A Wealth Of Talent Celebrates A Cultural Phenomenon On ‘Americana Railroad’

[Cover photo credit to Markus Cuff]

Americana Railroad producers Carla Olson and Saul Davis considered the idea of a new album of traditional and contemporary railroad songs for years before setting out in search of contributors. Stephen McCarthy (Dream Syndicate, Jayhawks, Long Ryders) and Robert Rex Waller Jr (I See Hawks In L.A.), John York (Byrds), Dave Alvin, Rocky Burnette, Gary Myrick, and James Intveld were among the first to join the project which spans Rock’n’roll, Rockabilly, and Americana. The goal was simple: “Railroad songs performed by great expressive artists”.

Prior to Americana Railroad’s June 17, 2022 CD and digital release, it was issued as a limited edition vinyl piece for Record Store Day in November 2021.

Since the overwhelming number of train songs requires hard choices, this anthology’s selections attempt to cover significant historical ground. Americana Railroad is thus meant to entertain and educate, albeit subtly.

Producer/performer Carla Olson observes:

Growing up in Austin, Texas during the 1950s the fascination with trains was the stuff childhood dreams were made of. Walking home from school the temptation to put your ear to the track to hear if the train was close was a daily routine. We lived five blocks from the railway and heard the whistle of the trains well into the night. For some the call was a way to escape small town blues, for others thoughts of exotic destinations lured many to hop a freight and disappear over the horizon. The Americana Railroad album is a collection of both history and metaphor for your listening and thought provoking pleasure.

Here’s a full track listing for the collection, with songwriter credit notated in parenthesis, and performers and special guests:

Here Comes That Train Again ~ (Stephen McCarthy)

 Stephen McCarthy & Carla Olson

The Conductor Wore Black ~ (Chip Kinman, Tony Kinman)

 Robert Rex Waller Jr with Chip Kinman on guitar

Mystery Train ~ (Herman Parker, Sam C. Philips) ~

 Rocky Burnette with Barry Goldberg on piano

This Train ~ (traditional, arranged by Sister Rosetta Tharpe)

 Peter Case

City Of New Orleans ~ (Steve Goodman) ~

 John Fogerty with Mickey Raphael on harmonica

Marrakesh Express ~ (Graham Nash)

 Dustbowl Revival

Train Leaves Here This Morning ~ (Gene Clark, Bernie Leadon)

 Kai Clark with Byron Berline on fiddle

Train Kept A-Rollin’ ~ (Tiny Bradshaw, Howie Kay,

  Sydney Nathan)

 Gary Myrick

Southwest Chief ~ (Dave Alvin)

 Dave Alvin

500 Miles ~ (Hedy West)

 Alice Howe

People Get Ready ~ (Curtis Mayfield)

 Deborah Poppink

Steel Pony Blues ~ (Dom Flemons)

 Dom Flemons

Runaway Train ~ (John Stewart)

 John York

Waiting For A Train ~ (Jimmie Rodgers)

 Paul Burch & Fats Kaplin

Freight Train ~ (Elizabeth Cotton)

 AJ Haynes of Seratones

Whiskey Train ~ (Keith Reid, Robin Trower)

 Carla Olson & Brian Ray

Mystery Train ~ (Herman Parker, Sam C. Phillips)

 James Intveld with Barry Goldberg on Hammond B3 organ

Midnight Rail ~ (Steve Young)

 Robert Rex Waller Jr with Todd Wolfe on guitars

I Remember The Railroad ~ (Gene Clark)

 Stephen McCarthy & Carla Olson

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