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Railroad Earth riding a "slow build" to success

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011

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Tim Carbone, the fiddle player for the Americana/roots group Railroad Earth, says his band has “always been kind of the slow-boil kind,” building an audience over the course of six albums since 2001. But he acknowledges that the group’s self-titled 2010 set raised the stakes after debuting at No. 5 on Billboard magazine’s Heatseekers chart.

“One thing I’ve noticed is we’re playing to a younger crowd, generally, and those younger crowds tend to know the words to the songs,” says Carbone, 54. “Is that the result of the new record? I don’t know. But that’s what we’re seeing.

“Our whole trajectory has just been kind of like a slow climb, so each time we go out we notice something new.”

Fans, meanwhile, heard something fresh on the New Jersey sextet’s “Railroad Earth” album. Working with an outside producer for only the second time and adding more electric guitars and outright rock elements to the mix created a sound that’s frequently compared to Wilco.

“I think it’s a really natural progression for the band,” Carbone says. “I think overall it’s a good blend; it doesn’t go too far in any one direction. But it’s something that was necessary in a way, especially if we are looking to appeal to perhaps a somewhat larger demographic.

“But I don’t think we messed with our current fan base, either. Even as a totally acoustic outfit, even if no one plugged in an electric instrument, the way we’re mixed and the way we present ourselves is in more of a rock band context, anyway. So anybody who knows us already I think would hear this album and think like, ‘Oh yeah, that sounds cool.’ ”

Railroad Earth and The Ragbirds perform Saturday, March 5, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of show. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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