Turnpike Troubadours Book D.C. Show, Hank Early Talks Arena Shows
Are the Turnpike Troubadours post hiatus truly an arena act? Down in the Ark-La-Tex, the answer has definitely been certified as “yes.” Packing out the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City on November 12th, 2022, the Simmons Bank Arena in Little Rock on February 24th with The Avett Brothers opening, and then the massive American Airlines Center in Dallas on February 25, these were all massive feats. This has definitely catapulted Turnpike into the pantheon of arena acts.
Turnpike also had to add a second show at the BOK Center in Tulsa on March 30th due to big demand for the original show announced on April 1st. They also have the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, TX reserved for April 21st. Jamie Lin Wilson and Dawes are opening that show. But the common thread here is how all of these dates have been in the big markets for the Turnpike Troubadours throughout their tenure in the Texas/Red Dirt music scene.
That all changes when they play Friday, May 5th at the Capitol One Arena in Washington D.C., with Old Crow Medicine Show and Lucero set to open. Not only is this venue significantly out of their native region, it’s also one of the biggest arenas in the United States. Playing the nation’s Capitol will be an interesting test if the appeal of Turnpike has truly gone nationwide. Presale tickets go on sale Wednesday, March 8th at 10:00 am Eastern. General sale starts Friday, March 10th.
Part of the calculus here has to be that Turnpike will draw from nearby Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and from New England in general for the show. Though Turnpike has been getting around a lot in the last year after ending their hiatus, they haven’t played much in this region.
After playing the American Airlines Center in Dallas recently and leaving a big impression, one of the biggest radio stations in the city—Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket—talked to Turnpike multi-instrumentalist Hank Early about the show, playing arenas, and the band after their hiatus. The afternoon show The Hardline and host Corby Davidson has always been a big supporter of independent roots music, and specifically Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. After the show, Davidson called the Turnpike Troubadours his new favorite band.
“To see the crowd literally chanting every single word to every single song for a couple hours straight was super impressive, and you guys have been on this run where you’re playing these huge arenas,” Davidson said to Hank Early. “That’s the one thing that really struck me is that y’all haven’t made a record in a long time, and you came out of the chute playing these giant arenas. What were you expecting coming out of your hiatus, because y’all were shot out of a canon?”
“It’s been wild man,” Early said. “I had a feeling it was going to be pretty intense because, just lurking on social media and this and that, you just saw so much enthusiasm about it. And when we finally did start to announce [the return], the response was huge. And after touring last year, the ticket sales led our management team to decide, ‘Hey, let’s just start booking arenas.’ And yeah, it’s wild man.”
Then Hardline co-host Dave Lane asked, “Do you consider your genre of music to be country music? Or like Corby [Davidson] are you too embarrassed and you call it Americana? (laughing)”
“I’m actually more embarrassed to call it Americana,” Hank Early responded. “We played the AmericanaFest a few years back, and we stuck out like a sore thumb. We did not fit in with those sleepy, shoe-gazy country folk. Our stuff is definitely … we’re not embarrassed to call it country. Obviously it doesn’t sound like mainstream country radio, and that’s okay. Country’s kind of a big tent term.”
Corby Davidson also asked Hank Early if there was a moment when they thought the band may never get back together as frontman, singer, and songwriter Evan Felker was going through personal struggles.
“It was a dicey time. Whenever anyone is having struggles like that, you never have any idea of how it’s gonna go. The stuff he went through, that can make or break a person. I’m really happy he was able to get through all that the way that he has. I think it’s had a positive impact on the whole outfit. Him bringing his sobriety out on the road has got us all thinking and acting a little differently, and I think it’s a really healthy change.”
