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{Brad's Corner} March 2019: The Sun Shines on The Dreamers

{Brad�s Corner}

The sun shines on a dreamer
Shines a light on you when you listen to your heart
The sun shines on a dreamer
Shines a light on you through the dim, through the dark
-Wade Bowen


Ain’t it funny how music works.  More so than any other artform it is a conduit of emotion.  It can be both time machine and present placeholder.  It speaks when words cannot.  This is never more apparent than it is in the spring.  Coming out of the dearth of winter and feeling the sunshine on you once more is akin to hearing that riff you loved in high school blasting out of the speakers once more.  I’m very cyclical in my music consumption.  It’s really either all or nothing.

I’m basically unable to be a passive listener.

I must sing along, play air guitar and drums, stomp my foot in rhythm or silently immerse myself in lyrical dissection.  It’s not a pastime for me.  It’s a way of life.  I’m not alone either.  There are millions of us wired this way.  It is why we take it so personally when we encounter folks who don’t feel as impassioned as we do.  You know the types.  The ones that only listen to what’s on the radio and only do that as a matter of convenience.  We are the seekers and doers.  The creators and promoters of what we hold so dear.

We ebb and flow with the seasons too.  Music carries us through all 12 months, but there are certainly times when we lean on it more heavily than others.  This typically coincides with the times we are outside more.  Spring and summer.  Patios, grilling out, river floats and the like.  Music just sounds better when the weather cooperates.  Even the sad songs have more poignancy in the bright and sunny times.

This winter has seemingly lasted forever.  Had I not been lucky enough to escape to Mile 0 for a few days in late January I’d dare say it was interminable. But, I’ve found the cure.  It’s the calendar flipping to March.  The month of Texas Independence, baseball, March Madness, SXSW and St. Patrick.  It’s here and so are we…with the tunes.  Songs and playlists that have been dormant for a while are now back in the rotation.  Good times are in sight and good melodies are here to back them up.

Artists feel this way too.  There’s a long lull from Thanksgiving to Spring Break in the gigging world.  There are bright spots in Steamboat, Red River and Key West…but they are few and far between.  Things tend to trend upward now and steamroll right through the summer and into the fall fair season.  It’s a special time.

Which brings me back to my active listening.  I never truly stop, but there are moments in time when I’m going through the motions.  Times like these just feel better.  The lyrics hit harder, the groove thumps louder and the melodies linger on the breeze for days.

The sun shines on a dreamer. And music shines a light on everything.  The right, wrong, good and bad.  The highs and lows feel more with music.  More than film, more than print.  Music evokes it in a deeply piercing way that nothing else does.  Thank God we’re in sunshine season.  The music, and dreamers have been waiting.




-River Jam 2019.  July 12, 13, 14.  San Marcos and New Braunfels.  Details soon.

-Branching off that diatribe, baseball season is amazing for many reasons, but not the least of which is the weather in which it traditionally takes place.

-The pay for college entrance scandal is baffling.  500K to get into USC? Bruh, take your own tests and get where you get.  Boomer and GenX parenting run afoul.  My generation scares me sometimes.

-That old Rodney Crowell song “Song For the Life” is speaking to me at shows lately.  Lately I find myself enjoying a Topo Chico at the gig as much as a brew.  Cheaper, you miss less of the show in lines and you’re able to not need an Uber after its over.  #old

-The backlash to the SXSW backlash.  Inception.

-Word is they’re doing a sequel to Bohemian Rhapsody.  The Freddie Mercury tribute concert was one of the defining musical moments of my youth.  I remember Live Aid in bits and pieces…but I remember every second of the tribute show. Metallica, GNR, Elton John, George Michael slaying “Somebody To Love”.  That would be a nice place for Part 2 to end.

-Axl Rose may be unavailable to play himself in that, but I bet Mama Fratelli is available.

-Speaking of movies…where have all the funny movies gone?  I love a good drama or think-piece or documentary as much as the next person.  But, it’s been years since I can recall an tremendous, raucous, truly laugh out loud major comedy release.

-I got to take in Josh Weathers at Dosey Doe the other night.  A truly remarkable listening room and a transcendent artist.  Weathers is just about the most talented musician I’ve ever known.  Seamlessly twisting through all manner of genre and style with natural God-given talent.  He’s big…but should be a household name.  In a different time and place, I suspect he would be.

-This month’s recommended album: QCNH – self titled.  The Fort Worth rockers are back with thick riffs, tasty jams and lyrics that pontificate in alternating realities and imagined galaxies. It’s trippy, groovy and unique. It’s a fun, provocative listen that gets better upon each run through.

