Roots on the Rails Roots on the Rails

About the Trips: A Chronology

2003
FREDTRAIN
March 10-15, 2003, Toronto-Vancouver:
Fred Eaglesmith, Bobby Watt, Serena Ryder, Jimmy Ryan, Roger Marin, Willie P Bennett, Ian Tamblyn, Washboard Hank, D. Rangers, Carolyn Mark, Greg Hobbs.
Crew: Gary, Ramcey, Sarah, Charlie

Our first trip, in which we tried to make a dining car a Performance Car with decidedly mixed results.

2004
TOMTRAIN
April 1-5, 2004, Vancouver-Toronto:
Tom Russell, Andrew Hardin, Hot Club of Cow Town, Fats Kaplin, Kristi Rose.
Crew: Gary, Ramcey, Patrick, Sarah, Charlie

In which a film crew was aboard to catch a trip grounded in the Heart of Darkness. Our first trip with #1750, the Canadian Performance Car!

FREDTRAIN 2
April 6-10, 2004, Toronto-Vancouver:
Fred Eaglesmith, Corb Lund Band, Nathan, Bobby Watt, Roger Marin, Willie P Bennett, Ian Tamblyn, Washboard Hank, David Olney, D. Rangers, Linda McRae.
Crew: Gary, Ramcey, Ezra, Sarah, Charlie

In which red bandannas were earned by most of those aboard.

2005
COWBOY TRAIN
March 20-24, 2005, Vancouver-Toronto:
Tom Russell, Andrew Hardin, Wylie & the Wild West, Paul Zarzyski, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Don Edwards.
Crew: Gary, Ramcey, Patrick, SO, CWH

As extensively reported in THE GUARDIAN, and which trip produced the classic "Cold Cowboy" poster, now tattooed on Patrick's arm!

SONGWRITER TRAIN
March 25-29, 2005, Toronto-Vancouver:
Tom Russell, Nanci Griffith, Gretchen Peters, Andrew Hardin, Mary Gauthier.
Crew: Gary, Patrick, Ramcey, SO, CWH

In which we almost lost one of our performers in Winnipeg, but didn't. Trip reported in READERS DIGEST (CN).

2006
TARAHUMARA TRAIN
March 2-9, 2006, Tucson-Copper Canyon, Mexico:
Tom Russell, Peter Rowan, Steve Young, Eliza Gilkyson.
Crew: Gary, Patrick, Thomasena, SO, CWH

Losing air conditioning in the Sonoran Desert builds character. Folklorico dancers, anyone?

ROCKET THROUGH THE ROCKIES
March 31-April 6, 2006: Vancouver-Prince Rupert, BC-Vancouver: Fred Eaglesmith, Hayes Carll, Romi Mayes, Washboard Hank, Willie P Bennett, Lance Loree, Raghu Lochanathan.
Crew: Gary, Patrick, Brian Brown, Elsabe, SO, CWH

The ferry may have sunk, but our spirits were resilient. Hayes Carll was asleep.

COWBOY TRAIN
Nov 4-8, 2006, Vancouver-Toronto:
Tom Russell, Michael Martin, Wylie and the Wild West, Rosalie Sorrels, Sourdough Slim, Stephanie Davis.
Crew: Gary, Patrick, Brian Brown, Elsabe, SO, CWH

A wonderful, smooth-running trip in which everybody behaved.

COWBOY JUNKIES TRAIN
Nov 10-14, 2006, Toronto-Vancouver:
Cowboy Junkies, Skydiggers, Fred Eaglesmith, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Over the Rhine.
Crew: Gary, Patrick, Brian Brown, Elsabe, SO, CWH

A wonderful, smooth-running trip which devolved into "Talk Like A Pirate" day.

