It has been 776 days since the Turnpike Troubadours broke the news of their “hiatus” on their social media, but who’s counting? Well, I am…
With no new music from Turnpike, I’ve been absolutely wearing out their catalogue, and it still never gets old.
Of course, I listen to a lot of other, non-Turnpike-related music, but I have also found myself really digging the work of Turnpike members on their other projects lately. They are all obviously super talented, and while the music they all made together will forever be unmatched, the music they have made and continue to make on their own is impressive too.
For the casual Turnpike fan who probably hasn’t made an attempt to dive into the other work of Turnpike members, here is your introduction.
One of the greatest fiddlers in the world, Kyle Nix is the man to thank for the iconic fiddle sound that is synonymous with the Turnpike Troubadours.
As we have found during the band’s hiatus, though, Nix is also an incredibly talented songwriter and vocalist. Nix released his debut album Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories in June of 2020, and while his plans to tour and promote the album were ruined by the pandemic, his album was still very well received. T
he backing band on the album consists mainly of Turnpike bandmates, and even included some help from legendary fiddler Byron Berline who recently passed away.
Nix took to Twitter recently to announce his newly dubbed band name Kyle Nix & the 38s, and judging by the tweet, his band is made up of some pretty killer musicians. If the artists mentioned in the tweet are his new bandmates, Nix is backed by Turnpike drummer Gabe Pearson, former American Aquarium bassist Bill Corbin, and former Damn Quails fiddler Kevin Foster. Talk about a lineup.
Nix’s ability to tell a story through his songs is top tier.
“The night is clear, the liquor is warm The cases, in the back of the Ford The Carolina mountainside had come to life His pockets would be full by the morn
A red-faced man in a black Cadillac Pulls in behind the truck Says they’ll burn the fields, blow up the still If they don’t get their cut”
“Screamin’ through the pass in a cannonball flash Half-lit, hell-on-wheels Jesse’s got a Mustang with four-on-the-floor And Joanie’s got it head-over-heels
Jesse & Joan were just flesh & blood But that car was American steel That’s a bad combination when you’re 17 With all your time to kill”
The Turnpike bassist and founding member R.C Edwards has had the side project RC & the Ambers going for a while. Just recently, in Turnpike’s absence, his band has written and recorded Big Country, set to be released as their debut album on September 10th.
Edwards, a big basketball fan, named the project for Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, an Oklahoma Native, Oklahoma State basketball alum, and former NBA player for the Vancouver Grizzlies before his career was cut short due to injury. The album’s first song and title track is an ode to Reeves.
RC & the Ambers consists of Edwards, Amber Watson, Nicholas Pitre, Justin Kay, and Lance Roark. The band has released two singles from the upcoming album so far, and if they are any indication of what the album will be like, we are in for a work of art.
“Oklahoma Beach Body”
The band’s first single, written by Turnpike’s Hank Early.
“Drunk High & Loud”
Edwards wrote this tune with Jonny Burke a while back, and although never released by Turnpike, it has been a staple in their live shows for years.
The band’s beloved co-founder, frontman, and primary songwriter has managed to stay out of the spotlight since his hiatus. Luckily we know he is sober, back with his wife, and taking much needed personal time to focus on things most important for his well-being. As much as we miss Turnpike, we are all happy for him.
Although he has since said he is thinking about making music again at some point, no one really knows what we will get from Turnpike or Felker in the future, but hopefully there will be something.
Before the band’s hiatus, Felker had released a few solo songs throughout his career. While many Turnpike fans have been listening to these songs since their release, here they are for any casual Turnpike fan who may not know about them.
“It’s a coal black sky and the coonhounds cry Well the distant hunters shine their lights as they go passin’ by And they’re fancy free in the bodark trees Well your old man he’d kill us both if he caught you here with me.”
“Peace and Happiness”
This tune was included on a tribute album to the late blues singer-songwriter Ted Hawkins. Although it’s a cover, Felker’s greatness is still exemplified.
“Whiskey in Your Water”
Personally, I wish Turnpike cut this one, it’s just so good.
Instead, this song was included on The Next Waltz, Volume 2, the second in a series of albums released by Bruce Robison’s label, The Next Waltz, that includes great songs from various non-mainstream artists.
Evan Felker is also featured alongside Hayes Carll on Jason Eady’s 2014 song “A Memory Now.”
I hope more than anything that Turnpike comes back.
But if they don’t, at least we still got to hear music from those who were a part of it all.