a Epitaph Records: Westbound Train
Westbound Train

Obi Fernandez vocals, trombone 

Jesse Hayes drums 

Johnny DeCarlo guitar 

Thad Merritt bass 

Rich Graiko trumpet 

Gideon Blumenthal keyboards 

Josh Cohen sax 

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Westbound Train

While many of us fear it, change can often yield remarkable results. And in the case of Transitions, the aptly-titled 2006 Hellcat Records debut from Boston’s acclaimed ska septet, Westbound Train, alterations in membership and label allegiance have only served to strengthen a band already known to genre aficionados for its live work ethic.

If Transitions is easily the group’s most honest effort yet – following up its earlier independent releases, Searching for A Melody (2002) and Five To Two (2004) – it’s also an experience in the true Westbound Sound. That is, a bridge between ‘60s staples like reggae, soul and blues and modern approaches with touches of jazz and country here and there. Evidence of this approach is first detected on the disc opener, “Please Forgive Me,” where the exuberant pulse of ska is the foundation for a dialogue between generations.

“It’s kind of like when the apprentice surpasses his mentor, if the mentor is too prideful that can be a tough thing for him to swallow,” singer and trombonist Obi Fernandez observes. Speaking of bitter pills, Fernandez is also quick to cite “For The First Time,” which – in spite of its buoyant, horn laden tact – documents the family struggles that ensue when one stands by their dreams. “It’s hard to do what we do,” he concedes. “It’s even harder when your loved ones have a different set of goals for you or don’t really understand exactly what it is you are trying to do.”

“We want to create honest music for people – to put out records that are both beautiful and emotional,” principal songwriter Fernandez explains of Transitions, an album designed to reflect the real life experiences of the band, which also counts Jesse Hayes, Johnny DeCarlo, Thad Merritt, ...



Westbound Train

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