Turnpike Troubadours

Official videos

Follow this artist

About this artist

At their best, the gritty, country-leaning roots rock band out of eastern Oklahoma, Turnpike Troubadours, synthesize the populist, political folk of Woody Guthrie and the outlaw-styled honky tonk of Waylon Jennings with doses of bluegrass, Cajun, and straight-out rock dynamics. The band’s grassroots following grew to arena-filling popularity as their plaintive melodies and hard truths of their songs connected on country radio, and 2012′s Goodbye Normal Street became their breakthrough release, placing high on both the country and rock charts. After a hiatus brought on by alcohol and the pressures of fame, the Turnpike Troubadours came back stronger and healthier on 2023′s A Cat in the Rain.
The Turnpike Troubadours were formed by lead singer and guitarist Evan Felker and bassist R.C. Edwards. By 2007, they were gigging regularly, and they recorded and self-released their debut album, Bossier City, so they could have a CD to sell at their shows. (It appeared on their own Bossier City imprint, which would release their subsequent projects, with Thirty Tigers later taking on distribution of their catalog.) The rest of the lineup featured guitarist Casey Sliger, multi-instrumentalist John Fullbright, and drummer Chad Masters. The group wasn’t entirely happy with the results, and put more time and effort into 2009′s Diamonds & Gasoline, which better captures their sound, exploring modern rural life with a full awareness of history and delicately avoiding being ornate revivalists. Produced by Mike McClure and mixed by Joe Hardy, Diamonds & Gasoline saw guitarist Roger Ray joining the group after the departure of Casey Sliger. By the time they returned to the studio to cut 2012′s Goodbye Normal Street, Felker and Edwards had been joined by guitarist Ryan Engleman, fiddler Kyle Nix, and Gabriel Pearson on the drums. As near-constant touring and greater airplay and streaming exposure spread word about the Turnpike Troubadours, Goodbye Normal Street was the group’s first major success, making the country (number 14), folk (number three), and rock (number 23) charts after its release. Three years later, they released their fourth album, The Turnpike Troubadours, and watched it debut at number three on the country chart, a sign that the band’s fan base was overlapping with the mainstream. The set included a guest spot from celebrated bluegrass fiddler Byron Berline and studio support from John Fullbright.
The Troubadours had expanded to a sextet by the time they recorded 2017′s A Long Way from Your Heart, with the addition of Hank Early on pedal steel, dobro, and keyboards. Once again, the album peaked at number three on the country charts, and the band left theater gigs behind in favor of playing arenas and amphitheaters. They became one of the biggest draws on the Americana circuit, sharing the bill with Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town on the popular Bandwagon package tour. The band’s journey came to a halt in 2019 when the Turnpike Troubadours went on what they called an “indefinite hiatus.” Evan Felker had developed a serious drinking problem that led him to consider quitting music, and as he bowed out of the group, Ryan Engleman became a touring guitarist for Reckless Kelly, Kyle Nix launched a new band called the .38s, R.C. Edwards cut an album with his side project RC & the Ambers, and Gabriel Pearson divided his time between playing drums with the .38s and taking college classes. After a successful stint in rehab, Felker was sober, healthy, and ready to return to music, and his bandmates agreed to a less rigorous touring schedule and to keep alcohol off the stage in order to support their friend. After a handful of well-received live dates, the Turnpike Troubadours engaged Shooter Jennings to produce a comeback album, and A Cat in the Rain was released in August 2023. ~ Steve Leggett & Mark Deming