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.

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