Ted Russell Kamp discusses his new release, Poor Man’s Paradise, his bass playin’ career with Shooter Jennings, and the ins and outs of songwriting with Brandy Lee Dixon.
BLD – How long have you been playing music?
TRK – I’ve been playing music since the fourth grade. I started with trumpet in the school band. Got my first bass guitar in the ninth grade and that’s what first got me into rock music.
BLD – What was your first bass?
TRK – It was a percussion bass, it’s actually still one I play most often to this day.
BLD – Currently you are on the road with Shooter Jennings, you’ve been the bass player for him from the beginning..
TRK – Five years now.
BLD – You’re also doing solo shows while you are on the road with SJ?
TRK – Yeah, when ever we have a week off I try to do a couple shows. We just had a break this past winter when we were home recording a new record so, I went to Europe for a few weeks to promote my record. Did a bunch of shows in Spain, England, France, Sweden and Norway. Went to Texas for a week, went to South East for a week and a bunch of LA shows. It works well working with Shooter and whenever we have time off I do my own thing.
BLD – What’s the number of solo CDs you have released?
TRK – I have five now. The first one is a jazz album I did when I was around 24 or 25 years old. It’s all acoustic, kind of like Miles Davis in the 50’s. In terms of Americana and roots music and the stuff where I am singing, songwriting, and playing- I have four.
BLD – Your latest release, Poor Man’s Paradise, has quite an eclectic sound to it. What inspired the songs?
TRK – The idea of life never being perfect but that doesn’t mean life can’t be great. That’s the idea of Poor Man’s Paradise. Every songs has to do with that basic theme. Whether it’s the love story, or that its falling apart and you’re broken hearted and you just got to keep searching for that next moment of beauty, or the next phase of happiness.
One of the songs I really love on the record is “Player Piano.” It’s about how music can mean so much to you whether you’re listening to it on a player piano or an Ipod or a CD or an 8track tape , or a 45. It doesn’t matter over the course of this old singer and the story that he tells you. How through all the ups and downs of life you can still find seeds of strength and happiness. So, whatever it is you need to pull through.
A lot of the songs I wrote on the road, some at home. I’ve been co-writing with some friends in LA and in Nashville as well. Just trying to talk about life. Talk about my life and altering a little seed or a feeling or an idea. Just sort of exaggerate it into a song. They are not all completely autobiographical by any means. Also, I’m just a fan of a lot of different kinds of music. There are a couple songs that are inspired by Soul from the 60’s. Ya know, a lot of soul music is very intensely personal. There’s always cool imagery and the rhythm and the flow. So, kind of jumping around in different genres and adventuring and exploring how they bring out different parts of my personality.
BLD – Do you have a set backing band you work with?
TRK – On the recoding I do most of the instruments myself. I’ll do the basic tracks with a drummer, myself, and one or two other people. I’ll do a lot of the overdubs myself the guitar, the accordion, the organ and the horns. Then I just bring in buddies on songs here and there. It’s been great to kind of document my year and my friendships.
When I play live, I’ve got a great band in LA . When I go to Texas, I’ve got a great band that’s half out of Austin and half out of Ft. Worth. We all hook up for a week and do a mini tour. Sometimes I will just play solo, me and a guitar and an accordion and I just drive around in my own car.
BLD – How’s the publishing deal going?
TRK – They are kind of pitching the songs to other artists in Nashville, so, that’s going great. I’m enjoying the process and learning a lot about songwriting and hanging out in Nashville has been a cool learning experience. A lot of the songs have specific story lines and like a plot of what the town is going through. Whereas, before I starting writing in Nashville my songs were more abstract.
One of the things I love about Texas songwriters and what I’ve been learning in Nashville, is how to tell a story a little more specifically. Like the song “Big City” on the new record – it’s about this guys life over time and little life changing events .
BLD – As far as singer/songwriters, who would you say has inspired you the most?
TRK – I love Paul Simon. I love Nick Drake, who is a British guy kind of like a British James Taylor in a way. Very soft and sensitive,very poetic. I also love Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt. A lot of the Texas songwriters I like.
BLD – Besides touring , what do you have going on?
TRK – Really, just putting out this record. I put it out in Europe in November. I went over there to tour and things have been going wonderfully for me over there. My goal is to be in Europe at least once a year forever. The record came out in the states in February. It’s doing very well on the Americana charts. I’ve got a good team of people I’m working with. Ya know, making sure radio stations get it and cool writers like you get it, making sure blogs, Amazon, and I-tunes gets it. So I’ve been spending a lot of time on office work to get the record out.
BLD – Alright, thank ya Ted.
TRK – Thank you.
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Brandy Lee Dixon is from Nashville, Tennessee by way of Somerset, Kentucky. She’s a writer as well as a songwriter, passionate music lover, and a self-proclaimed Country Music Snob. She likes to drink, smoke, and fight the bastards of the Universe with the help of her faithful four-legged companion, Leafy The Wonder Dog.
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