Railroad Earth 7.13.13
Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot Photography)
Here in our great state of Colorado, bands seem to come and go like our ever-decreasing amount of afternoon thunderstorms. Buses filled to the brim with gear, merchandise, and musical instruments stroll from one mountain town to another ripping and roaring their way through musical venues that we have all come to love and call home. Towns such as Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs and Aspen all are able to pull in national touring acts due to their magnificent beauty, great food and close proximity to Colorado’s music epi-center, the Denver Metro area. Year after year and month after month bands from all over the world head to the mountains of Colorado to usually embark on a multiple city run which can take them from Pueblo in the South all the way to Estes Park up North. Railroad Earth is a perfect example of one of these national touring acts who make an annual pilgrimage to the mountains of Colorado to blow our minds musically and tickle our fancy with their beautiful harmonies and soothing vocals.
The first set was a bit slow for my taste as Railroad went through songs such as “Bread and Water,” “Right in Tune,” and “When Everything Comes Together” which are all great ballads, but not the raging jam-grass I wanted. “Fisherman’s Blues” was definitely the highlight of the set for me personally, as lead singer Todd Sheaffer showed off his vocal prowess while engaging the crowd as best as he knows how. This song also allows for every member of the band to take a turn soloing and truly show the crowd what they are made of, musically of course. Fiddle extraordinaire and the captain of the band, Tim Carbone, took to center stage to try and rip the strings right off his instruments as his passion for performing live was evident from the first note he plucked. John Skehan, mandolin aficionado, couldn’t keep the smile off his face for more than a second as he traded harmony-building riffs back and forth with Carbone and Sheaffer. Standing on the far left side of the stage (when looking at it from the crowd) Skehan provides Railroad Earth with unmatched consistency, as it seems that most jams either start with him or revolve around a riff or chord change he created. (To put it bluntly, John Skehan is a mandolin wizard because of both playing skills and old-school looks.)
As “Elko” rang through the theater and closed this night with a raging pick-fest, I couldn’t help but just smile at what I had just witnessed. Not only did Railroad Earth rip through this Boulder Theater show with determination and musical passion, but also all of those who attended could be seen continuing the sing-along/dance party long into the beautiful Colorado night. Railroad Earth will be back to Colorado sooner rather than later (hopefully), as I truly believe our Colorado LOVE for them is unmatched in most places. And when they do come back to blow our minds, soothe our souls, and make us smile uncontrollably, make sure to show up and have a good time. I promise it not only will be like everything has come together, but all that hard living you have endured recently will seem to float away just like a beautiful Colorado bird enjoying his/her mountain home.
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