Granted, it is a different day in the music business, and independent country bands are appearing on the country album charts more and more often. But still, to behold the steady rise of the Turnpike Troubadours from a bar band from Oklahoma to the top of the country music charts without ever having to reshape their sound or sign their life away to a major label is an incredible feat that should be celebrated by the band and their dedicated fans, and by country music fans hoping for a greater turnaround for the genre.
The Turnpike Troubadours’ latest, self-titled release debuted at #3 on Billboard’s Country Albums Chart, and even reached the Top 20 in Billboard’s Top 200 chart, coming in at #17 with a total of 19,400 albums sold. To put that in perspective, they were just slightly behind Country Music Hall of Famers Alabama for the #2 spot. Southern Drawl was Alabama’s first original studio album in 15 years, and only bested the Troubadours record by 1,500 units. Luke Bryan and his dumb album Kill The Lights took the top spot on the week.
The new Troubadours record also comes in at #2 on Billboard’s Folk chart, and #5 on the Rock chart.
Previously, the best chart performance for the Turnpike Troubadours was #14 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart, and #57 on the Top 200 with their 2012 release Goodbye Normal Street.
In 2015, country music has seen independent and aging artists consistently prove their selling power over mainstream rivals on the album charts. Aaron Watson, Blackberry Smoke, Jason Isbell, Alan Jackson, and Willie Nelson / Merle Haggard have all registered #1 records in 2015 without mainstream radio play. While streaming becomes the norm for many mainstream listeners, a silent majority of country music fans are still willing to purchase albums from the artists they love, resulting in greater revenues for the artists, and better exposure through album charts. Similar to the recent #1 albums from Aaron Watson and Jason Isbell, Turnpike Troubadours was released through Thirty Tigers.
Early numbers for next week’s Country Albums chart show new albums from both George Strait and Don Henley leading Thomas Rhett’s Tangled Up by over 7,000 records, with Henley coming in slightly above Strait at the moment. George Strait and Don Henley also are responsible for the #1 and #2 spots in all of music on the building charts. Those numbers will be finalized next Monday.