From Good Homes, the Sussex County, New Jersey-based band that reunited in 2005 after a ten year hiatus, played their annual holiday shows at the Newton Theatre on Friday December 15 and Saturday December 16, 2017. In contrast to some of their past holiday runs, rather than focusing solely on their most well-known favorites, the band used the 2017 run to also play a wide range of “chestnuts” – their oldest, rarest, and unrecorded songs. In addition, as in years past, the band payed tribute to recently passed artists by playing cover tunes by them; this year’s roster included 2 songs by Tom Petty and one each by Fats Domino and Gregg Allman.
The five piece band consisting of lead man Todd Sheaffer (probably best known as the lead singer-songwriter of the band, Railroad Earth), bassist Brady Rymer, multi-instrumentalist Jamie Coan, horn player Dan Myers and drummer Patrick Fitzsimmons led off the Friday festivities with an instrumental cover, Caledonia Swing, off Van Morrison’s latest album, 2016’s Keep Me Singing.
After the FGH favorite, Suzanna Walker, the band launched into the first chestnut of the night, the seldom-played, Here Comes the Rain, off of their Hick Pop: Comin’ At Ya! album. Other chestnuts played this evening included Spacey Johnny, Hole in Your Heart, Cold Mountain, Relationships are Strange, I’ve Had Enough, and If I’m Not Mistaken. Tributes included a beautiful Patrick Fitzsimmons-sung rendition of Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly which emerged seamlessly out of FGH favorite, Head,
and Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill. The tribute to Fats was seemingly instigated by (and dedicated to) Todd Sheaffer’s parents who were in attendance and could be seen dancing to the tune at the back of the theatre. Friday night’s show also included FGH favorites Dance a Hole, The Giving Tree, Bang that Drum, There She Goes, Cool Me Down, The Butterfly & The Tree, The Decision Song, 2nd Red Barn on the Right, I Am a Mess, Goin’ Out, and Maybe We Will. The evening closed with the whole theatre singing along to Fruitful Acre:
“woah-o I gotta keep goin’ now,
woah-o though I don’t know where i’m bound,
But it’s too late to turn back around!”
Most at the Friday show did know, however, exactly where they were bound; and that was on to Saturday night’s sold-out show!
Saturday’s show surprised many in attendance by opening with Long Walk Home (#2), a song that appeared on Railroad Earth’s 2010 eponymous album, but which many didn’t realize is actually an unrecorded FGH song. The opener led into a string of familiar and well-loved FGH songs, Charlie Loves Our Band, Drivin’ and Cryin’, and Let Go before kicking into the first rare chestnut of the night, the Brady Rymer-sung Bangin’ Out a Melody.
Saturday’s first set also included favorites The Butterfly & The Tree, Ride All Night and Comin’ On Home as well as the second tribute to Tom Petty of the run, King’s Highway. The tribute was introduced by Todd by him noting that FGH has a personal connection to Tom Petty and his band because Heartbreakers keyboard player, Benmont Tench, was a guest musician on their second album for RCA.
Saturday’s second set opened with a jammed out version of Parachute in Your Pocket which led into a joyous, Celebrate. Brady led the band through a cover of Guy Lombardo’s, Enjoy Yourself, before the band launched into the first chestnut of Saturday’s second set, a dirty grungy version of It’s Gettin’ Dirty. The dirt led into the sweet sounds of the second tribute of Saturday’s show, the Gregg Allman-penned tune Melissa. Melissa featured an initial solo by Jamie Coan and a second sugary-sweet solo by Todd Sheaffer that a few people remarked after the show gave them serious goosebumps. The set also featured favorites Broken Road, I Only Want, and 2nd Red Barn on the Right along with chestnuts Boulevard of Dreams and Neighbors before closing out with a fabulous version of Raindance that started slow and built to an intense, driving ending.
The band then took us full circle, finishing off the run as it had begun – with a Van Morrison cover – Into the Mystic followed by a reeling version of Maybe We Will.
As in year’s past, FGH’s annual holiday run at the Newton Theatre, brought the love, joy, and cheer of the season to all that were lucky enough to be in attendance. It is always a true family gathering of FGH devotees. If you can make it out to beautiful Sussex County, the rural Northwest gem of New Jersey in December, you’ll be glad you did!
From Good Homes @ The Newton Theatre – Newton, NJ 12/15/2017
Set 1: Caledonia Swing, Suzanna Walker, Here Comes The Rain, Dance A Hole, The Giving Tree, Spacey Johnny, Hole In Your Heart, Bang That Drum, Cold Mountain, There She Goes
Set 2: Relationships Are Strange, Cool Me Down, I’ve Had Enough, If I’m Not Mistaken, The Butterfly & The Tree, Head, Learning To Fly, Decision Song, 2nd Red Barn On The Right, I Am a Mess, Goin’ Out, Maybe We Will
Encore: Blueberry Hill, Fruitful Acre
From Good Homes @ The Newton Theatre – Newton, NJ 12/16/2017
Set 1: Long Walk Home #2, Charlie Loves Our Band, Drivin’ n Cryin’, Let Go, Where Songs Begin, Bangin’ Out A Melody, The Butterfly & The Tree, Ride All Night, King’s Highway, Comin’ On Home
Set 2: Parachute in Your Pocket, Celebrate, Enjoy Yourself, It’s Gettin’ Dirty, Melissa, Broken Road, I Only Want, Boulevard of Dreams, 2nd Red Barn on the Right, Neighbors, Raindance
Encore: Into The Mystic, Maybe We Will
Enjoy videos of a cover and a chestnut from Friday night and the same from Saturday night right here!
Learning to Fly 12/15/17:
Hole in Your Heart 12/15/17:
It’s Gettin’ Dirty 12/16/17: