Meet the Band: The Runaway Train Cult - Roots
The Runaway Train Cult began as an offshoot of Afrikaans Roots band, Radio Kalahari Orkes and is part of a broader collective of musicians who Session at Dan Roberts’ StoepStudios - they also share a love for acoustic folk and roots music.
The band’s original influence stems from their interest in Gypsy jazz/Appalachian/Americana/New Orleans swing and the instruments associated to those genres: Violin, guitars, upright bass, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, accordion, brass and percussion. The various styles have become so integrated that it’s hard to hear where one genre starts and another stops. Recently Hip Hop and soul have got into the mix, so the journey continues.
Besides original material they, not so much cover songs as uncover them, songs that have been buried, going back to the early 1900’s through the rich picking ground of the 20’s 30’s and 40’s. They also re-compose or, as they say, de-compose contemporary songs converting them to Gypsy Appalachian or swing - or whatever else is handy. On Rehearsing
As a strict rule, they don’t. Initially the musicians were handed sheets at the beginning of the gig now it’s more common that you listen, watch and play, a real tight rope act. The songs become vehicles to improvise on, not only the solos, but the entire arrangement is done in the live situation. Often with the band members never having heard the original song. Interestingly, a comment often made is how ‘tight’ the band is - this is due to both the quality of the musicianship and the fact that they play together constantly. This decision not to rehearse is deliberate and done to keep the songs fresh and as living entities that can evolve over time. A great song remains great in any genre - (and it also keeps the musicians on their toes)
The band consists of full time professional musicians: On vocals and ukulele, Miss Christine's clear tone is in the plains tradition of Alison Krauss and Gillian Welsh while Wynand ‘Gypsy’ Dawel (violin) and Friso Woudstra (guitars) both feature in the well known Afrikaans roots group, Radio Kalahari Orkes. Brendan Ou Tim is a widely experienced upright bass player who has played with a variety of artists including Arno Carstens & Karma. Ruben Samuels is the drummer for artists such as Rodrigues when touring South Africa and Dan Roberts (banjo, mandolin, guitars) is a often SAMA nominated Music Producer and winner of a SAMA award in that category.
As part of the collective, Alicia van Dyk on vocals and Accordion, Sez Adamson on pedal steel and guitars and Steven Sidley on brass are often the mix too.
For more info or to book the band for your corporate gig, wedding, party, anything please contact Kelly@thesquad.co.za.