The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Train. Courtesy photo.

 Train with special guest, the Wallflowers

When: Thursday, Aug. 28, at 8 p.m.
Where: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, 120 Kimball Road, Gilford 
Tickets: $23-$65 at

Train rolls on
California rockers play Meadowbrook

By Michael Witthaus

 From its early days of success to the chart-topping smash Save Me, San Francisco and beyond, Train is emblematic of the City by the Bay. This is true even though no band member hails from there — or California for that matter.

“We just had such great support there; we didn’t have that in our hometowns growing up,” said Train co-founder and guitarist Jimmy Stafford in a recent phone interview. “I don’t feel like I made it out of Morse, Illinois. My success comes from San Francisco. … It’s definitely the home of the band.”
In fact, the album that rebooted their career with hits like “Hey, Soul Sister” and “If It’s Love” was an entreaty offered to Train’s adopted birthplace, Stafford said. 
“That was basically asking San Francisco for another chance because we had gone away for a while, and we weren’t sure that anybody would care about us anymore when we came back.  So, when we did, it just seemed a fitting title,” he said.
They released California 37 a couple of years later, which yielded the hit “Drive By.” The title song of that record was a shout out to fans that delivered them from the doldrums  — and a hint of their plan to return the kindness. Highway 37 runs through wine country, and in October 2012 Stafford unveiled a Chardonnay, Petit Sirah and Cabernet bottled with a Save Me, San Francisco label.
Stafford is an oenophile, but not a winemaker. 
“I’m not actually putting together the blends or stomping the grapes,” he said — that’s done by a Northern California winery. It’s a charitable effort to say thank you. “Here we are succeeding again — second life, second chance. We need to give something back. So, we chose a great charity in the Bay Area called Family House.”
Professional vintners do most of the work, of course. 
“But we are very involved as far as choosing the blends and working with the artists on the artwork for the labels,” said Stafford, who also writes blurbs on the back of bottles. They’ve produced six varietals, including the just introduced Bulletproof Picasso Sauvignon Blanc. 
The wine’s name is also the title of Train’s new album, due for release in mid-September. An advance track, “Angel in Blue Jeans,” is getting a good response at live shows, and the band has added a couple more new songs to their hits-packed set list. A video for the song stars movie villain Danny Trejo in a scene straight out of a Robert Rodriguez Western. 
“That was pretty crazy,” said Stafford. “He’s just such a badass. It was really fun spending the day working with him.”
Butch Walker, who helmed the previous record, produced Bulletproof Picasso. 
“We’ve known Butch for years, we used to play together back in the early days when he was in a band called Marvelous 3,” said Stafford. “It was super comfortable for us, and we made a really good record that had some big songs on it, so we decided to try it again. I’m glad we did.”
Stafford feels the new album may be Train’s best yet. 
“I hate to use the word … but it is a mature record. The songs remind me of some of my favorites on past albums. Even though I think there are plenty of potential radio songs, they have a certain heart to them that reminds me of some of our older, deeper cuts that I love that we don’t get the chance to play very often. This is going to be a really fun one for us to start playing live.” 

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