-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain

And May Turnpike Always Stay Together

I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be
I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever
I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me
And may all your favorite bands stay together
-Dawes “All Your Favorite Bands”

The words of Taylor Goldsmith rang out late into the Turnpike Troubadours’ set Saturday night at Waco’s Extraco Events Center, a cavernous mid-century arena that has hosted everything from Elvis to Monster Jam to rodeos and Rodney Carrington over the years. The main reason many folks were there on this night was to see the return of Turnpike.  The one person not onstage when bassist RC Edwards sang this song had been the focus of everyone’s attention and expectation for weeks, if not months.  In introducing the song, Edwards said “How you doin’ Waco?  It’s good to be here…it’s good to be anywhere.”  Evan Felker had performed “Diamonds and Gasoline” acoustic accompanied only by steel guitar player Hank Early on a dobro on the song prior before making his exit to let the band shine without him for a tune.  The overtones were ominous and the vibe dark during this moment, but by the time Felker rejoined the band onstage for “Long Hot Summer Day” all was right with the world.  If a statement regarding the band’s future was being made, it was brief.  The band was staying together…for now.

After opening sets from Parker McCollum and Britt Kerr, the Troubadours hit the stage a little after 10:30pm and didn’t let up until just before midnight.  McCollum in particular delivered a rousing opening set that had the early arrivals pumped and singing along.  He gave several deferential shoutouts to the Turnpike Troubadours and a pall of anxious energy hung over the entire arena.  Conversations in beer lines and bathroom stalls all revolved around if Felker would show up, if he’d be in a good frame of mind, if he’d be affected by the Miranda Lambert marriage news and on and on.

The house lights dimmed and the entire band strode confidently strode onstage led by fiddler Kyle Nix.  After some standard hemming and hawing and tuning, during which many in the crowd were shouting enthusiastic encouragements, the band kicked off the set with “The Housefire”.  Ryan Engelman’s tele cut through the thick air of anxiety as Felker struggled to match the intensity and energy of his bandmates who all seemed extremely relieved and excited to be onstage.

But, then it happened.  You could see the empowerment and relief wash over Felker’s body language like a wave crashing into the sand.  He looked around at the guys, smirked and seemed immediately at ease the moment that first song ended.  “How ya doin’ Waco? Give it up for Parker McCollum!”  And with that, Felker cast gazes at Edwards and Nix as they assembled behind their mics to deliver the acapella opening strains of “Every Girl”.  In the brief seconds after that intro and the first verse, Felker smiled throughout.  He was gaining confidence with each lyric.  He made constant eye contact with many in the crowd and smiled and waved throughout the show.  People continued to shout things such as “We love you Evan!” and “Kansas City Southern!” Felker seemed genuinely humbled and amused that people care that much.  As usual, Nix and Engelman kept the show moving with their fierce virtuosity and joy.  Edwards adeptly plowed through the lowends with drummer Gabe Pearson.  Early utilized his talents in various manners and the whole Turnpike machine rolled on through the show like it has never hit a speed bump.  In fact, if one had not known there had been all sorts of recent issues, one would still not know.

As the band hit the chorus the second time on “7&7”, the crowd could audibly be heard yelling the lyrics over the PA. The group proceeded to knock out favorite song after favorite song.  “Wrecked”, “1968”, “Blue Star”, “Gin Smoke and Lies” rolled out in succession. Felker gaining animation and ease with each number.  It all evokes the provocative words of Goldsmith that Edwards sang.  However, this time it would be,


Now I’m just waking up and I’m not thinking clearly so don’t quote me
With one eye open I’m writing you this song
Ain’t it funny how some people pop into your head so easily
I haven’t seen you in there for so long

The Turnpike Troubadours are the best country band in the land when firing on all cylinders and one of the biggest spectacles in country music when not.  Thankfully for them, and all the rest of us, all signs point toward the former rather than the latter.  May all our favorite bands stay together indeed.


Turnpike Troubadours Set List
Waco, TX

The Housefire
Every Girl
7 & 7
Blue Star
Gin Smoke and Lies
Down Here
Something To Hold On To
Tornado Warning
Good Lord Lorrie
Kansas City Southern
Whole Damn Town
Bossier City
Diamonds and Gasoline (EF acoustic)
All Your Favorite Bands (RC Edwards – Dawes cover)
Long Hot Summer Day
Pay No Rent
The Bird Hunters


all photos credit:  Tim Murphy –Crackers and Cucumbers

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