Chilifest 2018 is quickly approaching, and this year’s lineup is one of the best yet, with the Turnpike Troubadours are returning to headline this year. As a well-known country group, the Turnpike Troubadours are no strangers to College Station. We caught up with one of the band members, R.C. Edwards, to talk about all things Chilifest 2018.
MW: The Turnpike Troubadours are well-known and beloved across Bryan and College Station. Chilifest 2016 was the last time you appeared at the festival, and Texas A&M students couldn’t have been more pleased with the performance. With all of the excitement surrounding the festival, what is the experience like for artists?
R.C.: I believe we’ve played a couple times, but 2016 was the last year we attended. It was so crazy. There was an overwhelmingly wild and enthusiastic crowd, from what I remember. One year we played with Hank Williams Jr., which was pretty surreal itself, but it is a sea of people at Chilifest. It is one of the cooler festivals we have played.
MW: Fans definitely go all out at Chilifest! Students wait for it all year, which creates a high-energy environment. It is even better to know that artists feel the same way. What is it like leading up to Chilifest since you already know what to expect? Are there any nerves?
R.C.: It’s definitely excitement. Sometimes you do these shows, and you don’t know what to expect. In that case you definitely can be anxious, but having done it before and having a blast there makes us look forward to it. I’m kind of thinking, “Oh Chilifest, yeah, that one is awesome.” I’m glad you chose to go back to it.
MW: Past experience definitely takes away all the nerves in situations like this. Can you recall any fun stories or memories from previous experiences at Chilifest?
R.C.: Last time, I remember we had to leave. We ended up playing earlier than we were supposed to and then left immediately, so Evan could get back in time for his sister’s wedding. I think he ended up flying out of there, so we really didn’t get to hang out like we would have wanted to. That is what we are looking forward to most, getting to stick around and hang out at the festival more.
MW: I’m glad you’ll get a chance to experience more of the festival this year. Having played it before, you guys deserve to enjoy the weekend too. And I assume you will get to play newer material this year, so let’s talk about that. Turnpike Troubadours released a brand new album, “A Long Way From Your Heart” in October of 2017. I’m sure many fans have already checked out the album, but, in your opinion, are there any notable differences compared to previous releases?
R.C.: As far as what was new or different, Hank Early joined the band since then. He is our newest member, so that would be the biggest change. We added him on to accordion and in the harmonies, so it was great making a record with Hank and the full band. He added a lot to the band and sound. Also, we used a new producer for the first time. Ryan Hewitt was our producer for this release, and he really brought a lot to the table.
MW: Fans can expect a new, redefined sound on “A Long Way From Your Heart” that stays true to the roots of Turnpike Troubadours. For those who aren’t familiar with the band and your music, what do you think is unique about Turnpike Troubadours? What do you hope fans get out of your music and performances?
R.C.: We really try to focus on our live show. I always tell people, if you’ve never heard our music before, come see us live. We put on a hell of a show that is high-energy. Come see Turnpike Troubadours live, and we promise to keep it exciting.
MW: That is a common opinion about your band. From someone who has witnessed these live performances multiple times, there are few others who measure up to that level of energy onstage. Like I mentioned earlier, Texas A&M students look forward to Chilifest year round. Campus is buzzing as everyone prepares for the fun-filled weekend spent with their friend surrounded by live music. Is there anything you can let us in on about your set at Chilifest this year? What can fans expect and get excited for?
R.C.: A good portion of the show will be from the new record. That is probably what is new and different in our show since the last time we were in College Station. We haven’t played our new music in College Station, so a lot of the show will be songs people probably haven’t heard live yet. That is about as much as I know about what to expect. As far as specific songs, we haven’t made the setlist yet.
The Turnpike Troubadours are scheduled to perform at 9 p.m. on Friday, April 6. You can purchase general admission tickets up to the day of Chilifest. A one-day general admission pass is $55, and a two-day general admission pass is $80. “Get ready to have a good time,” Edwards said. “We’ll see you at Chilifest.”