The Turnpike Troubadours are well versed in the Midwest and Texas music scenes with few and far between trips to the east or west coasts. They are one of the only groups out there that manage to carry a six piece band despite not being nearly as popular or successful as they deserve to be. Included in that six man band are some of the wide ranging instrumentation you can hear on any Turnpike album. From your standard acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and electric guitars to the fiddle, pedal steel, harmonica, and even an accordion.
This was one of my most anticipated concerts that I’ve been to. In addition to the Troubadours, Heathen Sons and Kelsey Waldon were tapped as openers on this warm July summer night. The venue (pictured above) was like an upscale brick warehouse located in “The Gulch” area just south of Broadway. Inside the venue there was rustic atmosphere to the place which I really liked. I was an early arriver in hopes to get a good spot among the sold out crowd near the stage. The line to get in when doors opened probably stretched a quarter mile up the street, so the Troubadours and company created quite the buzz as they hit town.
Thanks to doing to a little bit of digging through to her discography, I was vaguely familiar with Kelsey Waldon. By vaguely familiar, I’m talking one song. That was quick to change. Straight out of rural Ballard County, Kentucky, Kelsey hit the stage with a sound mixed between Kacey Musgraves and Margo Price. Songs like the tongue in cheek “High in Heels” and the pedal steel laced “Goldmine” which I recorded HERE anchored the set. She added in a couple new tunes from her upcoming album “I’ve Got A Way” set for release August 12th. Among those were “All By Myself” and the title track “I’ve Got A Way”. Kelsey has a great sound, unique voice, and if you are into that classic country sound of the modern day crowd, she’s an artist you should get behind. If she’s ever in your area definently check her out, I was impressed and have been listening to her music a lot since the show. For tour dates and music: www.kelseywaldon.com
The Heathen Sons were a new name to me. I did a quick search before the show and gathered that they are described as a “Rock N’ Roll” band influenced by Drive-By Truckers, Kings Of Leon, and Tom Petty among others. I’m open to some good rock n’ roll and these guys were the definition. Out of Nashville, Tennessee, the mix of heavy guitars riffs and melting solos ran throughout their set. A song that stuck out to me was “Fourth Of July” which you can find on their EP “Through the Eyes of the Lion”. Its catchy as hell and a damn good song. Having yet released a full length album there is limited tunes available to listen to but you might not have to wait too long as their website says a project is due late summer. If you like rock n’ roll the way its supposed to be and a touch of southern rock, give these guys a listen for sure. www.heathensons.com
The two opening acts set the stage for the headliners. Evan Felker and the boys walked out onto the stage and busted straight into on of their biggest hits, “Every Girl”. The first hint of Kyle Nix on the fiddle hit me and I knew this was gonna be a concert to remember. The thing about this band is that they let the instruments have their space. Fiddle, pedal steel, guitar, and harmonica all getting there solos at various points. No song was off limits. Their set included some deep album cuts like “Kansas City Southern” and “Evangeline”. You can check out “The Bird Hunters” which I filmed from the concert below.
Towards the end of the show, you can hear the crowd foot stomping along to the tow boatin’ “Long Hot Summer Day” and singing along to “Down Here” from their most recent self titled record. The band was on fire and the sound mimicked the studio versions of the songs with a live energy. These are some of the most talented musicians running the roads of the heartland and one of the most consistent and well rounded honky tonk bands around.
This is a special band, without a doubt. They are among the best current artists in modern country today. Hopefully one day these guys find their way into mainstream country and can spread their sound to a larger audience and who knows maybe they’ll take on country radio? Nothing wrong with dreaming.
I came into this show with high expectations for this band and they met and exceeded them. I highly recommend that if these guys are within a reasonable driving distance, 5 hours or so maybe longer if your feeling like Snowman (Smokey and the Bandit), you need to make it out to see them live. I’ll also say, all around this show with the openers Kelsey Waldon and Heathen Sons was incredible. I’ve come away as a new fan for these two acts and I’m still a huge Turnpike guy if you haven’t noticed.
So was the 12 hour drive worth it? Of course it was. But to be fair I’ve wanted to go to Nashville for a while and made a four day weekend out of it, all planned around this show being in town!