You can't really soften up the image of a train, but you can power a train on 4/4 and 6/8 rhythms and keep it rolling on tingly mandolins, chilly violins and the rollicking ramblings of dobro, guitar and banjo. A big powerhouse train with an enormous heart -- that's Railroad Earth, a folk-rock sextet with a keen and expert hand at revamping American roots music. Steadily gigging since its formation in the spring of 2001 with loyal hordes of hobos (better-smelling Deadheads) in tow, Railroad Earth is still riding high on its most recent studio effort, The Good Life, released on the Sugar Hill imprint in 2004, and Elko, the act's live album, issued last week by SCI Fidelity Records. Ride the first-class car or hop the empty freights in the back -- it don't matter. Either way, you can count on these Jersey boys to take you on one wild ride.
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