Horn O'Plenty Harmony: Railroad Earth's Annual Thanksgiving Tradition and Bluegrass Extravaganza at the Sherman Theater

Article Contributed by Patrick Giblin | Published on Monday, November 27, 2023

Railroad Earth's Horn O'Plenty concerts have become an annual Thanksgiving tradition, featuring multiple nights of performances by the band along with special guests opening each night. Since 2006, the band has graced the stage at the Sherman Theater every Thanksgiving, marking the commencement of the holiday tour season. This year, RRE chose Serene Green and Owl & Crow to open the shows on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively.

Serene Green | Sherman Theater

Serene Green, a traditional bluegrass band from Pennsylvania, comprises Quentin Fisher (Mandolin), Michael Johnson (Guitar), Steve Leonard (Banjo), Sam Zolla (Bass), and Katelynn Casper (Fiddle). They delighted the audience with a mix of originals and covers, including a stunning rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind,” featuring Casper in the challenging lead vocal role.

JP and Pappy Biondo | Owl & Crow

Owl & Crow, performing on Saturday night, included Pennsylvania bluegrass legends JP and Pappy Biondo, regulars at the Sherman Theater. Known for leading the Scranton-based bluegrass band Cabinet with their Mandolin and Banjo, the duo, as Owl & Crow, switched to acoustic guitars to deliver Appalachian flair. They even invited RRE’s Tim Carbone to join them on the Fiddle for several songs.

Todd Sheaffer | Railroad Earth

John Skehan | Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth | Sherman Theater

Railroad Earth is celebrated for their eclectic musical style, blending elements from various genres into their concerts. Expect a dynamic range of sounds, from foot-stomping, dirt-kicking bluegrass tunes to introspective, folk-inspired melodies. Their live performances are notable for skillful improvisation. Known for extended jams, the band allows each member to showcase their musical prowess, taking the audience on an immersive musical journey. RRE's dedicated fan community was evident at Horn O’Plenty, as evidenced by the substantial food donations contributed at the entrance. The band, featuring Todd Sheaffer (Guitar/Vox), Tim Carbone (Fiddle/Vox), John Skehan (Mandolin/Vox), Carey Harmon (Drums/Percussion), Matt Slocumb (Keys), Dave Speranza (Bass), and Mike Robinson (Banjo/Pedal Steel/Guitar), left a lasting impression on their fans with their shows.

Tim Carbone | Railroad Earth

Mike Robinson | Railroad Earth

Friday night's performance was a blend of classics like “Bird in a House” from their 2002 debut album, “Goat” from 2004’s The Good Life, and “Elko” from the 2006 live album. The night also featured newer tracks such as “Slippin Away,” debuted at Horn O’Plenty 2019, and “Blues Highway” from their latest album, 2022’s All for the Song. The show concluded with a tribute to the Grateful Dead through their rendition of “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.”

Railroad Earth | Sherman Theater

Saturday continued this high energy, with the first set featuring songs primarily from 2006 and earlier, such as “Lordy Lordy,” “Hunting Song > Mourning Flies,” and “Said What You Mean,” culminating with a unique performance of the title track from their latest album, “All for the Song.” The second set, highlighted by “Mighty River,” included classic originals like “Stillwater Gateway,” “Head,” and “Bread and Water.” The night ended with two fan favorites: an 18-minute “Like a Buddha” and the set-closer “Hard Livin’.” The encore fittingly featured the 2008 eponymous track “Railroad Earth.”

Railroad Earth | Stroudsburg, PA

Be sure to catch Railroad Earth in Mexico during Strings and Sol, or during their upcoming New Year's run in the Pacific Northwest.

Railroad Earth - November 24th

Set 1:

    Seven Story Mountain
    Dandelion Wine
    Bird in a House
    The Forecast
    Black Elk Speaks
    Slippin' Away
    Blues Highway
    Any Road

Set 2:

    The Great Divide
    Chasin' A Rainbow
    Happy Song
    Came Up Smilin'
    Way of the Buffalo
    The Cuckoo
    My Favorite Spot
    Grandfather Mountain


    Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo

Railroad Earth - November 25th

Set 1:

    Lordy Lordy
    It's So Good > Saddle Of The Sun
    Hunting Song > Mourning Flies
    Said What You Mean
    Crossing The Gap > Grandfather Mountain
    All For The Song

Set 2:

    Where Songs Begin
    Mighty River
    Bread And Water
    Lovin' You
    Stillwater Getaway > Showers of Rain (Was That You?)
    Like a Buddha
    Hard Livin'


    Railroad Earth

[Setlists for Railroad Earth's performances on 11/24 and 11/25 follow, courtesy of Keith Litzenberger]