Wolff Bowden
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Wolff Bowden

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"NPR Arts Spotlight With Willi Miller"

"It took me back to the old kind of folk music--Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. The Music is Great! People are going to enjoy this." - Willi Miller (NPR/WQCS)

"New Album Review: The Orphan Trains' On The Night You Were Born"

The Orphan Trains are very, very strange. But, in a wonderful way. Kind of like a train filled with orphaned children and wild animals, strange. Kind of like a bear on a trampoline, strange. According to their website, they wrote their new album in Corvallis, OR where they live when they are not roaming from Florida to India. Apparently, these songs kept bears away when they were lost most of a night in the OSU research forest.

The first song, You & I, is a rollicking tumble towards love infused with the Buddhist idea that change is inevitable. “You say you want to change the world. You couldn’t stop it changing if you tried. Everything’s changing, day after day except you and I.” The rest of the lyrics are surreal. Tigers and Unicorns sighing forgiveness. Blue horses. Swans on the waters of time. And if that wasn’t bizarre enough, the duo created a YouTube video for the song, featuring two spooky stuffed lambs playing on the train in Avery Park!


The second song, Jenell, is sung by the female vocalist of the duo, Dakota Rose, who just so happens to have a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Jenell is about a foster child who wanders from circus tents to redemption while her mother wonders where she is. The song seems to be written from the mother’s perspective. It is haunting, original, and my personal favorite.

The rest of the album is like a painting by Marc Chagall, swirling with colors and houses and brides. On The Night You Were Born (the title track) gives you a peek into the birth of the secretive male singer, who calls himself: THE MASKED FANTASTIC (he’s also a professional artist named Wolff www.wolffantastic.com). You get to hear about his mythical grandfather, from whom he inherited (simultaneously) a dog and a guitar. According to his bio, the dog taught him to “sing” but it sounds more like howling to me. This album is heavy on howling, since he howls on 3 tracks. Luckily, Dakota Rose doesn’t howl. She sings with a warm, soothing voice reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and chooses to end the album with a lullaby. She also plays a powerful violin, an instrument she picked up at age six.

These songs are real. From a song about a comatose woman dying (Oh, Mary) to an account of The Masked Fantastic’s Father’s fight with cancer (Bethlehem) to the song for which the band is named, in which two orphans find new homes on farms of the west (Orphan Trains), this duo holds a sustained and very creative note all the way through.


Sebastian Carr
Folk Guru Review
Corvallis, OR

- The Alchemist Magazine

"The Orphan Trains:"

"The Orphan Trains are stunning. I train psychiatrists to use language to radically and permanently transform their clients’ lives. But even this surgeon of words has a lot to learn from The Orphan Trains. Their lyrics are astounding. Like Leonard Cohen on a roller coaster. Songs that will make you fall in love with life again. You’ve really got to listen. The Orphan Trains' songs are poetry with wings." - Jon Connelly, PHD, LCSW, Founder of The Institute for Survivors of Incest or Sexual Violence

""Lovely!"--Danny Schmidt"

"Lovely!" - Folk Legend Danny Schmidt

""Good Stuff."--Rob Brezsny, Free Will Astrology"

"Good Stuff." - Rob Brezsny, Free Will Astrology

""Highest Honors in the Chemistry of Song""

"As a synthetic organic chemist, I have learned to attune myself to the workings of invisible worlds. The Orphan Trains have done the same. Like great scientists, they perform with a palpable passion for the unknown. And when they make great discoveries, they share the story with the rest of us. They deserve the highest honors in the chemistry of song." - Jason Carr, PHD, University of Louisiana, Monroe

""An Incredible Album""

An incredible album. One that I can listen to over and over again. The first song has a lovely melody that also serves as a grounding mantra. The entire album has a beautiful, innocent spirit to it that simply makes you feel good. Yet, there's a quiet sophistication to all of the music. It's an amazing compilation. - Audrey Phillips, Award-Winning Visual Artist

""Haunting and Lovely""

The music and lyrics are terrific, and I love the overall haunting, lovely, folk sound. - Mary Beth Lundgren, Author

"Hometown News: The Orphan Trains"

By Barbara Yoresh

Entertainment writer

A locally popular musical duo, named after the trains which carried New York City orphans to adoptive farm families in the west, will present a free concert Friday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Indian River County Main Library located at 1600 21st St. in downtown Vero Beach.

The Orphan Trains, a Vero Beach-based duo comprised of Dakota Rose (aka Amanda Birdsall) and The Masked Fantastic (aka Wolff Bowden), will perform their unique, original songs sung in folk style.

