Jam Band Spotlight: Railroad Earth

Words By Nicholas Stock (phatphlogblog.blogspot.com)

In honor of their upcoming three night New Year’s run in Denver we thought we‘d turn our Jam Band Spotlight on Railroad Earth. Railroad Earth hails from Stillwater, New Jersey and got their moniker from a short story by Jack Kerouac. With elements of bluegrass, rock, jazz and Celtic music their eclectic sound has been a foundation of what RRE is all about. Beginning in 2001, the original lineup came together just to jam. Playing mostly Todd Sheaffer penned songs, within three weeks they had cut a demo and quickly after had nailed down a slot at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. This set ended up being their tenth live performance and catapulted them into the scene as well as landing them a recording contract with Sugar Hill Records. With the only real lineup changes coming in the bass slot, they've had a pretty solid union from the beginning. Finally, in February of 2010, Andrew Altman from the Codetalkers and Blueground Undergrass took the reigns on bass and it looks like he will be there permanently.

Let’s take a look back at Railroad Earth’s show from NYE 2010-2011 at The Ogden to see what we have in store for this year. Railroad Earth opened up the show with Bird in a House; here is the rest of the setlist from railroadearth.net.

SET I: Bird in a House, Dance Around Molly > Dandelion Wine, Just So You Know, Bread and Water, Stillwater Getaway, Said What You Mean, Roadhouse Blues

SET II: Countdown to 2011, Bringin' My Baby Back Home, Auld Lang Syne > Ophelia*, Auld Lang Syne, Right in Tune, Water Fountain Quicksand, Warhead Boogie > Spring Heeled Jack, Happy Birthday to Mike Partridge (with "Sweet Home Alabama" tease), Judy Judy Judy**, Mourning Flies, Storms, The Wheel, Fisherman's Blues***

ENCORE: Long Walk Home, Little Rabbit

2ND ENCORE: Railroad Earth

*with Vince "Baby New Year 2011" Herman on vocals and washboard and Jim Lewin on electric guitar
**First Time Played -- written by Todd Sheaffer
***with Adam Galblum on violin

You can find the audience recording on ARCHIVE, thanks for posting Dave.

The first set almost felt like an exercise to get the blood flowing. Without too many lulls Railroad Earth plowed through this stellar set of music, keeping the crowd engaged and happy. I may have said this before, but RRE's fanbase reminds me of how YMSB's fanbase used to be. They act like they were in on a secret and overjoyed just to be in the room. That's what it felt like on NYE at the Ogden. Highlights from the first set included the Dance Around Molly into Dandelion Wine and Stillwater Getaway. Their psychedelic bluegrass version of the Doors' Roadhouse Blues was just incredible and possibly the highlight of the entire show.

They came out on stage for the countdown. DHDave warned me that they had just cleared out the VIP section and something was going on over there. I found Chunk and company right below on the floor so I took up occupancy there. Vince Herman appeared clean-shaven and in a diaper dressed as Baby New Year. He was tossing something to the crowd before making his way on stage for a very raucous Ophelia. Highlights from the second set included a massive Warhead Boogie into an equally huge Spring Heeled Jack. They also debuted a new Todd Sheaffer tune entitled Judy, Judy, Judy. Their version of The Wheel was both elegant and beautiful. It was just built right from the ground up and their layering was something that can only be described as sick. The encore turned out to be pretty remarkable as well. Honestly, I felt invigorated for the New Year. As I made my way home I reflected a bit and smiled knowing that I would get to do it all again... next year.

It was a great show and it just leads me to believe that this year will go similarly well. So to wrap up this post I’d like to share the details of this year’s upcoming run.

December 29th, 2011 – Railroad Earth - Ogden Theater - Doors at 8 PM – Opening Dirtfoot and Andrew McConathy & the Drunken Hearts

December 30th, 2011 - Railroad Earth - Rock the Earth Benefit - Ogden Theater - 5 to 6:30 PM - Intimate performance & meet/greet

December 30th, 2011- Railroad Earth with Kyle Hollingsworth – Doors at 8 PM – Opening Bad Dumptruck Butterlips

December 31st, 2011 – An Evening with Railroad Earth (3 Sets) – Ogden Theater - Doors at 8PM

This run should be a special one so stay tuned to MusicMarauders for the upcoming coverage of night two and three. Be safe and have a wonderful New Year.



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