In the early spring of 2010, a friend of ours from Stillwater sent us a DM telling us to check out her friend’s band. They had just cut a new record produced by Mike McClure and she thought we would dig it.
She said “Maybe they can even play Greenfest.” We were intrigued and set about tracking down a copy of what would be Diamonds and Gasoline.
We found one and were blown away. On March 18, 2010 we posted the entire album on our streaming Galleywinter music player.
The response was a slow burn. The lyrics and melodies were undeniable. People immediately responded to 7&7 and Every Girl. As they unpeeled the layers, they found that the entire album was a piece of art. Buzz began to get louder.
In April 2010, we were organizing Greenfest 2010 to take place at The Phoenix Saloon in New Braunfels. We already had Josh Grider under contract to headline and had secured the short-lived Adam Odor /Dub Miller/ Matt Skinner rock project 11 Bones to open.
We needed another band. And we reached out to our Stillwater friend. She put us in touch with the right people. And pretty soon we had The Turnpike Troubadours locked down for $400 and a bar tab. It was to be one of their first Texas shows and they were excited.
Tickets moved steadily, but not briskly. The Phoenix isn’t a huge joint so we knew it would get full. But we always turn every penny over to the bands and we hoped to max out for them.
The day arrives and load in goes smoothly. Grider looks over at us during the Turnpike sound check and goes “Man, these guys should be closing. They’re amazing!” Ryan Engelman’s tele was especially loud and revelatory.
Doors open. 11 Bones jams to about 40 people. The entire Turnpike crew held court at a table front and center near the stage. Drinking, laughing, singing along. That bar tab piece of the contract was being put to the test.
By the time Turnpike hit the stage, EF was jubilant. Nixy was loose. RC was grinning like a Cheshire cat. They tore into Every Girl right off the bat and by now there were approximately 100 people in the bar. Conversations halted. Everyone paid attention to the stage.
It’s cliche in these types of stories to say “Man, they were playing like it was Madison Square Garden.” But these cats were. Just pure unadulterated joy and talent. Behind great song after great song.
As the set crescendoed with Long Hot Summer Day, EF grabbed his harmonica and set about blistering it with what would soon become a familiar Turnpike show highlight. Except this was in front of less than 200 people. 190 of which had never seen the band play before.
After the set, as Grider was playing and they’d all loaded their gear up, Evan came up to us and said “Guys, thank you so much for this opportunity. I think it’s gonna be big for us. Can I get our $400 now? We’re ready to get back to Oklahoma.”
We handed him. 5 $100 bills, he grinned and said “see y’all next year!”
Coming off that show, the buzz became deafening. On September 2, 2010, we published our first official review of Diamonds and Gasoline.
By January 2011, Turnpike was at Steamboat and belonged to the highway and thousands of fans across the region.
March 2011 we were planning Greenfest 2011. It was like a triumvirate of proud fathers when we reached out to Turnpike’s new booking agent for a quote on playing the gig again. Let’s just say it wasn’t $400 and beer anymore. We were so happy for those guys.
They were in the fast lane now. And have remained there for a decade. It’s easy to lose sight of the reason any of us fell in love with music in the first place.
But, somewhere amid all the craziness, wreckage, highs and lows are a few dudes who were just happy to play their cool songs for people for a few bucks and some beers. Those dudes never left. And we’re never leaving them.
When we say we love these guys, it isn’t just a phrase. It’s the truth. The Turnpike guys and all the guys and gals that bare their souls, fight their demons, and hit the highways for $400 and a case of beer…or $15K…or tips.
We’re still here has been a rallying cry of the Galleywinter community for over 20 years and it has never been more true. We’re still here. So is the music.