Railroad Earth is a roots and Americana-based newgrass jam band from Stillwater, New Jersey. Their name was borrowed from the Jack Kerouac short story “October in the Railroad Earth.” The band also has a song by the same name written by Todd Sheaffer. Railroad Earth’s music combines elements of bluegrass, rock and roll, jazz, celtic and more, and the group is also known for its extensive live improvisation and lyrical songwriting within an acoustic base.
The six band members came together for the first time in January 2001. Originally composed of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Todd Sheaffer, violinist/vocalist Tim Carbone, mandolinist John Skehan, multi-instrumentalist Andy Goessling, drummer/vocalist Carey Harmon, and bassist Dave Von Dollen, the six were brought together by manager Brian Ross, who both named the band and assumed management duties prior to their first rehearsals.
Things kicked off with the six musicians working on a handful of original songs, mostly written by Sheaffer, the former From Good Homes songwriter, and began to realize that something musically unique was happening. After three weeks of rehearsing, Ross suggested they go into a local recording studio to track a five song demo of the songs he’d been listening to from their rehearsals. Recorded live with no overdubs except backing vocals, this untitled demo set Railroad Earth’s career in motion.