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Railroad Earth playing in May 2010
|Origin||Stillwater, New Jersey, USA|
|Genres||Americana, progressive bluegrass, jam band|
|Labels||SCI Fidelity, Black Bear Records, One Haven Music|
|Past members||Dave Von Dollen
Railroad Earth is a roots and Americana-based newgrass band from Stillwater, New Jersey. Their name was brought to them by their longtime manager, Brian Ross, and borrowed from the Jack Kerouac short story "October in the Railroad Earth." The band also has a song by the same name written by Todd Sheaffer. Railroad Earth's music combines elements of bluegrass, rock and roll, jazz, celtic and more, and the group is also known for its extensive live improvisation and lyrical songwriting within an acoustic base.
The six band members came together for the first time in January 2001. Originally composed of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Todd Sheaffer, violinist/vocalist Tim Carbone, mandolinist John Skehan, multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling, drummer/vocalist Carey Harmon, and bassist Dave Von Dollen, the six were brought together by Brian Ross, who had assumed management duties prior to the commencement of rehearsals. They kicked things off by rehearsing a handful of original songs, mostly written by Sheaffer, the former From Good Homes songwriter, and began to realize that something musically unique was happening. After three weeks of rehearsing, Ross suggested they go into a local recording studio to track a five song demo of the songs he'd been listening to from their rehearsals. Recorded live with no overdubs except backing vocals, this untitled demo set Railroad Earth's career in motion. Within a week, Ross had them shoot a promo photo and sent their demo out to several festival promoters landing them a slot at Telluride Bluegrass Festival. That appearance became the new band's tenth as Railroad Earth. The previous nine gigs had been little more than warm-ups at small North Jersey bars and Elks lodges and a couple of support slots for regional bands. Realizing immediately how strong the initial five song demo was, Ross recommended that the band return to the same studio to cut another five tracks to complete an album for release in time to debut at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. In early April 2001, the band tracked another five songs, and The Black Bear Sessions was completed. It was released to the public in June 2001, just one week before their appearance at Telluride. That album contains what are still some of the most popular songs in Railroad Earth's repertoire, including "Seven Story Mountain," "Head" and, of course, "Railroad Earth." Prior to their Telluride appearance, Ross had approached Sugar Hill Records with the still unreleased album and encouraged the label to watch the band's performance at Telluride. Right after their show, Railroad Earth was offered a record deal on the spot.
In June 2002, Railroad Earth released its follow-up album on Sugar Hill titled Bird In A House, featuring such enduring songs as "Like A Buddha," "Mighty River," and the album's title track. Throughout that year Railroad Earth's touring schedule increased dramatically and their growing fanbase began to emerge as something tangible to promoters, radio stations and other media. They were garnering raves for their unique sound and exciting live shows and had become a staple act on the line-up of any Roots, Folk or jam-band festival. Their fans, who were now calling themselves "Hobos," began to grow quickly in size, and the venues were getting larger along with them.
In late March 2003, Dave Von Dollen was replaced by Atlanta-based bassist Johnny Grubb. The following year, the band released its third studio effort, The Good Life, featuring "Storms," Mourning Flies," and "Goat." The band continued to tour throughout the country, and its first live album, "Elko," was issued in late January 2006. They performed at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on September 15, 2007.
The band's fourth studio album, titled Amen Corner, was released on June 10, 2008. The album features songs such as "Been Down This Road," "Hard Livin'," "Waggin' The Dog," and "Lovin' You."
On November 11, 2009, Grubb announced his departure from the band after Railroad Earth's New Year's Eve run of shows in Portland, OR. In February 2010, Andrew Altman of the Codetalkers and Blueground Undergrass was named as his successor.
The band's self-titled fifth album was released on Oct 12, 2010.[unreliable source?] The album featured Andy Goessling, for the first time playing electric guitar, and new songs from Todd Sheaffer including "Jupiter and the 119" and " Too Much Information" plus an 11-minute instrumental, written by John Skehan, "Spring-Heeled Jack." It is the longest studio track to date for the band.
On January 14, 2014, Railroad Earth released their seventh album, "Last of the Outlaws," to rave reviews from media and fans alike. In the tour that followed Railroad Earth headlined Red Rocks for the second time, selling out and with the help of the Mile High Horns (arranged by Jay Rattman). The result is to be released on an upcoming DVD.
- Todd Sheaffer - guitar, harmonica, vocals (2001–present)
- Tim Carbone - violin, accordion, electric guitar, vocals (2001–present)
- John Skehan - mandolin, bouzouki, piano, vocals (2001–present)
- Andy Goessling - acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, dobro, mandolin, flute, pennywhistle, Bass Clarinet, Percussion, Clarinet, Lap Steel, All Saxophones, vocals (2001–present)
- Carey Harmon - drums, hand percussion, vocals (2001–present)
- Andrew Altman - bass, vocals (2010–present)
- Dave Von Dollen - bass, vocals (2001–2003)
- Johnny Grubb - bass, vocals (2003–2009)
|2001||The Black Bear Sessions||Bos Music|
|2002||Bird In A House||Sugar Hill|
|2004||The Good Life||Sugar Hill|
|2008||Amen Corner||SCI Fidelity|
|2010||Railroad Earth||One Haven Music|
|2014||Last of the Outlaws||Black Bear|
- http://www.pollstar.com/blogs/hotstar/archive_/2009/06/19/hotstar22833.aspx - Speer, Deborah, "Railroad Earth", www.pollstar.com, June 19, 2009
- "Railroad Earth chugs into Charlottesville", The Cavalier Daily, 13 February 2013
- Bluegrass? Jamgrass? Whatever it is, Railroad Earth played it (music review), al.com, 14 February 2013
- Say Amen! Railroad Earth Returns With Their First Studio Album In Four Years honesttune.com, May 20, 2008, Retrieved December 30, 2008
- Official website - contains biography, sample MP3s, tour dates, merchandise, and contact info.
- Official Facebook Fansite - This is the Official Facebook page for RRE.
- Official MySpace Fansite - This is the Official MySpace page for RRE.
- Earthboard - Railroad Earth fan discussion site, with lyrics, band and concert updates, music trading, and more
- One Haven Music - Railroad Earth signed to One Haven Music in early 2010 and is releasing their sixth album in fall 2010 on the label.
- Live shows at Archive.org - provides over 600 free and legal downloads of complete Railroad Earth concerts from 2001 to the present
- Railroad Earth Interview 2009
- Railroad Earth Takes a Live Ride - The Music Box, Vol. 13, No. 2
- Railroad Earth Fansite - message board, setlists, tourdates and articles.
- Concert Photo Gallery - Photos from Railroad Earth concert at Blue Plum Festival - Johnson City Tennessee in 2006.
- http://www.pollstar.com/blogs/hotstar/archive_/2009/06/19/hotstar22833.aspx - RRE article in Pollstar Magazine.