at the
Iron Horse,
Volume One

Various Artists

(SIG 1240)

Signature Sounds/
Iron Horse Records
P.O. Box 106
Whately, MA 01093

A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by
Rona Edwards

"I see the Iron Horse as the kind of club
every listening room in America
wants to be when it grows up.
Can I get one in my hometown?"
- Patty Larkin

Every town has its cafe, club, or music hall where artists hang their hats for a night, sing their songs and move on to the next town. In D.C., it's the Birchmere, in Los Angeles, it's McCabes or the Troubadour, in New York it's The Bottom Line, but in Western Massachusetts (Northampton to be exact) it's the Iron Horse Music Hall. So many wonderful artists have taken to the stage at this club it's like a who's who of the music scene including but not limited to the acoustic, rock and country arenas. Now we have a permanent record (no pun intended) and it's only the first volume. Does that mean there are more to follow? Judging from the quality, artistry and entertainment on Volume One, I for one certainly hope so!

When you listen to this CD, you'll feel as though you're sitting there in the audience, front row center, witnessing the wonderful talent before you. Beginning with Patty Larkin's humorous introduction of her Johnny Was a Pyro, to Mary Chapin Carpenter's I Am a Town, straight through to Ellis Paul's Weightless, you'll get to know the kind of talent attracted to performing at the Iron Horse. It's obvious that it's more than just a venue, it's what The Troubadour in Los Angeles was to folk rock in the 60's, encouraging new artists, elevating others while the successful ones always return for one more performance.

All the music on Volume One was recorded between 1990 - 1996 with Richard Thompson's From Galway to Graceland the earliest recording on the album, dating from September, 1990. Choosing which cuts are my favorites is like comparing apples and oranges so I'll tell you about them all, starting with Susan Werner.

How great it is to finally hear a recording of Werner's Maybe If I Played Cole Porter. I've always enjoyed this song. It has that old "standard" feeling since it features piano, which sets it apart from the majority of songs the album which are guitar-based.

Martin Sexton's Can't Stop Thinking About You is a highlight with his jazz-based vocal gymnastics. Tish Hinojosa's Corazon Viajero adds even more contrast to an already eclectic lineup.

Ellis Paul, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Patty Larkin's music contributes to an album that gives new meaning to the saying "Flood the room with music!" Their respective versions of the songs listed above are both exciting and poignant and the energy of these live recordings without the frills rivals their original album cuts.

Original owner Jordie Herold dreamed of a place to hang out with "poets and teapots by day and a rotating menu of music and imported beers by night." The liner notes relate how that dream grew to become the Iron Horse. Current owner Eric Suher continues to keep the music and the tradition flowing.

In addition to the songs mentioned above, other numbers included in this collection are John Wesley Harding's Old Rockin' Roller, Maura O'Connell's Waltzing's for Dreamers, David Mallet's Summer of My Dreams, Jimmie Dale Gilmore's Another Colorado, Fred Eaglesmith's Lucille and Salamander Crossing's Tear My Stillhouse Down.

The album is produced by Jim Olsen and the great acoustic live sound must also be credited to those stellar engineers at the Iron Horse itself: Joshua Switky, Dan Richardson, Kyle Homestead, Andy Turrett and Mark Fleischmann.

Live at the Iron Horse. is just a sampling of the artists and the magic that happens night after night. It's wonderful to get a peek into the artistry and live sounds travelling across the country, and indeed the world, all on one great CD. For those who do not have venues in your town which attract the kind of talent represented on this album, I highly recommend this disc. For those who are able to see these artists, you'll definitely want to add this album to your collections. There's nothing quite like seeing these people live, but Live at the Iron Horse. is the next best thing to being there.

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

Return to FAME Reviews
Fame Logo Return to FAME Home Page

Return to Home Page

This Page was designed by David N. Pyles,
Please send comments, suggestions and inquiries to: