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There was this one gig where we played nearly nothing but train songs: "I hear that train a'-comin'...," "I'm going off the rails on a crazy train...," "Third boxcar midnight train...," "Rock me Mama like a southbound train, Heyyyy...," - Yeah, we did that one, too. The show was at the brand spankin' new Frisco Rail Yard, and we were one of the first bands to open the place, situated right on the old Frisco tracks. So, yeah. Train songs seemed appropriate.

But we needed a train song of our own. And that's how, eventually, this one came about:

the bodarks at frisco rail yard
The Bodarks with special guest Jackson Eli

Listen carefully and you'll hear a bit of what musicians call a "train wreck" at the end of the song. We'd recorded it live, so had to do a few editing tricks to make it sound like, "Hey, we did that on purpose."

Anyway, train songs are a whole sub-genre of folk music, and Frisco's a train town, you know. So, keeping with that theme, a weekend-long music festival called the Whistlestop Jamboree developed, held every October all around the Frisco Rail Yard. I helped create it with my pals in the Frisco Music Scene so we could showcase local bands making a big splash around DFW on the main stage. And on another stage - the "Jamboree Stage" - we did a little experiment: musicians were drawn from a hat to form "scramble bands."

Now, these scramble bands were Frankensteined groups with musicians from all different genres and styles, and they prepared a half-hour spectacle for folks to gawk at. Through the years, each of us Bodarks have played in a few of those scrambles, with members of Wooden Nickel, The Buffalo Ruckus, Mark Shelton & The Greater Good, Matthew Bell & The Next of Kin, and a bunch of others.

In one such scramble band I was in, called "That Sound Flipper Makes"... Yes, that was our name... We worked up this song I'd been toying with about a Dust Bowl vagrant who loves riding the rails with no particular destination in mind, and no possessions to burden him. This, in contrast to the fancy folks who board from town to town, lugging their trunks and complaining of how the Frisco Line lacks the luster of the newer east-coast diesels.

Eventually The Bodarks worked up the song into what is now "The Frisco Line." Doc added that psychedelic electric washboard thang he does to mimic the sound of a steam locomotive, and Shelly fiddled out those wailing train whistles. We captured it live and it made the cut on our new Live Americana album.

THE FRISCO LINE - by The Bodarks

I sing all my songs to the rhythm of the track

I ride the Frisco Line with nothing on my back

I found Califarny was just a big ol’ lie

So I ride the Frisco Line Don’t need a reason why

They say Fayetteville is a place you should jump off

Further yet and then you’ll get that Kansas City cough

Birmingham soldier man blowin kisses to his gal

Depot bell is ringing loud we’re bound for Mobile now


Some’ll hop a train on their way to somewhere else

Me I’ll hop a train just so I can ride them rails


I sing all my songs to the rhythm of the track

I ride the Frisco Line with nothing on my back

People at the depot crowding around as we stop

They pile on then we’re gone Aint none of us getting off

They say them East Coast diesels got the latest styles

But a Frisco train’ll go on for miles and miles




River kids jumping bridge playing double dare

Chasing trains up the lanes ‘til the day they’re out of there


I sing all my songs to the rhythm of the track

I ride the Frisco Line with nothing on my back

Want a a free download of the track? Just go here:

Look out for the next Whistlestop Jamboree coming to the Frisco Rail Yard this October at:


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There was this one gig that wasn't a gig.

But if you described its elements as a list, it sure does read like one. The fiddle player was there, along with both founding members, a couple of bassists, the mando master, and the washboard scrubb


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