Old School Freight Train (OSFT) is a Charlottesville, Virginia-based band that combines bluegrass, jazz, Latin, and Celtic sounds to create their music.
The band's self-named debut CD Old School Freight Train was met with considerable acclaim. Relix magazine, included them in their "Artists Too New to Know" series in May 2005. Daniel Gewertz of the Boston Herald called them: "The most talented young string band in the land . ."
Mandolin master David Grisman heard their music in the Fall of 2004 and invited them record at his Dawg Studios in Mill Valley, California. He manned the production and recording himself with the help of Dave Dennison. From these sessions came Run, OSFT's second CD and their first for Acoustic Disc, Grisman's acclaimed independent label. He says of the experience:
"After forty years of recording acoustic music, it's not very often that a new band catches (and keeps) my attention. Old School Freight Train has done that and more . . They are certainly an emerging force to reckon with in today's wide world of acoustic music."
They have backed David Grisman as his band on several tours in 2005 and 2006. They opened for Merle Haggard May 3, 2006 at the Charlottesville Pavilion. They were co-billed with King Wilkie at the Starr Hill Music Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia November 15, 2006. They played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on September 23, 2006.
The band's tour schedule has included the Newport Folk Festival, MerleFest, Wintergrass, the Strawberry Music Fest. They appeared at the Menokin bluegrass festival in Warsaw, VA for the third time. They were added to the 2007 Stagecoach Festival in Indio, CA with a lineup including Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Neko Case, Alan Jackson, George Strait and many more.
Their latest effort, Six Years, was released officially March 17, 2009. The band has now broken up.
Tim Dickinson, National Affairs Correspondent, Rolling Stone said of the group's sound:
"Shades of Jack Johnson, Ben Harper... even a kiss of Van Morrison. With Not Like The Others, Old School Freight Train is off on a timeless new track, blending roots and rock to create a sound that's all their own."
Relix magazine, including OSFT in their "Artists Too New to Know" series in May 2005, described their playing as:
"Musically daring, the outfit melds folk, bluegrass, jazz, soul and pop into a seamless blend with invigorating and accomplished picking."
Daniel Gewertz of the Boston Herald noted:
". . they finesse everything from breakneck bluegrass and seductive, sinuous Gypsy jazz to a dynamic, grassed-up version of Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition.' There are even brief side-trips to Ireland and Latin America. This Virginia-based Freight Train hurtles along the roots-music tracks with grace and style."
David Grisman, who recorded their album Run on his independent label, said:
"Their finely crafted tunes and innovative arrangements bring creativity, taste and wit to a broad spectrum of contemporary styles - vocal and instrumental, all firmly rooted in many traditions."
In his review of their new album (released March 17, 2009) John Borgmeyer said in C-VILLE:
"Six Years marks an evolution for Charlottesville's Old School Freight Train, in which the band leaps from the well-traveled track of "newgrass" onto a blend of pop and traditional music that's all its own."
Old School Freight Train is made up of the vocals and songwriting talent of guitarist Jesse Harper, the mandolin stylings of Pete Frostic, the fiddling of Nate Leath, backbone upright bass of Darrell Muller, and drumming of Nick Falk.
Former members have included Ann Marie Calhoun (née Simpson) on the fiddle, and Ben Krakauer on banjo, both of Walker's Run fame. Ann Marie has gone on to further success performing with Jethro Tull and Steve Vai, as well as Ringo Starr. She was also the "My GRAMMY Moment 2008" winner on the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards, chosen to perform with the Foo Fighters live.