Words, Sound And Power – Riley Coyote – Rail Yard Ghosts

Working on the railroad you get asked a lot of questions, like…


Do you travel across country?

How long does it really take to stop a train?

Have you ever hit something?

Sometimes you get asked the hobo question.

The Answer is yes. but… It is an answer that is also a very big question. There are many who do ride. There are many who take the very big chances, and it is a sub culture of a subculture.. so…

You fill in the blanks.

In this episode of Words, Sound and Power… 

We meet Riley, a songwriter / composer / arranger / traveler / free spirit / rebel… The group he is a part of is a continuation of a rich folk music heritage that has always in some form… been known to be lurking on or about tracks. They are a group of folks who play music on the streets for a living… they sometimes live a life….

that even some of the toughest could not hang with

They do it with purpose, out of respect and in line with the tradition. The Rail Yard Ghosts are a folk music band of American Gypsies who feel that there is more to everything and even more than that…. to be found….


Let’s go riding in the Car. Car.. collectively… to a place in the shadows of American rail culture.

Or – as the greatest rail labor leader in history, Eugene V Debs once said…

Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind then that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

and you can be the judge… I’ll drive the train!

Enjoy the Ride…. and don’t forget to put a nickle in the buskers hat if you enjoy it… thanks…


You can find the Rail Yard Ghosts here…


Songs “R” Blue or… I dreamed I saw Jason Eklund last night…

jason_eklund_002_1284247549Jason Eklund

Years ago –

Jason traveled to New York state chasing a beacon… He landed on Pete Seeger’s doorstep a strapping young man of about 20. Pete, after a short introduction, took him into his humble abode for a couple of days. This journey started a fast rise that sounds almost too much to be true. According to the German Wikipedia site using translate… Captain Stringbean was accepted by Seeger and his wife…

“He was allowed to do in the house as a craftsman useful.”

Townes Van Zandt said of Eklund, “…the real thing…he can yodel, write and plays the guitar good too.”

Sing Out! Magazine said…

“Jason Eklund is One of Those Young Lions – Ani DiFranco is another – who did prove Essentially Homemade Folk Music Continues to be revitalized with each new generation That takes it up.”

So what happened???………. Where did this person who was being primed and trumpeted to be the next big thing go?

According to the internet..except for some sightings recently from Youtube… he disappeared about 2002. I am sure there are plenty of things that can be said and I am sure there are plenty of stories to be heard… but… Dot. Dot. Dot…

Let me tell you a story.. and as we say on the railroad…

This ain’t’ no shit!

After some advice from THE Hobo president of The Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture, Jason hoped my train (car) for a ride on the Joe Hill Tour . The tour  for Joe Hill has been organized to memorialize the murder, 100 years ago, of the wob bard/ organizer of the Industrial Workers of The World. The I double Double U.

and yes.. they (I.W.W)  are still around and so is Joe Hill. I saw him at the Barrymore theater in #WIunion.


The trip started with Jason showing up late to a gig in Batavia, Ill. (The website times were wrong) Actually he was a little bit early..A concert line-up that included his long time friend and labor activist Anne Feeney… Utah Phillip’s suggested that Anne is:

“The Best Labor Singer In North America”

I might suggest that Anne is the hardest working self employed musician/educator/activist in the USA, and not to mention a wealth of stories and experience in a trade called Folklorico Syndicato Americanes… I made that up, but that is what it is. Activist Labor/ Folk Music …. that is.. Y’all stay with me now….

After hanging out for a while.. telling stories and playin’ some tunes…we then started our journey… The hobo train kids would write it out like this on a box car…

Batavia – Shabbana -Sheboygan – Madison – Shabbana

We rolled… and talked.. for hours. 

The interview below, was done in a bar… We talk about his rise and fall from the family tree of the folk circuit, but we mostly go head to head about what is called AMERICANA…


Jason’s newest Cd’s are on my desk. This one contains the tune. Songs “R” Blue. He has given me permission to do what I do best. Tell stories…

Y’all can fill in the blanks as you wish.

