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Oklahoma country band the Turnpike Troubadours have lived a pretty charmed life in 2013 so far, and so has St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter who is heading to the 2013 World Series vs. the Boston Red Sox, and will be taking a little bit of the Turnpike Troubadours with him.
An emerging staple of the Major League Baseball landscape over the last few years has been the walk up music batters select to be played as they make their way to the plate. Matt Carpenter happens to favor a song called “Long Hot Summer Day” that appears on the Turnpike Troubadour’s 2010 album Diamonds & Gasoline. The song was originally written and performed by country legend and father of Newgrass, John Hartford.
When Matt Carpenter made an appearance in the All-Star Game earlier this year, social network channels erupted with chatter from Turnpike Troubadours fans elated that “Long Hot Summer Day” had found its way onto primetime television. Now it will be showcased on baseball’s biggest stage during Cardinals home games.
Turnpike Troubadour fiddler and St. Louis Cardinals fan Kyle Nix says the exposure has really helped the band out. “Regionally in Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and in Kansas and stuff like that, it seems to have blown up our fan base really big,” says Nix. “You’ll see it on Twitter quite a bit.”
Kyle Nix says the band didn’t initially plan to record “Long Hot Summer Day,” but after seeing how it was received live, it made it onto their second record. “Evan [Felker] was listening to a lot of John Hartford, and I was listening to a lot of bluegrass stuff, and we lived in the same house here in Stillwater at the time. I was just kind of a neat little song. It was cool the way Hartford did it, just by himself, tapping his foot, playing the fiddle. And we figured it might be cool to put a whole band behind a song like that.”
Matt Carpenter isn’t just a fan of “Long Hot Summer Day,” he’s been a solid fan of the Turnpike Troubadours for a few years, attending shows in McKinney, TX, and College Station, TX. Carpenter’s wife is from College Station, and Carpenter was born in Galveston. While in St. Louis recently for a Cardinals game, Kyle Nix was invited down on the field by the ball player.
“Got to meet him, got to watch batting practice, met some great people in the clubhouse,” Nix says. It was a really cool experience. Kind of a surreal thing. It’s you’re favorite team and you’re down on the field. And he was such a nice guy. He talked to us for a long time. Just a really humble guy, and a hell of a ball player too. I’ve been a Cardinals fan ever since I was a kid because of Ozzie Smith. I used to love to watch Ozzie Smith because of the flips and all that stuff. Then of course when Mark McGuire got on the team and hit all the home runs. I played baseball growing up , and the closest thing you have in Oklahoma is the Cardinals.”
Does Kyle Nix have a prediction for the World Series?
“I have a want. I think it was ’04 that the Red Sox actually swept the Cards in the World Series. I would really like the Cards to sweep the series just to pay them back for it, that’d be great. I’m not going to predict that, but I’d like to say the Cards in 6 games. I think they’ll do good. I think they’ll take it, but don’t hold me to that. I just hope.”
But no matter the outcome, the 2013 World Series will be a win for the Turnpike Troubadours.
Signs that good, independent country music is beginning to poke through to the public consciousness are all over the place, and during tonight’s MLB All-Star Game, we got yet another big one when St. Louis Cardinals All-Star second baseman Matt Carpenter chose the Turnpike Troubadours‘ song “Long Hot Summer Day” from their album Diamonds & Gasoline for the walk-up music during his plate appearance.
Originally written and performed by bluegrass great John Hartford, Carpenter started using the Troubadours version in 2012, but this is the first time it has had a chance to be showcased on such a grand stage. And apparently the fandom is mutual, with the Troubadours throwing their support behind Carpenter. It probably helps that Carpenter happens to play for the team closest to the Troubadour’s native Oklahoma, and that Matt grew up in Sugar Land, TX and went to school at TCU in Ft. Worth—a Turnpike Troubadour stronghold if there ever was one.
Matt Carpeneter and The Troubadours have communicated their mutual respect back and forth on Twitter over the last year or so since Carpenter began using the song.
The Turnpike Troubadours have seen a steady rising action over the past few years from their heartfelt songwriting and infectious tunes. They are quickly becoming one of the biggest names in Texas/Red Dirt music and threatening to break out nationwide. Their last album Goodbye Normal Street made many people’s lists as one of the best of 2012 in country music.
Matt Carpenter walking up to “Long Hot Summer Day” in a game from last week:
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