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Band of the Week: Turnpike Troubadours 

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Photo by David McClister

MEET THE BAND: Evan Felker (vocals, guitar), Kyle Nix (fiddle), Ryan Engleman (steel and electric guitar), RC Edwards (bass), Gabe Pearson (drums) and Hank Early (steel guitar and accordion)

JOINING FORCES: The alt-country band came together about a decade ago in Oklahoma. Members played in different groups but knew each other from the local music scene. "It's not a very big place," says Edwards when asked about the band's Oklahoma roots. "There's only so many people playing the kind of music we like. I think we all had our own bands, and Evan rounded us up to join forces." In 2007, the band issued its debut, Bossier City. "It was so do-it-yourself," says Edwards when asked about that first release. "We were selling them out of our van and at shows. The local smoke shop was even one of the places where you could buy them."

A GRASSROOTS THING: For 2010's Diamonds & Gasoline, the band worked out of a proper studio for the first time with a proper producer. "[Producer] Mike [McClure] is quite a character and really fun to work with. He's also a really crazy person to work with," says Edwards. "Our first studio experience got pretty interesting working with Mike." The band's fan base would expand in the wake of that release. "It's been a grassroots thing," says Edwards. "We meet the fans at every show we play and then see the crowds grow as we go back to each city."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The band's new album, A Long Way from Your Heart, represents its most eclectic release to date. Songs such as "Something to Hold On To" feature a mixture of rock and country sensibilities as the song comes off as a cross between the Old 97s and Charlie Daniels. "The biggest difference with this record is that we used a producer for the first time in a few years," says Edwards. "With [Ryan Hewitt], it was like having a whole other band member with us who had another set of ideas and eyes and ears. He helped make the songs better. He didn't shape the style as much as he got the best out of us." It's also the first album featuring steel guitar and accordion player Hank Early, who brings out the band's Cajun impulses. "We try to mix in more of the new songs with every show," says Edwards. "It's really fun. 'Come to a live show,' is what I tell everyone who hasn't heard of us. 'You'll really like the live show.'"


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Turnpike Troubadours perform with the Bottle Rockets at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 16, at House of Blues.

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