A band, a show, a song…………This is how I’m going to try and explain “Cosmic Railroad” to you. Although, it is almost impossible to do so if you haven’t experienced the band for yourself.
First, “Cosmic Railroad” is a jam band based out of southeastern Wisconsin. The band was born sometime in 1999 (give or take a year or two in either direction). As the story goes, all the guys in “Cosmic Railroad” were involved with their own respected bands. These bands would book shows together from time to time. You know, one band opening the night and the other band closing the night. On occasion they would hook up at the end of the show for third set jam session. The jam session consists of everybody from both bands at once. Sometimes you would have four guitar players, two bass players, two drummers, a percussionist and a whole slue of singers all at once, on stage, throwing it down. This is when the idea of “Cosmic Railroad” was conceived.
As word got out about the two bands doing a third set jam session it started to grow. At first, the bands would cover a lot of tunes from “The Grateful Dead, Phish, Dylan, etc” (which is where some of the tunes that they do today came from). Then, as things started to take off even more the bands thought it would be a good idea to learn each other's songs, so they didn’t always have to play cover tunes when they got together. Over time, they did away with the other bands and started just to book shows as “Cosmic Railroad”. This is where we are today.
The band has settled in on three guitars players, two drummers and one bass player now and looks like they are having fun with that line-up. As Patrick Finneran from the Journal Times puts it “if you like the Dead, Phish, older Dave Matthews and bands like that, Greg, Mike, Pete, Paul, Brandon and Shawn may be what you looking for”. He also adds that “the Cosmic Railroad has been laying down the deepest hippy groove since 1999 and it doesn’t look like its going to stop any time soon”.
“Cosmic Railroad” is: Brandon Shilts guitar & vocals, Greg Gierl guitar & vocals, Pete Rallo guitar & vocal, Mike White drums & stuff, Shawn Laurence drums & stuff and Paul Aceto bass & vocal.
A “Cosmic Railroad” show is an experience in itself. No one, not even the band knows what’s going to happen next. They are a true jam band to say the least. The band plays from the seat of their pants night after night. As Mike Fillipane from the Other Side says, “it’s so nice to finally see a quote un-quote jam band that can actually jam”.
The show will usually start with a crowd favorite just to get everyone moving or at least thinking that they’re moving. After that, who knows? The band leaves up the moment to pick the next song. This is where you can see their mastery. As the night moves on, they continue to pick up steam, and things really start to roll. A “Cosmic Railroad” show usually lasts up to three or four hours straight so when they hit their stride, it’s gone.
Some where in he middle of the show the songs let the drummers take over (hope you packed your flashback). Once done, it rolls into a solo song section done by one of the guitar players. This gives the drummers a little break to regroup. After a song or two the remaining band members start to move back into position. - - - All Aboard! Back on the train we go to the final destination.
“Cosmic Railroad” is considered an original jam band. Mostly, the songs that you would hear at a “Cosmic Railroad” show are just that, original. The band uses these songs as a jumping off points, sometimes taking them into very different directions from the last time it may have been played. Other times, who knows?
This approach can be heard in some of these favorites: Rhythm (7:07) full song, Train Ride (12:04) full song and Mothers Dying (7:45) full song. The other songs that you may hear at a "Cosmic Railroad" show have been picked up by the band in countless other places. Like this Grateful Dead song: Chinacat Sunflower (9:50) full song and Shakedown Street (4:45). To the band, it doesn’t really matter who actually writes a particular song, they view all of them as “Cosmic Railroad”.
The jams are as much like the band as the songs are. As they put it, "you can’t practice something that hasn’t happened yet". Like in this jam: In the Pool (4:06), it just happened that way. So what’s the point of hashing it out in some building somewhere and then playing it at a show? It doesn't work that way. This attitude is what keeps these guys true to the fashion of how a jam band should play not how they should sound and that’s really why ”Cosmic Railroad” sounds the way they do….. It's real and it’s a must see to believe.
“Cosmic Railroad” Thanks everyone for their support and hopes everyone enjoys the ride with them.