Using acoustic guitars as well as violin, harmonicas and piano, the duo gives musical life to what they describe as the "orphaned" collective imaginations of every day people and their lives.

The singing Orphan Trains took inspiration from the locomotives, which took 200,000 orphans to new homes during the period between 1854 and 1929.

"We were moved by that whole phenomenon. The orphan trains were started by a minister who wanted these orphaned children who were living on the streets to have a morally upright upbringing and wholesome life on farms. It saved a lot of lives," Ms. Birdsall said.

The Orphan Trains have been performing together for about a year after meeting three years ago. At that time, Mr. Bowden was establishing his reputation as an award-winning painter and poet.

The pair began writing songs together and Mr. Bowden put some of his poems to music.

"He's very magical in his music as well as his art, and has an almost unworldly quality to what he does. He sounds like a mix of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie," said Ms. Birdsall.

She previously worked with foster youngsters and was studying for her doctorate in psychology when she realized she was more drawn to music and left her studies.

But her prior experiences and studies were also the impetus for some of the songs she has written.

Ms. Birdsall started as a solo performer and appeared a year ago at a well-received concert at the library. Although she still performs solo on occasion, she has enjoyed pairing with Mr. Bowden, both musically and personally.

"We tell lots of stories in our songs and this is what we want to do with our lives. It's been a magical first year already," Ms. Birdsall said.

"Jenell," taken from the duo's CD "On the Night You Were Born," is sung by Ms. Birdsall and is about a foster child whose story is told from her foster mother's perspective and how she wonders about Jenell 10 years later.

Mr. Bowden believes The Orphan Train's mission is to bring another dimension to what people today view as creativity.

"It seems that imagination and creativity are fostered only in a commercial sense, where people want to make money.

"It's an energy that has become 'orphaned' because people cannot express themselves. We try to bring peoples' stories and creativity into our (musical) world and then give it back to them," he said.

The concert is free and open to the public. It will be held rain or shine on the library lawn if the weather is agreeable, or inside, if it's not.

- Vero Beach Hometown News


On The Night You Were Born (The Orphan Trains)

Orphanage of Imagination (Poetry Book, 2002)
Heavyweight Champion of the Night (Poetry Book, 2008)



When his Grandfather, "Hoss," died, Wolff Bowden drove through the night to Manchester, Georgia and arrived at the end of the funeral. Relatives from as far away as Texas had already laid claim to most of his Grandfather’s estate, including his horses, rifles and saddles. Even his hats. His cabin had been stripped almost bare. All that remained was a guitar and a dog.
Wolff didn’t want any inheritance. He was only seventeen. But, his Great Aunt Charlotte begged him to take his Grandfather’s dog.
“Her name’s Hobo,” Aunt Charlotte said. “But Grandpa called her ‘Bo’ and she likes to sit and listen to a little bit of guitar.”
“But I don’t play the guitar. I don’t even have a guitar.”
“Well, the guitar comes with her.”
“You mean if I take the dog, I also get Grandpa’s guitar?”
Wolff rode home to Florida with the dog beside him and the guitar in the back seat. A few weeks later, Wolff learned that Bo could sing. Her high-howling, as he calls it, inspired some of his own. And by the time Bo died, Wolff could play a little bit of guitar.

Wolff Bowden grew up in the cypress swamps of Chuluota, Florida, swimming with moccasins, dancing with dragonflies, absorbing the art of the wild. He was named ARTEXPO ARTIST OF THE MILLENNIUM in Miami for his mixed-media paintings which are created using mineral pigments and high-gloss acrylic. Wolff has sold hundreds of paintings to collectors, worldwide and is represented in galleries from Miami to Oregon. His famous collectors include baseball legend Andre Dawson and Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt. His poetry has appeared in dozens of literary journals, including The Sarasota Review, The Madison Review and Folio. He has booked a gig with former poet laureate Robert Pinsky and won multiple writing awards. His poetry collections are “Orphanage of Imagination” (2002) & “Heavyweight Champion of the Night” (2008). Wolff’s poem “Into The Day of Saturn” was recently quoted in a horoscope by renowned astrologer Rob Brezsny. To learn more, please visit:





Wolff tours with The Orphan Trains, a brave, little duo featuring the song artist and violin-wielding pixie, Amanda Birdsall. They have performed live at venues from Portland, Oregon to Miami, Florida and have played with many celebrated musicians, including folk legend Danny Schmidt.