If you’re looking for somewhere to turn to fill your Turnpike Troubadours fix amid the Red Dirt band’s continued indefinite hiatus, a new option is getting ready to present itself. Long-time Turnpike side project RC and the Ambers—primarily comprised of Turnpike bassist, songwriter, and beating heart RC Edwards, and long-time Turnpike friend Amber Watson—has just finished up a proper studio album. And similar to the badass debut album from Turnpike fiddler Kyle Nix released in 2020 called Lightning on the Mountain, many Turnpike members appear on the tracks.
Turnpike’s steel guitar and accordion player “Hammerin’” Hank Early reached out to Saving Country Music earlier this week with a heads up that a new album is on the way. Called Big Country, Hank produced the album and plays many of the instruments. Kyle Nix appears on the album as well, as does Turnpike drummer Gabriel Pearson, along with of course RC Edwards, Amber Watson, and Justin Kay.
The album is said to be mostly unreleased RC Edwards originals, with one cover song, and a one song written by Hank Early. It was recorded in Turnpike’s hometown of Tahlequah, Oklahoma in a home studio over the last six months. “I can promise you, it sounds nothing like a Turnpike record,” Hank Early tells SCM. “We are both extremely proud of it and can’t wait for you to hear it.”
Hank Early also posted about the album on Reddit this week, adding about the album, “It sounds like a space cowboy warlock line dance party. I think you’ll like it. Tell your friends.”
Then when asked if he had any news on the Turnpike Troubadours proper to share, Hank Early responded, “Wish I could give you some good news, but I’ve been told not to share any details about all the good news I’d love to share.” So stay tuned on that. Last weekend Turnpike front man Evan Felker showed up in Texas playing many Turnpike songs at a benefit with The Teague Brothers backing him up.
Though RC and the Ambers have been around for years as a side project, the band has taken on new emphasis for RC Edwards and Amber Watson since the Turnpike Troubadours hiatus. Heretofore they’ve primarily played local gigs in Oklahoma, and festivals like Medicine Stone and Mile 0 Fest in Key West. According to folks who’ve seen them play recently, it’s gone from simply a loose and fun free form stage party with interchangeable members to something folks are seeking out. It will certainly be interesting to hear what they have in store.
Amber Watson has been a close friend of the Turnpike Troubadours since the very beginnings of the band. At one point Evan Felker was sleeping on her couch in Tahlequah as the band was just getting started. There is no release date or further information on Big Country by RC and the Ambers, but the band is booked to play Mile 0 Fest at the end of April, and may showcase some of what they have in store then. Stay tuned.