Jim Gaudet & The Railroad Boys


The Band

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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.


Band Members

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.


Tucker Callander: Fiddle

Tucker Callander, a native of the Capital Region, has been performing in the area since he was 10 years old with various groups, including the Empire State Youth Orchestra, Glens Falls Symphony, and Schenectady Symphony. He has had the opportunity to perform in Europe on several occasions, including serving as the principal 2nd violinist in the Conservatoire de Strasbourg Symphony Orchestra while studying abroad.

Tucker attended Syracuse University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance and served as the concertmaster his senior year. Go Cuse!  After graduating, he began branching out of the classical world and exploring a variety of genres, from bluegrass to jazz to rock. Tucker prides himself on being a versatile musician, being able to sight read music or use his ear and adapt to whatever the situation calls for.  He has played in front of sold out crowds at the Times Union Center and at music festivals such as Country Fest. He currently plays in several groups including Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, the Hot Club of Saratoga, the Silver Arrow Band, and the 9 and ¾ Ensemble.


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.

Sara Milonivich: Fiddle

Sara Milonovich is an award-winning singer, fiddler, songwriter/composer, and bandleader as well as a sought-after accompanist for a number of other artists in many musical genres. In addition to fronting her indie alt-grass band, Daisycutter, she has performed throughout the US, Europe, and beyond, in Americana roots, folk-rock, bluegrass, Appalachian, and Celtic music, as a solo artist and in collaboration with artists such as Pete Seeger (on his Grammy-winning album “At 89”), Richard Shindell, Cathie Ryan, Eliza Gilkyson, The McKrells, Anne Hills, and Antje Duvekot, among others. With upstate stringband, Mountain Quickstep, she toured Kosovo, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Turkey in 2011 as part of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, a cultural diplomacy program sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the US State Department. Sara has also composed music for VoiceTheatre’s 2012 production of Lovers and 2013 production of Birds on a Wire.

Growing up on a working farm in rural upstate New York, she began playing fiddle when she was four, and by nine was leading her own band (around the same time she learned to drive a tractor.) She joined the Adirondack Fiddlers at age seven, and had the opportunity to learn firsthand a variety of fiddle tunes and styles common in NY from older generations of fiddlers who grew up playing local dances at grange halls and lumber camps. At age twelve she released her first cassette of traditional fiddle tunes, Traditionally, Sara. In June 2001, Sara traveled to Mt. Airy, North Carolina, where she competed in both the Bluegrass Fiddle and Folk Song contests, placing first and second, respectively.

Her CD, ‘Daisycutter’, released in 2009, was a nominated Grammy semifinalist, as was her debut CD, ‘Miss Ippy Fiddle’, released in 1998. Her first CD with Greg Anderson, ‘Forward In All Directions!’, made the Top Ten World Music list in the Village Voice ‘Pazz & Jop’ Critic’s Poll of 2004. Her song, “Scarecrow”, was a Folk Category finalist in the 2010 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and her song, “Newsprint”, was a semifinalist in the 2012 Show Me the Music Songwriting Contest. She continues to teach traditional music in schools and universities throughout the US, as part of American cultural outreach programs abroad, in workshops/masterclasses at festivals, and in private fiddle lessons. Her sophomore release with Daisycutter, “Waiting for the Stars,” is due out in 2015.



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These boys are doing the Capital Region bluegrass scene mighty proud! They've gone from local hero status to national bluegrass band on-the-rise. Their original, hard-driving, up-tempo music places special emphasis on three-part harmonies, great lyrics, and Gaudet's inimitable high lonesome croon. Gaudet fronts the band on flatpicked guitar and vocals; Bob Ristau provides harmony vocals, bass and big laughs; Sten Isachsen adds mandolin and Vocals and newest member Mat Kane tears it up on fiddle.

A few credentials to throw around: they were voted "Fan Favorite" at Podunk Bluegrass Festival last summer. They travelled to Seattle for WinterGrass, where their sets received two standing ovation encores. They're slated to headline at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival this summer, and we're just so proud of them!

Sarah Craig, Caffé Lena



 Jim Gaudet