Athens GA is one of those places in America that always seem to delivery great music – no matter the genre. Another sure bet in Athens is hearing Railroad Earth in the who have struck gold in this small southern college town with their brand of high energy roots-Americana. On a Thursday in late September they were in Athens to play at the legendary Georgia Theatre and as show time drew closer, spirits were high as fans started gathering on the venue’s new roof top bar. Fans could be heard admitting that this night was quite possibly one of the biggest crowds to attend a Railroad Earth show in the Peach State.
Following a short but sweet welcome, Railroad Earth broke into the first set of the evening. The band started with a classic for the loud, spirit filled theatre: "The Forcast", a beautiful instrumental with a gorgeous hook that the crowd was hoping for. After the opener, the band’s next destination was the first of many popular crowd pleasing songs like "The Mighty River" from their second album, Bird in a House which was well received by the sold out crowd. One thing was evident as Railroad Earth was tearing through the first set: the jamming element of their shows was the focal point on this evening. During the nearly 80 minutes of the first set, Railroad Earth treated the crowd to other favorites like "Shockenaw Breakdown", "Daddy – O", "The Old Man and the Land", and "Potter’s Field". After a quick breather the group launched into one of the big highlights of their show here in Athens, the instrumental "1759" which offers a loud musical storm which most fans came to enjoy and segues beautifully into one of Railroad Earth’s live staples "Goat". Todd Sheaffer’s rootsy vocals during “Goat” shifted the band in another gear as they flowed through the bluesy jam. Each band member took turns treating the crowd to solos, including a nice saxophone solo by Andy Goessling.
Following a nice refresher, Railroad Earth hit the stage to begin Set Two with one of the more crowd pleasing songs they have in their arsenal, “Elko,” which always seems to kick things up a notch. The highlight of the second set was “Birds Of America”, another song that features open improvisation, moments to jam freely within the moment. The band went with the flow and continued into the fast-paced new-grass song “Stillwater Getaway” and then a little rock and roll with “Warhead Boogie". As closing time was approaching, the band closed the second set with “Hard Livin,” a fun sing-a-long. After thanking the Athens crowd a few times, Railroad Earth came out for one last crowd-pleasing moment and the popular title track to one of their older albums, "Bird on a wire", which sent everyone out into the Georgia night with smiles on their faces. As these college town folks were leaving, you could hear murmurs, there is nothing like seeing a Railroad Earth show in Athens.