By: Addie Hayes, Editor/Lead Writer, Regional Music Journal
The Kansas City based duo Freight Train Rabbit Killers performed at the Elbow Room in Wichita, Kansas in early February. The band are Kris Bruders (Freight Train) and Mark Smeltzer (Rabbit Killer) and they describe their sound as “heavy doom blues American roots opera”. The band has been performing and touring for the past three years, delivering a unique performance that is dark and captivating.
J-Rods String Band Opening for Freight Train Rabbit Killer at The Elbow Room in Wichita, KS – Photos Courtesy Easton Thompson
Opening for Freight Train Rabbit Killer was Kearney, Nebraska band J-Rods String Band. The group is comprised of Jared Olson (The J-RoD) on vocals and guitar, Brian Jensen (Jensen) on banjo and vocals, Micah King (The King) on bass, Tony Robertson on lead guitar, Jeff Erpelding on pedal steel, Jimmy Dubya on sax and Logan Hansen on trumpet. Their music is a blend of Americana, Country, Roots and Rockabilly. J-Rods String Band has created a fantastically original sound that resonates with music fans in the midwestern and southern United States. Their songwriting is inspiring, especially for people looking for an alternative to mainstream music. Listening to J-Rods String Band is refreshing and proves that there is immense talent to be found in our own backyard.
Freight Train Rabbit Killer is one of the best bands to come out of the midwest in recent years. Their songs have been described as dark, creepy and frightening, but there is something deeper. Their music draws heavily on Delta blues, a style of music that was the product of oppression, racism, poverty and violence found in Mississippi before and during the civil rights movements. The dark blues sound is indicative of pain and suffering. With the addition of Americana and roots rock elements, the duo has created a rich, textured sound that is mesmerizing.
On a song like “Satan, the Kingdom is Calling You Home”, there is a frenetic tone that creates a sense of foreboding. The track “Old American Law” is raw, gritty and unapologetic. “Stone Killer” incorporates equal parts Delta Blues and Rockabilly, while “Day Without The Devil” takes on a more modern sound. When fans see the live show, they find the duo wears masks during the performance which represent their alter egos. Burders’ Freight Train is a vigilante persona with a mission of destroying corrupt power in the world. Smeltzer’s alter ego Rabbit Killer, is a conjuror of the dark side of folk and bluegrass. The music combined with the visuals mesmerizes the audience, pulling them into the dark stories found in the songs.
Freight Train Rabbit Killer Performing at The Elbow Room in Wichita, KS – Photos Courtesy Easton Thompson
Freight Train Rabbit Killer is a band to be experienced in a live setting. If you simply listen to the music, you are missing a vital piece of the enigma that is Freight Train Rabbit Killer. Head over to the band’s website for more info, news and to purchase their music. You can also keep up with the band on Facebook.
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