Photos By Ben Wilson
The Scene: On Saturday evening, diehards, newcomers and plenty of Denver’s finest musical minds descended on The Ogden Theatre for the second night of Railroad Earth’s three-night 2013 winter run. Railroad Earth shows have become a fixture along the front-range over the last decade and the band never seems to disappoint.
When we arrived around 8 p.m. the crowd on Colfax had already blossomed and many fans were still desperately trying to secure tickets. The early arriving crowd surged with energy and some older folks even passed out glow sticks to everyone gathered in front of the theater. I went into this show with the mindset that the second night of a three night run is usually when the band and the crowd really take flight but even so I knew it would difficult to top the previous nights fan-friendly set list and guest appearance by Billy Nershi of The String Cheese Incident. Body painted figures poured in next to grizzled veterans eager to show the youngsters what good music sounds like.
Opener: Oakhurst. Oakhurst are a Denver based Bluegrass band who has a unique Honky-Tonk appeal that had the dance floor grooving when we arrived. Lead by the strong lead vocals of AP Hill, Oakhurst have mastered their own blend of “Rocky Mountain Guerilla Grass” and are surprising crowds in the process.
Highlights included a rousing version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall (Pt. 2)” and several songs off their new album Barrel. Luckily most of the crowd had filled in towards the end of set and were around witness a great opening act.
After years of service to the local music scene, Oakhurst may finally get the national recognition they deserve.
Railroad Earth: The band kicked things off with a classic bonus track that hides at the end of their 2004 album The Good Life, “Donkey for Sale” It’s an uplifting song with simple lyrics and Todd Sheaffer’s vocal inflection throughout the song seems to put a huge smile on everyone’s face. After turning the speed and the party up a notch with “Dance Around Molly” and “Dandelion Wine” the band ran through several favorites including “Lovin You, ” “The Hunting Song,” “Mountain Time,” and an incredible cover of The Waterboy’s “Fisherman’s Blues” that was belted out of the park by Tim Carbone to wrap up a high energy set.
After the break, the band arrived on stage for the second set and dove head first into the wild Celtic jig of “1759” and I knew we were in for a crazy ride. A relatively calm version of “Saddle of The Sun” followed before an excellent cover of George Harrison’s “Any Road” enveloped the room. The crowd was viciously rowdy at this point and the lower level quickly turned into a bump and grind-knee-slapping affair. It was at this point I saw both violinist Tim Carbone and the wizard with the mandolin, John Skehan, stare into the crowd with wide eyes and turn up the heat as the band continued their incredible song selection with “Like a Buddha,” “ The Green Roofs of Eireann,” Where Songs Begin,” and “Peace on Earth” the last of which exploded right through the roof of the Ogden.
The end of the set featured the signature Railroad Earth bird anthems “Birds of America” and “Bird In a House.” Both had the crowd raising their arms and singing triumphantly. After the band delivered a solid two-song encore they quietly and professionally exited the stage in anticipation of a 3rd night. It was an appropriate end to a wild show.
Although diehard fans might disagree, this was the best Railroad Earth set I’ve ever seen and it set the bar high to be one of the best shows of 2013. The song selection and instrumentals were off the charts and the Ogden crowd was as zany as it gets; even dancing right out the door at the end. I know most of Colorado will be eagerly waiting for the next time the Railroad Earth trains rolls into town because nothing else compares.
Railroad Earth – 1/19/13 – Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO
Set 1: Donkey For Sale, Dance Around Molly >Dandelion Wine, Chains, Lovin You, Carrying Coal to Newcastle > The Hunting Song, Mountain Time, Fisherman’s Blues
Set 2: 1759, Saddle of The Sun, Lone Croft Farewell, Any Road, Like A Buddha> The Green Roofs of Eireann> Where Songs Begin, Peace on Earth> Birds of America> Stillwater Getaway, Bird in a House
Encore: Old Dangerfield > Luxury Liner
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: A-