Railroad Earth played until almost 1 a.m. at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on a summery Saturday night in the foothills. Following notable sets by The Woods Brothers and Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth took the stage at about 9:30 p.m. Their first set included meandering renditions of “Long Way To Go” and “Bird in a House.”
A celebration of music, family and the great state of Colorado, lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist Todd Sheaffer announced that his parents were in the house, adding that they’d make it to the summit of a 14er while in town. He dedicated “Railroad Earth” — one of his parents’ favorite songs — to his mom and dad. And further proving the band’s love for the state, Scheaffer pointed out that Railroad Earth found support in Colorado in their early days. To illustrate his point, Railroad Earth then jumped into a jubilant take on “Colorado.” Sheaffer also commented on the world famous venue, mentioning that the monoliths flanking the natural amphitheater are almost 300 million year old.
“It’s good to be here with the old rocks again,” he said.
Railroad Earth’s live setup featured a brass quartet that started the second set with a New Orleans sound. Sheaffer dubbed the players the Mile High Horns for the night. The brass added versatility to Railroad Earth’s particular stripe of bluegrass.
Railroad Earth is the Grateful Dead for a new-bluegrass generation. And the fans dressed the part in ’60s hippie era crocheted dresses, tie-dyed everything and flowers in females’ hair. The band, long fond of projections, played with a more sophisticated light show generating audio-visual mirth. Soap bubble machines, glow-in-the-dark balloons and a plein-air painter documenting the shows added to the atmosphere.
Colleen Smith is a longtime contributor to The Denver Post and the author of the acclaimed novel “Glass Halo” and “Laid-Back Skier” by Friday Jones Publishing.
Dylan Langille is a Fort Collins-based photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his photos here.