Railroad Earth Takes Winter Tour to the Northeast
Words & Photos By Tabitha Clancy
Northern Lights, Clifton Park, NY 2.3.11
Railroad Earth clung to the coattails of the monster storm that moved through twenty nine states and landed east for the remainder of their winter tour. With much of the North still digging out, true lovers of soul grabbing music ventured through small road paths and weaved through large snow banks to catch Railroad at Northern Lights, a concrete laden, rock and roll hall, on February 3rd. The venue is tucked neatly back in a plaza, nestled next to a church. Patrons filed in just before 9:30 pm and Railroad Earth settled in with a fitting Storms.
Moving leisurely through the first set, a process of meandering melodies unfold as if to warm the snow fatigued crowd from the inside out. Once Andy Geossling reaches for his flute, Railroad Earth is ready to take flight and carry their prepped fans through "Like a Buddha". It is an engaged audience and next up is a vocal solo of "Any Road", performed by fiddler, Tim Carbone sung as if to serve as a medium, channeling George Harrison. Closing out the set Todd Sheaffer (lead singer, guitar) brings us to "Lone Croft Farewell" and "Long Walk Home" both from the latest self-titled album and served as a preview of what was to come in the second set.
Set two was a continued journey through the latest album, but not first without kicking it off with "Mighty River" segued with somber, heavy instrumentation into "Seven Story Mountain". A classic Railroad Earth song, this cerebral jam suggests there is a silver lining. Andrew Altman adds even more depth to the sound by bowing (instead of the usual plucking) his upright bass. Moving into a cluster of songs off their new disc, Railroad Earth pulls back the layers to reveal their instrumental mastery. With the exception of "Jupiter and the 119", Railroad Earth allowed a peak into a darker realm of their collective souls with tunes in minor keys and morbid lyrics of forgotten spirits and blood splattered snow.
Railroad Earth is capable of presenting the good with bad and artfully crafting a show that is a reflection of the world that surrounds us. Understanding the human psyche, they close out the night with song offerings of love and hope. Ironically, the last song is called the "Happy Song" and indeed, happy we were.
Toads Place- New Haven, CT 2.4.11
Shifting a little more south and a little more east, New Haven, Connecticut became home for a night at Toad’s Place. A quaint town typical of New England, the venue was situated next to cobblestone architecture that makes up part of the Yale campus. Being a college town, the audience demographic was a bit younger than the previous night. It was a lively crowd, and Railroad Earth began full force with a show that would continue past 1am.
Opening with "Elko", the room was instantly gratified. By the second tune, "Bread and Water", the room was in full swing with much dancing, participation and loud cheers. A familiar Railroad Earth emerged forth presenting songs reminiscent of days gone by playing only a few songs from the new album. Moving through fast tempo songs drummer Carey Harmon keeps the pack in time helping to inspire the party-like atmosphere. The first set was closed out with "Lordy Lordy".
Fresh beers and wine glasses replenished, Railroad was back in the spotlight opening set two with "Walk Beside Me". Continuing the party, a synergy between the crowd and the men at work, already well developed, was encouraged by Sheaffer with periodic comments of gratitude. Musical notes danced on stage while Carbone, Goessling and John Skehan (mandolin) shared melodies as "Dance Around Molly" gave way to "Dandelion Wine". The ever persistent Railroad Earth was to have their way with the room, closing out the set with "Head". But the equally persistent room insisted on more music. Goessling began the intro of the encore with a slow saxophone for what would lead to "My Sister’s and Brother’s". A farewell song to say we’re all in this together.
Blending bluegrass with an Avett Brothers vibe, The Giving Tree Band (Chicago) supported both nights.
Continuing the trek:
2/05/2011 Brooklyn Bowl Brooklyn, NY
2/10/2011 Kent Stage Kent, OH
2/11/2011 Penn’s Peak Jim Thorpe, PA
2/12/2011 Jefferson Theater Charlottesville, VA
2/24/2011 Tupelo Music Hall White River Junction, VT
2/25/2011 Westcott Theater Syracuse, NY
2/26/2011 The German House Rochester, NY
3/03/2011 Minglewood Hall Memphis, TN
3/04/2011 Headliner’s Louisville, KY
3/05/2011 Royal Oak Theater Royale Oak, MI
3/06/2011 Mountain Stage Morgantown, WV