Thursday, February 28, 2002
Steamboat Springs Money, fame and rock stardom aren't the first things on the minds of members of the East Coast band Railroad Earth, but those things sure wouldn't hurt.
Within three months of the band's creation, the bluegrass, rock and folk musicians were summoned to perform at festivals across the nation, including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and High Sierra Music Festival, while finishing recording "The Black Bear Sessions" with Bos Music.
"We were a brand new, three-month-old band. (Playing at festivals) was great once we got up there," said Todd Sheaffer, lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist. "It was all quite shocking."
Just more than a year later, Railroad Earth jumps from the road to the stage and back to the studio to finish their second album, possibly titled "Saddle of the Sun" with Sugar Hill Records due in music stores in June.
The second album will have richer and warmer acoustic tones because it is recorded on analog tape. But intensifying the sound will not create a different jam and psychedelic elements the band adds to the rock and bluegrass setting.
"It's not like we didn't know what we were getting into. I fell into it but now that I'm doing it, it feels very natural. I ended up in the right spot," Sheaffer said.
Railroad Earth is Sheaffer, Tim Carbone on violin and vocals, John Skehan on mandolin and vocals, Carey Harmon on drums, hand percussion and vocals, Andy Goessling on acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro and vocals and Dave Von Dollen on stand-up bass.
On Labor Day weekend in 2000, some of the guys sat on Goessling's front porch playing bluegrass music and thinking about a life dedicated to playing, recording, festivals and the fans.
A dream became reality quicker than they could finger pick their banjos.
"We got together earlier than January 2001 very informally. Andy had a bluegrass pickin' party on Labor Day," Sheaffer said. "Within three days we learned and recorded a five-song demo and gave the tape to a friend that loves bluegrass."
And when the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and High Sierra Music Festival came around, the sextet wondered where the next dirt road would lead.
"We would drive forever in tall pines and dirt roads and at the end would be this beautiful clearing," Sheaffer said. "I'm really liking the festival circuit."
Not only does the music sound better in outdoor venues but also the scenery is beautiful and the vibe is tremendous, Sheaffer said.
The 20-something to 40-something year olds enjoy the party that surrounds the festival circuit, but when it comes time to getting on the road again, writing more music and stepping into a studio, Sheaffer said they realize this is their work.
"It's definitely a job. We work hard at what we do and we cover a lot of miles," he said.
Railroad Earth will visit Steamboat Springs Thursday as part of their seven-week nationwide tour. The band plans to perform at various music festivals again this spring, summer and fall while celebrating their second CD.