After 20 Years of Playing Oregon, Railroad Earth Returns to Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

After 20 Years of Playing Oregon, Railroad Earth Returns to Bend

The band returns with a new record and a new bassist

Railroad Earth returns to Bend after a year and change. Railroad Earth's upbeat and worldly sounds and interchanging genres — Americana-folk rock, bluegrass with deep Celtic undertones — graces our presence on the Midtown Ballroom stage Jan. 14. Its 2023 lineup — Todd Sheaffer (vocalist/guitarist/songwriter), Tim Carbone (violinist/vocalist), John Skehan (mandolinist), Carey Harmon (drummer/vocalist), Dave Speranza (bassist), Mike Robinson (Guitar/Banjo/Pedal Steel Guitar) and Matt Slocum (Keyboardist) — is looking forward to being back and playing for the people of Bend once again.

After 20 Years of Playing Oregon, Railroad Earth Returns to Bend
Ashley Tishgart
Railroad Earth is now on tour with its newest member, bassist Dave Speranza.

Not only has the band consistently performed with former bassist of the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh, Railroad Earth has sold out Red Rocks Amphitheater and recorded with Warren Haynes, longtime guitarist of the Allman Brothers, and more recenly, Govt. Mule. Its colorful in-person presence on stage (which you can see in live concert videos on YouTube) noticeably moves, shakes and swings virtually everybody in attendance.

In a video interview with Paste Magazine in 2011, lead singer/songwriter Todd Sheaffer stated, "Over the years we've had folks come around from the Dead community that believe in a certain kind of magic that attends the band and their amazing following. We've been touched that those fans tend to like our music and that energy and spirit." When I asked drummer Harmon how the band would describe its sound, he replied, "RRE seems to always be evolving in how we can support the songs that Todd writes. What started as a string band at times now is unrecognizable as such. It's a lot of fun to be a part of."

For the band, each show is a chance to change someone's day.

"I would hope we change someone's experience and state of mind from however they walked in the door — for the better," shared drummer/vocalist Harmon. And for Bend attendees of this upcoming Midtown show, there will be a lot of new stuff this time around. The band welcomes its latest edition to RRE — bassist Speranza, as well as sharing new songs from its new record, "All For The Song" released last year. "We are still working our way through those new songs as they find their place in a live setting," Harmon said.

Touring in Oregon is something of a homecoming on the opposite coast from the band's actual home.

"We love this part of the country and have missed playing for people in Bend and for Oregon in general." The New Jersey-based group has been playing Oregon for over 20 years. The band's first introduction to Bend was the 4 Peaks Festival in 2014, and Harmon told the Source back in 2016 that the band takes its name from the Jack Kerouac prose poem, "October in the Railroad Earth." The band also has a song of the same name.

The band got its big break after performing at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, where Nashville-based Sugar Hill Records offered a record deal on the spot. Prior to recording with Sugar Hill, the band had only recorded one demo and had only rehearsed together for three weeks.

Tickets are available at
Railroad Earth
Sat., Jan. 14. 7pm
Midtown Ballroom
51 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend
General Admission $30

Editor's note: This version has been edited from the print edition. In the print edition, we stated that the band included Andy Goessling, who has since passed away. In addition, per the band's manager, Railroad Earth did not play with Boot Juice. We regret the errors.
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  • Haley Reinhart

    @ The Oxford Hotel

    Fri., Feb. 10, 7-9 a.m. and Sat., Feb. 11, 5-7 & 8-10 p.m.

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