1. Goin' On Downtown Jim Gaudet And The Railroad Boys 0:51
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  6. Ink My Name Jim Gaudet And The Railroad Boys 0:54
  7. Goin' Up To Saratoga Jim Gaudet And The Railroad Boys 0:54
  8. One Of These Days Jim Gaudet And The Railroad Boys 0:51
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News and Updates

Michael Hallisey, Spotlight News.com:  Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys have a sound of their own, and it’s not bluegrass
SARATOGA SPRINGS-How does a self-proclaimed city boy like Jim Gaudet get himself into bluegrass?
“Boy, that’s an age-old question,” he said as he chuckled.

For starters, it’s not quite bluegrass that he and The Railroad Boys play. It has its similarities. The setup on stage resembles that of a bluegrass band. Gaudet, blessed with the gift of gab, can spin a yarn behind the mic.

Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys sets up like a traditional bluegrass band: As it reads on their website, Gaudet strums the guitar while Sten Isachsen plays mandolin, Bobby Ristau is on the stand-up bass, and Sara Milonovich and Tucket Callander both play the fiddle. But that’s about where the comparisons end.

“The bluegrass world has welcomed us with open arms,” Gaudet said, adding that bluegrass is a love of his. However, with the band’s latest album, he wants to solidify the fact that what they play is hillbilly rock ‘n’ roll. “But I feel almost like an imposter in some ways, because we’re not a traditional bluegrass band.”

Listen to “Johnny Come Lately,” off the group’s 2016 release “When It Rains.” From someone who foolheartedly told bluegrass legend Del McCoury that he couldn’t appreciate the music coming from anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line, I can at least agree that Gaudet doesn’t play bluegrass — I just don’t know how to articulate it, okay. But that’s something novice audience members can determine for themselves by seeing them play Caffé Lena on Saturday, March 5, at 8 p.m.

Lena Spencer’s coffeehouse in Saratoga Springs is a familiar room for the singer-songwriter. His life as a performer started on her stage during an open mic night more than 30 years ago. Sometime after performing a cover of Lefty Frizzell’s “Long Black Veil,” the late owner encouraged him to keep working on his own music.

“Initially, I was scared to death of her,” he said. “As wonderful, warm and engaging as she could be, she could also be tough, too. That’s one of the reasons why I started to write. One of my greatest goals was to perform at Lena’s.”

He started playing guitar while attending school in the late 60s at the University of New England in Maine, pursuing a degree in both sociology and psychology. He befriended a musician who taught him a few chords. From there, he returned home, picked up a mandolin and together with Marty DiGuiseppe, Kevin Furlong and Roger Weiss they formed Lost Country Rounders. They, without an argument, played bluegrass. On his blog, Weiss wrote how they’d play weekly at Reactionary Mary’s before the group disbanded in the late 70s.

Gaudet played around as a solo act throughout the next decade. His songwriting drew inspiration from John Gorka. Gaudet said he was just one of a handful of people who took in Gorka’s performance at Caffé Lena one evening. The Jersey native has since been tied with several prominent artists, released more than a dozen albums, and was tasked by Rolling Stone magazine for leading the New Folk Movement in 1991.

Gaudet was captivated by Gorka’s ability to spin a beautiful tale from what may otherwise be mundane. He contacted Gorka’s booking agency to invite him back for a concert. After he returned, Gorka stayed a few nights with Gaudet and his wife at their home.

“He had some good advice for me,” he said. “Of course, I can’t think of the exact wisdom as we speak. What I loved about him mostly — certainly his voice — but, in his writing, he would write about anything. There were no rules. They weren’t all love songs, and if they were love songs, they were taken in very different angles.”

Gaudet’s journey into hillbilly rock ‘n’ roll started once he recorded a record with Isachsen and Ristau in 2008. It was a comeback of sorts for Gaudet, who after signing a deal with 1-800 Prime CD in the early 90s, sold his guitars to help raise his two young children. The obligation to perform every weekend to support the CD was “overwhelming,” he said. It wasn’t a move he regrets. The early pairing with Isachesen and Ristau would roll into The Railroad Boys shortly after their first record.

Now retired from a career working for the state, Gaudet is regularly performing with The Railroad Boys. Their name has headlined at concert series throughout the region, including Old Songs in Voorheesville and Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Oak Hill.

In January, he announced his intent to revisit his older work. In an interview with WEXT’s Chris Wienk, he shared a collaboration with Blotto’s Greg Haymes. Haymes, who died in 2019, played harmonica over a track that tells the story of a mysterious person who pays tribute to Edgar Allen Poe on his birthday. Gaudet plans to rerelease music that coincides with a theme. In March, he will revisit one of his earlier songs, “The Irish Boys.”

