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September 2010

September 2, 2010

Attention Soldiers! After a long, hot summer, it's time to reconvene the Train Army over at Fergie's (1214 Sansom Street) every Friday, 6-8PM,  Free, starting September 10th and going until October 29th. We've got all kinds of special guests for you including Monko (on September 17th) and the Buried Beds (on October 15th). Our pals Chris Palmer and Jon Jolles will also join us on several occasions on piano and harp respectively.

 

We've actually been working up a new batch of original songs and will be recording them live at Fergie's during this Fall residency as well as during our usual Winter run (January thru March). I got this idea to pull a "Running on Empty" if you know what I mean: new songs cut live. In these days where stealing music seems to be acceptable behavior (not in these quarters, mind you!), it's hard to imagine dropping money into a studio recording. We're literally running on empty! Anyway, I'm excited about the prospect of nailing these songs on the fly ... live ... warts and all ... as God intended ... blah fucking blah. The project is entitled "No More." Although I'm tinkering with renaming it "Flared out in Philly." We'll see.

 

In the meantime, we actually are releasing a new/old cd called "All of Your Stories." It should be available sometime in September.

 

 

Here's the liner notes:

 

Sometime in the early 90s, I found myself walking down 45th Street in West Philly. I ran into a guy wearing a Richard Thompson t-shirt and struck up a conversation. This guy turned out to be Mike "Slo-Mo" Brenner whose band at the time, the Low Road, were one of the best and most popular in Philadelphia. Mike told me that he was looking for another roommate and within a couple days I had moved into the Low Road house.

 

After living in Austin, Texas and trying my hand at the songwriting thing, I had moved up to Philly to go to graduate school. I stashed my guitar under my bed in an effort to stay focused on my studies. One night, however, after several shots of, say, Canadian Club, I grabbed a guitar and demonstrated my knowledge of the Hank Williams songbook to Mike and some other musicians hanging around the house.

 

I must have made some sort of impression on Mike: two years later, we ran into each other at a Jerry Douglas/Peter Rowan gig and decided to form a folk/country/bluegrass guitar/dobro duo. We named ourselves John Train and Friends ('cause we didn't have any!) and started playing little gigs all around town.

 

In November 1995, we borrowed a DAT recorder (cutting edge at the time!) and played one of our typical sets into a couple of microphones. We liked the results and ended up putting out a cassette called "All of Your Stories" (tracks 6-15 in the present collection) from this "session." "Stories" was composed mostly of covers (many of which remain in John Train's repertoire to this day) and a few of my early songwriting efforts. While I detect a wince-worthy twang in my voice that I probably brought back east from Texas, I still get a kick out of listening to "All of your Stories" and hope that you do too.

 

But, before that, a couple more stories for your entertainment: in early 1996, Mike and I opened up for Burn Witch Burn at Doc Watson's in Philadelphia. Fronted by the Dead Milkmen's Rodney Anonymous, the Witch also contained Steve Demarest on bass and Bill Fergusson on mandolin. Somehow Mike and I convinced these characters to join John Train and we've been playing together ever since.

 

Tracks 2-4 are early recordings of the John Train Quartet (as we were sometimes called back then). "All the Wrong" was recorded in Northern Liberties at Tongue and Groove Studios. "Sink and Sink" and "Thinner than She Knows" come from a session we did with Joseph Payne in Boston. Mr. Payne was the father of my college roommate, Chris "GP" Payne, whose drawing of Mike and me graces the cover of this CD as well as the original "Stories" cassette.

 

Finally, tracks 1 and 5 ("Flowers" and "Racing") are from a recent recording session and include the full John Train lineup i.e. the original "Quartet" plus Mark Schreiber (drums and percussion) and Mark Tucker (electric and steel guitar). These tracks were engineered by our longtime friend and associate Edan Cohen. The entire CD was mastered by John Baker and designed by Alec Meltzer.

 

Anyway, I hope you dig these stories. New ones on the way.

 

-- Jon Houlon, September 2010.

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