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Mississippi Rail Company Turns Old into New (MSM)

14 Jun 2013

written by My Spilt Milk



Mississippi Rail Company Turns Old into New

Originally posted on My Spilt Milk

by Cherie Lejune


“People always move retroactively,” says Travers Geoffray of rhythm-and-blues quartet Mississippi Rail Company. “Nothing is new anymore when it comes to fashion or music.” But Geoffray has no problem with this. Mississippi Rail Company, a soulful, bluesy blend of upright bass, tenor saxophone, keyboard and drums, understands this trend and embraces it with a heavy New Orleans influence.

Geoffray – the band’s keyboardist, vocalist, and songwriter – originally moved from Virginia to New Orleans for its music. “I love old things,” Geoffray says. “I really got into roots music, and I was also listening to a lot of Delta blues.” Mississippi Rail Company’s take on early New Orleans music has a fresh soulfulness to it; the sound seems familiar but the band’s repetitious, ear-catching melodies and blues-pop rhythms are new. The quartet understands showmanship, too. With an old-school sound comes an old-school dress code, and every member suits up for their live show. “It’s about having the vibe,” Geoffray says. “It’s a fantasy sort of thing, but it’s more for ourselves. I go back in time to a place where I envision that I’d be, and I think the audience picks up on that, too. Sometimes in the summer we’ll take off the jackets, but we always wear the suits.”

Mississippi Rail Company formed in 2010 when Geoffray was in college at Tulane University. Though he majored in Environmental Studies, he’d taken music lessons for 13 years from the prestigious Levine School of Music in Washington D.C. That training might explain his precision as a songwriter. “I’ll usually spend anywhere from a week to a month making sure I’ve got the rhyme scheme right, melody right, form right, and then I bring it to the band,” Geoffray says. “Even after that, I usually fine tune it a little bit.” Geoffray’s songwriting is what makes Mississippi Rail Company’s 2012 barebones blues album debut Coal Black Train a success; only keys, drums, and bass are needed to drive Geoffray’s soulful melodies home.

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