Miller believes rail travel is not a thing of the past but an underrated way for musicians to tour
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — All over the country, musicians are touring in buses and Econolines. Scott Miller has an idea that’s far more fun, greener and calls attention to a forgotten mode of transportation — trains. On May 9, he will embark on his “Mule Train MMIX” tour by boarding the Amtrak Crescent, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Miller, whose new album For Crying Out Loud will be released today, April 14, 2009, on the indie F.A.Y. Records, will ride the rails up the East Coast.
On May 9, Miller and his band the Commonwealth will kick off the tour with a performance at New Orleans’ Amtrak station at 5:30 p.m., celebrating both the 30th anniversary of the Amtrak Crescent route and National Train Day. From there, Miller will ride the Crescent, which extends from New Orleans to New York, opening with a tour stop in Greenville, S.C. at the Handlebar. Charlottesville, Va. is next on May 15 followed by Washington, D.C. (May 16), Easton, Md. (May 17), Philadelphia (May 19) and others to be announced shortly. (A full itinerary appears below.)
Miller comments, “Just as the fledgling Republic of Texas called Sam Houston back again and again to save them, the railroads have called me back to single-handedly save them as well. Okay, not really — but they did call about playing an event on National Train Day (May 9th) in New Orleans and since I had a new record coming out we worked out a partnership so I can take the train to shows up the East Coast. That proves that trains are relevant to me. As far as the rest of the country, well, that’s one of the things I aim to find out!”
Miller has taken on a sense of personal responsibility to remind musicians and music fans about the joys of train travel (this is the second time he’s chosen to travel by train for a concert tour). Trains were vital in the development of America. Yet in the 1950s Detroit lobbied hard to put transportation on four rubber tires, killing passenger rail. So a few years ago when Miller released his 2003 Are You With Me album with a song called “Amtrak Crescent,” inspiration struck. He wrote the Department of Transportation, who put him in touch with Amtrak Senior Officer of Field Marketing Jerome Trahan. Trahan became an enthusiastic supporter and helped book the first Mule Train Tour in 2004. According to Trahan, “Miller’s song ‘Amtrak Crescent’ brought us together in 2004 for a successful tour promoting rail travel and great music, two things that are meant to be together. We are delighted that Scott will headline our 30th Anniversary Celebration on National Train Day in New Orleans.”
As before, Miller will travel from tour city to tour city on Amtrak.
The dates are as follow:
May 09 NEW ORLEANS, LA Amtrak Station, 5:30 p.m. (full band) 30th Anniversary of the Amtrak Crescent and National Train Day celebration
May 13 GREENVILLE, SC Handlebar (solo)
May 15 CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA Gravity Lounge (solo)
May 16 WASHINGTON, DC/ALEXANDRIA, VA Iota (solo)
May 17 EASTON, MD Night Cat (solo)
May 19 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Caf (solo)
May 20 NEW YORK, NY The Living Room
He concludes: “Why am I wanting to tour by rail? You really don't want me or my road manager/mascot Big Al driving. It’s simply a matter of public safety. Plus, coach on a train has so much more leg room than any car or plane!”