New Years 2011: Railroad Earth 12.29.10
Words & Photos By J-man
New Years in Denver yielded some of the most difficult musical decisions that I've had to make it a long time. It was almost as if it were summer at a festival, and a handful of my favorite bands were playing at the same time on several different stages. How does one decide? For me it was a combination of the headliner, openers and the proximity to my humble abode. Night one would be Railroad Earth with Elephant Revival opening the show. My level of excitement was high as I was really excited to see Elephant Revival, a band that recently has me more intrigued than any other band.
We arrived at the venue between 8:30 and 9:00pm, and to our surprise there was a line all the way to the end of the block. I began to panic as I realized that I may not being seeing Elephant Revival that evening. About thirty minutes into waiting we began hearing shouts that the show was "SOLD OUT". I was excited, because it meant that the vibe and energy would be high. Seconds later my excitement was curbed by the realization that only Carly (my girlfriend/videographer) and I were guestlisted, leaving our other friend Spuckes out in the cold.
I took my phone out of my pocket and texted Railroad Earth's fiddler Tim Carbone asking if he could assist us. To my surprise, he called me right back and told me that he would head to the front and see what he could do. Minutes later I received another call from Tim. I could tell he was smiling as he said "You're all set." I thanked him and turned to my friend who's night had been made. Not only do I respect Tim as a top notch musician, but as a good person and someone who is compassionate and willing to help. I owe a lot of logistical success to Tim, for his consistent assistance.
Elephant Revival Live at Ogden Theatre on December 29, 2010. <---Direct Archive Link
Arriving at the front of the line, an hour later to claim our tickets (that were now going for $60 each out front of the venue) we realized that there was only one ticket window/customer service representative. "What the fuck!?!" I thought to myself. We had waited in line for about an hour and a half to two hours due to the Ogden only having one fucking ticket window? What a joke...
Getting into the venue was a bitter sweet moment. We realized that Elephant Revival's set had long since concluded and the place was packed. We grabbed a few beers and made our way to the VIP area for a little bit more space. I got set up and began shooting, when I realized that I was standing next to Greensky Bluegrass! I said hello, and continued shooting. At one point Anders Beck (Dobro) turned to me, thanked me for my support and smiled. I reciprocated the feeling and told him I appreciated all of his logistical help and looked forward to seeing them on New Years at Cervantes. I offered to buy Anders a beer and he said "No thanks, I can't drink too much... We have to play tonight" As he motioned to the stage. I smiled.
Railroad Earth Live at Ogden Theatre on December 29, 2010. <---Direct Archive Link
My focused turned back towards Railroad Earth as the weaved and tore through some truly beautiful melodies. Given that it was a sold out first night of their New Years run, the energy was the highest that I have ever felt at a Railroad Earth show. It was intense, and the music reflected the vibe.
Individually, the members of the band were at their peak performance level. Listening to Tim, John Skehan and Andy Goessling pass around the lead sucked me right in. Per usual, it was seamless and presented to the audience with sonic perfection that very few bands are able to achieve. Andrew Altman played the bass with more confidence and swagger than I have heard from him prior. With Carey Harmon's drumming setting the pace, the train roared down the track.
The first set was enjoyable, with a extremely melodic approach Railroad managed to set the scene for a beautiful experience. I looked around and could feel the energy, excitement and utter childlike passion radiating from the crowd.
After a lengthy set break, Railroad Earth took the stage to a massive roar from the crowd. a proceeded through some favorites, most notably "Smiling Like A Buddah". The jams were much more extensive then I had recalled, and I enjoyed watching the band's level of excitement. I'm not sure that I saw Todd Sheaffer stop smiling once. His excitement was front and center and recipricated by Railroad's adoring fans.
The highlight of the evening came when Railraod Earth called out Bridget Law and Bonnie Paine from Elephant Revival, as well as Anders Beck from Greensky Bluegrass for a version of "Donkey For Sale". Then followed up with Anders, Paul Hoffman, Dave Bruzza and Mike Bont from Greensky for a version of "Sittin' on Top of The World" to close the set. Following a very shot time off stage, Railroad returned to play "Colorado" for the encore.
The show was very energetic, the selection of guests was very enjoyable, especially considering that we missed Elephant Revival's opening set and weren't expecting to see the gentleman from Greensky! I looked forward to the following evening's show.
J-man's Complete Photo Gallery From The Show.