For 12 years, Railroad Earth has made the marriage of folk, bluegrass and jam music accessible to those who more than likely didn’t grow up listening to bluegrass, while simultaneously grabbing their share of the popular music audience that favors improvisation in its musical choices. That’s something higher-profile “pop grass” acts like Mumford & Sons have failed to do.
The reason for Railroad Earth’s success has been threefold: There is a respect for and an understanding of tradition; there is a desire to move the music ahead and use it as a springboard for meaningful ensemble improvisation; and there is an unerring ability to write songs that serve as able springboards for both.
Witness Railroad Earth’s freshly released “Last of the Outlaws,” a collection already being hailed by the likes of Jambands.com as one of best – if not the best –albums in the group’s canon. At the heart of this new album sits the 20-minute epic “All That’s Dead May Live Again,” which Jambands.com suggests “will be remembered for evermore as Railroad Earth’s ‘Terrapin Station.’ ” The song – a seven-part suite of recurring and interlocking themes – is a masterpiece of Americana fusion.
Railroad Earth performs at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Town Ballroom. Tickets are $20 advance, $24 day of show (box office, Tickets.com).
– Jeff Miers