The Scene: The crowd lined up outside The Ogden on Friday was buzzing while waiting for doors to open. Since Railroad Earth announced that Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident would be sitting in with them for one night only, this show was on many people’s radar. Hot off SCI’s amazing fall tour, kids of all ages were pumped to see more of the SCI keyboard player. Railroad Earth is always a big draw here in Colorado but the fact that one of our local heroes would be sharing the stage with them had people ecstatic with joy and curious about musical possibilities. The colorful crowd was ready to boogie even before they were inside the theater.
Opener: Dumptruck Butterlips. Three girls and one guy dressed in glittery pants said one thing to me: Gypsy hippies in the house! This Gypsy Honky-Tonk band consisted of bass, accordion, percussion and guitar and the band did a great job of holding the crowds attention with their quirky, and at times crude, originals. Towards the end of their set a few of the Railroad guys joined the band on a couple of their songs and, with both band and crowd excited for what was to come, this really helped the Butterlips set soar. Check out this band if you haven’t, they definitely have some great songs in their catalouge.
Railroad Earth: As I mentioned before, this show was very highly anticipated by all and from the moment it was announced it looked great on paper. Railroad Earth with Kyle Hollingsworth?!?! What Jam-Grass lover wouldn’t be excited for this power packed bill. From the get go, many fans had questions about this gig: “How long is Kyle gonna sit in for? Are they going to do String Cheese covers? What songs will Kyle play with the band? Will Kyle sing?” While all these questions would be answered soon enough, when Railroad Earth first took the stage, Hollingsworth’s rig sat empty. Todd Sheaffer and company blazed through a few songs taking the music to new heights, and after a fantastic “Stillwater Getaway” Hollingsworth finally strolled onto the stage. He finished out the set playing “Mourning Flies,” “Said What You Mean,” and fan favorite “Long Way to Go.” Though it took a little bit of time to get Kyle just right in the mix, longtime RRE soundman Mike Partridge was up to the challenge and quickly had things dialed in.
After a brief break, the band took the stage with Hollingsworth for what turned out to be a spectacular second set. “Old Man and the Land” was the first choice and the band rolled straight from this original and into massive version of “Head.” This “Head” took many twists and turns and finally peaked with a blazing Hollingsworth solo. This was easily the show stopper of the night and boys blew everyone’s mind! After a nearly 20 minutes of craziness, I thought we would be in for a slow song, wow was I wrong! Hollingsworth grabbed the mic and sang lead vocal on the Nola classic “Will it Go Round in Circles.” This funky number led the crowd into a frenzy.
The next big number was one of my personal favorites, “The Forecast.” This song has a beautiful intro with Tim Carbone on Fiddle and John Skeehan on Mandolin leading the way. Their back and forth during this jam, with Hollingsworth complementing the duel on keys, made this version one for the ages. The band and their guest Keys player ran through great takes on “Mighty River,” “Like a Buddha,” and “Elko” to wrap up the set. As the band walked off stage to a thunderous roar from the crowd we wondered what could possibly top what we had just seen. Finally the band came back to encore with The Beatles “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” with Hollingsworth on lead vocals, before ending the show with their own “Bird In a House.”
This was one of the better Railroad Earth shows that I’ve witnessed. The guys were very grateful for Hollingsworth coming out and playing with them and it really looked like they all had a great time up the Here’s hoping they come back in the near future.
Set 1: Walk Beside Me, Lordy Lordy, Bread and Water, Little Bit O’ Me, Stillwater Getaway, The Hunting Song, Mourning Flies, Said What You Mean, Long Way To Go
Set 2: Old Man and the Land, Head -> Will it Go Round in Circles*, Bringin’ My Back Back Home, The Forecast -> The Man Who Invented Sin -> Mighty River –> Like a Buddha, Elko
Encore: I’ve Just Seen a Face^, Bird in a House
NOTES: Kyle Hollingsworth, on keyboards, sat in with the band starting with “The Hunting Song” and through the remainder of the show. On Melodica during “Like a Buddha,” shared lead vocals with Todd during “Will it Go Round in Circles,” and sang lead vocals on “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”
* – First time played, written by Bruce Fisher and Billy Preston
^ – First time played, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, dedicated to Kyle’s wife Tonya.
Stage Presence: A
Set / Light show: A