Friday, April 16; Stella Blue (21 and over, 9 p.m.): When you think of bluegrass, your mind is drawn across the turnpike into the Delaware River Valley in the heart of New Jersey. OK, so New Jersey's among the last places in America you'd look if you were seeking the best newgrass jam band in the country, but it turns out that the Garden State is the birthplace of that very band: Railroad Earth. The sextet features some of the finest bluegass musicians working today, evidenced by recent invitations to play at some of the most prestigious bluegrass festivals in the world—Telluride and Grey Fox.
Listening to their debut for Sugar Hill, Bird in a House, it's easy to understand why Railroad Earth found themselves on the fast track to hugedom just three years after meeting at an informal jam party at multi-instrumental vocalist Andy Goessling's rural New Jersey home. Three weeks after they first jammed, the band made a quick demo, and the rest is history.
Working within the traditional strin band idiom, Railroad Earth add infectious energy and influences that run the gamut of Americana. Their playing is tight and precise, but even on record, there's an overwhelming sense of playfulness and live energy. Get ready to dance, kids!