Roots on the Rails Roots on the Rails

Upcoming Trips: 2017 West of the West

August 13-25, 2017. Los Angeles - New Orleans - Chicago - St. Louis - Kansas City - New Mexico - Los Angeles

with DAVE ALVIN, CHRISTY McWILSON, RICK SHEA and friends JOHN DOE (LA-Houston), JIMMIE DALE GILMORE (Houston - New Orleans), DEAD ROCK WEST (LA-New Orleans) , BLIND BOY PAXTON (New Orleans - Chicago), PETER CASE (New Orleans - Chicago), CINDY LEE BERRYHILL (Kansas City - New Mexico), TERRY ALLEN AND JO HARVEY ALLEN (New Mexico - Los Angeles) , JON LANGFORD (Chicago - Kansas City) 


“I just want to be back on that damn train,” says Dave Alvin, and we agree. Life makes the best kind of sense on board a Roots on the Rails journey. There’s privacy in your cabin, camaraderie in the lounge, great food in the diner, unforgettable scenery in the dome car. And best of all.... world-class music in the performance car.

Join Dave Alvin and friends on an unforgettable journey across the musical heart of America. From the lights and bustle of LA, across the vast Southwestern desert landscape, past the storied cities of Yuma, Tucson, El Paso.... through sagebrush and cactus, high plains and cattle country, through Texas and the bayous of Louisiana, over the towering Huey Long bridge across the Mississippi to New Orleans. Then on the route that brought the delta blues north - the Illinois Central, "The Main Line of Mid-America", the route of the legendary City of New Orleans - through Jackson, Memphis and past the very crossroads where Robert Johnson met the original Man In Black.... to Chicago. Upon arrival, the West-to-East segment ends (hotel that night is available as an optional add-on) and the East-to-West segment begins (hotel provided).

Next day, we depart the Windy City along Route 66, the route of The Midnight Special, whose headlight, it was whispered amongst the inmates of Joliet prison -should it chance to shine on you- was a harbinger of your imminent release... to St. Louis, the Gateway to the West.After a day parked at the spectacular Union Station, we follow the wide Missouri to Kansas City, where the water tastes like cherry wine and everything is up-to-date (and where some of the best barbecue joints on earth are to be found)... Then west again on the route of the Super Chief, past Dodge City and Boot Hill, over Raton Pass (where it is unlikely to be snowing, but we can sing the song anyway) to the gorgeous city of Santa Fe. From there we again parallel Route 66, from Albuquerque to the red rocks of Gallup and the Ponderosa pines of Flagstaff, over mighty Cajon Pass into San Bernadino and then LA. Yes, this is truly a journey West of the West.

This is no mass-market cruise - you'll be one of just 45 passengers on this exquisite journey. The classic streamlined railroad cars of LA Rail will be our home for the thousands of miles we will be traveling. Your host is the legendary DAVE ALVIN, accompanied by longtime sideman RICK SHEA and an amazing lineup of musical guests. Freshly-prepared meals in our own 1950's-era dome car with glass-enclosed 360 degree views and lovingly restored sleeping cars from the golden age of streamliners make for an unforgettable travel experience. Get ready for a non-stop musical adventure.... all aboard!

We'd love for you to join us for the full trip, but understand if time and budgets don't permit, so this year we're offering the option of purchasing one way segments. Please be aware that if you're purchasing the Eastbound (8/13-18) segment, it does not include hotel accommodations in Chicago on the 18th. If you'd like to extend your stay in Chicago, we've added a hotel option on the purchase page for the Eastbound segment, at the bottom of the page, next to the water bottles and duffle bags. 

SUNDAY, 13 August
9:00 pm Trip check in at Los Angeles Union Station. Depart LA 10 pm.
Upon departure - MANDATORY ORIENTATION in Overland Trail. Safety chat and meet the on-board crew.
Late night snack in Silver Splendor.

