Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker is one of the most respected songwriters in Texas Country/Red Dirt and beyond, including just having his song “The Bird Hunters” named Saving Country Music’s Song of the Year for 2015. But after numerous drunken performances, some fans are in an uproar, while others are reaching out with sympathy and concern for the songwriter.
The first questionable performance came on New Years Day in Tulsa at the Cain’s Ballroom annual Hangover Ball, where Evan took the stage acoustic style with Cody Canada, Jason Boland, William Clark Green, Mike McClure, Jason Eady, Adam Hood, BJ Barham of American Aquarium, and Brian Keane.
@BJBarhamTweets I think it’s time for you to talk to Evan Felker about sobriety? Holy. Mess.
Alissa (@MoronWithAnA) January 2, 2016
@departed_music I love you guys and I always have but someone needs to talk to Evan Felker about what he wants his life to be like!
John strickland (@jp_strickland) January 2, 2016
Stephanie Simmons (@ousooner44) January 2, 2016
Cassie Robinson (@mrs_cassie_r) January 2, 2016
Who wants to make bets on how bad Evan Felker’s hangover is today? #HangoverBall
Jamie Baumgardner (@roamingokie) January 2, 2016
“When does this Hangover Ball start tonight?” Evan Felker 11 minutes ago. Probably.
RETIRED tshirt guy (@badasstshirtguy) January 2, 2016
The drunken Hangover Ball performance appeared to be an isolated incident for the Oklahoma native. However, at this week’s Music Fest festivities in Steamboat Springs, CO, patrons were once again disappointed when Evan Felker took the stage drunk for a Turnpike Troubadours performance Tuesday (1-5) night.
Allen Franco (@allen_franco_) January 6, 2016
Wag (@Wagaknack) January 6, 2016
Haley Sheldon (@HaleyMay2015) January 6, 2016
It’s time for an intervention of the sinking ship better known as #evanfelker before he destroys the entire band.
Melissa Townsend (@Meldtown) January 6, 2016
The talk of the day at #MF16 is still how hammered Evan Felker was on stage last night. Heard multiple groups talking about it.
Greg Creamer (@CreamerDaCrop) January 6, 2016
Meanwhile other fans and artists are reaching out to support the songwriter who clearly appears to be going through a difficult time, including the drummer for Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Brad Rice.
Evan Felker and all of @TpTroubadours don’t need your criticism and scrutiny, they need your love and support. Life on the road is grueling.
Brad Rice (@BolandDrummer) January 6, 2016
I really hope Evan Felker gets the help and support he needs. Life on the road is hard. #TurnpikeTroubadours
LucasLee Chatterson (@LucasLee45) January 6, 2016
Really sad reading all these tweets about Evan Felker. I will always be a fan!
Hallie Bertrand (@hallie_bertrand) January 6, 2016
I don’t know the details, but sending love and hope to my fellow poet, Evan Felker. @TpTroubadours
Natalie Bussjaeger (@LittleJohnWrite) January 6, 2016
Nothing but love for Evan Felker and the @TpTroubadours you have to support your favorite bands through good bad and ugly.
Brittany Sullivan (@BrittanySully) January 6, 2016
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It’s understandable when fans spend their hard-earned money and make plans to see their favorite artists, and are less than happy when the artists doesn’t perform their best. However, living their lives on stages and in the spotlight, musicians many times have to go through their personal turmoil in the public eye, which amplifies or even exacerbates personal issues, sometimes resulting in a spiral out of control that can be just as much the public’s fault as the performer’s.
Heretofore, Evan Felker has not been known as a performer of poor personal character. But like most of the talented artists who’ve ever lived, and many who make the most touching artistic expressions, personal demons loom under the surface, waiting to take grasp. It’s their torment that lends to their brilliance. The temptations of the road, and the music life also can make it harder on musicians. Many fans want to live vicariously through their musical heroes and can fuel bad behavior by enabling it, while others loom in the wings, waiting to tear artists down when they begin to fall.
Evan Felker may have had a bad stretch, but haven’t we all. It’s how we handle our mistakes that makes the measure of a man.
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Editor’s Note: Apologies for doing the whole “embed a bunch of tweets” lazy style of journalism. But since I was not at these events, and the tweets help accurately portray public sentiment, it was deemed a worthy way to report on this story.
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UPDATE: Here’s a video from the beginning of the Turnpike Troubadous performance at Steamboat Springs. Though the quality is low, it does appear to show Evan slurring, dropping verses, and generally not trying.
The Turnpike Troubadours LIVE #mf16
Posted by 95.9 The Ranch on Tuesday, January 5, 2016