As for the cultural changes within the band since they’ve been back, and specifically when it comes to drinking, Early says,
“It’s been something we just felt out as we’ve gone along. Right away, it was very zero tolerance … keep it all dry back stage, and just being very considerate of trying to not cause a brother to stumble. By as time’s gone on, [Evan Felker’s] very comfortable where he’s at. He’s told us over and over again, ‘Do what you want to do, it doesn’t bother me.’ We’re not drinking on stage, and if you came back stage, it’s not like it used to be. There’s not handles of whiskey and beer all over the place. But if some of us want to go have some drinks after the show, we go have some drinks. It definitely changed the culture, and I’m a big fan honestly.”
You can hear the full interview below on Spotify:
March 7, 2023 @ 10:35 am
Unfortunately DC is still too far for me. Dying for new music from these guys. For those of us who can’t make it to their shows, it’s still the same as it was when the band was broken up. No new music from TT. Hopefully it comes soon.
March 7, 2023 @ 10:47 am
I live in this area, I hope I’m wrong but I really don’t see them as selling out this arena or it even being remotely full. This isn’t Texas or Oklahoma. I mean it’s possible but not probable based on my knowledge of the local scenes. I guess maybe if people fly in from all over would be the only way. But also I get you want money and all that fun stuff but how could such a soulful band even want to play such a soulless venue.
Good for them I guess I hope they get the recognition and the riches they deserve but put out a goddamned album already.
March 7, 2023 @ 11:14 am
I live in Mordor-on-the-Potomac myself, and your comments actually make me more likely to go see ’em. I’ve never liked seeing people play at the enormo-dome. I used to live a few blocks from there. The neighborhood has not changed for the better since Covid.
March 7, 2023 @ 2:06 pm
I was expecting a single at the end of last year, and at least an album announcement by now. If they wait much longer, they risk not benefitting from all of the momentum they built up after the hiatus. But better to get things right than rush something out that won’t last.
March 7, 2023 @ 4:29 pm
Although I understand this sediment, I was really hoping they would make it this long without a new album so I could selfishly get to hear all the classics when I go see them in two weeks in Boston.
Cool Lester Smooth
March 9, 2023 @ 7:16 am
We got Isbell and Zach Bryan in Dublin, American Aquarium in London…time for Turnpike to come over!
March 7, 2023 @ 5:17 pm
They sold out Waite Park, Minnesota, last summer. I was there.
March 10, 2023 @ 4:01 pm
Same skepticism as others here, my eyes did a Bob Costas double take when I saw them bill at Capital One here in DC… Names like Lizzo, and Dave Matthews and John Mayer, aka artists that actually get radio time, sell out Capital One, not a band that probably struggles to sell out Anthem.
To be honest, in the DC area, Old Crow Medicine Show is probably/definitely, the bigger draw, which is weird as they are the opening act…
March 11, 2023 @ 7:07 pm
I’m going to see TT at the York Fair in late July here in beautiful central PA. That concert sold out.
March 7, 2023 @ 10:57 am
Don’t forget NC isn’t far from DC so they’ll be drawing from there too as they sold out Raleigh in no time last year.
March 10, 2023 @ 4:02 pm
Raleigh is 5 hours from DC, which heading north almost gets you to Massachusetts, like 6 media markets away…
March 7, 2023 @ 11:16 am
Can we get new music? Sheesh
March 7, 2023 @ 11:40 am
Still waiting on them to get their asses to Kentucky!
March 7, 2023 @ 2:00 pm
I could see them maybe at Bourbon and Beyond (fingers crossed)
March 8, 2023 @ 10:14 am
I live across the river from Louisville and I can’t think of a place that would work. They were playing the Mercury Ballroom in 2018, they’re too big for the Louisville Palace but not nearly big enough for the Yum Center or Rupp Arena. Not sure what the capacity is for the Lexington Opera House. One possibility is a place they were supposed to play and had to cancel on twice in 2019, the Beaver Dam Ampatheater. The Ford Center in Evansville might be a good venue but Evansville is never a stop for anyone on the Red Dirt circuit
March 8, 2023 @ 12:13 pm
That Beaver Dam Show Turnpike Troubadours canceled in 2018 is still one of my all time favorite concerts with Chris Knight and Shooter Jennings. That venue is awesome. I can still hear the cicadas and crickets chirping along with Chris Knight acoustically playing “Enough Rope.”
