Posts Tagged ‘Railroad Earth’

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1071

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Week of March 30, 2009

Part 1 35:55
Grateful Dead, To Terrapin (5/28/77)

Part 2 20:30
Jorma Kaukonen, River of Time
Railroad Earth12/31/08 Aladdin Theater, Portland OR

The excerpts from the new complete-show release To Terrapin in this week’s program don’t do justice to the excellence of the performance. You gotta hear this second set! Last show of a very long and productive spring tour introducing several songs recorded for Terrapin Station, including the title track and “Estimated Prophet,” both instant classics.

Jorma Kaukonen performed “Operator” in a wonderful two-day GD tribute, The American Beauty Project, that took place in New York City in January of 2007. (Read my report here.) It was a perfect match of performer and song, and Jorma obviously agreed because he has kept the song in his repertoire ever since. And now here’s a fine studio recording of “Operator.”

I raved about the recordings of Railroad Earth‘s New Year’s run a few weeks ago. “Warhead Boogie” is from the 12/31/08 show. All three of the year-end shows are great, and available for download. This band continues to deliver the goods – check ’em out!

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from Grateful Dead Productions, announcing a full show release titled To Terrapin: Hartford May 28, 1977, the complete concert mastered in HDCD from the original two-track reels. To Terrapin documents the final show of the much-praised spring tour. It’s available April 7. More information, audio samples, discussion board and more at

Viva Railroad Earth

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to post something about Railroad Earth since I listened to their three-night New Year’s run a couple of weeks ago. Today I posted this on a mailing list of European Deadheads:

The reason I think Railroad Earth is the best band of the current era is that they have many of the same attributes you enumerate here [“heart and soul,” “fantastic songs,” “variety,” “inventiveness,” and “evolution.”]. Todd Sheaffer’s songs are complex and deep; like the Grateful Dead, he is not afraid to go to dark places and deal with adult themes. And the musicians who surround Sheaffer are brilliant storytellers in their own right: like the Dead, they know their job is to support the song, not to display their instrumental prowess.

A Grateful Dead show had a narrative quality – the collection of songs describing a place and a set of characters and conflicts, loose enough for each of us to imagine our way into that world and powerful enough to charge the atmosphere with provocative, evocative energy. I feel the same way about a Railroad Earth performance – maybe not quite as intensely as the Dead at their best, but this band very definitely shares that literary quality with the Dead.

By contrast, last night I hosted Andy Gadiel for a two-hour salute to Phish on the occasion of their return to performing. Lots of intense music and great playing, but they are the “Seinfeld” of improvisational music: most of their songs are quite deliberately about nothing.

The Railroad Earth New Year’s run is available from livedownloads – 12/29/08, 12/30/08, and 12/31/08 at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. I am planning to play some of New Year’s Eve on the GD Hour and on Dead to the World. There’s a sweet rendition of “Sisters and Brothers” (familiar to fans of the Jerry Garcia Band), and “Warhead Boogie” from that show goes into some deliciously weird places. Other highlights include “The Forecast” (my favorite song on their most recent studio CD, Amen Corner) and “Railroad Earth” from their first CD, The Black Bear Sessions.

DG interview @

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Randy Ray interviewed me last week for Part 1 was posted today; part 2 goes up next month.

An excerpt:

[Producer Tim Carbone] just understands. We’re in the same general age cohort. I think I might be a year or two older than he is, but we sort of came up in the same time, and we have very similar political and philosophical views, so he totally got my point of view in terms of what I was trying to say in my songs.

I knew from listening to Railroad Earth that these guys would be great sidemen. To me, the most important thing is the song. I don’t care how great your licks are, if the songs suck, I don’t want to hear it. I knew that those guys understood that the role of band members in a band like Railroad is to tell the story. They understand that the songwriter is the main thing, and their job is not to surround him with hot licks and swamp the song in flashy playing. It’s to underscore and support what the song is doing. There’s plenty of room for shredding in a band like that, but I knew that if I brought them in to do my songs, that my songs would be served by these amazing players. They’re all instrumental storytellers of the first rank.

Review of RRE’s “Amen Corner”

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Chris Cooper reviews Railroad Earth‘s Amen Corner in the Smoky Mounain News. An excerpt:

Amen Corner is a solid, nicely recorded album from the guys in RRE: one that shows them more comfortable in their collective skin than ever before. Mix this with the ever- growing songwriting skills of Todd Sheaffer, and Amen Corner might just be one of the best things the band has put out yet. For fans of the band already, this is a no-brainer. But if this disc serves as an introduction to Railroad Earth for some of you, it’s a darn fine place to start.

