Hard-driving, up-tempo acoustic Americana Roots music from the traditions of country, folk, and bluegrass. Jim's creative original story songs (anywhere from food to murder) are the main focus of the band. Can be heard regionally in the Northeast on all NPR stations and nationally on XM Radio.
The Railroad Boy’s sound is steeped in the tradition of “Acoustic Americana Roots Music.” They deliver a dynamic blend of traditional mountain music fused with Gaudet’s diverse contemporary songwriting. Gaudet’s unique percussive rhythms become the perfect springboard for his voice to follow and his melodies are downright infectious. It’s typical during any live performance to see the band’s fans shouting right along on favorites like “So Far So Good.” Gaudet has assembled a strong cast of characters in the Railroad Boys. Individually the Railroad Boys are Jim Gaudet on guitar and vocals, Bobby Ristau on bass and vocals, Sten Isachsen on mandolin and vocals, and Mat Kane on fiddle.
Jim Gaudet: Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Well, yes, Jim Gaudet is a folksinger -- but without all that microscopic self-examination and tedious political correctness. Mostly, he's a storyteller -- and he does it extremely well. Whether singing about a baseball hero, a death row inmate, or a childhood love, Jim's straightforward approach is remarkably refreshing"
Albany, New York's Jim Gaudet has paid his dues to both the stage and his age before meeting up with his muse. He sang his first original when he was thirty somethin' -- in a voice with the gentle authority of someone who'd lived a little life already, been a little up and a little down, who'd traveled as a musician, stayed home as a father, and grappled with the conflicting demands of both. Soon after, he compared his own metamorphosis to a frozen brook in one of his earliest tunes, "I'm Comin' Alive" -- "His words flow free and he begins to say/That I'm comin' alive/Spring is arriving/The mercury's climbing/My spirit is high."
Gaudet's journey began as a flat picker, not a singer, playing mandolin and guitar for the Lost Country Rounders. The Rounders went their separate ways and he split the scene for awhile. But music's a dream that doesn't die easily, and Jim took the first nervous steps up to the open mic -- singing favorite tunes at well-known Upstate New York haunts like Saratoga Springs' Caffe Lena and Albany's Eight Step Coffeehouse. Within a few months he's replaced covers with his own stunning, confident originals (one of them, "The Basement on Willett Street", canonized the latter's open stage crew) and was well on his way to becoming a regional favorite.
He then went on to headline sold-out shows of his own at clubs throughout New York State (like the PostCrypt in New York and the Zodiac in Syracuse) -- winning audiences with his witty, unassuming stage presence, deft fretting, and those special songs.
Few mix candor and comedy as well as Gaudet: and his voice, like warm syrup on charcoal, carries the humanity and the humor with equal aplomb.
In addition to his own gigs, he's shared the boards with Maura O'Connell (Page Hall), John Gorka (Eighth Step), Cheryl Wheeler (Empire Center), The Nylons (Berkshire Performing Arts Center), Richard Shindell, and the Chenille Sisters (Kirkland Arts Center).
Jim released three independent cassettes before joining up with New York City singer/songwriter indie label 800-PRIME-CD.
Metroland Magazine's Sarge Blotto described one of the cassettes, “In Real Life” as "Full of musical treasures . . . Jim Gaudet is a mature singer/songwriter ready to stand toe-to-toe with the best of the new folk crowd."
The Austin Chronicle included it in their Top Ten for the year. The Albany Times Union included Jim in their "Class of the Year”… "Who have the best shot at putting our town on the national music map."
Metroland's Diane Sirois called another cassette release “(Bootleg) Live”, "Funny and freewheeling . . . a perfect toe in the folk pool if you're not sure you can swim."
Bobby Ristau: Harmony Vocals, Bass
Bobby Ristau is an American Roots bassist and harmony singer. Bobby's love of old time country and bluegrass music had its roots years ago when he first heard his friend's dad, singer songwriter Johnny Richards, sing and pick guitar. Later he began his 36 year professional music career with the Armed Forces working with the band Smoke. Smoke's popularity evolved from its ethnic mix of players from both the Army and the Air Force. Smoke toured and played Army camps and Air Bases throughout a 13 month stay in South Korea.
Returning home he began singing and playing bass and guitar with several New York Capital Area bands including, Country Cookin', and Cheers. He has recorded albums and played with The Fortunate Few and Capital Soul Revue.
Bobby has worked with Jim Gaudet and The Railroad Boys since the band's beginning in 2006.
Mat Kane: Fiddle
Picking up the fiddle at the tender age of five, Mat Kane was exposed to bluegrass early on through playing with his uncles singer-songwriter Kieran Kane and instrumentalist Richard Kane of the O'Kanes. After graduating from college, Kane lived in Beijing, China for two years where he played electric violin with Chinese rock legends Shazi, Cui Jian and Tang Dynasty. After moving back to the United States, Kane became the fiddler for the cajun/country band The Doc Marshalls for seven years. Presently he's a proud Railroad Boy and stylistically mixes it up with his electronic rock project the Disposable Rocket Band.
Sten Isachsen: Mandolin, Guitar, Dobro
Sten Isachsen has appeared as concerto soloist with the University at Albany Orchestra and the Ithaca College String Quartet. Possessing a Bachelor and Master of Music in Guitar Performance from Ithaca College, he has studied guitar with Frederick Hand, Ed Flower and Joel Brown, and has participated in master classes with Manuel Barrueco, Sergio and Odair Assad and Benjamin Verdery.
Isachsen is a founding member of the Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet, which has commissioned works from composer Anthony Holland. He is also a member of the Musicians of Ma'alwyck, a string trio in residence at the Schuyler Mansion, the Pruyn House and Schenectady County Community College. Musicians of Ma’alwyck have steadily gained acclaim in the Classical world of music and the addition of classical guitar makes them an unusual and in-demand string trio.
In addition to his work as a classical guitarist, Isachsen is endorsed by Martin Guitars and performs regularly on steel string and electric guitars, as well as mandolin, providing support for artists like living legend Charlie Louvin, Nashville recording artist Bob Bates, Country Music Hall of Famers The Haggar Twins and many Upstate New York musicians like MotherJudge, Jim Gaudet and Michael Eck.
A dedicated teacher, Isachsen is member of the faculty at Schenectady County Community College - which oversees an outstanding undergraduate music studies program - and the State University of New York at Albany. He maintains a private studio in Delmar, NY. In addition to his influence on the Capital District guitar studies community, Isachsen is owner, engineer and producer at Bender Studios, a recording facility in Delmar, NY. Clients include Gibson-endorsed mandolin player Skip Gorman and Hammer Guitar--endorsed jazz guitarist George Muscatello.