends at 9:30, be off the stage by 9:29.”

Find more information and tour dates for Jeff Plankenhorn here:

See other Key to the Highway interviews here: (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:

Leave a Reply!