I don’t know a lot about country music, but I do know it has a reputation to sometimes trade in clichés about broken hearts, whiskey, and pick-up trucks. Miranda Lambert is a woman who checks all of those boxes, both personally and professionally, often leaning into her image as a hard-drinking heartbreaker. She’s not a pop music crossover success like Taylor Swift or Faith Hill or Shania Twain, but she is a pop culture crossover, and that is where my appreciation comes in.
Catching up on the drama: Miranda started working with a man, Evan Felker, from the Turnpike Troubadours. They played three dates together and Evan never went back home to his wife; a very messy public split ensued, in which Miranda again was branded a homewrecker (although, as Lainey points out, that hasn’t hurt her professionally). Part of what made this so messy was that Evan’s wife, Staci, was vocal about her heartbreak; there was drama all around. As this was happening, Evan and his band joined Miranda on The Bandwagon Tour.
But has Miranda’s fast flame already been extinguished? Let’s examine the timeline:
August 2: Staci puts Miranda on blast for power-calling her from an unknown number.
August 17: Staci and Evan’s divorce is finalized, according to US Weekly.
August 23: It is announced that the Turnpike Troubadours (Evan’s band) will not finish The Bandwagon Tour, missing the last two dates of their ten concert run as openers (Toronto and Clarkston, Michigan).
August 23: Staci Felker defends Evan on social media in a comment to a fan (PEOPLE later posted the screenshots.)
On August 24, The Tennessean published an interview with Miranda in which she said she is “happily single”.
So after all that drama and heartache, Evan and Miranda didn’t even make it to Labour Day. Was this a fast flame that burned out fast? Or is this a prolonged breakup? Because the thing is, we don’t hear from Evan. Evan stays out of this sh-t and it’s Miranda and Staci who have taken all the heat for his behaviour. He seems to manage to maintain some communication with Staci no matter what has happened between them, but can he co-exist with Miranda in a very tight country music community?
Miranda’s choice of words, “happily single,” are deliberate. She knows every outlet is going to pick up the story and she wanted it to come out a certain way. Notice how Miranda doesn’t ask for privacy or give an evasive answer – she is straight up telling you that she is done. It’s that kind of honesty that has always worked for Miranda: not shying away from the gossip, but handling it head on.
Miranda is the star on tour, Evan is the opening act. This was no doubt a huge opportunity for his band. For them to have to leave, before they could finish their ten shows, how does that work? Did he choose to leave? Was he kicked off the bus between cities? There is an obvious power dynamic at play. She also brought him on to write songs with her – what will happen to all of that work?
How does his band, Turnpike Troubadours, deal with this mess? They are also losing opportunities because of Evan’s personal life. How does that play in the dressing room and on the tour bus? (The only thing I know about band fights is from many viewings of Almost Famous.)
But maybe Miranda isn’t the only reason the tour didn’t work out. A quick search led me to blog posts and social media comments about the Turnpike Troubadours’ live performance, particularly Evan Felker being absolutely wasted on stage. That could also have played into them leaving their leg of the tour early. Maybe she stuck her neck out for him and gave him an opportunity and he sabotaged it. Maybe she’s feeling a little used? (The Troubadours are continuing on their own and are scheduled to play three dates later this week.)
One thing about Miranda that I can appreciate is that she always goes back to her work. Her recent photo from the tour included a Turnpike Troubadours tag – she can afford to be magnanimous. But I’m curious to see how the consequence of all this drama settles. It seems like every person in this country love triangle has a case for feeling f-cked over.