MONDAY, 14 August
7:30-9:30 am - Breakfast service in the Silver Splendor.  (Clocks forward +1 hr. at NM border, +/-11 am)
10:15-10:45 am - Nature Program. Join Elsabe for her presentation on the friendly flora and fauna of the desert country.
Noon-1:30 pm - Lunch Service in Silver Splendor.
2:00-3:00 - MUSIC PROGRAM
3:10-3:35 pm – Ar/dp. the West Texas town of El Paso. Don't go looking for Rosa's Cantina.
3:45-4:45 - MUSIC PROGRAM
5:00-6:00 - Open Mic. Host: Rick Shea. Join Rick in Overland Trail - play a tune and listen to our fellow riders!
6:00-8:00 - Dinner Service in Silver Splendor.  (Clocks forward +1 hr. by Alpine, TX)
8:30-10:30 - MUSIC PROGRAM (music program begins 1/2 hour after dinner ends).

TUESDAY, 15 August
7:30-9:30 am - Breakfast service in the Silver Splendor.
10:15-10:45 am - Nature Program. Join Elsabe for her presentation on the fun-filled bayou country. 
11:10-12:10 - Ar/dp Houston. Stretch those legs beneath some fetching highway overpasses.
Noon-1:30 pm - Lunch Service in Silver Splendor.
2:00-2:45  - Merchandise session in Overland Trail.
3:45-4:45 - MUSIC PROGRAM
5:00-6:00 - Open Mic. Host: Rick Shea. 
6:00-8:00 - Dinner service in Silver Splendor.
8:30-9:30 - MUSIC PROGRAM
9:40 pm - Scheduled arrival at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal. Silver Splendor lounge will remain open until 12:30 am curfew (doors locked at that time). Overnight on board.

WEDNESDAY, 16 August
7:30-9:30 am - Breakfast service in the Silver Splendor.
Day free in New Orleans.
Possible concert in New Orleans.
Silver Splendor will remain open until 12:30 am curfew (doors locked at that time). Overnight on board.

THURSDAY, 17 August
7:30-9:30 am – Breakfast service in Silver Splendor.
Morning free in New Orleans.
1:45 pm - Depart New Orleans.
2:45-3:15 - Delta Blues history presentation in Overland Trail.
3:30-4:45 - MUSIC PROGRAM
5:00-6:00 - Open Mic. Host: Rick Shea. 
5:30-5:44 - Ar/dp Jackson, MS. Take a stroll on the platform. Is it hotter than a pepper sprout?
6:00-8:00 - Dinner service in Silver Splendor.
8:30-10:00 - MUSIC PROGRAM
10:00-10:40 - Ar/dp Memphis. Try walking in Memphis. Do you really feel the way you feel?

FRIDAY, 18 August
7:30-9:00 am – Breakfast service in Silver Splendor.
9:00 am - Scheduled arrival in Chicago.
Eastbound travelers depart. Through travelers drop bags at the historic and elegant Hilton Palmer House, then go exploring... Hotel check in begins at 3:00 pm. New Westbound segment travelers trip check-in at hotel late afternoon.

SATURDAY, 19 August
8:45 am - Be at Chicago Union Station Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge, ready to board.
9:25 am - Depart Chicago. Breakfast snacks in Silver Splendor. MANDATORY ORIENTATION for those joining us.
11-Noon - Open Mic. Host: Rick Shea. 
Noon-1:30 pm - Lunch service in Silver Splendor.
1:30-2:30 - MUSIC PROGRAM
3:00 - Scheduled arrival in St. Louis.
Afternoon free in St. Louis.
Evening Concert TBA.
Silver Splendor will remain open until 12:30 am curfew (doors locked at that time). Overnight on board.

SUNDAY, 20 August
7:30-9:45 am - Breakfast service in Silver Splendor.
Depart St. Louis 9:15 am.

