Railroad Earth at The National (The Mighty River, Rolling Along)
Railroad Earth is a band beyond description, escaping every genre while still being grounded with reminiscent sounds from America's past. Railroad Earth is a reclamation of all things Americana. Gathering a devote following, myself included, I always leave their shows mind blown, ecstatic with energy and rearing for more. This would mark only my 4th time seeing RRE but this performance certainly left a lasting impression on me and the other members of the audience.
Railroad Earth began their set with a nod to The National, who was celebrating their 10th anniversary of re-opening in 2008. It was fitting that I would be at this anniversary show because I also attended that first show a decade ago. RRE opened with "Seven Story Mountain" and a heavy extended jam sequence into "Old Dangerfield." Their improvisational segments are on the verge of haunting, almost skin crawling but they always bring it back to their roots of Bluegrass and Folk. Roosevelt Collier joins the band adding yet another instrument to this sonic powerhouse. Roosevelt has been making his rounds with many big name acts in the Jam and Blues scene alike; his opening performance was riveting and high energy.
Introspective and refined, RRE continue their set, energy and ebullience never reseeding, always on the edge of improvisation and classic composition like a ship teetering at the ends of the earth but never tipping over. RRE defines Jam grass, the spirit of America runs through them from native roots to the Grateful Dead's American legacy. Like a hobo on an endless train waiting to return to some mythical Earth, filled with steam engines and cowboys, the band continues their musical journey down the rails of life. It's almost as if this band creates their own musical world every night.
Many of their songs on this set-list were unfamiliar to me and that's a great thing. One of the best things about live music is finding new songs and harmonies to obsess over, like "When The Sun Gets In Your Blood" or "Blazin’ A Trail," while still playing crowd favorites, "Like A Buddha" and "Mighty River." Morphing their sound effortlessly into something new and different at the drop of a hat, RRE ends with a jam into The Deads "The Wheel," which was a pleasant surprise, not many bands cover that song. “If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will."
Again, RRE astound and amaze with their originality and all around vibe. This band deserves top spots at all the major jam festivals out there. Lockn, Peach, take note.
Smiling like a Buddha,
Jam Band Purist
Set 1: Seven Story Mountain, Old Dangerfield, Lordy, Lordy, Blazin' a Trail, Addin' My Voice, Walk Beside Me, Magic Foot, Luxury Liner , Wayfaring Stranger
Set 2: Cold Water, Just So You Know, Bread and Water, Only by the Light , Raven's Child, When the Sun Gets in Your Blood, The Forecast , The Berkeley Flash, Like a Buddha, Cuckoo Medley
Encores: Mighty River, The Wheel
Railroad Earth is too underrated. I cannot believe that they don't have enough fans to support them despite their greatness. They always have the potential to make it big. By the way, I am happy that they got the chance to perform at The National Mighty River. I heard that it was an amazing crowd that's why they must be so happy with the reception they got from it. Hopefully, they will be given the chance to have a world tour because they really deserve it!
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.