This week, he and the band return to Caffé Lena, which he said is as “magic as ever.”

“I still envision the old stage and the old set up,” he said. “Sarah Craig, I can’t say enough wonderful things about her, boy. She took it upon herself and worked that whole thing and created a real miracle in keeping that venue alive.”

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by Amy Biancolli, Friday, October 11, 2019, The Albany Times Union Newspaper

Jim Gaudet had a record player and a radio in his childhood bedroom  (photo: shows Jim Gaudet in his childhood bedroom on Kakely Street)  on Albany’s Kakely Street, a cozy nook with pitched ceilings and walls covered with images of his beloved New York Giants.

Upstairs in his room, he listened to music — Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Steve Gillette.

“This is where I first heard them,” he says. And this is where he first sat with his guitar, late last year, to lay down tracks for his newest album: “Real Stories and Other Tall Tales,” the fourth solo project for the longtime singer-songwriter-guitarist and frontman with the Railroad Boys.

“This was recorded in the bedroom that I grew up in,” Gaudet says, sitting downstairs from the room in question, a copy of the CD on the table beside him. “It’s crazy, yes. Yes. It’s a little different, I know. And it wasn’t planned. It just happened.”

He and his wife of 37 years, Peg, still live in that white brick house on Kakely. There they raised their kids, Jimmy and Mary. And it’s there, on a sunny Tuesday morning, that Gaudet sits down to talk about his latest album and his eight years of living with Parkinson’s, a disease that less confines him than kicks him out the door to live in spite of it.

“I’ve been so fortunate in the way it’s progressed for me, because it’s been a fairly slow progression, thank God. I do what they say to do – and it’s keep moving. One of the great quotes is the disease has a difficult time hitting a moving target,” he says. “So I try to keep moving.”

He gets out. Connects with people. Exercises as much as possible, sometimes with CDPHP’s Silver Sneakers program, sometimes with the Hope Soars organization that offers aid and community to people with Parkinson’s. He’s done yoga. Craniosacral therapy, a meditative, light-touched approach that puts him in a state of deep calm. Boxing, which he loved and fantasized about as a kid but hadn’t ever tried. Not until Parkinson’s.

At first, he just flailed at the heavy bags. Now he hits the speed bags. “I’m great now,” he says of his pugilistic skills. “I can knock anybody out.”

He and Peg laugh. Gaudet is, as she points out, a lifelong athlete. An alumnus of the long-gone Cardinal McCloskey High School, he played football for Siena, then basketball at the University of New England in Maine (formerly St. Francis College). After graduating he taught a bit, then coached a bit of football, then took a temporary job with New York state social services. “I was never gonna work for the state — ‘not gonna do a state job, not gonna do it’ – so I go into the six-month position, and, like, 30 years later, I retire.”

All along, he’s made music — launching into a singer-songwriter career in the 1980s, then forming the Railroad Boys in 2006. Featuring Bobby Ristau on bass, Sten Isachsen on mandolin and guest fiddlers, including Sara Milonovich and Tucker Callander, the band has churned out multiple albums filled with catchy, twangy tunes that defy pat categorization.

Call it Americana-roots, Gaudet says. Or “hillbilly rock n’ roll.” Whatever it is, it’s earned a devoted local fan base, international airplay and appearances at bluegrass festivals – even though they don’t play bluegrass — around the country. Locally they gig all over, including a Hope Soars benefit at Caffe Lena a few weeks back, a monthly first Monday at McGeary’s in Albany and an upcoming show Oct. 25 at the Cock and Bull in Galway.

“Gig-wise, date-wise, I didn’t think I’d be performing at this point in time, but I still am,” he says. “And I’m gonna keep going until the wheels come off.”

Music is healing, he says. Singing helps.

“Vocally, eventually I’ll lose my voice. And they say, ‘Well, what you need to do is screaming therapy.’ So I sing, you know. Which isn’t that much different from screaming therapy.” He laughs again.

Sometimes – as on this Tuesday morning — Gaudet’s body is tranquil. At other times, without warning, Parkinson’s rears its head. “It’s so unpredictable, this disease. You know, one day I’ll go through my medications on schedule, and everything will be fine. I won’t really show the tremors, the medicine won’t wear off. And other days, it’s not working. And my biggest fear is when I get onstage and my left hand has got the tremors. I mean, my forearm cramps up.”

When that happens, he can still play – but it bothers him, and he can’t speak as well. “I get defused. I lose my – you know, whoever I thought I was. A big star. A rock star.” But he soldiers through.

