Exiting the theatre after the show a man was proudly showing off the setlist he had acquired. After driving from Buffalo for the show, a trip of over 400 miles, it was well deserved. Before the evening I don't think I would have understood - but after seeing the Turnpike Troubadours live, I now could appreciate his dedication.
Their songs tell stories that appeal to those who have been through the wringer, but still like a good party. Their characters point to those with deep troubles, but also a sense of humor - and not without hope. Whether singing about love, loss, or the infamous Lorrie, the TT holds a connection with the audience that is undeniable in person. Some of the rowdier fans clearly came for the boot-stomping anthems like "Long Hot Summer Day". For myself, the subtleties of the folkier songs like fan favorite "Pay No Rent" were just as potent.
Are you cracking jokes with the common folks?
Are you serving to the well-to-do?
Well I’ve traveled ’round
And I ain’t found nobody quite like you
And is all this living meant to be or a happy accident?
Well in my heart you pay no rent
It had been too many years since I'd been to the Oakdale - a venue off the beaten path but with a long history of booking fantastic performers. Looking around, memories of past shows in the room including Van Morrison, David Gray, Neil Young, Tori Amos, and the mesmerizing headlining debut of a young Alicia Keys blended with the sublime show on stage, the one in the present.
Additional highlights of the evening included "Every Girl", "7 & 7" "Good Lord Lorrie" and the live debut of "The Rut"
A little elevation and an open-ended prayer
Holdin' out for more than breakin' even
I've come back to the mountains and they're all still standin' there
After starting the show in the rear of the floor under the overhang during the opening Cody Jinx set, my situation and mood drastically improved during the set break. I got to know a few of my neighbors - we were there for the same reason - a few hours of escape and for some version of healing. I guess that's why we all go - to break out of our ruts for a bit before being called back to real life.
Even packed with a concert crowd, the pre-show dinner at venerable Archies Moore's was as welcoming and enjoyable as one could hope for on a Friday evening after a long week.