The Turnpike Troubadours are BACK.
This Friday and Saturday, April 8th and 9th, the greatest band of all time will be making their first live performances in almost three years. And it all makes so much sense.
As everyone knows, the greatest band of all time announced their indefinite hiatus on May 31, 2019, and I won’t delve into what every member has been up to (some phenomenal side projects), but as a whole, the boys have remained pretty quiet ever since.
That is, until they broke the internet this past November…
First, fans noticed the band had completely wiped their Instagram. Then a few days later, their website went under construction, and they posted for the first time in years on November 29, leaving fans in a suspenseful, speculative frenzy. The next day, on November 30, they made their first show announcement – Red Rocks Amphitheater on May 14th with support from Shovels & Rope and Reckless Kelly.
Those tickets went on sale on December 3rd, and sold out so fast they had to add another one. I don’t know how we managed to do it, but me and all my friends snagged tickets to the first show. Seeing Turnpike and Red Rocks for the first time… May 14 can’t come soon enough.
But luckily for others who were not going to be able to make those shows or couldn’t get tickets, Turnpike has continued to announce new shows ever since, and have over 20 shows lined up for the rest of the year. There are probably more to be announced, too.
These first shows announced on January 10, 2022 are finally happening this Friday and Saturday at the legendary Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Turnpike will be accompanied by The Vandoliers.
This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone, though, that Cain’s is the venue at which they will officially end their touring hiatus.
Have you ever heard their classic song “Easton & Main?”
Well, considering this song was originally released on the band’s hard to find Bossier City album back in 2007, over ten years prior to the hiatus, one could make the case that RC Edwards predicted the future when he wrote this one.
While it’s definitely a bit of a stretch, this song kind of serves as a metaphor for the hiatus and return of the Turnpike Troubadours’ and Edwards’ longtime friend and bandmate Evan Felker.
“Well I left my heart in Tulsa on the corner of Easton and Main
On the Cain’s Ballroom floor, soakin’ up a bourbon stain…”
Being one of the larger cities in their home state of Oklahoma, Tulsa was one of the first cities in which Turnpike gained a large following. Throughout their career, they have sold out Cain’s Ballroom tons of times, and it is definitely one of their favorite venues to play.
Since the last time the band has played at Cain’s, or any venue for that matter, multiple members have gotten sober, including lead singer and frontman Evan Felker.
So, it’s almost as if leaving their hearts at Cain’s soaking up bourbon stains is a similar sentiment to what they left behind when they began their hiatus. Leaving behind their drinking habits is obvious here, but their heart could also refer to their fans, their music, and their careers.
“Now I’m back down on the farm dreamin’ ’bout those big city lights
Waking up at dawn, workin’ ’til it’s night
But I’m saving up my money and this time I’ll make her see
What a girl like that just might want with a country boy like me…”
Following the 2019 hiatus announcement, no one heard from Evan Felker for quite some time. But then about a year later, in May 2020, pictures surfaced on social media taken by photographer Calvin Shofner. As it turns out, in his absence from the spotlight, Felker had been “down on the farm,” working on a ranch in Oak Island, TX.
Such an occupation likely took him back down to his roots and earlier years growing up in rural Oklahoma, as he returned to the farm life.
Turnpike fans were ecstatic to get a glimpse at a happy Evan Felker, but things got even better a few months later, in August of that same year. Writer Josh Crutchmer talked with Evan in a last minute interview for his book Red Dirt: Roots Music Born in Oklahoma, Raised in Texas, at Home Anywhere.
In the interview, Felker confirmed his newfound sobriety and that he had been working (and presumably saving up money) on a ranch in Texas, as the pictures had suggested. He admitted though, that during the hiatus he had become “clear-headed about music again,” and insinuated that he would return to making music in some capacity when ready. On that ranch, it seems as if he was still thinking about those big city lights, or perhaps more so his return to playing live shows with the Turnpike Troubadours in those cities.
Furthermore, the interview with Crutchmer revealed that he and his wife Staci had rekindled their relationship and were happily back together. So, while he was getting sober, working on the ranch, and saving up his money, he was able to get back with Staci and show her what she wanted with him. And now, they have a family as their daughter Evangelina Hartford Felker was born in March 2021. They just announced that baby number two is on the way as well.
You could also make the case that the “she” in these lyrics could be referring to Cain’s Ballroom, and the desire the whole band had to end their hiatus, return to the venue, and play for their fans.
In that case, the second half of the chorus could be referring to Turnpike reclaiming their hearts and making their return to Cain’s Ballroom this weekend, as soon as they felt ready to do so.
“And I’m goin’ back to see her just as soon as I can
And I left my heart in Tulsa on the corner of Easton and Main…”
While RC Edward’s certainly could not have predicted this 15 years ago, it is pretty wild how many comparisons can be drawn between this song and the band’s situation over the past few years. Talk about poetic justice, divine intervention, whatever you want to call it… I guess it is just fate that they make their return at Cain’s this weekend.
In honor of everything coming together and the Turnpike Troubadours making their return to the stage, here are some videos of past Turnpike shows at Cain’s for those of us that won’t be there to welcome them back.
“Easton & Main”
“The Bird Hunters”
The quality in this video may not be as good as the other two, but this is from their most recent concert at Cain’s on December 31, 2018.
It also just so happens that while the greatest band of all time makes their long awaited return at such an iconic venue this week, the greatest golfer of all time will do the same at Augusta National, as Tiger Woods returns to try and win his seventh Masters.
Safe to say I’ll be listening to Turnpike and watching The Masters all weekend.