Monday, December 12, 2011

Train Dreams

Pass me that flask of cognac with the 1950’s Union Pacific Dome-Liner etched on it. I’ll tell you about The Portland Rose. Vintage streamline rail cars, sailing up the western coastline, towards my favorite city. All aboard! Special Music-Art Train coming April 13-18. Los Angeles to Portland and back. Special guests: Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Jon Langford, and Thad Beckman. And yours truly: Tom Russell.

Embark from Union Station, an historic landmark right out of a Raymond Chandler story. Setting for a dozen Film Noir classics. The train hugs the California-Oregon coast - rugged coastline you’ll never see from the highway. Dave Alvin has pointed out that Cecil B. Demille created biblical movie sets along this beach line, which are now buried in the sand. We pass Spanish Land Grant ranches right out of the folk song “South Coast.” There’s a vintage dome car where people fall in and out of love. I’ve seen it. Hitchcock-ian!

The song South Coast brings me to Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, who sings the definitive version. Let’s talk history: Ramblin' Jack busked on the streets of Paris and London in the 1950’s. A young Mick Jagger heard Jack busking on a London subway platform and Mick decided, then and there, to become a singer. Bob Dylan stole a few tricks from Jack. Guitar stylings, singing style, etc. Dig it. Jack’s a living, breathing legend.

Jon Langford was the drummer for The Mekons. He’s originally from Wales. Jon now performs with guitar and is hailed for pioneering a mix of folk, country and punk rock. He’s recorded classic alt-country for Bloodshot Records. Jon’s also a prolific visual artist. His portraits of country music legends like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash grace dozens of record and book covers. Jon is one of the finest “folk” painters in America, and a celebrated alt-country performer.

Thad Beckman, American Guitar Master, will be hosting open mikes and guitar workshops. (Bring your guitar and latest songs.) Late night “hoots’ and non-stop jamming. Thad is a master fingerpicker, blues artist, songwriter, and guitar teacher.

Workshops will also include: song swaps, concerts, and art discussions with Jon Langford, Tom Russell, Charlie Hunter, and Yard Dog Folk Gallery owner Randy Franklin. Our supreme commander, Charlie Hunter is also a master painter. Painters, guitar pickers, music fans, train buffs… welcome aboard.

Tom Russell? Myself? I sing original songs. I paint. I’ve been known, on odd rail midnights, to sing old Irish ballads, or Honky Tonk Women. Spontaneity is the key to great rail journeys. Wine. Good food. Song. International friends. Romance. Mystery.

The stops? L.A.! The City of the Angels! Portland, Oregon! One of my favorite cities. Fine food, and the best used bookstore in the world: Powell’s. Jake’s Famous Crawfish is one of my favorite American food joints. A real American City with soul, beauty, vision, and history. We’ll be there two nights.

Climb onboard. Email Sarah at trains@sover.net or check out the full details: www.rootsontherails.com Payment plans discussed. Phone 802-258-1397. Toll Free.

6 comments:

Abner Mull said...

Yes, indeed...

And as the train travels through Oregon's Willamette Valley, you may catch a glimpse of the migrant workers who come down from Canada to pick the cheetos off the cheetoh bushes. Yes, the valley is one of the nation's prime cheese growning regions. They ship the cheetos off to Tillamook, where they are refined into cheese which is then shipped around the world.

I told that story on the 2010 train, and for some reason nobody believed me. But somehow I seem to have earned the nickname "Mr. Bad Example" on that train. So I'll be back to set people straight...

Abner Mull said...

What happened? Did I scare everybody off?

Saddle Tramp said...

LOST TRAIN OF THOUGHT ...

Abner I can only speak for myself. I for one have missed your ( even if at times ) mordant comments. Your long absence has not gone unnoticed by me. It also goes to say that so many other great commenters and ardent fans of Tom's are equally missed.

My greatest disappointment however, would be if Tom would go silent. These Borderland Notes and insights into his art add so much to his music. I truly anxiously await the next installment. They are all very much appreciated.

For me a train ride like this latest offering would be the trip of a lifetime. I am sure that I [can] speak for many that they feel the same. Unfortunately various constraints make it impossible to ride along at this time. Tom, it is by no means because of your lack of description. It brings to mind what Carl Sanburg said regarding one of his train rides. A fellow passenger asked him if this was his first time on a train. His reply was " Yes .... on the inside ".

For those lucky enough to ride with Tom and crew have a great trip down the cinder trail...

saddletrampVIA :
The paved trail... under a full moon.
Listening to the old Hank Williams
" Mother's Best " shows . Blues and biscuits.

Saddle Tramp said...

Oh, and that would be:
Carl Sandburg...

Zrckdst said...

Although Southeast Alaska is a destination for artists that are on the backside of their musical careers, I wish Tom would make a trip to Juneau. We are really hurting for quality music artists here. Of course, originally hailing from the Southwest, his songs of my old stomping grounds makes me want to hear more of him. Whoever heard of Portales, the Llano Estacado or the Caprock? Tom has.

editor said...

My good buddy and bandmate Lynn Woodward went on the trip and had a great time. Brought me back a picture of a chicken. A rooster. Cool.

One day, by god...

Jim Cornelius

www.frontierpartisans.com