Super Bowl madness has reached the Crossroads of America city of Indianapolis. With it, the city — in coordination with the NFL and certainly many more — has spared no expense to be sure that its estimated 150,000 visitors will never forget the week that they spent in Indy when it hosted its first Big Game.
Surrounding it all, in the most appropriate of ways, are three stages set up in the heart of the city between the game’s site, the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Conseco Field House, home of the Indiana Pacers.
The performing schedule for the festivities includes over 53 different acts with a flavor for virtually every palate, from Patti Labelle to Bret Michaels. The best part is that jam fans weren’t left out and had bands like North Mississippi Allstars, Umphrey’s McGee, O.A.R, and on this third night of the festivities, the Super Bowl Village welcomed roots and Americana-based bluegrass band from Stillwater, New Jersey, Railroad Earth to the stage.
The temperatures for the day were above average, but with nightfall, it was still quite nippy with heavy gusts of winds that put a slight delay on performances. Thankfully, caution has become the side to err on since the tragedy that took place at the Indiana State Fair tragedy in August 2011. Still, the longer the wait, meant the colder and as the patrons of the “Huddle” geared up for an hour or so performance from Railroad Earth, the sun completely sunk in accordance, the temperatures went with it.
All was well though when the six men of Railroad Earth took the — now completely safe — stage and began to play. As they did, one could not help but think about all of the roads that these fine lads travel, and in so doing, how many roads upon which they are seen. Yet here they were, this musically intellectual peaceful bunch — sporting toboggans, fingerless gloves, heavy jackets and sweaters — playing in the middle of downtown Indianapolis in the center of the “village” for the biggest single sporting event in the world.
Front man Todd Sheaffer joined band mates violinist Tim Carbone, John Skehan on mandolin, multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling, drummer and percussionist Carey Harmon and bassist Andrew Altman, between the six, there was not a face on the stage that was not grinning. Perhaps they felt the surrealism of the atmosphere as well, and as the short night progressed, the sextet filtered out the heat between each talented member, doing what they do best: never failing to service the song.
The set was brief, but it was packed with goodness; short on extensive jamming and had everyone on their toes. Throughout the show Todd Sheaffer could be seen blowing into his hands to try and warm them, seemingly enjoying the cold as they went seamlessly from one tune to the next. The Hobos (fans of Railroad Earth) were quite happy to have favorite Railroad tunes like “Dandelion Wine,” “Elko,” “Long Way To Go” and “Smile Like a Buddha” make the brief list of tunes played.
Proving their showmanship aptitude, the New Jersey-by-way-of-Railroad boys capped the evening with an encored rendition The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” and the backdrop and lights behind the stage lit up in flames before it turned to a depicted desert road. The tune was a perfect way to close an outing like this one. It had diehard fans and casual onlookers under one accord and shaking a rug in sync.
With that, Railroad Earth closed the first chapter of the jam book for Super Bowl XLVI. The kick off with Railroad Earth was an extreme delight and set the mood for the coming festivities, all of which will more than likely completely remove any lingering notion that Indianapolis should ever be referred to as “nap-town” ever again.
I: Lone Croft Farewell, Dance Around Molly > Dandelion Wine, Elko, Like a Buddha, Mighty River, The Jupiter and the 119 > Cuckoo Medley, Long Way To Go
Encore: Roadhouse Blues
Click the thumbnail(s) to view more photos from the show by Amber Jennings…