By Ross Jones
It seems unfathomable that cult Oklahoma mainstays Turnpike Troubadours have never made an appearance on late night television during their 20-year career as a group.
David Letterman loved booking revered independent bands with die-hard fanbases in his time, yet not once were the pioneers of contemporary red dirt country invited to perform on his stage.
Such incredulity was put to pasture last night (January 11), with the band making a deserved appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, marking their first performance past the watershed on national US television.
Performing 'Mean Old Sun', the lead single and fan favourite from their 2023 album A Cat In The Rain, the group didn't disappoint on their debut.
Led by the laser-focused demeanour of frontman Even Felker, the group stomped and wheeled across the stage in a rhythmic lull, leading both the crowd in attendance and those watching at home into a hypnotic sway.
Fiddle player Kyle Nix pounded the ground beneath him with both feet, grappling his instrument into a pulsing headlock that led the rest of the band to stagger and nod pleasingly to what they were creating.
Felker offers a commanding stage presence without giving in to any performative cliche. His stoic appearance could seem uninviting, but it actually embellishes the somberness of the track, one that isn't as emotionally vulnerable as we're used to from them but remains world-weary and deeply poetic.
While it's not the most freewheeling and euphoric of songs in Turnpike's arsenal, it's menacing undertones and looming rhythm still warrant your attention, particularly here when the group are obviously in peak-touring shape.
The group are straight back out on the road from next week, kicking off with two huge homestate shows in Oklahoma before carrying on their A Cat In The Rain tour, which also sees them join Zach Bryan as main support across various dates of his own US stadium Tour.
For more on Turnpike Troubadours, see below: