Interview

Troubadour Evan Felker Weighs in on The Grand Ole Opry, John Fullbright, and Songwriting

Photo Credit: David McClister

Hardworking Oklahoma boys, the Turnpike Troubadours is a hugely talented and popular Red Dirt outfit which has earned its success the old fashioned way – grinding it out on the road - honing its music and amassing a large and loyal fan base along the way. The band’s third and latest release, 2015’s self-titled Turnpike Troubadours, debuted at #3 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart with little support from mainstream radio, an impressive feat for an independent band with a self-produced record.

This October, the band made its first appearance at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. The evening included performances by Ricky Skaggs, Mark O’Connor and Marie Osmond.

“It’s a dream come true,” said frontman and guitarist Evan Felker of the Opry debut. “It’s surreal. It was maybe the coolest thing we’ve ever done.”

Felker and bassist RC Edwards do the bulk of the songwriting for the band.

"When we have a finished song, we’ll take it to the band and we’ll sit down and play it and see how we want it to sound for us,” Felker explained. “It’s a pretty simple process. We’ve been playing together for a while, and we like each other’s playing.”

On occasion, Felker co-writes with musicians outside of the band, including fellow Okies.

“John Fullbright is one of them that I write with a lot,” Felker commented.

Fullbright, who was born in Bearden, Okla., just outside Felker’s (and folk legend Woody Guthrie’s) hometown of Okemah, is a former member of the Troubadours.

“We’ve known each other a long time, so it’s fun to write together,” Felker said. “I just like to write with my friends and with people I admire. I’m lucky with what I’ve got. I’m pretty happy.”

Although Felker still enjoys his time on the road with his bandmates, he finds it difficult, if not impossible, to write while on tour.

“I can’t write on the road at all,” he said. “It’s just too distracting. You might get an idea, or you might write a little piece of something, but as far as keeping your focus on that, it’s just not something I’ve ever been successful at.”

As the band achieves greater success, Felker finds he needs to be more intentional about his writing.

“It’s a lot easier to do other things that you enjoy rather than sit in a room when you have free time and the option of finally having made a living. It’s easy to sit in a room when you’re broke,” he laughed. “You don’t have a lot of choice.”

- With permissio from Red Dirt Nation