March 8, 2023 @ 1:02 pm
Smaller acts play Rupp Arena all the time and they just close off the Upper sections.
I’d gladly go see them at Riverbend or Heritage Bank in Cincinnati as well!
March 8, 2023 @ 1:26 pm
I went to the Shooter and Chris Knight so still, but I’d just been in a terrible wreck a couple weekends before and with TPT not there, could’ve cared less. I need to give Knight another shot.
I personally hate Riverbend. Been to two or three shows there and left early each time. If you’re on the lawn there are few good spots.
March 10, 2023 @ 6:35 pm
Isbell played Evansville. Admittedly not red dirt. And some up and comers. I hated my time in Evansville for work (covid).
March 7, 2023 @ 11:46 am
Turnpike is playing my local fair (York, PA) this summer. Top 40 country has a vise grip on this region (a lot of “Never heard of them” comments on the fair’s social pages), so their booking was quite a surprise. I really appreciate it because I always have to travel to DC to see a decent country show.
Ticket sales so far seem to reflect where they stand in non-core areas like ours: Track, plaza, and loge seating is gone except for random singles, while plenty of grandstand tickets remain. So, they’ve absolutely seen a massive increase in interest since the last time I saw them locally in 2018, but haven’t yet reached the level of being able to sell out a big venue.
March 11, 2023 @ 7:10 pm
I amend my comment elsewhere here. I thought they HAD sold it out.
Well, the York Fair is a pretty big venue and it’s a Thursday night.
There are a fair amount of “alt” country fans here in PA. Among my age group (white males in their 20s), most of my friends and social acquaintances who like country prefer “good” country.
Referee Ron Cherry
March 7, 2023 @ 11:49 am
This is silly. The same songs they were playing 1000 seat venues are the same ones they will be playing at NBA arenas.
I will be waiting for new music before I make that jump.
March 7, 2023 @ 11:56 am
They aren’t going to be booking areas for long without releasing new stuff since 2017. This is probably the last run of them booking big unless they release. Personally I think they’ll run it right to the line and release at the last moment. I feel like this crew is pretty business minded in how they approach things, if they are they gotta know they are just about at the end without new stuff. IMHO.
March 7, 2023 @ 12:52 pm
I’m sure there’s some calculus that’s been done to validate the demand in that area. Can artists see stats on where their streams come from by state or even by large cities? Could be that the DC region accounts for a significant portion outside of TX and OK. According to Spotify I was in the top 2% of Turnpike listeners in 2022 but apparently still not enough to get a show in the Midwest. I did my part.
March 7, 2023 @ 2:01 pm
Streaming stats, social media hits, radio support, all of this stuff can factor in these days. Generally speaking, I don’t think they’re going to have a problem, especially with those openers. And even if they only fill it to 80% capacity, all the better.
One of the reasons we’re having so many issues in the ticketing market right now is because the industry wants you to sell out everything, and fill it to capacity. Gone are the days of someone reading about a cool band in their local paper, and deciding day of to walk up, purchase a ticket, and check it out. I know folks hate big venues, but smaller venues have their trappings too, like not allowing everyone who wants a ticket an opportunity to have a ticket.
March 7, 2023 @ 3:47 pm
We live in a world where Flatland Calvary — a band I love — is selling out Red Rocks. I could not have conceived of that 5 years ago. We have festivals up here in the PNW that a few years ago were drawing maybe 1,000 people(maybe) now selling out well in advance. Hell, my local pop country radio station here in Oregon had “Red Dirt Weekend” last weekend. And Whiskey Myers is headlining our 8K capacity shed this summer.
So, this music is having its moment and I figure TT can probably headline arenas most places. Also, post-hiatus TT is 10x better than pre-hiatus TT. Incredible.
