John Train - "The Sugar Ditch"
Jon Houlon - Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars
Steve Demarest - Bass
Mike Brenner - Pedal Steel, Slide Bass, Dobro
Bill Fergusson - Mandolin
Mack Tucker - Electric Guitars, Steel Guitar
Mark Schreiber - Drums
The "Sugar Ditch" is John Train's third CD. It was adeptly produced by Mike 'Slo-Mo' Brenner. It is a concept album of sorts. A concept album in the sense that Randy Newman's "Good Old Boys", Terry Allen's "Lubbock on Everything" or Mickey Newbury's "Long Road Home" were concept albums. Inspired by a trip to Memphis in the heat of the summer in a rented '55 Cadillac, Jon Houlon imagined a story centered around a girl who turned-up dead in a 'sugar ditch' in a small town in the Mississippi Delta. The characters appear and reappear. The feeling is mysterious and moody. The songs stand up on their own and they go together. It is an ambitious work by a talented songwriter and treated perfectly by a band that understands.
John Train's last CD "Looks Like Up" was very well received by Americana radio, folk specialty shows and eclectic public radio stations. They had terrific support at WFUV by Vin Scelsa, WXPN by Gene Shay, and WFDU by Jerry Treacey as well as KUT in Austin, Texas, WWUH in Hartford, Connecticut, KGLT in Bozeman Montana, and WFMU in the New York City area.
So go to the cooler and get a cold drink. You've got a free ticket for the John Train ride. First stop is Tunica, Mississippi. I hope you enjoy the CD.
"Just below the charming imagery and pleasant melodies lie threatening string arrangements and
dark lyrical swerves that take the songs somewhere
Philadelphia City Paper
"It would be so easy for this to be mawkish,
melodramatic or constrained by the central conceit,
but Houlon is intelligent enough to allow the songs to be self-contained and never to shoe-horn narrative
to fit-instead he lets a series of vignettes tell the story,
making no judgements.He should be proud of the results."
"John Train,the country-folk quintet led by Philadelphia singer-songwriter and lawyer Jon Houlon,grows more ambitious and more compelling,musically and lyrically,with each release."
"Taken apart,the album is a collection of songs which stand admirably on their own.Taken together,the effect is nearly cinematic in effect.Indeed,in just a few musical sketches, Houlon creates a tale that could make a movie as gripping as any novel might."