Turnpike Troubadours, Austin Music Featured in ‘Walker’ Reboot

No, the best band in country music has not announced any intentions of getting back together … yet. The Turnpike Troubadours from Oklahoma called an indefinite hiatus in May of 2019, and have left many fans on edge impatiently waiting for a return. But aside from an announcement from Evan Felker in August of 2020 that he’s found sobriety, and a badass record from the band’s fiddler Kyle Nix that features all the members of the band (except Evan), we’re still in a holding pattern.

However, a few studious Turnpike fans were caught off guard and cracked a smile recently while watching the pilot episode of the new Walker, Texas Ranger reboot abbreviated simply to Walker. Similar to some other shows recently like Yellowstone, original music from independent artists plays a prominent role in the presentation.

The song “The Hard Way” by the Turnpike Troubadours off their 2017 record A Long Way From Your Heart showed up in a scene where Walker is two-stepping with a woman in a bar. Led by Austin resident Jared Padalecki who not only plays Walker but executive produces the series, the new Walker is set in Austin as opposed to Dallas, is shot in the Texas Capital, and so it’s only appropriately it has a heavy musical component.

In fact, 15 separate songs found their way into the first episode’s soundtrack, and a lot of them have Austin or Texas ties. Austin rock bands Chill Russell, White Denim, Royal Forest, Okkervil River, Loteria, and The Mammoths all saw songs placed in the pilot episode, as was the song “Those Who Wait” by Austin songwriter Cristy Hays, and “Valley” by the Lubbock-born Kevin Morby.

What does all of this mean? It means that the struggling Austin music scene and cool independent bands from the region might get a boost in royalties and attention through the new series. And this isn’t just wishful thinking. A lot of folks attribute the recent meteoric rise of Texas band Whiskey Myers to TV placement on Yellowstone. This stuff can make a big difference for performers who don’t receive mainstream radio play, while also padding their pockets with licensing fees.

Reviews for the new Walker series have been mixed, but the ratings were through the roof. The debut episode ended up landing the CW network their best Thursday ratings in three years with some 2.4 million viewers.

We’ll have to see where this all goes, but an Austin-based TV show that is willing to feature the city’s musical talent could be a big boon for the region, and right when it needs it.

Walker Episode 1 Soundtrack:

1. “Dogs of War” – Blues Saraceno
2. “In a River” – Rostam
3. “Waters Crossed RE” – Royal Forest
4. “Go Down River” – The Heavy Heavy
5. “It Might Get Dark” – White Denim
6. “Low” – Chill Russell
7. “Those Who Wait” – Christy Hays
8. “Westfall” – Okkervil River
9. “Rhythm Revue” – Loteria
10. “The Hard Way” – Turnpike Troubadours
11. “Run” – Abhi The Nomad
12. “Poison in the Well” – Ethan Burns, The Ragged Jubilee
13. “Valley” – Kevin Morby
14. “Livin’ In” – The Mammoths
15. “Souvenir” – Boy Genius

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