Read the whole review here.


Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Railroad Earth’s “Amen Corner”

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Disclosure: I just made a record with four members of this band (produced by fiddler Tim Carbone) and I have performed with Railroad Earth several times. But my respect and admiration for the band predates our collaboration.

I listened to Railroad Earth‘s new CD, Amen Corner, several times in a row on a road trip last week, and I’m still listening to it at home; it is a great, great record.

This is what I look for in a band and an album: deeply engaging songs played and sung by musicians who really know how to tell a story.

Live, Railroad Earth shreds and Railroad Earth jams. They do that musical-conversation style of improvisation that we like so much, but it’s always in service of the song. “The jams sort of ‘comment’ on the songs, and give them color,” says Front man Todd Sheaffer on the band’s web site. “Some songs lend themselves to improvisation. They ‘want’ to be approached that way – where we can explore and trade musical ideas and open them up to different territories.”

When they do open up, Sheaffer’s songs are worthy vehicles for jamming. Like so many of our favorite songwriters, he describes a universe very much like ours but also very much a place of its own, giving the listener, and his bandmates, a lot to think about as the musical dialogue ensues.

“Seven Story Mountain,” from the band’s first CD, remains my favorite RRE song to hear live. I remember one from Jamaica in 2006 that took me to that place where 1969 “Dark Stars” go. On another occasion, I got to hear fiddler/percussionist Joe Craven engage the song, and the band, for the first time live on KPFA (a performance that was released on a CD called Live from Berkeley – a fund-raiser for public radio).

There is no weak link in this band instrumentally, but multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling is my desert island player: if I could only have one musician to work with, I would choose Andy in an instant. The band’s web site lists acoustic guitars, banjo, dobro, mandolin, flute, pennywhistle, saxophones and vocals; on my CD, he played 6-string, 12-string, bass clarinet, clarinet, ukulele, autoharp, banjo, baritone sax, and fingerpicked National steel guitar. Andy plays these instruments not just competently but with authority and inspiration.

I’m still getting to know the songs on Amen Corner. So far, I love “The Forecast” most, and “Waggin’ the Dog” and “Been Down This Road.” “Bringin’ My Baby Back Home” is some kind of instant classic, too. I’m looking forward to developing a relationship with these songs, on the CD and in live performance. Great grooves, great changes, great melodies, great arrangements, great lyrics, great singing, great playing, and as timeless and deeply American as The Band. Amen Corner could be heard coming out of a 1949 panel truck or a red VW microbus or a Mustang convertible; sounded great in my Subaru rolling down 101.

Railroad Earth webcast tonight!

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

This email just crossed my desk. I’m a big Railroad Earth fan, as you well know, so I am recommending you tune in tonight!

Tune in to on Saturday, 6/14 (Tonight!!) for an exclusive webcast of the Railroad Earth concert at the Ogden Theatre in Denver CO.

The show – the 2nd of two special Amen Corner CD Release Parties at the venue – will begin at approximately 9pm (Mountain Time). No matter where you are located, you‚ll have the best seat in the house as delivers the excitement of RRE’s live performance right into your home!

Since December 2006, has streamed more live music over the Internet than any other website or production company in existence. With nearly 1,000 individual sets of music streamed on the site, has webcast such artists as: Peter Gabriel, The Flaming Lips, The Black Crowes, Phil Lesh and Friends, 311, O.A.R, Ani Difranco, Warren Haynes, Dierks Bentley, and hundreds of others. has also supported and webcast such world leaders and dignitaries as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama and worked with the “Deadheads for Obama” fundraiser on February 4, 2008, which included the remaining members of the Grateful Dead.

Grateful Dead Hour #1027

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Week of May 26, 2008

Part 1 29:43
Donna Jean and the Tricksters
Railroad Earth, Amen Corner

Part 2 26:12
Grateful Dead 1/7/78 Golden Hall, San Diego CA

New CD from one of my favorite bands, Railroad Earth, and a long cut from Donna Jean and the Tricksters.

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

The 10,000 Lakes Festival, July 23 through 26 in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Phil Lesh & Friends, Mickey Hart Band, Dark Star Orchestra, The Flaming Lips, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and over fifty additional acts.

