Mississippi Rail Company

Mississippi Rail Company

 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Mississippi Rail Company is a piano-based blues-rock power trio that revives and reimagines the sounds of the American past.


The business of Mississippi Rail Company is moving music forward via a vehicle of the past. Their music is an experiment in irony, embracing New Orleans roots music, rock ’n roll, folk, and blues traditions while refusing to fall subject to any of their claims. Their music breaks wholly new ground, rejecting any pull toward a simple re-hash of past musical genres. There is nothing tired, tried, or weary about their sound as it re-thinks (and re-shapes) a century of American musical traditions. In short, it manages to sound as if it could have been produced in 1920, even as its content and structure are a decade ahead of its time.

The group is comprised of three young musical talents, all of whom found themselves drawn to New Orleans with the specific purpose of imbibing the city’s musical heritage. Mississippi Rail Company’s first self-titled EP, released in June 2010, exemplifies a group who has breathed in, mastered, and understood hundreds of musical influences, only to breathe them back out in a way uniquely their own.

The most compelling thing about the EP is that all four songs contain a distinct sound and style, even as they work together to create a unified aesthetic. The first song, “Fire,” bears a heavy Gillian Welch/David Rawlings influence coupled with a lead vocal that is one shake Dr. John and one shake Robert Plant. The driving beat and haunting lyrics draw the listener into an apocalyptic vision that ultimately remains hopeful in tone and rhythm. “Can I be your Husband?” moves the Dr. John influence from the vocal to the instrumentation as the lyrics take a playful and suggestive tone of a speaker who desperately wants to woo his woman. “Mr. Brown,” reminiscent of a Jerry Lee Lewis jam session, humorously tells the tale of a recluse who may or may not have killed his wife. “Only God Knows My Name” closes the album by taking the existential angst of hard Dylan and giving it a heavier blues edge.

In such a manner, Mississippi Rail Company continues to steam forward in a manner that is evocative of so many old traditions yet remains fresh and exciting. They are to New Orleans music what Old Crow Medicine Show is to bluegrass and Los Po-boy-citos is to Latin: neither descendent from nor mimetic of their genre. Instead, they seek to transcend it. The band could just as easily be enjoyed by fans of Professor Longhair as those of Emmylou Harris, Fats Domino, or Tom Waits, and such a singular musical style surely will have a place in the New Orleans music scene for a long time to come.


Mississippi Rail Company (EP)