John Train is the Philadelphia roots sextet that is the Americana outlet for skilled storytelling songwriter Jon Houlon (who also fronts garage band The Donuts). The band has just released A Wig and a Wonder (Chapter 7), its first album of new material in six years. Produced by Dobro player Mike "Slo-Mo" Brenner and John Anthony, the accomplished 12-song set covers Kenn Kweder's "A Girl Like You Around" and Bob Dylan's "Born In Time."
The album finds Houlon drawing inspiration from John Updike ("Lord Baltimore") and a visit to the Rothko Chapel in Houston ("A Wig and a Wonder"). He delineates the under-heard musician's plight in the sprightly "Nobody's Listening Blues," yet without being consumed by bitterness. Two tracks were recorded live at Fergie's Pub in Center City, where the band will play May 31. Houlon and Kweder will host their annual Bob Dylan birthday bash at Rembrandt's in the Art Museum area on May 23, featuring 42 local songwriters doing Dylan songs. And this Friday, John Train plays the downtown location of Milkboy, opening up for Morning River Band (it's a record-release party for Morning River's third CD, To Suzie) and The Miners.
- Dan DeLuca
- Katherine Silkaitis