March 7, 2023 @ 4:22 pm
I’ve seen them small a couple of times and have two more coming (York PA and Boston). I’m ready to see them big and be part of that energy they and their fans can create. Still just glad they are back and getting to my area more. These types of artist don’t grow on trees. It’s a safe area with plenty of close parking. My 20 year old daughter parked 2 blocked away for $10 using SpotHero and walked there with her girlfriend 2 weeks ago for the SZA concert (or however you spell it). She didn’t have a problem and I didn’t think twice about her safety. Capitals hockey and Wizards NBA are there every other night with very rare incidents that can happen anywhere. Plenty of hotels, bars and restaurants in the area. Go see the free Memorials (reservation required to go up the Washington monument) and Smithsonian Museums while you’re here they are great. There is a safe clean (but aging) metro rail system that drops you off right besides the arena as well as the monuments. So you don’t have to stay downtown DC if you have friends or a cheaper hotel outside the city and want to ride the metro in. If your an a-hole looking for trouble I’m sure you can find it. Otherwise don’t sweat it. Just go.
March 7, 2023 @ 4:43 pm
New music, please.
March 7, 2023 @ 5:51 pm
Guess I’m the only one who was amused by Hank Earlys Americana remark! Hi-lar-ious. This is why Dale Watson started Ameripolitan, because bands like this don’t ” fit in”. That’s my takeaway from this article.Yall can debate about new albums from TT….
March 8, 2023 @ 5:50 am
You weren’t the only one–I laughed out loud!
March 7, 2023 @ 5:55 pm
TT has released 4 incredible albums; I don’t count Bossier City. Anyways, they could become a nostalgia act at this point and enjoy crowds singing loud to every song. I am nervous about new output. They are older, sober/soberish; what kind of fire is still there. Very few bands can continue to create quality material after a decade. That said Lucero has been around longer and their new album rocks and is the current album of the year.
March 7, 2023 @ 8:00 pm
Love em…but based on the last tour, I don’t see them coming close to selling out any east coast arenas. I saw them in a 4000 seat venue in Jax FL last year and not only was it not close to selling out, but sales were so bad that TM stopped allowing resale. I had 4 good tickets for sale on stubhub for the show and lowered the price down to $20 each and they never sold. An amp in Alabama that same month had hundreds of good tix for sale on stubhub for less than $10 a week before the show.
The good news, I was front row, center for Jax which was great and they sounded awesome and the band was fun, but honestly imo, Evan is about as boring as a frontman can be and just looks uncomfortable/akward.
I just don’t see it happening.
March 8, 2023 @ 1:10 pm
Daily’s Place in JAX is 5,500, looked from my eye like they sold about 4,000. Jacksonville is about as far geographically as this good hillbilly music makes it into Florida what with Florida basically being a yankee state and all.
My other red dirt favs; Cody Canada & Jason Boland were at JackRabbits in JAX with barely 60-70 people there. They’d pull 2,000 in OK or TX.
March 8, 2023 @ 7:17 pm
I was thinking Daily’s was 4k, but your right its 5500 and it was maybe 2/3s full at best and a bunch of that was resale tickets that were being sold at crazy low prices. Again, TM dropped all of the resale tix on their site because they had so many unsold TM tix (I know because I had 4 for sale on TM at the time).
Btw, I was also at that Cody Canada show in Gainsville with my son and I couldn’t believe how few people were there. But I disagree that its a FLA thing. I’ve been to sold out shows with REK, Shane Smith, Willie, and Wiskey Myers all in the past 6 months and all pretty sizable places – we can fill venues down here.
The point being, I don’t see TT getting close to selling out a 20k seat venue anywhere in the east. Although, I hope they do!
March 8, 2023 @ 5:18 am
My son is seeing them on Saturday at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, he’s really looking forward to the show!
