Hear an Old Town School of Folk Music Performance on a Train Ride to NOLA

Also this week: what the shutdown means for travel, another boxy Chicago hotel, and hut-to-hut hiking in New Hampshire

A Pullman Rail Journeys train
Photo: Courtesy of Pullman Rail Journeys

Musicians on this 1940s Pullman train to New Orleans will help you get a jump on your toe-tapping.

Starting tomorrow, Pullman Rail Journeys will kick off a new partnership with Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music with a Chicago-to-New Orleans run featuring live music on board from Old Town performers Chris Walz and Mark Dvorak.

Pullman, which operates out of Chicago, debuted the first-class rail service last March with the launch of the 19-hour overnight journey aboard restored sleeping cars pulled by Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, a moniker made famous by singer and songwriter Steve Goodman, who was once a student at the Old Town School. “This song is performed in Old Town School classes a couple hundred times every year,” says Old Town director Bau Graves. “So when Ed Ellis [of Pullman Rail] asked if some [of our] faculty might like to perform on the actual train they call the City of New Orleans, it seemed too good to be true.”

Beyond the music, passengers can kick back in authentic cars from the 1940s, complete with deluxe sleeping accommodations, a lounge car, and chef-prepared meals and cocktails in a dining car. The refurbished cars have also been brought up to modern standards with Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and showers. (Look inside a restored Pullman car with this tour by NPR.)

Pullman Rail Journeys leave Chicago for NOLA twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays, but only selected trips feature Old Town performers, including these:

  • October 8 (returns October 10): Themed around the masters of the American folk tradition, featuring music by Chris Walz and Mark Dvorak
  • October 29 (returns October 31): Ragtime piano, low-down blues, and jazz tap, performed by Reginald Robinson, Katherine Davis, and Reggio McLaughlin
  • November 15 (returns November 17): Old-time tunes and songs for fiddle, banjo, guitar and washboard, performed by Barbie Silverman and Steve Rosen.
  • December 31 (returns January 2): Folk songs and old-time tunes by Peggy Browning, Maura Lalley, and Mark Mitchell, a.k.a. The Pickin’ Bubs.

Before you go, catch Pullman Porter Blues, now through October 20 at the Goodman Theatre, which explores the historic Chicago-NOLA route through the eyes of the African-American porters.
 

What Does the Government Shutdown Mean for Travelers?

Basically, you’ll still be able to get around by train and plane, but national monuments—all 401 national parks and other sites—will be closed. “While rail networks, essential air security and traffic control operations won’t be impeded,” says CNN’s Katia Hetter, “travelers visiting the country’s national parks and other government-run tourist attractions will find the gates shuttered and the doors locked.” Read more at CNN.
 

Family Travel With Colleen Kelly Goes National on PBS

Once a local TV show hosted by Mount Prospect’s Colleen Kelly and coproduced by Tricia Fusilero, also of the Chicago suburb, Family Travel With Colleen Kelly made its national debut this past weekend on 250 PBS stations. The show, which focuses on kids, airs locally on Saturdays at 10 a.m. on WTTW. See a clip and read more at Skift.
 

After Leaf Peeping, Try a Hut-to-Hut Hike in New Hampshire

“Unless you live out West—and, even then, I’ll argue—the sweeping views of the 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest here are America’s finest,” says New York Times contributor Charles Bethea, who chronicles a trek across New Hampshire’s Presidential Range. Consisting of 24 miles of terrain and seven peaks reaching as high as 6,288 feet, the “Presi traverse” is even more revered for its mountain huts. Manned by the Appalachian Mountain Club, these overnight lodgings offer bunks and shelter; several are full-service (serving hearty meals and more) and all will remain open now through October 19 (from $94). Read more at the New York Times.
 

The Coming Godfrey Hotel Has a Shape You Won’t Mistake for Any Other

On February 1, the doors of the modern, Tetris-shaped building going up at LaSalle and Huron (next to Hotel Felix) will open as the new 221-room Godfrey Hotel. The hotel will feature more boxy modern touches inside, but the real draw will be the fourth floor’s giant I|O outdoor lounge. Sprawling across 10,000 square feet, it may well be the largest outdoor lounge in the city. See HotelChatter for more.
 

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