10:15-10:45 - Nature Program
Noon-1:30 pm - Lunch service in Silver Splendor.
1:45-2:15 - Merchandise Session in Overland Trail.
2:55 - Scheduled arrival in Kansas City.
Afternoon and evening free in Kansas City.
Silver Splendor will remain open until 12:30 am curfew (doors locked at that time). Overnight on board.

MONDAY, 21 August
7:30-9:45 am - Breakfast service in Silver Splendor.
Day free in Kansas City.
10:15-10:45 - BENCHLEY NIGHT. Dave, Christy and Charlie read from the works of Robert Benchley, James Thurber, etc.
10:45 pm - Depart Kansas City.

TUESDAY, 22 August
7:30-9:30 am - Breakfast service in the Silver Splendor. (clocks back 1 hr. at Colo. border)
8:15-8:30 am - Leg stretching in La Junta, Colorado! If there is a song about La Junta, let us know.
10:15-10:45 am - Nature Program. Join Elsabe for her presentation on Indian Country.
Noon-1:30 pm - Lunch Service in Silver Splendor.
Afternoon arrival in Albuquerque (there is a chance we may be able to park in Santa Fe, but Plan A is that we will park in Albuquerque).

WEDNESDAY, 23 August
7:30-9:45 am - Breakfast service in Silver Splendor.
If parked in Santa Fe; day free. If parked in Albuquerque, we will provide transportation to/from Santa Fe. Possible concert in Santa Fe.
Silver Splendor will remain open until 12:30 am curfew (doors locked at that time). Overnight on board.

THURSDAY, 24 August
7:30-9:45 am - Breakfast service in Silver Splendor.
If parked in Santa Fe; morning free. If parked in Albuquerque, we will arrange optional side trip to Acoma Pueblo or similar.
3:55-4:45 - Ar/dp Albuquerque.
5:00-6:00 - Open Mic Finale. Host: Rick Shea.
6:00-8:00 MDT - Dinner service in Silver Splendor. (clocks back one hour at AZ border)
8:30-10:00 - MUSIC PROGRAM (music program operates on MDT)

FRIDAY, 25 August
7:30-8:00 am (or until 1/2 hour before arrival if running late) - Breakfast service in Silver Splendor.
8:15 am - Scheduled arrival Los Angeles Union Station. 

The itinerary above is extremely preliminary and subject to change as we encounter logistic hurdles and challenges. But it will be great!


Payment is a simple two-step process.
1. Pay Deposit (click below) for the number of patrons traveling in order to hold space.
2. Decide whether you wish to pay all-at-once or set up a payment plan. If you wish to pay all-at-once, click below to pay for the trip desired. If you wish to set up a payment plan, call us at 866-484-3669 or email us at trains (at) to arrange.
 All-at-once payments get complimentary engineer cap and water bottle (it makes our life easier and we have a lot of these hats).

In order to hold space, a $300 per person deposit must be paid. After that, we can help you set up a payment plan for the trip. Payment plan must be agreed upon and set up within 30 days of sign-up. Payments outside of deposit, and less 3% credit card fees if applicable, are refundable until 60 days prior to event.

($8878 total price) per person. This is your best value, saving $400 each per couple, or $900 for a solo traveler over purchase of individual segments. THIS OPTION IS SOLD OUT.

LA-NOLA-CHI 8/13-18, $4089 BALANCE ($4389 total price) per person. THIS OPTION IS SOLD OUT.

     FOR TWO: $4589 BALANCE ($4889 total price) per person for two traveling in Bedroom. THIS OPTION IS SOLD OUT

     FOR SOLO: $5089 BALANCE ($5389 total price) for solo traveler in Roomette. THIS OPTION IS SOLDOUT

Couples: private sleeping car "Bedroom" with bunk-style beds. Toilet and sink in enclosed annex. Shower in each car.
Solo travelers: private, enclosed sleeping car "Roomette" with sink and vanity. Toilet and shower in each car.