March 8, 2023 @ 11:01 am
After saying I was done with Arena – Stadium – Pavilion shows, I got tickets to this DC show this morning. It is after all a nice line up. The new Lucero album is great. Presale code thing worked well. Be interesting to see if this sells out. Childers with Drive by Truckers sold out a show at Merriweather Post in half an hour a couple of months ago. Not sure if the difference was the venue, the amount of bots, the short notice of the show or price of tickets.
March 8, 2023 @ 11:59 am
It’s so cool to see huge festivals in Texas. Know what’s even cooler? To see bands blow up in Hays, KS, Columbia, MO, Louisville, KY, Washington, DC, and a lot more I’m drawing a blank on.
Historically, I’ve heard that bands do well in DC.
Different topic but the next album (whenever) will be huge!
A few mentioned Flatland. I’m still pinching myself they’re playing NFL stadiums with Luke Combs.
March 10, 2023 @ 2:16 pm
We’re lucky here in Chicago Flatland is playing a sold out show @ Joe’s on Weed st the night before the Soldier Field Combs gig. It’s sold out and it’ll be the last time they’ll be playing that small of venue here. Great show last time!!! Thanks to Cleto and the boys, they could’ve easily just enjoyed a day off but instead chose to play an intimate show for us. We appreciate it!
March 8, 2023 @ 8:09 pm
They aren’t selling a few sections in DC, so looks like they aren’t going for 20k but maybe 15k. Tickets are pretty expensive. Cheapest I find are $81,fees aren’t the worst I’ve seen but will take it over $100. I was in as presale started and floor seat I saw were all $300 and $400. Almost no floor seats are left when I checked this evening. Can’t say I know the inside biz on ticket sales/bot but this seems like a good start and you probably can’t charge these types of prices for any venue type except an arena/stadium. We willl see how much aftermarket is for the floor.
March 10, 2023 @ 1:43 pm
Tickets today are considerably cheaper. As low as $35. Plenty of floor seats all under $300 as low as $100.
March 9, 2023 @ 1:42 pm
I know the town has changed a great deal since I grew up there in the 70s/80s, but the DC country music scene, specifically Bluegrass, was quite a bit stronger than anyone might imagine. The top FM country music station was #2 overall in market into the 00s at least, ahead of the flagship rock station with Stern in the 80s before he went to NYC. Sellouts are hard to come by these days for most acts, so I doubt this show will, but if any city has the money to pay the ridiculous prices that are arena music today, it is, unfortunately, our nation’s capital.
Referee Ron Cherry
March 10, 2023 @ 8:22 am
They bit off more than they could chew with this one. This ain’t their turf. Don’t buy tickets from Ticketmaster if you’re planning on going. Just buy cheap resale tickets closer to the date. Spend less…get better seats. Although maybe they end up changing to DAR although that might be too small.
March 11, 2023 @ 10:02 am
I looked at DC tickets out of curiosity for their market demand and lots of the top is closed and there’s a ton of seats. So, maybe they should reconsider their east coast strategy. Also their Lubbock show isn’t sold out and Little Rock also had the top closed so…. And those are Turnpike hot market locations I assume.
March 11, 2023 @ 10:12 am
I guess I just don’t understand why folks are lamenting why these shows aren’t selling out, and tickets aren’t going for $700 on the secondary market. The whole point of booking arenas is to keep tickets affordable and allow everyone access to these shows. And if demand goes crazy, they can open up other seats to accommodate. They book a club or theater, the opposite is probably going to be the case. Did they bite off more than they could chew in DC? Perhaps. They’re trying stuff out. I think that’s a better option than booking a 2,000-capacity in New Orleans like Tyler Childers did, and then tune out the 10,000 fans who couldn’t get tickets in the market.
March 17, 2023 @ 11:03 am
Just took a glace at the ticket sales. They have the majority of the upper deck closed, and there are still thousands of tickets for sale. It also looks like TM is not allowing resale for this show because they have so many of their own tickets left to sell. Looks like prices have dropped also – $35 for 400 level. Same thing happened in Jax.
East coast is just not TT’s territory.