Dave Alvin

Roots on the Rails review: Secular hymns, backroads ballads and blues

Cavalcade of American roots music veterans bring music that speaks to tough times outside the concert halls

Story by MITCH RITTER
Photos by DEENA WOLFE-GUERIN

When it’s time to declare that this whole world’s in a bad condition and it may be time to make a move, when the Hooverville Homeless Tent Camp has been rousted from Po’town’s Springwater Corridor even though the shelters are all full up but the Mayor can’t extend his summer waiver any longer than Labor Day, even though the Homeless Emergencies declared coast to coast keep adding cities including the Empire City…. In such times, even those lucky enough to have jobs are looking at another staycation and tend to be damned grateful enough to have a roof for another season or month.

Cindy Cashdollar, Christy McWilson & Dave Alvin performed at a Roots on the Rails show in Portland.

Cindy Cashdollar, Christy McWilson & Dave Alvin performed at a Roots on the Rails show in Portland.

Enter the Roots on the Rails revue with a capacity crowd congregated at Portland’s recently restored Old Church. For the last few years, these customized passenger train tours across the far expanses of North America via a steam-punk caboose hitched to the back of an Amtrak or via Rail Canada train have allowed an ever-shifting cast of Americana oriented performers, fans with the time and funds to travel, like-minded musicians and music lovers to travel together for stretches or just to the next town with a gig booked.

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