His story is not something new. There have been many musicians taste fame and fall, but…

His title song has not been published until now… and in my opinion…

(Very Important)

and a masterpiece in folk musicianship. The rest of the CD is pretty dang good too.

Railroad Music – The Thread In the Quilt

45 years ago i was born, but… Fourteen years ago I started a journey… down and back two steel rails. I became a railroad worker and then a folk musician. A worker on the L&N CSX railroad in Kentucky… the State that didn’t take sides in the Civil War. The state that makes all the Bourbon. In My Old Kentucky Home, and on the railroad tracks that run straight down the center…….

is where I was raised, work and sometimes write my music. I drive trains, and it is a way of life… Railroading… folk music… folklorico documentus.. well.. that’s life…. Folks!

I hope to make this blog something interesting for anyone who is searching out authentic, real folk music and writing. The writing might not be perfect. It will contain mistakes, sometimes bad notes. Just like folk music does… and that is what folk music is.. real, not sloppy but

I have much to offer. Photographs, music …. word, sound and power! Documenting the work of others, telling our story…

Car tag AO

I suggest that “Railroad Music is the Thread in the Quilt that is Americana.” but i don’t really like the term Americana. Americana is a term created for the music industry, in some ways I feel, to get away from the old folksiness of folk music but, I get it. A mix of American traditional music = Americana.. allright… ok.. but…

Folk music has a unique formula. I have learned from workers in the folk music trade, that folk music contains a certain thing. Sort of like how Bourbon must be from Kentucky. It’s a mixture, something organically compounded, made of non-manufactured ingredients. Smoothly blended…soulfully produced and authentically verified.

A quilt is something that traditionally contains something more than just fabric. It is a story, created for a purpose more than just to keep someone warm. The term quirk comes from the craft of quilting. “That gal has a certain quirk.. stitch.” I have heard from a quiltmaker in Kentucky that this quirkiness came about when communities would make quilts together. The folks could identify who worked on the quilt by the stitch…each person had a special identifiable stitch. Thusly the term and the Folk Style.

Railroad tracks connect communities…. or at least they used to (for most)  / Almost every genre of music has a song about a train. Railroad Music is what I play. Music that connects certain communities, music that contains all the things that your grandma told you not to talk about.

Politics, Religion and everything in between.

So, Enjoy this blog.. and as Johnny Cash used to say… Come on and ride this train. I will tell you in these posts where I have been, and show you where I am at

and point you in a direction….. EVEN FURTHER THAN THAT! 

so, a button on your shirt and Here is another first and a lil sip of what’s come!

I’ve paid my dues, got nothing to lose,

I won’t quit for tryin’

I carried my own, and the stars have shown,

It’s time to go somewhat…

Further, and even further than that.

Stop and Start again.

Further and even further than that

Again and again.

A hopeless manic, wrapped in a cloak of panic!

What the hell do you think I meant?

My words were not for, a closing of a door,

They were a knock and a wish to go…

Further, and even further than that…

Round and round.

Further and even further than that,

Stop and start again.

We feel the same sun, and a course will be run,

That rain is gonna fall.

There’s nothing you can do, Stop giving me the blues,

There is nothing left to do but go….

Further, and even further than that…

Over and over.

Further, and even further than that,

Round and round.

Hook em’ quick, to catch that fish.

But what would be the bounty?

A certain passion, that ain’t a fashion,

But all I can offer is to go…

Further, and even further than that.

You outta Listen!

Further, and even further than that,

Over and over.

When the credits roll, how will we know?

If the audience will be there.

How far can it go? cause I don’t know..

Your always looking over your shoulder afraid to go..

Further, and even further than that..

Try if we may!

Further, and even further than that

You outta listen.

I’m not trying to capitalize, or win a prize,

That’s not the point of action!

I have some sort of feelin’

There would be some healing by always lookin’

Further, and even further than that,

You outta know!

Further, and even further than that,

Again and again!

JP on the first day of 2015