2000 – 2010 (10 years)
Old School Freight Train’s new self-released album (street date 3/17/09) “Six Years” speaks to the evolution the band has taken since inception over six years ago. Starting out as "new grass" the band has slowly taken on more influences like songwriters Elliott Smith and Tom Waits, instrumentalists like Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau and bands like Radiohead and Wilco. A striking example of this new sound can be heard in their haunting cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.” The band is excited to celebrate their new album and newly freed sound on their East Coast Tour starting on March 17 and featuring several dates with Railroad Earth and Squirrel Nut Zippers.
In their six years together, the members of OSFT have recorded with mandolin master David Grisman, toured as his band, played countless live shows across the country, and been asked to cover songs by the likes of John Mayer, Wilco, and Coldplay for the popular “Pickin’ On” compilation series.
Though it is hard to peg them into a specific genre, the band is known for their ability to write a memorable song in the singer/songwriter vein and to get people up and dancing to their live show which often includes moments of improvisation. Jesse Harper, the band’s lead songwriter and singer, puts it this way:
“When you first start playing, you look up to the virtuosos and try to imitate that as much as possible. But once the novelty of virtuosity wears off, you start to think, ‘these guys are great but what I really like is good songs.”
Their new album features the Radiohead-tinged funk of “Let Me Go,” to the plaintive soul of “Memphis.” The focus here is on songs, not solos. While the disc is peppered with instrumental flourishes and masterful runs, it’s Harper’s heartfelt vocals that shine more than anything. As a bonus, a cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” turns the bouncy New Wave pop hit into an aching dirge about lost love that will make you hit repeat on your iPod all day long.
“We want to make good records that last, that you want to listen to more than once,” Harper says. With “Six Years,” they’ve done just that.
Harper also gives guitar lessons at Woodberry Forest Schoo, and teaches the rhythm section of the school's Jazz Band.
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