2007
TARAHUMARA TRAIN
Sep 13-20, 2007, Copper Canyon, Mexico:
Tom Russell, Dave Alvin, Michael Martin, Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum, Butch Hancock and Terry Allen.
Crew: Gary, Patrick, SO, CWH

In which the train owner jumped the border with a cowboy HVAC technician and a compressor in order to prevent us from building even more character. We almost lose a patron in the railyards of Benjamin Hill. We DO lose a bus at the border. Some find Montezuma.

FIDDLE TRAIN
Nov 3-7, 2007, Vancouver to Toronto:
Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas and Genticorum.
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, Michael, SO, CWH

In which the music never stopped in 2,000 miles.

COWBOY TRAIN
Nov 9-13, 2007, Toronto to Vancouver:
Ian Tyson, Tom Russell, Michael Martin and Ramblin' Jack Elliott.
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, Michael, SO, CWH

In which Jim Bone delivers Ramblin' Jack to us midway across the continent.

ROOTS ON THE NARROW GAUGE
Sep 28-Oct 5, 2007, New Mexico-Colorado:
Fred Eaglesmith, Eilen Jewell, Washboard Hank.
Crew: Elsabe, Gary, Patrick, Bob & Bonnie, SO, CWH, Doug Eagle

Our first trip to the Silver San Juans, thanks to Bob & Bonnie Michel! Washboard Hank is mistaken for part of the scenery by a Japanese Film Crew.

2008
ROOTS ON THE NARROW GAUGE
Sep 26-Oct 3, 2008, New Mexico-Colorado:
Fred Eaglesmith, Po' Girl, Corb Lund, Washboard Hank
Crew: Elsabe, Gary, Bob & Bonnie, SO, CWH, Doug Eagle

In which we almost lose Po'Girl over the guardrail-optional mountain pass, and Kori in one of the hot springs. Doug Eagle the soundman gets a new truck!

COWBOY TRAIN
Oct 27-Nov 1, 2008, Vancouver-Winnipeg:
Tom Russell, Michael Martin, Eliza Gilkyson, Nina Gerber, Ian Tyson
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, Michael Poole, SO, CWH

For the first time, we experience the prowess of Gary, our Actual Locomotive Engineer, as he pilots our train out of Vancouver with nary a jerk nor dropped coupler, before rejoining our ranks as open-mic co-host.

POLAR BEAR TRAIN
Nov. 2-9, 2008, Winnipeg-Churchill, MB-Winnipeg:
Fred Eaglesmith, Jon Dee Graham, Gurf Morlix, Audrey Auld, Andrew Hardin, Washboard Hank and Lance Loree
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, Michael Poole, SO, CWH

Toilets? Who needs toilets? We saw POLAR BEARS! Our unforgettable trip to the Land of Little Sticks.

SONGWRITER TRAIN
Nov. 10-14, 2008, Toronto to Vancouver:
Tom Russell, Michael Martin The Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock)
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, Michael Poole, SO, CWH

Aside from nearly losing all our merchandise in Jasper, the plumbers trying to re-plumb the 1750 and the Skyline running dry in Capreol, everything went smoothly.

2009
ROOTS ON THE NARROW GAUGE
Sep 18-25, 2009, New Mexico-Colorado:
Tom Russell, Thad Beckman, Wylie Gustafson, Paul Zarzyski, Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh, Sourdough Slim
Crew: Elsabe, Gary, Bob & Bonnie, SO, CWH, Doug Eagle

In which Gretchen Peters personifies "The show must go on!" by performing to a packed house in Durango with a 103 degree fever. And when the narrow gauge engine conks out, Roots on the Railers come through by entertaining the crowd for several hours in the Osier mess hall.

KACHINA EXPRESS
Sep 26-30, 2009, Los Angeles-Albuquerque-Grand Canyon-LA:
Dave Alvin, The Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock)
Crew: Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

Our first trip with LA Rail! Taco Tuesday in Flagstaff causes a traumatic flashback for Mr. Alvin.

