The magic of music is most accessible live. There is something inexplicable, but experiential, that happens between the musicians and audiences. Some musicians know every note they’re going to play before going on stage. They have energy and precision but not much spontaneity. There don’t leave the space for the serendipity that creates great moments. Train travel seems to create the right atmosphere to overcome any tendency to sclerosis. That certainly seems to have happened with Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and the Old Crow Medicine Show joined together for the Railroad Revival Tour in 2011. The tour was the subject of the documentary, ‘Big Easy Express’, which won a Grammy in 2013 for Best Long Form Music Video.
And what better mix to cast a spell to break down barriers and roll away the stone than gospel performed by this traveling collective of great americana musicians? This clip is from the tour’s final performance in New Orleans of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s classic gospel song, ‘This Train is Bound For Glory’.
Mumford and the Zeros were both on a roll, having gained international prominence only a few years before. And they were both at full strength; Jade Castrinos and Nora Kirkpatrick still with the Zeros and Winston Marshall with Mumford.
The clip captures three great groups expressing all the joy of travelling and playing together. They give all they’ve got. This is a ‘Katy, bar the door!’, ‘let her rip’, rollicking good time call to testify to the joy of music. The interplay is wonderful to watch. They bounce back and forth from voice to guitar to banjos, on to drums and violin and horns. There is a rolling on the floor, jumping in the air exuberance and the audience is right there with them. And while it isn’t the same as being there, this clip gives us a taste, a soupcon, of what it was like. You almost get sweaty watching; you can’t help but smile.