The Turnpike Troubadours have become one of the leading country rock ensembles that has ever arisen from the heart of Oklahoma.
Within the decade, the six-piece Red Dirt group comprised – Evan Felker [lead vocals], RC Edwards [bass], Kyle Nix [fiddle], Ryan Engleman [guitar], Hank Early [accordion/ steel player], and Gabe Pearson [drums] have made waves with their gritty vocals and folk stomping smash hits. While changing the trajectory of Americana music in 2019, the Turnpike’s announced an “indefinite hiatus.”
It wasn’t until recently the beloved band got back on the saddle and returned to the spotlight in full force in Tulsa. The Turnpike Troubadours, best known for their impeccable harmonies and raw production – has confidently persevered forward with a profound perspective.
Instrumentalist RC Edwards, sat down with CMT ahead of their highly anticipated set at Windy City Smokeout in Chicagoland to give an update on their life out on the road and to talk about a project on the horizon.
“It’s been awesome to be back,” Edwards said full of enthusiasm. “We kind of timed our break about right. We quit playing shows a little bit before COVID-19. So, we were already on break and had nothing planned when it happened – we couldn’t have toured if we wanted to. We got a good couple of years of rest, and now everyone’s fired up to be back out doing it again.”
During the unprecedented times, Edward explained that every member of the Turnpike Troubadours went in their separate direction to pursue different projects or to prioritize their health and family.
According to Rolling Stone, Felker became sober and welcomed his daughter with his wife, Staci. As the frontman started a family, Nix released a full-length solo album titled “Lightening on the Mountain & Other Short Stories.” The fiddle player even formed his own band, the 38’s.
Turnpike drummer and close friend Pearson, jumped on board and toured with the bandleader. When Pearson wasn’t keeping the beat for Nix – he was hitting the books at Oklahoma State University, where he worked towards a bachelor’s degree. Edwards on the other hand, channeled his creativity into his side gig, Rc and the Ambers.
“Everyone definitely got to spend more time at home with their families, friends, and a lot of ranching,” he pointed out. “It was very nice to reset and just get back to normal. Some of us got into other musical projects. Kyle and Gabe worked together, and I focused more on my band. Both of us put out records. As much as we love it… it’s just not the same as this band, the Turnpike Troubadours.”
Shortly after reuniting, Edwards said that they all had a new mindset and appreciation for their craft.
“I think we’re older, smarter, and maybe a little more focused on the right things,” the chart-topping artist clarified. “It’s going great! We definitely kind of got our heads on a little more right now.”
Despite unexpected travel complications, Edwards shared that they picked up exactly where they left off and has not faced any additional hurdles while touring.
“Travel obstacles are about the only thing that gets in our way,” he said, touching upon the pilot shortage. “We got a great crew now, not that we didn’t before. The crew has done a great job of just going from not being on the road, to touring seamlessly. I don’t think we could have pulled it off without these guys,” Edwards added.
Although the Turnpike Troubadours have secured their spot within the genre, they just recently scored the opportunity to headline Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium. He said it was a “surreal experience” and served as a career milestone.
“We have never played there before. That was our first time. I think I took a tour of it once when I was younger, just to see it all,” the musician recalled. “It’s a church, and it felt like it. Lots of friends and family were there. It was just a couple of magical nights.”
As the “Diamonds & Gasoline” singers hit iconic venues on their summertime trek, Edwards wants fans to know that they are also busy in the studio creating new music.
The group has not confirmed a release date, but said that a full-length album is in the pipeline. The new material will follow their latest project “A Long Way From Your Heart,” which peaked at No.3 on the Billboard Top Country chart in 2017.
“We have done some studio work and a lot of writing,” he exclusively told CMT. “We’ve got a record in the works. There will be singles rolling out when we get that planned out, but that’s the next big thing this year – a new album and a tour supporting that.”
Until country music fanatics get their hands on original material from the Turnpike Troubadours, they can see them live and in person. Tickets are available for purchase, here.