MYSTERY TRAIN
Nov. 14-18, 2009, Los Angeles-Albuquerque-Grand Canyon-LA:
Stan Ridgway Trio, Jill Sobule, The Handsome Family
Crew: Annie, Michael, SO, CWH

Only Mr. Ridgway knows the answers to two of life's mysteries: what happened to the champagne for the final morning's mimosas, and what's inside that electrical cabinet?

2010
KINGS OF CALIFORNIA
April 4-9, 2010, Los Angeles-Portland, OR-LA:
Tom Russell, Thad Beckman, Dave Alvin, Steve Young
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

Earthquake! Also, our first trip with the Silver Splendor. And thus Overland Trail becomes our new performance car.

ATLANTIC ADVENTURE
Sep 13-18, 2010, Halifax, NS-St. John's, Newfoundland
Fred Eaglesmith, Washboard Hank and Lance Loree, Kathleen Edwards, Jim Bryson
Crew: Dan, Gary, SO, CWH

We may be in the wrong bay, and there may be no cobblestone streets, we may have been hosed by the people we sub-chartered from and everyone may be a tad greenish around the gills, but we're on a boat! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iUjx4_X1qA

ROOTS ON THE NARROW GAUGE
Sep 24-Oct 1, 2010, New Mexico-Colorado:
Tom Russell, Thad Beckman, The Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock), Paul Zarzyski
Crew: Elsabe, Gary, Patrick, Bob & Bonnie, SO, CWH

In which we travel from Antonito to Cumbres, due to a trestle fire at Lobato and Jimmie Dale Gilmore poses the ultimate question, "What would happen if we all remembered everything we have ever forgotten.....all at the same time"?

OVER THE RHINE ACROSS THE WEST
Nov. 5-10, 2010, Los Angeles-Santa Fe-Grand Canyon-LA:
Over The Rhine, Swan Dive, Lucy Wainright-Roche, Michael Wilson (guest lecturer on photography)
Crew: Lynn Neal, SO, CWH

Our first trip with Naturalist Lynn Neal, Karin's high school friend from Ohio and no mean Leprechaun dancer.

2011
MASTERS OF AMERICAN SONG
Jan. 14-18, 2011, Los Angeles-Oakland-LA:
Tom Russell, Thad Beckman, Jimmy Webb, Jesse Winchester
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

Yes, the lounge car on the Amtrak train is actually on fire. Sorry about that.

KINGS OF CALIFORNIA
April 3-8, 2011, Los Angeles-Portland, OR-LA:
Dave Alvin, Rick Shea, Peter Case, Chris Smither, Laurie Lewis, Nina Gerber
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

In which Dave Alvin is retroactively pardoned by the Mayor of Davis, CA for unspeakable acts committed many decades ago while with the Blasters.

ROOTS ON THE NARROW GAUGE
Sep 22-29, 2011, New Mexico-Colorado:
Over The Rhine, Mary Gauthier, Richard Shindell, Michael Wilson (guest lecturer on photography)
Crew: Lynn, Gary, Bob & Bonnie, SO, CWH

"Black Eyed Susans Looking Back" - we witness the first collaborative songwriting effort by Roots on the Rails performers.

2012
PORTLAND ROSE
April 13-19, 2012, Los Angeles-Portland, OR-LA:
Tom Russell, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Jon Langford, Thad Beckman
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

Great music, great scenery, great food, great company.

TIN CAN CARAVAN
Sept 13-30, 2012, Route 66 from Chicago to LA.
Fred Eaglesmith's Travelling Steam Show, Tif Ginn, Bill Poss, Robbie Fulks, Jon Langford, Audrey Auld, Jon Dee Graham, Mary Gauthier, Roger Marin & Gordie Tentrees.
Crew: Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

In which "Inside The Whale" is sung inside a whale, Gojira joins our ranks in Grants, NM, and we discover the simple joys of a bus wash from inside the Death Star.

2013
CITY OF NEW ORLEANS - I
August 9-12, 2013, Chicago-New Orleans-Chicago
Jon Dee Graham, Hardin Burns (Andrew Hardin, Jeannie Burns)
Crew: SO, CWH, Dan

We rock and roll up and down the Main Line of Mid-America. And Mr. Graham is inspired to write "Ghost on a Train."

