Evan Felker Opens Up On Why The Turnpike Troubadours Went On Hiatus

Turnpike Troubadours country music
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach

After six long years without new music, Turnpike Troubadours have a new record coming SOON.

They announced this morning that a new album, A Cat In The Rain, will be out everywhere on August 25th, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Of course, the reason it has been so long is because the band was on an indefinite hiatus for several years, due to what many believed was frontman Evan Felker’s issues with alcohol.

At the time, the band had started to cancel shows left and right, and tons of videos were circulating online of Evan stumbling around on stage, barely able to sing or perform.

But in a detailed feature by writer and author Josh Crutchmer for Rolling Stone (Josh also wrote a great book about the Red Dirt music scene), Evan revealed that his sobriety journey came after he had decided to take and indefinite break from music.

He told the outlet he was simply “done” with the entire thing, and had no plans to return or professionally make music ever again:

“I was done with music.”

The drinking was a byproduct of something much deeper going on deep down inside, and he added that it was only after he left the road, got back to some form of reality and had time to reflect that he realized just how bad his drinking habit had become:

“Once you’re off the road, then you realize that there is a problem. That you can’t quit, and you can’t blame being on the road anymore.

Being off the road, I got back to some version of reality. I moved down to Southeast Texas with some friends down there. That’s where I realized that I drank too much to do any of the stuff I liked.”

He added that his lifestyle and excessive drinking worked for a while, but he eventually got to a point that he couldn’t handle it.

Evan added that after like four or five drinks, “I was smashed”:

“At some point it works. You can drink all day or drink too much, and it works for you. Some people may do that for their whole life, and still have some level of functionality.

For me, alcohol affected me different. I was less able to, number one, exist without it. And number two, after like four or five drinks, I was smashed. I was so fucked up that it wouldn’t have mattered.

I was drinking from the morning on. Some of my friends who, to this day, can drink a lot of beer, I was lapping them.”

He said that drinking so much and that rockstar lifestyle, so to speak, became part of the band’s every day routine for many years, especially in their 20’s, and it eventually caught up with him.

Taking a break from the craziness of being a country star gave him the time he didn’t even know he needed to reflect on and realize that for the first time. Evan admitted that the rapid rise to fame was overwhelming, and during the time when they were cancelling shows, he also separated from his wife, Staci.

They have since remarried and have two young children, Evangelina Hartford (2) and a baby boy, Everett Augustus, who was born last September.

And of course, the Oklahoma boys have been back out on the road, and have a pretty packed touring schedule headlining festivals all over the country this summer.

The band also has a new single called “Mean Old Sun” dropping this Friday, and of course, will be gearing up to put out their aforementioned 10-song album later this summer, which was produced by Shooter Jennings.

Evan and company actually played the new tune for the first time at Stagecoach this past weekend, and all I can think about is how sad it would’ve been had Evan really been done with music for good.

Thankfully, for his health and the sake of his family, most importantly, he was able to get the help that he needed and find that maybe music wasn’t the problem after all.

Here’s to the first of many more post-hiatus Turnpike albums to come… it seems that they are truly back, healthier, and better than ever.

Read the full Rolling Stone profile HERE.

“Mean Old Sun”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock