The railroad’s romantic-more so than any other form of transportation, and there’s no better way to convey that romance than through music. That’s what Ridin’ the Rails is all about, using music and story-telling to convey every imaginable nuance surrounding America’s love affair with everything railroad.
Hailing from Nashville, Ridin’ the Rails will perform “Celebrating the Railroad in Song and Story” on Friday, July 9, at 7 p.m. at the Depot, located on Depot Street in Newark Valley. The Newark Valley Historical Society sponsors the event.
Founder and music arranger Darrell Varley reports that the idea for Ridin’ the Rails came from a friend in Upstate New York who owned a Lionel Train set. The friend suggested they call themselves “The Freight Yard Hobo Band” but Varley sought to be more inclusive, wanting to explore every aspect of everything railroad. Some believe Ridin’ the Rails has found and has performed just about every song there is related to the railroad, including “Petticoat Junction” and “Ever Gentle on My Mind.”
Varley displays his talent on the banjo, guitar, ukulele, fiddle and mandolin, while fellow rail rider Doug Roberts adds his guitar and ukulele and Jim Hardaway adds bass and guitar. All three offer nicely blended vocal harmonies.
According to their website, “With great music, humorous banter, and sing along songs, a performance with Ridin’ the Rails is always a fun and exciting time that keeps audience calling for more.”
So don’t take the “Wabash Cannonball” or the “Fast Train to Georgia” – or even the “Night Train to Memphis.” Instead, enjoy Ridin’ the Rails performing those songs along their “Sentimental Journey” in Newark Valley’s own railroad depot.
Varley is locally known as the arranger, bass-baritone vocalist, and banjo, guitar, fiddle and mandolin player of Cobblestone Crossing, Greater Binghamton’s “best-known folk band” until their retirement in 2015. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and he has operated Douglas Media Productions in Binghamton, producing commercial radio and television audio.
Come and relive the glory days of rail travel-by Pullman car and boxcar, with the engineer and in the caboose at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 9 at the Lehigh Valley Ray Shaver Depot in Newark Valley.
Admission is free and food and beverage are available.