The Turnpike Troubadours are readying the release of their new album A Cat In The Rain August 25th produced by Shooter Jennings, and we shouldn’t consider this just a regular album release from an independent country band. Before Turnpike went on indefinite hiatus in 2019, they were doing quite well for many independent acts, but were also meandering along in the effort to really spark national attention for themselves.
Now the game has completely changed. After their reunification, they’ve been one of the hottest and most popular bands in the rapidly growing independent country music space. This puts extra emphasis upon A Cat In The Rain beyond being their first new album in six years. And now that more independent-minded artists such as Zach Bryan, Hailey Whitters, and others have begun to break through the mainstream country radio barrier, why not test out the waters?
On August 21st, the Turnpike Troubadours will ship their latest single “Chipping Mill” to country radio according to radio chart expert Chris Owen. Unlike most of the Turnpike Troubadours songs that are written by frontman and singer Evan Felker, “Chipping Mill” was penned by RC Edwards and rising Oklahoma songwriter Lance Roark.
Independent country fans love to say that the Turnpike Troubadours are the ideal transition band. As soon as one of your mainstream country-listening buddies gets an ear full of them, an entire new world of music is opened up to them. Turnpike finds the perfect nexus between accessibility and substance, infectiousness and serious songwriting.
Of course, the success or failure of any single on mainstream country radio rarely has anything to do with the quality of the song, or even the popularity of the artist. But times are quickly changing at country radio as they face existential concerns about relevancy in the streaming era. Unlike what we would see in the past, “Something In The Orange” by Zach Bryan and the Luke Combs version of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” shot up the radio charts even before the labels officially serviced them to the format.
If country radio is going to survive, they have to diversify their playlists, including with Red Dirt artists like the Turnpike Troubadours who are headlining 20,000-person festivals, and were selling out arenas in the Texoma region after their relaunch. As reported in 2022, Red Dirt artists are making big moves on the mainstream country format.
Or, country radio can continue to try and play the latest singles from Parmalee or Old Dominion that have little or no organic appeal behind them, hoping they can generate appeal for the songs to help out their major label backers, while continuing to slide into obscurity as listeners discover bands like the Turnpike Troubadours for themselves.