Railroad Revival Tour: A Duo Review

On Saturday, April 23, Old Crow Medicine Show, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Mumford and Sons took over a dirt field in Tempe for a night of bluegrass, folk, and bonding. The Railroad Revival Tour has taken these three bands to six southern towns to liven up the area with good old tunes. The State Press writers Lauren Jordan and Trevor Paxton discussed the night, performances and the future of music following the event.

Lauren Jordan: I know it's such an easy route to take beginning your set with track no. 1, but those opening chords of “Sigh No More” just tug at my heart strings. It’s a beautiful way to begin a set.

Trevor Paxton: Prior to the show, I was hoping they'd start with that song. It was the perfect entry to the set.

LJ: They did the same at Coachella, and it had the exact same effect.

TP: Comparing the Railroad Revival set to the set at Coachella, was there much difference in the set list?

LJ: I don't think so. They kept the same format for the most part. Even the new songs were premiered there, which I loved. Having listened to the album many times through, new songs are welcomed. Did you notice how much more love struck they were? You can definitely feel the theme for a new album.

TP: It was amazing. The new songs both had the word "love" in the title. What impressed me the most was Marcus Mumford's versatility. When he stepped back to the drum set for "Lover of the Light," I was blown away at how much of a group effort the band really is. You can definitely tell the band is going in the right direction.

LJ: People argued how plain and repetitive they were as the album debuted, but they have proven that they can grow together. That shows in their performance. I love when artists smile ear to ear for an entire set.

TP: It makes the audience feel like it's a more personal performance. The band knows that everyone is excited to see them, but it's when the band is excited to see the audience that a show becomes a lasting memory. It was seen in all the bands, too. You could tell all the artists enjoyed being on the tour, simply by the amount of guest artists that took the stage. It was like a big family event, just set to music that everyone happens to love.

LJ: Seeing them jump into each others' sets was great. What a sense of camaraderie. They all share this great chemistry as artists. That showed their versatility, too. All three bands were similar genre, but Mumford jumping into Old Crow Medicine Show's set really showed his bluegrass talents. They must have the greatest time on that train. TP: Mumford has long cited Old Crow Medicine Show as a big influence. When I saw that Old Crow Medicine Show was going to be on the tour, I knew it was going to be a fun atmosphere.

LJ: Whoever came up with that touring concept was brilliant. I wish they could stop in more areas, but regardless, that is such a novel idea of touring. Or vintage. It makes me think of classic country, bluegrass, and "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?"

TP: It was one of the most refreshing concerts I've been to in a long while. The entire premise for the show set it up for being a memorable event. LJ: The tickets, too! A free download of a live recording? I wish I hadn't printed mine off the internet now.

TP: I don't know if the success of this tour will inspire more artists to do a similar thing, but the inventiveness of the entire event is something live music has been missing for quite some time.

LJ: I really think that the future of good music lies in folk and bluegrass. I rarely ever see passion matched to a good old country boy throwing down on his banjo. I hope that other artists can really appreciate the beauty in good live music. No gimmicks needed.

TP: Agreed. That's not to say that other shows aren't just as fun, but you're right - the passion and musicianship of folk music definitely keeps the beauty of music alive.

LJ: For instance, how about that performance of "Home"? Alexander and Jade of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is beautiful. There are few bands that can pump up an audience by just singing to each other and their child. I think the work of folk is so multi-faceted. The good tunes to keep an audience moving while maintaining eloquent, meaningful lyrics. That's not at all to say that other genres can produce that, but no other genre could pull off a month on Amtrak touring to college towns.

TP: Absolutely not. Which is a sign of hope for the music industry. With the type of music dominating the Top 40 and radio stations across the nation, the fact that three folk and bluegrass bands can get on a train and have the effect that they have is extremely inspiring.

LJ: And sell out!

TP: Exactly. It provides hope for music lovers and musicians alike. It shows that while the auto-tuned superstars may get the recognition, there is still a huge market for the bands that do things on their own accord.

LJ: Lady Gaga's tickets took longer to sell out than Coachella and this. And I love Lady Gaga.

TP: Who doesn't? It's just a different mindset. Like you said before, it's the passion of that country boy getting down with his banjo that the audience connects to.

LJ: But overall, I really appreciated the atmosphere of good people, good music, and good connections. You can't beat that feeling at a show.

TP: It was a concert I'll never forget. Not because of the novelty of the bands touring by train, but because of the simple joy the bands had playing for their fans.

Reach the reporters at tpaxton@asu.edu and lkjorda1@asu.edu


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