Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

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Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth is a roots and Americana-based newgrass band from Stillwater, New Jersey. Their name was borrowed from the Jack Kerouac short story "October in the Railroad Earth," to which the band also has a song by the same name. 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 first came together 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 group kicked off by rehearsing a handful of original songs, mostly written by Sheaffer, the former From Good Homes songwriter, just to get together, hang out and play some music. But after just three weeks of rehearsing, they decided to go into a local recording studio to track a five song demo. Recorded live with no overdubs except backing vocals, this untitled demo set Railroad Earth's career in motion. Within a week they had manager Brian Ross on board, who sent their demo out to several festival promoters...quickly landing them a slot at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival. That appearance was 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.[1] In early April 2001, the band returned to the same local studio and tracked another five songs to complete an album. The Black Bear Sessions was released to the public in June 2001, one week before their appearance at Telluride. The 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." Immediately following their appearance at Telluride, Sugar Hill Records approached the band and offered them a record deal.

In June 2002, Railroad Earth released its follow-up album on Sugar Hill titled Bird In A House, featuring songs such 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.[2] 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 a 11-minute instrumental, written by John Skehan, "Spring-Heeled Jack." SHJ is John Skehan's initials backwards. It is the longest studio track to date for the band.

The band was announced to perform the self-titled album in its entirety and video tape it to send to the fans.


Current members

  • Todd Sheaffer - guitar, vocals (2001present)
  • Tim Carbone - violin, accordion, electric guitar, vocals (2001present)
  • John Skehan - mandolin, bouzouki, vocals (2001present)
  • Andy Goessling - acoustic guitars, banjo, dobro, mandolin, flute, pennywhistle, saxophones, vocals (2001present)
  • Carey Harmon - drums, hand percussion, vocals (2001present)
  • Andrew Altman - bass, vocals (2010present)

Past members

  • Dave Von Dollen - bass, vocals (2001-2003)
  • Johnny Grubb - bass, vocals (2003-2009)



Year Title Label
2001 The Black Bear Sessions Bos Music
2002 Bird In A House Sugar Hill
2004 The Good Life Sugar Hill
2006 Elko SCI Fidelity
2008 Amen Corner (Railroad Earth album) SCI Fidelity
2010 Railroad Earth One Haven Music

Image gallery


  1. http://www.pollstar.com/blogs/hotstar/archive_/2009/06/19/hotstar22833.aspx - Speer, Deborah, "Railroad Earth", www.pollstar.com, June 19, 2009
  2. http://frontpsych.com/2010/11/04/railroad-earth-this-train-is-bound-for-jamming/
  • Say Amen! Railroad Earth Returns With Their First Studio Album In Four Years honesttune.com, May 20, 2008, Retrieved December 30, 2008

External links

  • 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, #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.
This page was last modified 18.07.2012 21:09:15

This article uses material from the article Railroad Earth from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.