Price includes all train activities, meals and beverage service (soft drinks, coffee/tea, beer/wine) enroute, toilet and shower in each car, private hotel room in Chicago for Westbound and Full-Trip patrons and tickets to any land-based concerts. Gratuities and other transfers not included. Reservations are transferable. Liability release signature required. Should we cancel this trip, monies shall be refunded in full.


The streamlined railroad cars of LA Rail bring the golden age of rail travel back to life. These are beautifully restored vintage cars with service to match. Our cars are attached to the rear of regularly-scheduled Amtrak trains, but our cars are not accessible to ticketed passengers.

There is nothing like dining high above the rails in a dome lounge car. Freshly prepared meals and complimentary beverage service (good red and white wines, Heineken on draft, vintage sodas, coffee, tea, etc.) are included in your ticket. When not in service for meals, SILVER SPLENDOR serves as our lounge space. Our performance car is the stunning OVERLAND TRAIL a 1949 Southern Pacific barbershop/lounge car, while sleepers PACIFIC SANDS and PALM LEAF provide streamliner-era private cabins. A third sleeper will be added as well - exactly what car, we do not know at this time.

Visit our page on different types of accommodations on board. A cabin designed for one is a ROOMETTE, while a cabin for two is called a BEDROOM (sometimes "Double Bedroom"). General toilets and a shower are in each car. Roomettes have a sink in the room; Bedrooms have an enclosed annex with sink and toilet.


"There are two types of folk music: quiet folk music and loud folk music. I play both," says Dave Alvin. One of the great writers and performers in American music, Dave Alvin draws from blues, country and folk traditions to make music uniquely his own. First emerging in the LA roots/punk scene as a member of The Blasters, The Flesh Eaters, and later X, Alvin has gone on to play with a veritable who's who of rock and folk, and, more recently, to forge a mighty solo career. This is his ninth Roots on the Rails trip.

“When I was younger Merle Haggard cast a long shadow, but since then Dave Alvin, Jim Ringer and a lot of other music has found its way in," says Rick Shea. Raised in San Bernadino, California, Shea's brand of storytelling cuts to the quick, and his extraordinary guitar work raises the bar even higher. He has toured as a member of Dave Alvin's Guilty Men, and has become one of Roots on the Rails' most requested performers. Rick hosts the Open Mic sessions on board with grace, good humor and top-notch honky-tonk chops.

No one is ever going to call Christy McWilson “organized.” But we love her. McWilson first made a name for herself in late-century Seattle bands the Dynette Set and the Picketts. In 2000 Dave Alvin approached McWilson with an offer to produce her first solo album, made up of her originals and a heartfelt, lovely cover of Brian Wilson's "Til I Die." The album, The Lucky One, was recorded with a core band that included Alvin, Peter Buck, and Rick Shea on guitars; Bob Glaub and Walter Singleman on bass; and Don Heffington on drums. Two years later, she called on many of the same musicians to help her put together her second solo album, Bed of Roses. This will be Christy’s fourth West of the West trip.

JOHN DOE - (LA-Houston) Legendary leader of seminal LA punk band X, John Doe has gone on to lead a spectacular career as singer, writer and actor. This will be his third Roots on the Rails trip.

DEAD ROCK WEST - (LA-New Orleans) Cindy Wasserman and Frank Drennan make superb 'X meets Wilco' harmonic alternative country pop. You simply have to hear their take on the Everly Brothers with their new IT'S EVERLY TIME.... magnificent! This will be their first Roots on the Rails trip.

BLIND BOY PAXTON - (New Orleans - Chicago) A multi-instrumentalist in his twenties, playing music of the 1920's, Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton channels the music of a bygone era with astonishing range and virtuosity. That he'll be with us as we travel through the Mississippi Delta, home of the Blues, is fortuitous indeed!!

