For years, St. Louis Cardinals lead off man and franchise face Matt Carpenter has been helping to spread the goodness of the Turnpike Troubadours by featuring their song “Long Hot Summer Day” as his walk up music when he goes to bat. As the long-time lead off man for the team, that means a Turnpike Troubadours song is one of the first things fans hear in 50% of games since he began featuring the song in 2012.
Showcasing “Long Hot Summer Day” at Cardinals games is one of the reasons the Turnpike Troubadours have cultivated such a strong fan base in St. Louis and surrounding areas, and “Long Hot Summer Day” was even featured in The World Series when the Cardinals went in 2013. Making references to the Illinois River and numerous small towns behind an infectious rhythm, it’s a song that’s hard not to love, and is a staple of the Turnpike Troubadours live show. The song was originally written and recorded by bluegrass legend John Hartford.
Turnpike Troubadours’ fiddler and St. Louis Cardinals fan Kyle Nix told Saving Country Music a few years back that 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,” said Nix. “You’ll see it on Twitter quite a bit.”
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, 2010’s Diamonds and Gasoline. “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.”
Recently when speaking to KMOV4 in St. Louis, Matt Carpenter assured that the song isn’t leaving his walk-up rotation any time soon. “I just really fell in love with the band, I still love the band. I fell in love with the song, I thought it had some local ties to it, so I kinda stuck with it ever since.”
However Carpenter has added a new song to his rotation for the 2019 season. “Hurricane” by Band of Heathens is now #2 in his walk up music list. An older song written by Thom Schuyler, Keith Stegall and Stewart Harrisby, and recorded by Levon Helm and Leon Everette in the early 80’s, Band Of Heathens revived the song for their record Top Hat Crown and Clapmaster’s Son. It has since become the Austin-based band’s biggest hit.
Then coming in at #3 is arguably the biggest song from Ft. Worth native Cody Jinks. “Loud and Heavy” has been Cody’s signature tune ever since it was featured on his 2015 record Adobe Sessions, and is now his most streamed and best-selling song. It’s also what he chose to name his own personally-curated festival after. Now it will join “Long Hot Summer Day” and “Hurricane” being heard over the loudspeakers at Cardinals home games at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, as well as being piped into the homes of millions of TV viewers of both the home and away team during Cardinals home games. Cody Jinks happens to be a big Texas Rangers fan, but he probably won’t mind a Cardinals player embracing the song.
Even though radio continues to ignore many of the independent artists who’ve cultivated strong careers and huge fan bases, good music tends to still find its way to people in the end. Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals continues to be one of those outlets.