Ted Russell Kamp celebrates new album and more at the Grand Ole Echo
By Bliss Bowen 04/17/2013
Highland Park resident Ted Russell Kamp, often featured in these pages, is a working musician’s musician. He can talk theory and compositional structure with jazz snobs, discourse eloquently with fans on favorite classic rock recordings and offer seasoned advice on how best to pace a set for an audience of dancing drinkers. He can also rock the house.
Kamp‘s built a sturdy sideman career, most notably as bassist for Shooter Jennings (before Jennings decamped to New York). But since 1995, when he released the 1950s Blue Note-influenced instrumental set “Dedications,” Kamp’s doggedly persevered in establishing himself as an independent artist too. He celebrates his seventh album, “Night Owl,” Sunday at the Grand Ole Echo.
“Night Owl” is more personal than previous efforts, with warm grooves evocative of soulful ’70s rockers like J.J. Cale. Listeners who’ve only experienced Kamp’s driving bass lines at shows may be surprised to hear them in more subtle context.
“I love the fun songs; there’s a real place in the world for party music,” Kamp explains. “But I wanted to make a late-night vibey album, moodier, more consistent.”
He programmed it old-school style, with dedicated sides A and B. “A lot of people who download will only have individual songs or have it on iPod shuffle,” he acknowledges. “But I like having an album — a complete story from beginning to end. I still kind of hear music in terms of albums. I still want a record to document this year of my life.”
He’s already written 15 songs for his next project (including “Rainy Day Valentine,” a live show favorite), 10 of which are recorded. “I believe in being productive and keeping moving,” he says. “That’s a real philosophy of mine. And staying inspired.”
And staying focused. Onstage, he can peel off a swamp-rocker as well as the next bar-band veteran, but there’s considerable craft and club-tested experience behind his “fun songs,” as well as character-driven sagas like “Santa Ana Winds.” He performs regularly — with his own band, with friends like James Intveld, and occasionally with marquee acts like Wanda Jackson, whom he backed in November on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” alongside Jennings, Foo Fighters keyboardist Rami Jaffee and Ryan Adams guitarist Neal Casal. I’ve respected his musicianship for years, and in recent months that appreciation’s deepened as we’ve played several shows together and I’ve witnessed his preparation and creativity up close as we’ve worked out material. It’s been an enlightening experience.
He’s begun producing other artists and is currently installing a home studio. “It’s kinda scary but really exciting,” he says. “It helps keep me happy. … I love the road, but I love being home. I’m trying to balance both.”
Ted Russell Kamp headlines the Grand Ole Echo at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday; free admission. Also playing: The Walcotts, Smooth Hound Smith, Elli Perry/Samantha Harlow. For more information, call (213) 413-8200. tedrussellkamp.com