Boxcars and banjos |

Boxcars and banjos

Wren Wertin
Special to the Daily Johnny Grubb, Andy Goessling, Todd Sheaffer, John Skehan, Carey Harmon and Tim Carbone are Railroad Earth. They have three Colorado dates, beginning at the Fox Theater in Boulder on Thursday.

They’re living the good life. Newgrass kings Railroad Earth are on the road again, stopping for musical interludes Thursday at Boulder’s Fox Theater, Friday at Colorado Springs’ 32 Bleu and Saturday at Cervantes in Denver.

Fronted by the warm and saucy Todd Sheaffer, Railroad Earth concerts end up being plain ole feel good shows. They’re serious about their music, if not about themselves. By turns playful and intense, their music runs from the exuberantly melodic to the fiercely rhythmic. The boys are nothing close to easy on their instruments – they play the hell out of them.

Railroad Earth made their Colorado debut at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival on the main stage, and were promptly invited back the next year. Though they used to play in Vail, mountain folk now have to trek a bit.

Using newgrass instrumentation, they’ve pushed past the boundaries that are traditionally attached to the banjo, the mandolin, the fiddle. Mike Partridge, their live sound engineer, doesn’t mix them like a newgrass band, going for a more rock approach. Sheaffer put it more succinctly:

“We are who we are and we play what we play.”

Fresh out of the studio – their third album is set for a June 8 release – word on the street is they’re busting out all kinds of new material. And they play to beat the band.

For more information on them, visit

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