For those of you who don’t know, RC Edwards is a founding member, songwriter, bassist, and cornerstone of the Turnpike Troubadours. Among others, we can thank Edwards for writing the Turnpike classics “Easton & Main,” “Morgan Street,” and “Kansas City Southern.”
A little over a year after the band announced their hiatus, fiddler Kyle Nix released his first solo project Lighting on the Mountain & Other Short Stories, an impeccable showcase of songwriting ability that helps to fill the Turnpike void.
Now another year has passed, and earlier this month, RC Edwards finally released his highly anticipated project Big Country with his Tahlequah-based band RC & the Ambers.
Big Country features a cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Blues Man,” the first studio release of Turnpike’s live fan favorite “Drunk High and Loud” that Edwards wrote with Jonny Burke, and the Edwards-penned “Fall Out Of Love,” first heard on Turnpike’s self-titled 2015 album.
Rounding out the album are nine other original songs that show just how good of a musician RC Edwards is. Not like that was ever in question, but for those who aren’t familiar with his work, this album proves it.
Made up of Edwards, Lance Roark, Amber Watson, Justin Kay, and Nick Pitre, RC & the Ambers’ debut album is a masterpiece of songwriting and sound influenced by the band’s eastern Oklahoma roots.
Here is the tracklight as well as some highlights on a couple of my early favorites.
“Oklahoma Beach Body”
“Fall Out of Love”
“Gravy & Biscuits”
“Oologah (Romance at the Iron Horse)”
“Drunk High & Loud”
“The Blues Man”
“The Assassination Of Ned Christie”
“Let The Whiskey Do The Talking”
It’s not everyday you see basketball references in country music, but I’m all here for it. “Big Country” is an ode to Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, who grew up in the eastern Oklahoma town of Gans, not too far from Tahlequah. He became an Oklahoma State basketball star and promising NBA player with the Vancouver Grizzlies before his career was cut short with injuries in 2001. The song even samples some commentary from his college games.
“He was meaner than a grizzly bear
Seven feet tall, flat-top hair
I seen him break a backboard once
He did it with a backwards dunk
Big Country, woah
Where’d you go?
Where you been, my friend?
Big Country, hey
Won’t you stay?
When you comin’ back again?
“The Assassination of Ned Christie”
This song tells the story of another eastern Oklahoma legend, and it’s a pretty crazy one.
Ned Christie, a native of Wauhillau, Oklahoma, was a Cherokee statesman and fiddle player, who as the song says, was accused of murdering a US Marshall. Despite having an alibi, the search for Christie escalated into a battle that ultimately got him killed.
Here is a video that’ll tell you more about him.
“Let The Whiskey do the Talking”
RC Edwards and Turnpike steel player Hank Early (who produced the album) recently joined the Whiskey Riff Raff podcast to discuss the making of the new album, the pandemonium of a Turnpike reunion, the nuances of the Texas and Red Dirt scenes, hunting for Bigfoot in Oklahoma, and more.