OVER THE RHINE TO THE LAST FRONTIER
September 2-7, 2013, Anchorage-Kenai Peninsula-Anchorage, AK
Over The Rhine, Lucy Wainright-Roche, Michael Wilson (guest photographer)
Crew: Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

Linford experiences a recap of years in the music business on our way to see glaciers calve, and Sarah sees many puffins.

COWBOY JUNKIES: DENALI
September 6-11, 2013, Anchorage-Denali Park-Anchorage, AK
Cowboy Junkies, others TBA
Crew: Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

We head into the wild to see moose, bear, sheep and North America's highest peak and meet the other Charlie.

KINGS OF CALIFORNIA III
October 20-26, 2013, Los Angeles-Seattle--LA:
Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Chris Smither, Rick Shea
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH

Stuck inside the performance car with the Paso Robles blues again.

CITY OF NEW ORLEANS - II
December 6-9, 2013, Chicago-New Orleans-Chicago
Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock
Crew: SO, CWH, Dan, Elsabe, Kate Richardson

The cajuns say the last time that this happened they weren't here / Now Beaumont's full of penguins and I'm playing it by ear. - Townes Van Zandt

2014
WEST OF THE WEST GRAND CIRCLE
April 11-21, 2014, Los Angeles-Albuquerque-Chicago-Glacier Park-Portland-LA:
Dave Alvin, Rick Shea, Phil Alvin, Terry Allen, Jo Harvey Allen, Jon Langford, David Olney, Christy McWilson, Eilen Jewell
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Gary, SO, CWH, Michael Lawson

It was snowing on Raton. We do well with trains. With buses, not so much.

CITY OF NEW ORLEANS 2014
July 24-28, 2014, Chicago-New Orleans-Chicago:
Chris Smither and Peter Mulvey
Crew: Dan, Gary, Michael, SO, CWH

Mr. Smither introduces us to the land of his people. And we meet Mr. Bobblehead.

TRANSCONTINENTAL LIMITED 2014
August 20-28, 2014, New York to Los Angeles via Chicago, Glacier Park and Portland: Fred Eaglesmith, Sean Rowe, John Fullbright, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Gretchen Peters, Barry Walsh, Sam Baker, Anthony DaCosta and Rick Shea.
Crew: Dan, Michael, Sarah, Charlie. Phil Hunt pitch-hits for Elsabe.

We examine our relationship with the concept of "lateness." And Sarah conjures a phantom bus.

THE GURFDAY PARTY 2014
October 31-November 4 at La Posada, Winslow, AZ with Gurf Morlix, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Slaid Cleaves, Syd Straw, Grant Peeples and BettySoo.
Crew: Michael, Patrick, Charlie, Lynn Neal/Susanna Holm. Sound by Mike Seitz.

Four days at La Posada with amazing music every night in the ballroom. What's not to love?

2015
WEST OF THE WEST GRAND CIRCLE
April 17-27, 2015, Los Angeles-San Antonio-Chicago-Denver-Bay Area-LA:
Dave Alvin, Rick Shea, Phil Alvin, Peter Case, Jon Dee Graham, Jon Langford, David Olney, Christy McWilson, with guest appearances by Thad Beckman, Michael Martin, BettySoo and Andy Hardin.
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Michael, SO, CWH

A day in Austin. A day in Denver. We lose Wynelle in Texarkana. And we arrive back in LA ....early. Perish the thought.

THE WAINWRIGHT FAMILY VACATION
August 29-September 3, 2015, Anchorage-Homer-Seward-Anchorage:
Lucy Wainwright-Roche, Suzzy Roche, Sloan Wainwright, Loudon Wainwright III and Rufus Wainwright
Crew: Michael, SO, CWH, Lynn and Suzanna

"Meet the Wainwrights" ear-worms its way into our skulls. And the President decides to visit Seward the same day as us. Thanks, Obama.