“Real Stories” is Gaudet’s first solo project since 2007’s “Recalling it Quits,” and it’s warm, gravelly and wise. Runaway, runaway, runaway, runaway train / It’s the only thing left when there’s nothing left to blame. Some of the songs were written years ago, pre-Parkinson’s. Some were written after. The album came to be when Gaudet, singing a tune in a songwriter’s circle at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Greene County, snagged the attention of Beacon-based producer Greg Anderson, who later drove up to record Gaudet at Kakeley Street.

“He goes around the house, and he’s clappin’ and makin’ sounds” — to decide which room had the best acoustics — “and he found the back bedroom. So, you know, I said, ‘great.’ And we recorded in there, and it wasn’t until later that it dawned on me that it was actually the room I grew up in.”

That was back in November 2018. For the next three months, Gaudet’s vocal and guitar tracks were laid down right there, up in that space now bright with sun and stacked with books. The other tracks were added later, back at the studio: Milonovich on fiddle, Tommy McDonnell on percussion and harmonica, Rich Pagano on piano, Anderson on varied instruments.

Did it feel weird, recording in his old room? “No,” Gaudet says. “No. Nope.” Did it feel natural? “Yes. Yes, I would say. Because I was very calm and relaxed – and that’s what, I think, he was looking for.”

Gaudet has no idea how long he’s got before the Parkinson’s sidelines him, but in the time he has left, he plans to go for it. Up next: A new album with the Railroad Boys, which they’ll probably start recording early next year. Beyond that, a collaboration with Nashville songwriters he met a few weeks ago at a meeting of the International Bluegrass Music Association down in Raleigh. That could be a massive break.

Meanwhile, he just keeps writing. He’s always at the computer, Peg says. Always churning out songs. A big fan of “Hamilton,” she quotes the tune “Non-Stop”: Why do you write like you’re running out of time? “That’s how Jim is now,” she says. “It’s like … frenetic. But it’s good.” He laughs in agreement. “It’s good! It’s good!”

Gaudet wants his story to get out there. He wants the senior community to take heart. He wants people with Parkinson’s to keep living, keep moving, don’t let it stop them. His message: “Just to not let it affect you. Just keep going. And if you have to start something new in your life that you’ve never done before — as far as exercise or anything — just go do it.” In an odd way, Parkinson’s has broadened his world, pushed him outward.

Early on, he felt differently. “I did say, ‘Oh, I have Parkinson’s, I probably shouldn’t be doing that, or I can’t do that.’ And — ” He exhales, long and loud. “I don’t know. Little by little, I just gained confidence and said, wait a minute — and I put to the test ‘One day at a time.’ You know what I mean? … I would always speak it before, but I didn’t have to actually live it.”

His attitude, these days: “I’m here to today, I feel all right, and it looks like I’m gonna have a day. Another day!” Gaudet smiles with something close to amazement. “That’s how I keep going. I wake in the morning and go, ‘Well, it looks like I have to go through it again! And again!”

And so, each day, he gets out of bed and makes some music.

“I don’t know how to do anything else. I don’t want to do anything else. I have no real drive but to write another song, you know,” he says. “I always want to write another song.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Jim Gaudet and The Railroad Boys with special guest Sara Milonovich on fiddle will be performing a special show this coming Thursday night, August 15, at Caffe Lena, 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY. Thursday’s show is to benefit “Hope Soars”, a Parkinson’s support organization. The show starts at 8:00 pm. 
Tickets: https://nvite.com/caffelena/b3b95
http://www.hopesoars.org/
http://jimgaudet.com/show/caffe-lena-3/

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Friday night, February 24, will find Jim and The Railroad Boys with special guest Sara Milonovich on fiddle, excited to be performing at the newly remodeled Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY.

The Caffe could still use our help in supporting the Campaign for Caffe Lena.  With our help, this important cultural institution will continue to preserve American music traditions, foster creativity, and nourish the community for many years into the future.

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Mary Burdette, Assistant Director of The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival has authored a wonderful article regarding Jim and The Railroad Boys connection and progression through the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.  The article titled, “Accidental Convergence Leads to Albany Band’s Success”, traces the band’s path via Jim’s song writing through the eye of The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival.

Click here to read the article.

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The Railroad Boys CD, “Reasons That I Run” is on Pandora Internet Radio!  Sign up and accounts are free!  Then just type in Jim Gaudet and The Railroad Boys to start listening to the Boys and many other artists with a similar style/sound/genre.  http://www.pandora.com/ 

All four of our latest CDs are playable now on Spotify!!

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