The All Good Music Festival and Campout July 11 – 13 in Masontown, West Virginia featuring Phil Lesh & Friends, Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Medeski/Scofield/Martin & Wood, Keller Williams, Dark Star Orchestra, Mike Gordon, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, Tea Leaf Green & dozens more, with no overlapping sets.

The Lazy River Music & Arts Festival June 27 – 29 near Chicago featuring the music of Son Volt, Rusted Root, Banyan with members of Umphrey’s McGee, EOTO, New Monsoon, ekoostik hookah, Mr. Blotto, and dozens more. It’s the first Chicago-area festival to offer overnight camping.

New Railroad Earth CD “Amen Corner”

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

News from Railroad Earth:

Amen Corner Pre-Order Campaign

Railroad Earth and SCI Fidelity Records are pleased to announce the Amen Corner Pre-Order Campaign.

Beginning on May 7th, 2008, the first 750 Amen Corner CDs purchased through RREs own website will include a Special Limited Edition DVD of all seven videos (compiled in one set) recorded as part of the making of the band’s new album, Amen Corner.

This DVD will only be made available as part of the first 750 CDs purchased through our site. There will be no commercial production of these videos beyond this campaign.

In addition, the first 250 CDs ordered will be signed by all of the band members.

To order your CDs, go to or visit the Merchandise Page on the Railroad Earth web site.

(Please note: CDs will not be shipped until just prior to the official release date on June 10th!)

Be sure to visit the Amen Corner Website. New videos and audio will be released through the website on Tuesday, May 13th!

RRE Family

New Railroad Earth CD “Amen Corner”

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Railroad Earth Amen Corner Website Launches April 29th, 2008

Railroad Earth and SCI Fidelity Records are pleased to announce the launch of the new website for the forthcoming Railroad Earth studio release, Amen Corner – in stores nationwide on June 10th, 2008!

The website will live at: and will feature streaming audio & video, photos of the band in the recording studio, news and other information, all centered around the release of Railroad Earth’s remarkable new album.

The first single from the album, “Hard Livin’,” will be available for free download, and we’ll be updating the site regularly with new songs, as well as videos of the band recording them…plus information on how to purchase Amen Corner!

Stay tuned for news about online listening parties, webcasts, and special content only available through this site!

DG & Shockenaw 3/29/08

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Live from the Suwannee SpringFest

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

It’s been a wonderful weekend here at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. The Suwannee SpringFest is rolling along under partly cloudy skies, not too hot in the daytime and not too chilly at night. The music has been sublime – Railroad Earth, Blueground Undergrass, Brittany Reilly and the Almost Acoustic Band, The Waybacks, Hot Buttered Rum, Acoustic Syndicate, Boris Garcia, Guy Clark, Verlon Thompson, and more. Tonight I’ll see Donna the Buffalo, Peter Rowan and the Free Mexican Airforce, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, Jim Lauderdale – lots more to come!

My own onstage experiences have been spendid. Last night we closed out the Meadow Stage program at 1 am with a humongous jam. Lemme see here: Mark van Allen (Blueground Undergrass) on pedal steel; Warren Hood (Waybacks) on fiddle; Andy Goessling (Railroad Earth) on saxophones; Joe Kyle Jr. (Waybacks) on bass; Vic Stafford (Blueground Undergrass) on drums and Chuck Hamilton (Waybacks) on percussion; Bud Burroughs (Boris Garcia) on keyboards and mandolin; James Nash (Waybacks) on electric guitar; Erik Yates (Hot Buttered Rum) on flute and banjo; Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) fiddle; Randy Judy on scrubboard. Bryan Horne (Hot Buttered Rum) sat in on bass near the end. Zac Matthews (Hot Buttered Rum) couldn’t get his mando working. for some reason. We missed him!

It was wild good fun Cassidy’s Cat into Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad, Friend of the Devil, King of the Road, Helpless, Big River, Elvis Imitators. Maybe one more in there. Surprisingly coherent, and a whole lot o’ shreddin’ goin’ on! Really really enjoyable both onstage and in the house.

And today on the Amphitheater Stage I did a rehearsed set with the Shockenaw Mountain Boys (Tim Carbone, Andy Goessling, John Skehan and Johnny Grubb of RRE) plus Zac Matthews. Here’s “The Bounty of the County” from that show.

More audio artifacts as I round ’em up.

Here’s one now! Pancho and Lefty-> Save Us from the Saved from today’s set.