Family Day: Railroad Earth, Ranky Tanky

SummerStage’s Family Day lineup features two bands making distinctly American music. Railroad Earth, a bluegrass-influenced jam band from Stillwater, New Jersey, takes its name from the Jack Kerouac prose poem “October in the Railroad Earth.” Formed in the aftermath of the band From Good Homes’ breakup, the group serves up an improvisational take on bluegrass with a tinge of folk, Celtic, jazz, and rock in the tradition of bands like The Grateful Dead, String Cheese Incident, and Phish. Charleston, South Carolina’s Ranky Tanky is more specifically southern, specializing in jazz-influenced arrangements of traditional Gullah music, created by the descendants of enslaved Africans in the southeastern U.S.’ Lowcountry region. The band’s name-which comes from a Gullah expression that translates to “get funky” pulls lyrics and melodies from Gullah spirituals, children’s rhymes, and dance music rooted in West African rhythms.