On Sunday, October 18, Flying Cat Music brings Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys to Phoenicia to perform at the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street. The doors open at 7:00 p.m. with the show beginning promptly at 7:30. Admission is $17 or $15 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453.
A longtime favorite in the Albany area where it is based, this band is fast moving past being thought of as a regional act. Or as Sarah Craig at Caffe Lena puts it, “Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys are doing the Capital Region bluegrass scene mighty proud. They’ve gone from local hero status to national bluegrass band on the rise.” You don’t have to look hard to find ample evidence of that.
In 2013, Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys were invited to perform at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual Bluegrass Ramble in Raleigh, NC. The band has now been featured twice on Music City Roots, Live From The Factory, a weekly, two-hour radio show that revives the legacy of live musical radio production in Nashville, TN. When Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys performed on WAMU’s Bluegrass Country with host Katy Daley in Washington, DC, (arguably the most sought after bluegrass radio show in the U.S.) the NPR station’s producers chose that performance for rebroadcast on the popular show Editor’s Picks. In the words of Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival producer Mary Tyler Doub, “These guys are the real deal.”
Like the whistle of a steam locomotive, the music that Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys make seems vibrant and classic, deeply familiar yet elusive to find live. There aren’t many out there who can still lay down tracks like these. The songs are contemporary but their sound has been a long time in the making. Songwriter Jim Gaudet formed the band in 2006 but individually their roots go much further back. Gaudet’s journey began as a flat picker, not a singer, playing mandolin and guitar. He has a lifetime of songwriting and stage work behind him now with a long resumé of bands. With the help of the Railroad Boys, he is anchoring his deft wordplay and savvy song-craft in the classic roots music that thrilled him as a young man.
Performing with the Railroad Boys for this show will be original members Jim Gaudet on lead vocal and guitar, Bobby Ristau on harmony vocals and bass, and Sten Isachsen on harmony vocals and mandolin. They will be joined by special guest Sara Milonovich on harmony vocals and fiddle. Sara plays with the group frequently and is featured at their website alongside the regular Railroad Boys.
Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys is not a standard bluegrass band, though the group has been widely embraced by the bluegrass community. Jim describes the difficulty of pinning themselves to a label “…we don’t have a banjo so we’re not straight ahead bluegrass, we don’t have any drums so we’re not country, we’re a little too up-tempo and aggressive to be labeled as folk so we really don’t know where we fit in, so our home-made description is “Original, Acoustic, Americana Roots.”
In 2008, not long after the bands formation, the Otis Mountain Music Festival Internet Review wrote of them, “Gaudet and the RR Boys can best be characterized as a folk/country fusion group performing Gaudet’s well-crafted songs, filled with humor and insight. The music is entertaining and thought provoking.” Bluegrass Nation calls them, “a dynamic blend of traditional mountain music fused with Gaudet’s diverse contemporary songwriting.” While the Albany Times – Union notes, “Jim Gaudet has a knack for crafting a mighty memorable melody… The kind that will get you singing along even on first listen.”
Mary Tyler Doub, one of the leading movers and shakers in the world of bluegrass music, has said: “What spoke to me first were Jim’s songs and his voice. He didn’t sound like other singers and I like that uniqueness very much. His lyrics and melodies struck me as fresh and powerful. I wanted those songs and that energy and that sound at Grey Fox.” Jim’s voice is iconic (It’s been described as “like warm syrup on charcoal”) and perfectly suited to the material he writes. “Finely crafted, deceptively simple musical stories,” as Albany Times-Union music critic Greg Haymes describes it.
If you like your good times with a dash of depth look no further than Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys.