JUST VISITING? LIVING LOCAL? WE'VE GOT YOU COVERED.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Road Warriors

A dozen years after forming and a decade past its initial CD release, the Turnpike Troubadours have climbed into the upper echelon of Red Dirt acts, building an ever-growing national audience.

Article
G.K. Hizer
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
November 29, 2017

When asking local music fans about their favorite Red Dirt artists, answers will cross a spectrum as broad as the styles that have been incorporated into the genre. Names like Cross Canadian Ragweed, Red Dirt Rangers, Stoney LaRue, Jason Boland & the Stragglers, and even Bob Childers will consistently come up, especially amongst older fans.

The name that consistently comes up amongst fans young and old, however, is Turnpike Troubadours.

A dozen years after forming and a decade past its initial CD release, Bossier City, the group has quietly climbed into the upper echelon of Red Dirt acts, building an ever-growing national audience, with a group of level heads and road warrior work ethic.

Most Tulsa fans will remember Turnpike Troubadours as the group that emerged out of Tahlequah to finally get its first break in Tulsa with a gig at Mercury Lounge, opening for The Brandon Clark Band in 2006. The fan base grew quickly as the group’s energy was contagious and the “band of brothers” attitude shared between members was easy to identify with.

When the band released its independent debut, Bossier City, in 2007, word started to spread. Even as a young band, frontman Evan Felker and his bandmates were adept at telling stories lush with detail and characters that captured an audience’s imagination. By the time their sophomore release, Diamonds & Gasoline, came out in 2010, it was clear that the Troubadours had found their niche with songwriting that had only grown more engaging, and the group had already established itself as a touring act to reckon with.

Since then, the Turnpike Troubadours have continued to grow, becoming one of the shining stars of the Red Dirt movement and one of the most popular acts in Oklahoma and Texas. The band’s appeal reaches well outside of the region and traditional Red Dirt fans, however. Having continually toured across the U.S., the band routinely packs the house in venues across the South and Midwest, as well as legendary clubs like The Troubadour in Los Angeles.

As the band has grown, it has embraced its role as leaders in the Red Dirt scene, keeping its roots firmly planted in Oklahoma.
‍As the band has grown, it has embraced its role as leaders in the Red Dirt scene, keeping its roots firmly planted in Oklahoma.

As the band has grown, it has embraced its role as leaders in the Red Dirt scene, keeping its roots firmly planted in Oklahoma. In 2013, the Troubadours teamed up with Jason Boland to co-found the Medicine Stone Music Festival at Diamond Head resort in Tahlequah. A three-day celebration of Red Dirt and country, the festival has tripled in size over the course of the past five years and become a must-attend event for fans of the genre, featuring a broad cross-section of Red Dirt, Texas-country, and Americana artists while spotlighting an Oklahoma-heavy artist lineup.

In October, the Turnpike Troubadours released its fifth album, A Long Way from Your Heart, with a packed-house release party at The Criterion in Oklahoma City. The album reached No. 3 on the national country charts and No. 1 on the independent and folk music charts. That release party launched a national tour that brings the band home for a two-night stand at Cain’s Ballroom over New Year’s Eve weekend.

Part of what sets Turnpike Troubadours apart from many of its peers is the band’s deep roots in classic country, delivered with a rock ‘n’ roll punch. That merely punctuates the vivid storytelling that has only become more vibrant with each subsequent release.

Even when the band originally emerged, they didn’t necessarily identify themselves with the Red Dirt scene that has since embraced them, holding a more purist view that real Red Dirt generally comes out of the Stillwater music scene.

“I’ve always maintained that we are a country band at heart,” says founding member R.C. Edwards. “Sure, there’s a little garage rock spirit in there, but we have traditional roots and we’re more of a country band.”

Even as the band has grown, it has remained an independent the entire time, releasing each album on its own label, Bossier City Records. “Yeah, it can be a challenge,” Edwards says, “but you don’t necessarily need to be forced down people’s throats by radio any more. Somebody may be listening to Drive-By Truckers radio on Pandora or Spotify and hear our song, then check us out and come to a show. That’s a pretty neat aspect of technology now. The fact that people can find us in so many different ways is very cool.”

LOCATOR
Turnpike Troubadours
Cain’s Ballroom
423 N. Main St. | Tulsa
cainsballroom.com
Dec. 30: 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 31: 9 p.m.

May 2019 Cover