Rounder Records releases three incredible musical interpretations of The Musical Roots of Americana in Classic Railroad Songs Vols I, II, & III

The roots of Americana reach back to the beginning of railroad history. In the 100 year period that began in 1830, the steam locomotive was the prime industrial force that shaped the American landscape. Vast improvements in living standards, made possible by rail expansion, were not, however, without tremendous social consequences. Sadly, the exploitation of immigrant labor used to build rail lines paralelled the outright theft of Native American lands. Farmers and ranchers out west were subjected to inflated shipping rates that devastated some, while enriching a handful of the railroad's chief officers. Strikes and riots against management by employees in 1877 added to an overall negative public sentiment that lasted well into the twentieth century. For close to 130 years African-American travelers were forced to endure the humiliation of segregated railroad facilities and the discomfort of Jim Crow passenger cars.

Nevertheless, a rich history of railroad lore provided the inspiration for hundreds of songs. Tributes to fast trains, heroes, outlaws, hoboes and disasters dominated early recordings. Although the convenience of automobiles and airplanes led to the demise of steam and diesel passenger service by the mid-twentieth century, songwriters continue to mine the roots of railroad Americana for inspiration. Modern themes often portray the train as a symbol of freedom, as a means of escape from one's troubles, as the source of lost or returning love, or as a spiritual metaphor. Nostalgic songs about the golden age of steam reflect a longtime interest in railroad Americana. The success of the excursion train industry and railroad museums is further testament to America's love affair with the sound, smell and romance of railroad travel.

by Michael Hyatt
©Rounder Records 1998

sample from Vol. I in Real audio format

sample from Vol. II in Real Audio format

sample from Vol. III in Real Audio format

Here is a detailed list of tracks from the latest in the series, Vol. III, Night Train, ROUNDER 1144

01. Choo Choo Ch' Boogie ... Louis Jordan 2:39
02. Take the "A" Train ... Delta Rhythm Boys 3:00
03. All Aboard ... Muddy Waters 2:54
04. Leavin' Memphis, Frisco Bound ... Jesse Fuller 5:10
05. There's a Train ... The Holmes Brothers 3:57
06. Rock Island Line ... Linda Tillery & the Cultural Heritage Choir 2:45
07. Mainliner ... Little Esther & the Robins 2:30
08. Railroadin' Some ... Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas 3:12
09. Mystery Train ... Little Junior Parker & His Blue Flames 2:20
10. Night Train ... Bill Doggett 3:16
11. Cannon Ball ... Nora Lee King 2:30
12. B & O Blues ... Joe Turner with Pete Johnson's Orchestra 2:52
13. Trouble in Mind ... Sister Rosetta Tharpe with Lucky Millinder's Orchestra 2:27
14. Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train ... Brenda Boykin with the Johnny Nocturne Band 2:58

The Roots Of Americana series proudly presents some of the best railroad songs written and recorded since 1929 by African-American artists. Norm Cohen, author of LONG STEEL RAIL: THE RAILROAD IN AMERICAN FOLKSONG, shares his extensive knowledge in the informative booklets accompanying each disc. For more information on these and other Rounder recordings please visit their website which is located at:

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