December 29, 2010
Railroad Earth has taken the world by dust kicking and boot stomping storm. This could not have been more apparent than on 12/29/10 at the Ogden Theater in Denver, CO. While many used the venue as a segue into the succeeding nights’ Panic festivities, the vast majority of the capacity crowd was Earthworm and Hobo to its core.
Railroad Earth has become one of the country’s most prominent and sought after bands on the improvisational bluegrass music scene. Accomplishing this through inspired lyrics and skilled musicianship, Railroad Earth is on an extended tour on the heels of their most recent and critically acclaimed self-titled release. Their fan base has done nothing but deepen and grow from coast to coast and this was apparent by the not only sold out, but over sold show on the chilly late December night, the first of a three day NYE run.
Upon entering the famed venue, only blocks from the Fillmore where STS9 was playing that very night, excellent vibes were abound.Â The Railroad Earth following is as eclectic as one will find on the “jam” circuit, ranging from soccer moms to old deadheads, young hula-hooping college freshmen, and everyone in between. The environment that is sustained by the art on stage has created an even playing field for everyone from business man to dude man. It is an environment that is not short on smiles, laughter, or dancing as evidenced by the obvious eager anticipation of the performance that was demonstrated by the fact that many could not resist their urge to dance even though the only music playing was over the PA. They did this in spite of the fact that there was nearly no room available to do so.Â
As the band took the stage the energy of the room became even more abundant. Â Opening with “Happy Song,” the fast paced picking of Andy Goessling yielded only to the echoes of joyous vocal interplay between vocalist Todd Sheaffer and the crowd coupled with the eventual wailing bow of Tim Carbone. The song choice was perfect and inspired. It allowed the horde to get out the boogie that they so desperately needed to unleash. Â
After briefly lulling into a more swaying number in “Saddle of the Sun,” the pace was again brought to a place of fervency with “Cold Water” and the Ogden shook. On its whole this show was a showcase of a band that has not only grown in terms of popularity, but also in terms of abilities and depth of catalogue. Let’s face it, it is very easy for two bluegrass songs to sound virtually identical, but not so with RRE. Each number on this night came with enough thrust and distinctiveness to be able to stand on its own, yet never failed to flow with its former or ladder setlist cousin. Â To boot, this was only night one of what would eventually become a four night run due to the flourishing success of the originally planned three nights.
For the final set of the evening, guest sit-ins from members of Greensky Bluegrass and Elephant Revival were met with resounding approval from the audience.Â With collaborative efforts for “Donkey for Sale” and an orgasmic picking session for the Americana and bluegrass staple “Sittin’on Top of the World,” the crowd was raring to go for more, but alas all good things must come to an end. So was the case with the first night of this residence after the encore of “Colorado” just in case anybody forgot where they were for a moment; a feat that is not unimaginable considering the music they had just witnessed and in which they had just taken part. Â Â Â
Railroad Earth is a band that should be seeing nothing but an endless horizon filled with success and they have come by this view honestly and sincerely. Their integrity has never been in question. Their level of cordiality with their fans is something that is not only to be admired but should also be imitated by other acts. Although it is doubtful that many would be able to duplicate. Â A Railroad Earth show is like hanging out in a backyard with dear friends both surrounding and providing the soundtrack. It is an intimate experience even though the venues continue to grow. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Set 1: Happy Song, Elko, Saddle of the Sun, Cold Water, The Forecast, Walk Beside Me, Cuckoo Medley
Set 2: Lone Croft Farewell, Old Man and the Land, Ragtime Annie Lee, The Hunting Song, The Green Roofs of Eireann>Like a Buddha, Mission Man, Donkey for Sale*, Sittin’ on Top of the World#
* With Bridget Law of Elephant Revival On Violin
With Bonnie Paine Of Elephant Revival On Washboard
With Anders Beck Of Greensky Bluegrass On Dobro
# With Greensky Bluegrass:
Paul Hoffman on Mandolin And Vocals
Anders Beck on Dobro
Mike Bont on Banjo
Dave Bruzza on Guitar
To download the audience recording of this show, please go here.
Click the thumbnail to view IAN RAWN’s photos from The Show!