Railroad Earth Explores Freedom in Music, Plays Tonight at House Of Blues
It’s a level all musicians dream to aspire to reach. A level that is not necessarily rooted in practice or deep study, but courage, and an undefinable line of chemistry and communication. A level located in the moment, where a group of string strummers and drum bangers may fully express themselves via their instruments and speak amongst themselves through notes and rhythms, plucking from the ether and each other’s vibes; it is the jam. And when that level is finally reached, and an audience can feel that syncopation, becoming equally as enthralled than the showmen – you know you’re on to something good.
“It’s a departure. The best place I know,” proclaims Railroad Earth drummer, Carey Harmon, of the musical communication he reaches with fellow band mates, Todd Sheaffer (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Tim Carbone (violin and electric guitar), John Skehan (mandolin and piano), Andy Goessling (banjo, lap steel and flute), and Andrew Altman (bass). “When you really go out on a limb and don’t know how to get there, you’re just as likely to screw up, but then you all somehow make it back together; it’s fun.”
It’s exactly what Railroad Earth thrives on and it’s the driving force, behind the band that began as a group of buddies that just wanted to play acoustic music together, into hundreds of shows and six studio albums.
“I didn’t think it would go on for this long,” adds Harmon. “And it’s still the same joy.”
On their latest release, Last Of The Outlaws, Railroad Earth went for something different, dropping their self-proclaimed “string band” sound for something more enriched and explored. It was achieved by grouping together in rural, northern New Jersey and mixing spontaneity with freedom.
“There’s major differences on this album: piano, electric bass and heavier drums. The fundamental elements are still there, but you hope to grow as an individual and as a band. We went in less prepared, sat down and played on the spot, and recorded all the time.”
“Every record is a learning experience. We explored with the freedom of live recording, and came out with what we wanted.”
The freedom is evident in Last Of The Outlaws, with the 11 minutes long, four parts and Celtic infused, “All that’s Dead May Live Again.” The level of ethereal, musical communication is here, with soaring strings, layered by a melodic mandolin and brushing drums, churning into each phrase. However, their roots are still present, with fun fiddle numbers like, “Grandfather Mountain.”
In their exploring of freedom, it’s obvious the band has grown and matured in their 12-year tenure. They’ve reached that level of musical communication, have even been lucky enough to form a large fan base and still have fun. But, they still have a long way to go.
“I still don’t think we’ve touched on anything musically. We haven’t scratched the surface. I hope we get to do that.”
Railroad Earth plays tonight, at the House Of Blues.
Check out their website and Facebook page.