Photos of Railroad Earth at the Ogden Theatre, 01/18/13 (review)By Reverb Staff | January 21st, 2013 | No Comments »
By Jonathan Gang
New Jerseyâ€™s favorite rootsy jam band, Railroad Earth, kicked off a three-night stand at the Odgen Theatre with energy on Friday night. With a smattering of guest players, Railroad Earth confidently ran through a selection of fan favorites and newer tunes.
Photos and a review of Railroad Earth at the Ogden Theatre on Friday.
The setlist focused more on tighter, less improvisation-heavy songs than the average show by these Jamgrass lifers. While this approach could have been a sore spot for many similar groups, Railroad boasts an above-average songwriter in the form of singer/guitarist Todd Scheaffer. Tunes such as â€śPotterâ€™s Field,â€ť â€śHeadâ€ť and â€śthe Old Man and the Landâ€ť worked as compact sing-alongs instead of launching pads for extended improvisational excursions. Railroad can shorten these tunes thanks to Schaefferâ€™s deft hand with a melody and knack for catchy, harmony laden choruses.
However, when the band did stretch out, Railroad demonstrated an almost unmatched ability to seamlessly transition from driving two-step reels and pastoral ballads to spacey, jazzy jams and back again. The showâ€™s improvisational centerpiece came in an unbroken four-song run at the end of the second set. This section included jumpy bluegrass numbers â€śThe Forecast,â€ť â€śMighty River,â€ť â€śthe Jupiter and the 119,â€ť and ended in an extended workout of the fiddle-tune mashup â€śCuckooâ€™s Medley.â€ť By the end of this nearly 25-minute stretch, the band had touched on nearly all of its many strengths, from breakneck bluegrass to Band-esque country funk and from fleet fingered shredding to laid back and texturally rich atmospherics.
Railroad was joined for â€śCuckooâ€™sâ€ť by fellow jamgrass titan Bill Nershi of the String Cheese Incident and Emmit-Nershi Band. Nershi, who had previously appeared intermittently throughout the evening, contributed slide guitar and took lead vocals on the new song â€śCat.â€ť Flugelhornist Dan Seers also joined Railroad for the funky â€śGoat,â€ť and both guests sat in for the second set closer â€śIâ€™m a Messâ€ť
The evening was a strong start to a multi-night run with a set list that delivered enough favorites and jams to whet fans appetites while still leaving a great deal of opportunity for the band to step it up during the rest of the weekend.
Old Man and the Land
Bread and Water
Too Much Information
The Forecast >
Mighty River >
The Jupiter and the 119>
I am a Mess***
Bringin’ My Baby Back Home*
*With Bill Nershi
**With Dan Seers
***With Bill Nershi and Dan Sears
Jonathan Gang is a new contributor to Reverb.
Todd Radunsky is a Boulder-based photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.