Beloved Country Band Finally Reunites After Lengthy Hiatus

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The country band Turnpike Troubadours will reunite and return to touring starting next year. The band went on indefinite hiatus in May 2019, less than two years after they released their successful fifth album A Long Way From Your Heart. Tickets for their first show at the Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver on May 14 went on sale Friday. The Oklahoma-based band also plans to record new music.

Turnpike Troubadours released their first album in 2007. The current lineup includes frontman Evan Felker, fiddle player Kyle Nix, guitarist Ryan Engleman, bassist R.D. Edwards, drummer Gabe Pearson, and steel guitarist Hank Early, who also plays the accordion. When the group decided to get back together, the chemistry was back instantly, Felker told Rolling Stone on Nov. 30.

“There’s a thing that happens when you’ve worked with someone for a long time that’s just magic,” the songwriter said. “The chemistry that we have, and being able to play off of each other without speaking or anything like that, it’s an amazing little phenomenon. And it happens for three or four minutes at a time, and I’m very appreciative of things like that now.”

Felker’s personal life and behavior took attention away from the band’s performances before they went on hiatus. He appeared intoxicated onstage and also divorced his wife, Staci Nelson. In August 2020, he told Rolling Stone he was sober and worked on a Texas ranch. He also remarried Nelso,n and they welcomed a daughter in January. While the other members of the band went on to other projects, they are now “ready to get back to playing shows,” Engleman told Rolling Stone. “We’re getting the band back together,” Nix excitedly added.

Today, Felker believes he focused so much on his art and creativity that he let “everything else slide.” He called finding sobriety and recovery the “Greatest thing that ever happened” to him. “I’m coming up on two years, completely sober and out of recovery. And a few days after that will be my daughter’s first birthday, so it’s all a big one,” Felker explained. “I’ve learned so much about how my life was not well-rounded. I mean I knew that. I knew that it was just one thing. It started out just being music, and then eventually it was just drinking, and that was it for me.”

Turnpike Troubadours found new management, New York-based TMWRK, and the band’s members got back together in mid-November. It wasn’t that hard to be in each other’s company, they quickly discovered. “It all really did just fall into place again,” Nix told Rolling Stone. “We didn’t miss a beat. It’s funny how that works.”

The tour schedule will have to balance their lives outside the stage with life under the spotlight. “Life has to have some sort of balance, otherwise it’ll spin off into outer space,” Felker said. “We were in the bars – for 10 years, I was in a bar every night. If you expose yourself to that long enough, you’re going to wind up needing some help. I know I did. I don’t miss it. I don’t miss that. I miss playing music, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t miss being drunk and telling the same stories over and over again, not at all.”

The show at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado, is the only one scheduled so far. Shovels & Rope and Reckless Kelly will be the Turnpike Troubadours’ special guests. Tickets are still available on the group’s website.