Concert review: Oklahoma's Turnpike Troubadours strike the right chord at The Criterion
I felt like the oldest guy at The Criterion on June 1, but my wife, bless her heart, pointed out a couple of other gray-haired gentlemen that she thought might be older.
Full disclosure: I am 58 and felt a little old on The Criterion floor among the rowdy, honky-tonk environment fueled by alcohol and the Turnpike Troubadours, but this was a show I didn't want to miss.
I first discovered the Turnpike Troubadours through the Outlaw Country station on my satellite radio. It's where I find most of the new music I listen to, because the dial rarely leaves the Outlaw Country channel.
The music of the Oklahoma red-dirt rockers immediately struck a chord with me, as it has with many. What I really like about the group is not only its sound but also the storytelling in its songs. Anyone who can write and sing with authenticity about bird hunting in Oklahoma is all right by me.
Everyone in the packed Bricktown venue June 1 evidently agrees, because when the Troubadours busted out “The Bird Hunters” early in the performance, it drew the biggest cheers of the evening.
More full disclosure: I am the outdoor writer for The Oklahoman and several years ago wrote a column ranking my favorite fishing songs. If I ever write a similar column about hunting, “The Bird Hunters” will be ranked No. 1.
Written by Okemah-based lead singer Evan Felker, the song resonates with anyone who has held "shotgun to shoulder" and hunted quail or pheasant with a good pointing dog.
Whether the lyrics are about shuffling dominoes or finding romance at Cain's Ballroom, the Troubadours' songs connect with many Oklahomans. The group's fans know the words by heart, evident by the number of singalongs from The Criterion guests.
Whether it was “Gin, Smoke, Lies” or “Whole Damn Town” or any of the songs from the Turnpike Troubadours' latest studio album, 2017's "A Long Way from Your Heart," The Criterion crowd was energized every minute by the group's hour-and-45-minute performance.
Before the Troubadours even took the stage, Texan Charley Crockett had revved the audience up with a mix of rockabilly, blues and country songs complete with ragtime trumpet and accordion.
He played for an hour, and my favorites were his versions of Tanya Tucker's “Jamestown Ferry” and George Jones' “The Race Is On.” (Did I mention I was old?)
Crockett returned to the stage to join the Troubadours near the end of the group's set, as did world-class Guthrie-based fiddler Byron Berline, who rocked the house with the Troubadours on “Long Hot Summer Days.”
Suddenly, I didn't feel so old with the 73-year-old Berline, who Felker introduced as the “Living Legend,” proving once again that he is still one of the world's most premier fiddle players.
By the end of the night, the music of the Turnpike Troubadours had made me feel young again.
— Ed Godfrey, The Oklahoman