Railroad Earth: A Hobo Reunion at B Chord Brewing in Virginia

Photos by Mark Raker, Review by Dan Rozman

Railroad Earth returned to  B Chord Brewing for a three-night run. The last time they played around DC was at B Chord in October 2020. The mood was much more relaxed for these shows. The near-capacity shows were attended by smiling, vaccinated fans who have been longing for live music. Hobo’s, as RRE fans are called, came from all over the country to celebrate with the band, and at times you could see people actually crying tears of joy. 

The weather cooperated and we were treated to 3 days of comfortable weather. The 64-acre farm brewery has a field that allows for a nice breeze and a welcoming beer. It was hard to believe it was in the high 80’s when the shows started. Once the sun went down it was a perfect spring weekend. 

When Railroad Earth took the stage Friday night the energy was electric. The band was tight and got tighter as the shows progressed. The band lineup for these shows consisted of:

Todd Sheaffer – guitar, harmonica, vocals,

Tim Carbone – violin, electric guitar, vocals

John Skehan – mandolin, piano, banjo, vocals

Carey Harmon – drums, hand percussion, vocals

Andrew Altman – acoustic bass, electric bass, vocals

Mike Robinson – guitar, pedal steel guitar, banjo, and vocals

Matt Slocum – keys

Friday night opened with “Saddle of the Sun.” When the band started to play, it was as though a haze lifted and things felt “normal” for the next three and half hours. As the evening progressed RRE went from one fan favorite to another. “Like a Buddha” started the second set and then they played the “Happy” Song, and the crowd was definitely happy. A few songs later, the Hobos were ready when Todd Sheaffer hit the chorus lines of “Elko,” “I need a card, Hit me Lord, But not too hard“ it seemed like a thousand cards flew from everywhere. As, Joe Rizzo summed up the vibe saying, “‘Grandfather Mountain’ was monumental  and ‘Mission Man’ elevated me way above the green hills of B Chord Brewery”

Saturday night opened with” Lordy Lordy” and the band was jamming. The 9 song first set ended with “Dance Around Molly” into “Dandelion Wine”. Molly wasn’t the only one dancing around, the sold-out crowd was swaying and dancing all night. The second set was a jamfest. Starting with “Black Elk Speaks” When they got to “Crossing the Gap”. The set ended with Neil Young’s  “Comes A Time” only the second time that Railroad Earth has performed it live. The two-song encore started with “The Jupiter and the 119” which was dedicated to Lee Sullivan’s 119th show. The evening finished with “Bringing My Baby  Back Home” The Hobos had such a great night they didn’t want to go home. Fortunately, there was one more show on Sunday afternoon.

The sun was out, the cicadas were singing and flying around, one even got into the act landing on Todd. The afternoon started with “Chasin’ A Rainbow” and built up to “Colorado” and “The Great Divide“; the first set transformed the afternoon at B Chord into a special treat. Ending the second set with “Peace on Earth” we were reminded that “Love can conquer suffering.”

Nobody wanted the show to end, fortunately, RRE  treated us to another two-song encore consisting of “Catfish John” and “RV”.  Unfortunately; it was time for those with RV’s and the rest of us to say goodbye to our friends, pack up and sail away; still elated from the weekend. 

It was a great three days of music (57 songs) and Hobo companionship. As always the sound and lights enhanced the experience. Thanks to everyone associated with Railroad Earth for giving us the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful weekend. A special thanks to Marty Dougherty and the entire B Chord staff, the food trucks, and the vendors. It was a truly magical and memorable weekend.

Throughout the weekend, as we were enjoying the delicious B-Chord beers we were reminded that, if not for COVID-19 we would be in Cumberland celebrating Delfest Memorial Day weekend.  B Chord is hosting DelFest Lite on Memorial Day weekend and has a special available Kolsch with Del on the can. 

Mark your calendars for Delfest, September 23-26 for another opportunity to see Railroad Earth in the area. Until then keep Chasin’ A Rainbow.

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