Railroad Earth 1.13.24

Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos by Nicholas Stock

A thick frost formed on the windows of Washington’s as fans huddled together in line trying to keep warm. After several dry months we were getting nailed by a nationwide cold snap complete with a few inches of snow. By the time doors opened at 7 PM the temperature was around negative five. Security worked quickly to get the early fans through the gate. They sold around 750 before the lights went down but I would not be surprised if a few people ate their passes opting to stay home. The result was plenty of dancing space on the floor and in the aisles upstairs. Railroad Earth almost feels like an echo from my past. I’ve shot them a number of times both photo and video including with NoCoast on the official music video for “Captain Nowhere.”

Since the passing of Andy Goessling in 2018 and the departure of bassist Andrew Altman in 2022, Railroad Earth has been a band in transition. Three new members in the band has definitely reinvigorated their sound. They announced a five date swing through the mountains of Colorado ending with two nights at Washington’s. Many of the fans in the room had caught them on this run. It didn’t take long for the space to fill and just after 8:00 PM the band took the stage.

The lights cranked up like an old Dodge as the boys ripped into a “Monkey” to start the show. They wasted no time getting the audience involved with the fan favorite “Like a Buddha.” The jams were already feeling substantial with “Lordy, Lordy” continuing the trend. They released their 7th album All For The Song in 2022 and Railroad continues to tour in support. It’s a solid offering from a band making big moves as they progress through tribulations. “Runnin’ Wild” is off that album and features a beautiful juxtaposition of Sheaffer’s vocals and the fiddle work of Tim Carbone. "The Forecast" was an early high with Matt Slocum crushing the keys and Carbone switching to electric guitar. Mike Robinson who you might remember from his time with Jeff Austin swapped instruments no less than five times during the opening set. The “Newcastle Jam” into “Mighty River” showcased one of the best transitions of the show with everyone locking in for the ride. They closed a chunky first set hot potato-ing solos on “Bringing’ My Baby Back Home.”

Fans raced to the bar to refuel for a set two. Washington’s is perfectly appointed to deal with the crowds. Sonically the sound started a little boomy, but by the second song it was pitch perfect. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood giving the room a family reunion vibe. The band had already delivered a ton of fan favorites and Railroad kept that theme alive with an “Elko” opener. We were getting the classics. Having seen this band at Red Rocks, what’s amazing to me is that their sound is almost bigger now. Cards rained down on the band on “Elko” before they turned sharply into the Carbone sung “Crossing the Gap.” Sheehan lead the band through the intricate love song “Butterfly and the Tree.” “Slippin' Away” was the fuse but Railroad’s cover of Tom Petty’s “It’s Good To Be King” was a musical explosion. It would appear that this ‘Evening With’ was going to stretch a bit. They went deeper on the “Warhead Boogie” jam into “Captain Nowhere.” Railroad Earth closed a strong set of music with “Cold Water.”

While they rocked out a few of the newer tracks this was classic Railroad Earth. And yet it felt different. This is a band reinvigorated with fresh blood. They are hitting the road with an aggressive tour schedule and some newfangled ideas. Railroad closed with an appropriate “One More Night On The Road.” Any dust that had settled on this band has been clean shook off. They have an energy and vibrancy that we have not seen since the early days. I hope that they can settle in and continue with this momentum. Lord knows we all need Railroad Earth in our lives.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery


Set One: Monkey, Like A Buddha, Lordy, Lordy, Runnin’ Wild, Day on the Sand, The Forecast, Carrying Coal to Newcastle jam, Mighty River, Bringin’ My Baby Back Home

Set Two: Elko, Crossing the Gap, Been Down This Road, Butterfly and the Tree, Slippin’ Away, It’s Good to Be King, Warhead Boogie, Captain Nowhere, Walk Beside Me, Cold Water

Encore: One More Night on the Road


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