Turnpike Troubadours Announce Shows At Billy Bob’s Texas
Fans were devastated when Turnpike Troubadours announced they were breaking up. Fans went crazy when the band started teasing something new. Soon we knew new was coming and then announced a comeback show at Red Rocks in Colorado. That show sold out in minutes, so they added a second show, that got the same results.
This morning Billy Bob's Texas post this morning they will host two dates featuring Turnpike Troubadours. Turnpike Troubadours will play Billy Bob's, April 22nd and 23rd.
According to Billy Bob's Facebook page, tickets will go on sale this Friday, January 14th, at 10 am.
“There’s a thing that happens when you’ve worked with someone for a long time that’s just magic,” Evan Felker, the band’s front man and songwriter, says. “The chemistry that we have, and being able to play off of each other without speaking or anything like that, it’s an amazing little phenomenon. And it happens for three or four minutes at a time, and I’m very appreciative of things like that now.”
Arriving at that appreciation, not just for Felker but the entire band, took three years of patience, uncertainty, and self-reflection. For nearly a year, the band played into a headwind of tabloid headlines and social media chaos focused on Felker’s personal life and a series of abrupt, high-profile concert cancellations that left fans and venues alike seeking answers. In the time since that 2019 pause, each member found opportunities to move on to something new, but not one gave up on Turnpike.
“We’re ready to get back to playing shows,” Ryan Engleman, lead guitarist, says.
Adds fiddle player Kyle Nix: “We’re getting the band back together!”
The Turnpike Troubadours are Felker, Nix, Engleman, R.C. Edwards on bass, Gabe Pearson on drums, and Hank Early on steel guitar and accordion. Founded in 2005 and touting four official albums, Turnpike rocketed from Oklahoma’s Red Dirt scene to the pinnacle of Americana music while taking delight in remaining independent.
I came into Turnpike’s orbit when all that unraveled. The last documented instance of the full band sitting for an interview, pre-hiatus, came in fall 2018, when they discussed their music with me for the book Red Dirt: Roots Music Born in Oklahoma, Raised in Texas, at Home Anywhere. A few weeks before the book’s release in August 2020, Felker called. Since that interview, and the band’s hiatus, Felker needed me to know he had changed. He had become sober. He had married his wife, Staci, for the second time. He had gone off the grid, spending his days working on a ranch in Southeast Texas. I rewrote Turnpike’s portion of the book, and Rolling Stone excerpted Felker’s phone interview.
Since then, Evan and Staci welcomed a daughter, Evangelina Hartford Felker, in January 2021, and he contributed to a virtual fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation organized by his friend and Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller in October.
“Having Evan on the CF benefit sure was a sweet thing,” Miller tells Rolling Stone. “He had done this with me a few years back, in the Before Times, live and in person, and I had a feeling that asking him to sit down and sing a couple of songs while Staci filmed him would be an easy first step back into the public eye. He did great.”
After that, it seemed fitting to bookend my Turnpike chronicles with the new group interview. As it played out, each member said they stayed content, musically and personally, during the hiatus.
Nix was the most visible. He recorded and released Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories, a full-length solo album featuring, as he puts it, “An assortment of story songs, and a hoedown to top it off,” in June 2020. Nix wrote 15 of the album’s 17 tracks, and most members of Turnpike contributed. He formed and toured with his own band, the 38’s, which features Pearson on drums. For our Zoom chat, he pulled into a rest stop en route to a headlining show.
“I really just dove head-first into creating as much as I could,” Nix says. “It was a therapeutic outlet. That was all I wanted to do, and all I needed to do since we weren’t out on the road. But then you throw Covid in, and it was pretty tough… I fell into some rough times, started drinking a little too much. I finally had to pull my ass out of the mud and get my head straight and sober up.
“Creating has been therapy for me, trying to get better as a fiddle player, musician, and songwriter,” he continues. “And getting back on the road with my band has really helped. I didn’t realize how much I actually missed it.”
In addition to playing drums for Nix, Pearson spent the hiatus and pandemic working toward a degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
“I went back to college in fall of 2019, and I’m getting close to finishing my bachelor’s degree,” Pearson says. “Then Kyle called me, and we’ve toured since the start of this summer with his band, so it’s been ‘go to school and play music’ all day, every day for me.”
Edwards, like Nix, spent the hiatus fronting another band. RC and the Ambers have always been a side project for Edwards, but he toured heavily with the group since 2019, headlining in and around his hometown of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and finding prime spots at festivals such as the 2020 and 2021 installments of Mile 0 Fest in Key West, Florida.
“It’s been really fun spending a little more time, making a record for that project, and putting it all together with a little more than it was before,” Edwards says. “It’s more organized now, and I’m happy with it, but at the same time I’m looking forward to getting back and doing [Turnpike] again.”
The record mentioned was Big Country, released in September. Early produced it in his home studio in Tahlequah, part of his immersion in the region’s music scene, with a major life event to cap it off: He got married.
“I moved to Tahlequah about a year before we went on hiatus,” Early says “So, I’ve enjoyed kind of dipping my toes in the Tulsa music scene. I’ve gotten to play with a lot of really cool people up there. And I’ve spent a lot of time in my home studio. I built it out a bit, and have produced a few records for people, start to finish, right here. R.C.’s was the first, but I’ve done four or five projects since then. I’d never done any of that before, so it was all a new experience.”
The dust had barely settled on Turnpike’s 2019 break when Reckless Kelly needed a guitar player to replace David Abeyta, who left the band after 19 years as part of Willy and Cody Braun’s Idaho-to-Austin roots-rock outfit. Engleman accepted and toured with Reckless for the final third of 2019, starting with an appearance at Reckless’s Braun Brothers Reunion festival in Challis, Idaho. He planned to stay on the road in 2020, when the band intended to tour behind their double album American Jackpot/American Girls, but the pandemic shelved that. When Reckless finally returned to touring in summer 2021, Engleman passed on his invitation (which led to Austin pedal-steel mainstay Geoff Queen joining the band). Turnpike Troubadorours