For three rousing hours, Railroad Earth energized a shoulder-to-shoulder audience, surfing sound waves of virtuoso tunes. The couple standing next to me purchased tickets for all three nights of Railroad Earth’s Denver stand and drove 4-and-a-half hours to get to the show. For good reason. Railroad Earth’s phenomenal musicianship carried the sparked crowd with two dynamic sets. The pace, for the most part, was fast and the music simultaneously gritty and ethereal.
Impossible to pigeonhole, the band gets classified as roots rock, Americana, or NewGrass, but Railroad Earth careened from acidy rock to space-age psychedelics to uptempo Celtic jigs and reels on Saturday. Todd Sheaffer’s lead vocals were great, yet the sextet’s outrageous instrumentals dominated.
Tim Carbone fiddled around until his violin practically burst into flames, while John Skehan strummed his mandolin like a madman. Andy Goessling held his own by playing guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin, flute, pennywhistle, or playing two saxophones at once. Carey Harmon drummed relentlessly, as Andrew Altman filled in the bottom with plucky and rich upright bass.
High points included “Peace on Earth” and “1759,” a spirited instrumental homage to the year of the first Guinness Stout.
Colleen Smith, a longtime freelancer at The Denver Post, is the author of the novel “Glass Halo” and the gift book “Laid-Back Skier.”
Jason Bullinger is a graphic designer, illustrator and photographer and a new contributor with Reverb.