MEET ME AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD: DENALI
September 3-8, 2015, Anchorage-Talkeetna-Kantishna/Denali-Anchorage:
Over the Rhine, Richard Shindell, Mary Gauthier

Crew: Michael, SO, CWH, Lynn and Suzanna

Indeed. That is a bear. And, indeed, that is Denali - in 100% of its glory.

THE GREEN MOUNTAIN EXPRESS
November 6-8, 2015, Bellows Falls-Rutland-Bellows Falls, VT:
Jimmie Dale & Colin Gilmore, Meadows Bros., Winterpills, Syd Straw
Crew: SO, CWH, Sandy & Kathy, Richard Ewald

We learn about Phineas Gage as Carol Burnette roams the aisles.

2016
DAVE ALVIN'S WEST OF THE WEST
August 19-27, Los Angeles-Seattle-Spokane-Whitefish (Glacier Park)-Portland-LA

Dave Alvin, Rick Shea, Phil Alvin, Peter Case, Mary Gauthier, Eliza Gilkyson, Cindy Cashdollar, Butch Hancock, Christy McWilson, with guest appearances by Thad Beckman, Dan Weber and T. Scot Wilburn and the Shut Up 'n Playboys.
Crew: Dan, Elsabe, Michael, SO, CWH

Our first trip with the Cinnabon River. And, after a day in the Spokane railroad yards, our patrons learn about the true rock and roll tour bus experience.

2017

THE TEXAS SPECIAL

January 9 -13, 2017, Chicago - New Orleans - San Antonio - Chicago
Chip Taylor, John Platania, Dayna Kurtz, Eric Taylor, Betty Soo, Michael Fracasso, Birds of Chicago with special guest appearance by Michael Martin and George Batista
Crew: Charlie, Dan, Sarah

Our first trip with Cincinnati Rail, in which we discover that Chicago winters and vintage railcar plumbing are not a match made in heaven, but a 24 seat dome car and 18 passengers most definitely are! We may have become airborne somewhere around Kankakee.

THE CITIES OF THE SAINTS

January 14 - 23, 2017, Chicago - New Orleans - San Antonio - St. Louis - Chicago
Jon Langford, Jon Dee Graham, David Olney, Brock Zeman, Betty Soo, Andrew Hardin, Bill Poss, and yet another magical special guest appearance by Michael Martin and George Batista
Crew: Charlie, Dan, Sarah

The TSA and Homeland Security conspire to ban us from traveling through DC on the day after the Inauguration -- imagine that?!? -- but we stick it in their eye by having an amazing time on an alternate route, which looked astonishingly similar to the route we had just done.... but with more beignets this time.

2017 WEST OF THE WEST
August 13 - 25, 2017, Los Angeles - New Orleans - Chicago - Kansas City - St. Louis - Albuquerque - Los Angeles
Dave Alvin, Christy McWilson, Rick Shea, John Doe, Dead Rock West, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Blind Boy Paxton, Peter Case, Jon Langford, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen.
Crew: Charlie, Sarah, Dan Elsabe and Michael

In which there is some sweating. So much sweating. BUT, we get to watch the solar eclipse in 99.9% totality from the dome car!! Mr. Alvin schools us on the glories of Kansas City gas station barbecue, and we try not to fall off the mesa in Acoma Pueblo.

2017 DENALI
September 8 - 13, 2017, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, Kantishna, Anchorage
Fred Eaglesmith, Tif Ginn, Mary Gauthier and Gurf Morlix
Crew: Sarah, Michael, and Elsabe

In which we beat the odds and have spectacular views of Mt. Denali from both Talkeetna and Kantishna, Blue catches 5 enormous salmon and wears some enormous fishing pants, Tif ventures into the wild in cork wedgies, Fred and Gurf compete for "Singer-Songwriter Most Likely To Be Mistaken For A 1890's Gold Panner", and we see So Many Moose... and an Owl On A Stick.