Turnpike Troubadours’ Evan Felker Teams Up With Dropkick Murphys for a Working-Man’s Anthem

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Josh Brasted/WireImage via Getty Images)

In their latest album, This Machine Still Kills Fascists, punk band Dropkick Murphys breathed life into some of Woody Guthrie’s unreleased material. Channeling this folk legend also saw the Boston-based band going completely acoustic for this album. However, their signature hard-driving sound is still at the heart of the record. Additionally, they dipped into the world of country music and recruited Evan Felker and Nikki Lane to add vocals to the album.

Evan Felker Pays Tribute to a Hometown Hero

Some might think it’s odd to see Evan Felker singing on a punk rock record. This project, though, is different. Woody Guthrie and Felker both hail from Okemah, Oklahoma. Much like Guthrie, Felker writes songs about the common man. “I was born in Okemah and raised in Wright City, a town in Southeastern Oklahoma,” he said. “Now I live in Okemah again. People where I grew up are tough. It’s nice to be able to represent them in art.” So, it makes sense that he would want to get in on an album full of unreleased Woody Guthrie tunes.

Evan Felker appears on “The Last One” which is a highlight of the album. The acoustic arrangement and punk sensibilities give the song a heavy yet rootsy sound that fits the lyrics like a glove. It’s one of Guthrie’s angrier pro-worker protest songs. With Felker and Ken Casey swapping vocals and the rest of the band backing them, though, it sounds like an anthem for workers everywhere.

The band traveled to Oklahoma to shoot the video for “The Last One”. The video features scenes of both Tulsa and Okemah. They also recorded the album in Tulsa. “We wanted to get into small-town America. Tulsa. Into Woody’s roots and not be [recording the album] in New York City or Boston,” DKM vocalist Ken Casey said.

There’s a good chance that some lucky fans will see Evan Felker perform this song live next year. The Turnpike Troubadours will join the Dropkick Murphys for their annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. They’ll play the MGM Music Hall in Boston’s Fenway Park on March 17th and 18th.

Woody Guthrie’s Daughter Picked the Songs for the Album

Woody Guthrie left behind notebooks full of unfinished or unrecorded songs. His daughter Nora dug through those notebooks to collect the songs for This Machine Still Kills Fascists. “I collected lyrics on all kinds of topics. Lyrics that seemed to be needed to be said – or screamed – today. Ken Casey is a master of understanding Woody’s lyrics, which can be complicated, long, deadly serious, or totally ridiculous.

About Woody Guthrie, Ken Casey said, “I’m motivated by reading what he wrote and am inspired by his courage. One man and a guitar. It’s powerful stuff.