Railroad Earth, Orange Peel, Asheville, NC – 2/3
Photo by Vernon Webb from a few nights later
A raucous crowd greeted Railroad Earth on a Friday night in Asheville. There’s just something about Asheville that makes people feel comfortable and ready to let loose. Railroad Earth was the evening’s choice of entertainment at the Orange Peel and despite a middling first set, they did not disappoint.
The show opened with a high energy and well executed “Head.” This has become a bit of an anthem for this band over the years and a great vehicle for quality improvisation. Friday at the Orange Peel was no different. The jam out of “Head” was lengthy, as has come to be expected, with some great back and forth between John Skehan on mandolin and Tim Carbone on fiddle. After the well received tune, Railroad Earth kept the energy up with a fun “Cold Water”.
At this point of the first set, though, they seemed to lose a bit of momentum. “Old Man and the Land” is a great tune that is always enjoyable and the version at the Orange Peel was solid but it felt out of place at this point of the show. An extreme change in pace came next with “Black Elk Speaks,” when Carbone moved to the electric guitar, Skehan to an electric mandolin, and Andrew Altman performed on an electric bass. “Black Elk Speaks” is a solid tune that has some real potential, but it too felt somewhat disjointed. The set ended with a segue from “The Man Who Invented Sin” into a fun and welcomed “Might River.”
After the first set, you could feel a massive second set looming and the band delivered. The “Bread and Water” opener was quick, but definitely achieved the goal of bringing the energy in the Orange Peel back. “Colorado” is always a crowd favorite and can save a set on a given night. This version was well played and well received. “Seven Story Mountain” followed, a longtime presence in the Railroad Earth catalogue and they played it that way, stretching it out and giving this tune room to develop.
A mid-set “Daddy-O” was fun and set the stage for the crowd pleasing “The Forecast”. This tune has become a real treat since they introduced it on their album, Amen Corner. “The Forecast” led into a great rendition of “Black Bear.” “Black Bear” is a slower, ballad of a tune but it really worked well here and Todd Sheaffer’s vocals were spot on. “Black Bear” provided the perfect warm up to the high point of the evening, a late second set sequence that began with “The Jupiter and the 119,“ a high-octane tune off Railroad Earth’s new self-titled album. The energy in the room was through the roof at this point as the tune was played to perfection. “The Jupiter and the 119” led into a wonderfully fun “Cuckoo’s Medley” with lots of solid improvisation and jamming among the whole band during “Cuckoo’s” that really showed the versatility of this band.
A sold encore of “Goat” and “Railroad Earth” sent the masses heading happily to the doors and onto the downtown streets of Asheville. If the energy inside the Orange Peel was any indication, one would feel confident saying much of the crowd didn’t go straight home. Surely Railroad Earth sensed they had a lively crowd on a Friday night and they fed off the energy and delivered a solid show.