Always a band seems to summon the natural forces of the world like no other, Railroad Earth worked some magic once again on Saturday night at Red Rocks. With the help of their good friends in Fruition, Railroad wove together two beautiful sets comprised almost entirely of from the band’s early, classic songs.

Fruition kicked off the evening to blue skies and sunshine (an uncommon event for August at Red Rocks, as noted by guitarist Jay Cobb), playing a full set of largely new material; the band released Watching It All Fall Apart in early 2018, and also released a new EP, Fire, on August 17th. Straying mostly towards heavy rock with bluegrass instrumentation, the group played impeccably yet ferociously and even welcomed out fiddler Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth for their final tune.

As a light, hardly threatening cloud cover rolled off the foothills and over the amphitheater, Railroad Earth took the stage with a rare bust-out of “Raindance,” led by the pounding drums of Carey Harmon. Seemingly referencing the storms earlier in Denver that afternoon, they followed that up with the 2006 song off of Bird in a House, “Mighty River.” The heavy bassline from Andrew Altman got the crowd moving on the fan-favorite. It should also be noted here that in the unfortunate absence of deca-instrumentalist Andy Goessling, the band was joined by Erik Yates on banjo, dobro, and flute, as well as Jeremy Lawton on keyboards, pedal, and lap steel.


[Video: Kyle Isaac]

Wasting little time before the next tune, a lengthy, wonderfully meandering intro eventually dropped into “Grandfather Mountain”, which was quickly followed by another fast, definitive Railroad song, “Cold Water” off of 2002’s The Black Bear Sessions. And just like that, a subtle theme seemed to be emerging: three of the first four songs were about water. “The Old Man and the Land” and a sprawling take on “Head,” another song from The Black Bear Sessions came next. As if it was destiny, the band closed the set with yet another water song, the heart-wrenching, quasi-lovesong, “Storms” off of the 2004 album The Good Life.


 [Video: Kyle Isaac]

And, sure enough, just a few minutes into the set break, the skies opened up to a torrential downpour, claps of thunder and blinding lightning. Fans sheltered under the trees and in the museum down below as an archetypal Colorado storm rolled in and out in a matter of minutes. The band and the majority of the fans weathered the storm and returned to the stage for yet another set of definitive songs. Fittingly, the band opened the second set with “Bird in a House,” its refrain of “just another bird in a house, dying to get out” echoing the weather delay in everyone’s minds. A blistering take on “Elko” followed, with the devoted Hobos throwing playing cards as always to the self-indulgent chorus line of “I need a card, I need a card, hit me!” As the group chugged along, things were in full swing.

“Bird In A House” > “Elko”

[Video: Kyle Isaac]

The band played a rollicking “Dandelion Wine,” before slowing things down just a tad with “Potter’s Field” from 2010’s self-titled album, Railroad Earth. Nevertheless, the typically calm song turned to a ferocious beast as mandolinist John Skehan and guitarist Todd Sheaffer led the band into a huge jam. Another 2010 song, “Lone Croft Farewell,” followed, making the pair the two newest songs of the night. But then, almost naturally, the opening mandolin and flute licks of “Like A Buddha” fluttered over the crowd, and the band was off once again! They stretched out, absolutely nailing each and every composed section and jam, eventually bringing it all back home and taking a well-deserved bow.

The group returned the stage for a three-song encore, starting off with “Lovin’ You” from 2008’s Amen Corner. Railroad then welcomed out some of Fruition, multi-instrumentalist Mimi Naja, Jay Cobb, and keyboardist Kellen Asebroek, for their own song, “Mountain Annie”. Just as they did as the “backing band” for Warren Haynes, Railroad brought new life to the song with their own distinct musicality. Finally, the band welcomed out Megan Letts of Denver-based band Mama Magnolia for an incredible tribute to the recently passed, the late and great Aretha Franklin, with “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” With Mimi taking lead vocals, the band laid down a funky, fiery take on the classic song, capping off a truly mystical night at Red Rocks.

“You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”

[Video: Kyle Isaac]

Railroad Earth continues their tour next week in New Hampshire and Fruition resumes their tour next month in California. Full tour schedules and more information can be found at and You can also check out a gallery from Saturday night’s Red Rocks show, courtesy of Chris Klein, and a gallery from their Friday night show at the Boulder Theater, courtesy of Elliot Siff, below.

Setlist: Railroad Earth | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 8/18/2018

Set 1: Love Song For Earth*, Raindance, Mighty River, Grandfather Mountain, Cold Water, Old Man and The Land, Head, Storms

Set 2: Bird in a House, Elko, Dandelion Wine, Potter’s Field, Lone Croft Farewell, Like a Buddha

Encore: Lovin’ You, Mountain Annie#, You Make Me Feel%

Notes: * – Robert White Mountain of Standing Rock Reservation w/ Carey Harmon on drums | # – Fruition song with Mimi Naja, Jay Cobb, and Kellen Asebroek | % – Aretha Franklin cover with Mimi Naja, Jay Cobb, Kellen Asebroek, and Megan Letts of Mama Magnolia