We went out to Wild West City, a western theme park in Netcong, NJ on Wednesday night, for some pre-holiday festivities. Todd Sheaffer (Railroad Earth) was playing a show at the Golden Nugget Saloon in the theme park and a bunch of our friends were going as well. After dinner at the Lockwood Tavern with Koreen and Barbara, we headed over to the venue. Parking was easy — lot attendants waved us into a spot from about a quarter-mile away — and we made our way into the park.
It really is a western theme park — you could smell the manure and the ramshackle town you walked through would have fit perfectly into that era. There were employees dressed up as cowboys, and the female bartenders were corseted up, drawing the eyes of men and women alike to their pushed up bosoms. Seriously, it was hard not to look.
We stayed outside for much of the early evening and opening set by Jordan Koza — it was simply too bloody humid both outside and in, and there were only a couple of fans to help circulate the air in the entire place. Fortunately, there were only probably a hundred or so people there, making it less-uncomfortable than it might have been. There are too many names to mention, but it was great seeing so many people making their way to the show.
Todd’s friends this go ’round were Andrew Altman on bass (Railroad Earth), David Butler (American Babies) on drums, and Jamie Coan (From Good Homes) on guitar, fiddle and mandolin. They opened with the old FGH tune Radio On, and went from there. They played the old theme for Wild West City – twice! – and had the place hopping.
Todd broke out some great covers over the course of the night – City of New Orleans, and Mr. Tambourine Man, and filled in with lots of songs you expect from his From Good Homes years and his Railroad Earth ones. At one point in the second set, David and Jamie left the stage to Todd and Andrew, who broke out some Railroad tunes, including Lonecroft Farewell and a killer version of The Jupiter and the 119. Storms was very sweet to hear, and then Jamie came out and Andrew took a break while they played Charlie Hogan and another FGH tune I’m blanking on.
Some of the high points for me were a hot I’m a Mess, The Butterfly and the Tree, and a fantastic Raindance, or as I call them, “The Trifecta,” since Todd pulled the songs back from Railroad’s usage in shows a few years back. Getting all three helped make me really enjoy the show.
The encore, however, was extra special – the Grateful Dead’s U.S. Blues. The place went wild. Everyone had huge grins on their faces as they sang and danced along. Magic. And then it was over. Sweat poured from everyone due to the humidity, and no one seemed to care.
I would love to see more shows at the Saloon, but when the weather is better. Spring or Autumn would be perfect. The sound inside the place was actually pretty good (and it helped that Mike, Railroad’s sound engineer and J-Ro – stage sound for Railroad were along to help with things).
Was it an epic show? No, but it was a great Todd show, which is all I wanted. Thanks to the Hobo Stage once again for a great event!