When someone in Texas or Oklahoma refers to “red dirt,” there’s a good chance they’re talking about music, not soil. And when it comes to hotbeds of talent, this rich region is sprouting some of the best — including rising country-roots-rock band the Turnpike Troubadours. In the third segment of The Next Waltz, Bruce Robison’s innovative multi-platform music series, the Oklahoma sextet assess their growing popularity and introduce a fine new song, “Come As You Are.”
Co-written by Turnpike Troubadours lead singer-songwriter-guitarist Evan Felker and Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller, the beautiful heartbreaker was recorded at our Lockhart studio, the all-analog Bruce’s Country Bunker (yes, it’s a nod to a certain campy yet beloved music film).
Remorse and regret permeate its lyrics, echoing ache a little more loudly with each verse. "Well, How did I get to the shape that I’m in/a younger man’s thoughts/some tonic, some gin. And now I’m fumblin’ around for a ‘darlin’ don’t go.’ The click of the heel to the tap of the toe," Felker sings, his high-lonesome melancholy giving the waltz-time song the feel of a long lived-in classic.
It just might earn that status one day. Press coverage of the band invariably raves about their ability to combine “roadhouse swagger” (Country Weekly) with “harmony and humanity” (Austin American-Statesman), accompanied by predictions about when they’ll break big. For an indie band, they’ve done pretty well so far, selling out larger and larger venues farther and farther from their home turf. And their self-titled last album, released in 2015 on their own Bossier City Records (with Thirty Tigers distribution), debuted at No. 3 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart — and No. 5 on its Top Rock Albums chart.
“I love it when a really great band is breaking through; it gives me hope,” Robison says. “Turnpike Troubadours are the next big thing — no gimmicks needed.”
In the interview video, artfully directed and edited by Spencer Peeples, Felker and his bandmates reveal how they progressed from being threatened if they failed to play enough Merle Haggard to hearing audiences sing along to their originals. Felker and Robison also discuss what people seek in a song. Felker says it’s relatability; songs often “paint a picture or sum up something [people] were thinking and hadn’t realized how to say.”
Robison observes, “I think music makes people know that they’re not alone.”
“Absolutely,” Felker answers. “You can really make somebody happy with a damned song.”
You can now purchase a limited edition Turnpike Troubadours package featuring a 7" Vinyl with an exclusive B-side song + a screen printed and numbered poster by Kerry Awn: Click Here To Buy Now!
Written by Lynne Margolis