Evan Felker & Others Help Rhett Miller Raise Funds for Cystic Fibrosis

Thursday evening (10-28), Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller helped organize the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s “Breathe Easy” CF Concert Series featuring a host of cool artists from the country, alt-country and roots world raising money to help find therapeutics and a cure for the disease, as well as to help raise awareness. Miller has been doing this for 12 years now, and helps spearhead the Dallas chapter of the organization.

The online donation-based streaming event had a very Dallas vibe to it, with The O’s starting off the event as they’ve done most years, along with the Dallas-based Prophets & Outlaws contributing a couple of songs, and Dallas’s biggest rising country star Joshua Ray Walker also performing. Though Rhett Miller is a Dallas native, he now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

This year there was additional attention on the event after Rhett Miller announced that Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker would be making his first publicly-announced appearance since the Turnpike Troubadours went on indefinite hiatus on May 31st, 2019, and Even Felker later announced his sobriety. Felker also played a benefit with the Teague Brothers earlier this year on February 27th.

Along with wanting to hear Felker perform, folks also tuned in looking for any sign that the long national hell that has the indefinite hiatus of the Turnpike Troubadours might be coming to a conclusion at some point. There were no specific indications, but most importantly, they were just happy to see Even Felker in the flesh, looking happy and healthy, playing from his home in southeast Texas, clean shaven, with a Clark Kent curl to the front of his hair.

“You haven’t heard from this guy in a little while,” said Rhett Miller, introducing Evan. “I haven’t gotten to see this guy in person in a long time. He’s one of my closest friends, and one of my favorite songwriters.”

Then Evan Felker played “Every Girl,” and later “7&7,” keeping it to the hits for folks who hadn’t heard him sing for quite a while. Evan’s wife Staci handled the technical aspects of the performance.

“I gotta say, I get a little choked up hearing Evan sing,” Rhett Miller said after Felker’s first song. “It’s been a while, and that voice gets me. You’re such a great dude. I really appreciate you being here with us tonight.”

The event was a pandemic-era style production. The O’s chimed in from a living room, Cody Canada came on from the bus, the soulful Prophets and Outlaws were in a studio, Joshua Ray Walker from the tour van, slaying us all with his high yodel and singing the song “Canyon,” which he said the reception for allowed him to go on his first tour with the Old 97’s. Todd Snider chimed in from his home in Nashville, and Pat Green from the side of the stage before a gig.

Rhett Miller and Evan Felker swapped songs at the end, with Rhett finishing the event playing “Doreen,” which is a song Rhett recorded with the Old 97’s, and the Turnpike Troubadours covered on their 2015 self-titled record.

By the end of the evening, nearly $30,000 was raised for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation ($27,830 at last count).

A (semi) complete track list from the evening:

The O’s – “You Got Your Heart”
The O’s –
Cody Canada – “Pay”
Cody Canada – “Final Curtain”
Prophets & Outlaws – “A Little Bit of Love (Never Hurt Anyone)”
Prophets & Outlaws – “Soul Shop”
Joshua Ray Walker – “Cowboy”
Joshua Ray Walker – “Working Girl”
Joshua Ray Walker – “Canyon”
Dave & Kate – “What’s Ours”
Rhett Miller – “Question”
Todd Snider – “Handsome John”
Todd Snider – “Sail On, My Friend”
Rhett Miller – “Oppenheimer”
Pat Green – “Carry On”
Rhett Miller- “Total Disaster”
Evan Felker – “Every Girl”
Rhett Miller – “Already There” (unreleased)
Evan Felker – “7&7”
Rhett Miller – “Doreen”

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