Railroad Earth with Cornmeal

Railroad Earth with special guest Cornmeal - November 20, 2010 Rams Head Live Baltimore, Maryland Let me start by saying that I have probably seen Railroad Earth more than two dozen times over the years. Most of these shows provided me many great memories and fantastic musical moments. However, Saturday’s performance at the Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore may have been the best show I have seen them perform - and that’s saying a lot. There are times in a bands career that you could mark as a defining moment. As I watched the band the thought came to me that this just may be (for me anyway), the pinnacle of all the shows I’ve seen to date. That’s not to say they can’t exceed this performance, after all, the show did not include some of their more signature songs such as Seven Story Mountain or Elko. It’s just that this night seemed, well, magical. Perhaps it was the venue (Ram’s Head Live is a great place to see a show), or perhaps it was that there seemed to be no set time limit to the show’s length (the show finished around 1:30am). The band really seemed to be really enjoying the moment and this seemed to transfer from the band to the delighted and appreciative audience. The set started off with “Long Walk Home” a tune from their latest effort and kicked into gear with Mighty River. When Allie Kral of Cornmeal appeared on stage for a “Little Bit O’ Me”, the dueling violins between her and Tim Carbone sounded almost heavenly. However, it wasn’t until the second set when things really started cooking. The first three songs in the second set; Bird in a House, Colorado and The Forecast were about as good as it gets. The extended version of The Forecast seemed to almost set my hair on fire! As the band launched into Mourning Flies I remembered thinking that the band seems to play this song a lot so they must like it - and you know what, I really like it too! I know that Warhead Boogie may be a little political for some people, but tonight they took the song to new levels. The feedback jam at the end of the song set the show in a direction that well, quite frankly was nowhere near the little bluegrass band you might come to expect from Railroad Earth. They were sounding more and more like a rock and roll band. This was none more evident when Timmy traded his violin for and electric guitar for the some of the final songs in the set. Somewhere between the songs Mission Man and RV a shower of confetti rained onto the dance floor and gently landed onto our heads. Even the band seemed to recognize the magic of the moment as the smile on Todd Sheaffer’s face grew bigger. No Railroad Earth show would seem complete without Andy Goessling playing his dual saxophones on Hard Livin’, just a perfect way to close out the set. Starting the encore with the new tune “On the Banks” seemed at first to be too mellow for the moment. But as the song played on I really came to appreciate just how beautiful the song was. It reminded me of one of those old sad and beautiful Irish ballads. Naturally the set could not end on that note so as the band ended the evening with the up tempo blue grassy “Little Rabbit” we all gleefully danced our way into the early morning hours. Note: For me there could be no better opening act for Railroad Earth then Cornmeal. Allie Kral and band seem to be more impressive every time I see them. However this night truly belonged to Railroad Earth.
Wed 12/8/2010 9:37 AM