PETER CASE  - (New Orleans - Chicago) From the San Francisco street music scene of the late 60’s through first wave of American punk and as a founding member of The Nerves and the Plimsouls, Peter’s devotion to the art and craft of songwriting has resulted in an astonishing body of work. He has collaborated with virtually every notable figure in folk, punk, roots, blues and rock ‘n roll in the last 4 decades, and if he hasn’t played with ‘em, he’s got a great story about ‘em.

JON LANGFORD - (Chicago - Kansas City) Jon Langford is a founder member of the Mekons And Waco Brothers and has lived in Chicago for 25 years splitting his time between music and visual art. He finds it hard to sleep without the wheels rolling in the night...

CINDY LEE BERRYHILL - (Kansas City - New Mexico) Van Dyke Parks, no slouch in the creative genius department, said of Cindy Lee: “She deserves a berth in any Hall of Fame, for the humanities she brings to the usual vanities of song-writing.” As if a front row seat to a sampling her impressive body of work, wasn’t enough, we’ll get to hear work from her just-released latest album, “The Adventurist.” 

- (New Mexico - Los Angeles) If you thought you “knew” their work from their individual contributions to the worlds of poetry, songwriting, playwriting, sculpture, performance art, film or theater – just wait unto you spend time with the two of them on a moving train through a landscape they’ve called home for decades! From over 50 years of marriage, they claim “For better or worse, we’ve saved all the evidence.” Who knows what will ensue on board? We just know it’s going to be great. 



We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance for your trip. By purchasing through this link to Squaremouth (an aggregator where various insurance company policies can be compared at no additional cost to you), we receive a small commission (about five percent). This helps us keep our trips as affordable as possible.

A note from Sarah: "On virtually every trip we have someone who needs to cancel at the last minute due to injury or illness, family emergency, or any number of unexpected circumstances. Those who had purchased the trip insurance were disappointed to be missing the trip, but very relieved that they were not losing all the funds they had paid us, the airlines, hotels and others. Those who did not purchase the trip insurance were really, really, sad to lose a train trip and a bunch of money too. We'd hate to see you be one of those people, which is why we stress the importance of trip insurance. Really, truly, we think it is worth it."


The payment of a deposit or any part or full payment for a reservation shall constitute consent to all the provisions contained herein. Flying Under Radar, LLC shall not be held responsible for property loss or damage and/or any damages resulting from illness, personal injuries or death which may be sustained by reason of, or while engaged on, any trip or tour whether due to the ownership, maintenance, use, operation or control of any vehicle, hotel, common carrier or any other conveyance used in carrying out these tours. We can assume no liability due to any cause whatsoever whether caused by failure or delay or other irregularity, acts or omissions occurring during a tour under which the means of transportation or other service thereby is offered or supplied by owners, operators or public carriers for whom Flying Under Radar, LLC acts only as agent. Flying Under Radar, LLC reserves the right (at its discretion) to alter or omit any part of the itinerary, or change any reservation, feature and/or means of conveyance without notice or for any reason whatsoever and without allowance or refund and with extra costs, if any, resulting therefrom paid by the passengers. Although all artists are contracted to appear, lineup is potentially subject to change due to illness or force majeure. We reserve the right to cancel any tour prior to departure, in which case payment will be refunded without further obligation on our part. Flying Under Radar, LLC shall not be responsible for any injury to person (whether or not resulting in death) or damage to property. Flying Under Radar, LLC strongly urges individual passengers to obtain appropriate insurance coverage. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely. The transportation companies concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission or event during the time passengers are not aboard their carriers or conveyances. The passenger contract in use by the carriers concerned (when issued) shall constitute the sole contract between the transportation companies and the purchaser of these tours and/or passage. By accepting the ticket the passenger also agrees to its terms and conditions. By forwarding of deposit, the passenger certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other passengers. Flying Under Radar, LLC reserves the right to cancel or withdraw any person as a member of the tour at any time. Flying Under Radar, LLC and Roots on the Rails management reserve the right to refuse service to anyone whom it considers incompatible with the best interests of its services or its guests.