Review by Pete Mecozzi
Most people call it Tucson, AZ… but for locals, we simply call it The Old Pueblo. And when one thinks of Tucson, I would dare say most think of the mighty Saguaro cactus, beautiful sunsets, desert mountains and the old west. On this mild winter evening, Railroad Earth would bring their style of Americana, Bluegrass and Jam-style Rock ‘n’ Roll to The Rialto Theater for a night of magic and healing, particularly the healing… but more about that later.
Set One. Don’t let the fact that it was a Sunday night fool you for one moment. Railroad Earth took the stage and began the night with an upbeat and fun “Cold Water”, which immediately brought the crowd to their feet. The energy was palpable from the very beginning and with everyone singing “There ain’t nothing sweeter than riding on the rail!”, you knew this was only a taste of what was to follow. With each note, the crowd slowly pressed closer and closer to the edge of the stage. Bodies swayed and grooved to the music. Seemingly every face had a smile beaming on it from ear to ear. While I can only speak for myself, I’m positive that others felt the same, in that, there was magic and healing taking place in the theater on this night. You see, Tucson has seen a lot of turmoil in the last few weeks. So much negative energy, so much hate… but that veil needed to be lifted. Somehow, we all had to find some love, light and laughter. With the crowd’s energy and the music of Railroad Earth, one could not help but feel the pain fall away, if but for a few short hours.
Other Set One highlights, which I found to be very appropriate for the evening, were “Storms”, “The Forecast” and “For Love”. All of these songs possess such inspiring words that, if I may confess, made my eyes well up with tears. It has been a few rough weeks for Tucson, with the horrific assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Whether the men on stage knew it or not, what they were providing us fans was worth more than anything you could imagine. Naturally, the music was tight, intense and meaningful. Each song delivered a knock out punch, one right after another. As soon as one song ended, the boys sent another lightning bolt down upon our heads. The result of which was continuous dancing and more smiles upon smiles.
Set Two. The boys kicked off with “Peace On Earth” and again, whether they knew it or not, they delivered a song jam-packed with meaningful lyrics for a city in mourning. At times, you could literally feel the floor and the building shaking from the music. “Right In Tune”, “Saddle Of The Sun” and “RV” were among the other Set Two highlights. With bodies still moving along to the music, who could stop at a time like this? No one! And just when you thought the energy peaked… the band and the crowd climbed higher and higher, crescendo after crescendo… taking us all to a place only found in dreams!
For the encore, Railroad Earth played “Walk Beside Me”, which happens to be a personal favorite of mine. It capped off a night of splendor and intensity. I’ve seen Railroad Earth perform in the past, but seeing them in my backyard, in Tucson, was a real treat indeed. However, the REAL treat came after the show when Tim Carbone gave me a minute of his time as he walked through the small crowd that remained behind, with a glass of red wine in his hand. I personally thanked him for coming to Tucson and further explained to him that Tucson needed this healing music and energy. He knew what I meant, and replied that he lost close and personal friends in New York City on 9/11. I could see the look in his eyes. We connected… for that brief moment in time. Nonetheless, that moment in time will be one that I will never forget. The boys brought their music and their passion to The Old Pueblo and it did more for us than they might ever know. Then again, I’m sure they do understand. Tears once again well up in my eyes as I type these words. What can I say?
Special thanks to Lara Keithley for reminding me about “Now-ness”, which is simply another way of saying “stay in the moment” and enjoy everything around you. I would also be remiss if I didn’t give one more shout out to Tim Carbone for taking the time to speak with me. For just another Hobo and fan of Railroad Earth, the night began and ended on a very, very special note. I was touched in a very deep and meaningful way and their music will touch your soul too, if you simply open up and give it a chance.