Catching the Wine Train

By: Kim Michele

With the release of their 6th album titled California 37, April 18th put Train back on the fast track, hitting #1 on iTunes just one day later. To celebrate the release of the album and kick-start their 2012 summer tour, Train headed home to Northern California, showering the city with their support of everything local. In return San Francisco showed its appreciation by getting up close and personal with their favorite bay area musicians.

In a private, informal performance held at Bimbos in San Francisco and hosted by our favorite San Francisco radio station; Alice 97.3, we were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime, unplugged/jamming session. In between songs DJ Marcus D interviewed band members Pat Monahan, Scott Underwood and Jimmy Stafford as they freely shared stories about their latest album, past hits, road trips and humble beginnings. Appropriately ending the gig with a preview of This’ll be My Year, track #1 on the California 37 album.

So where did the title California 37 come from? Could it be the road to Napa? Is that the connection to the wine business or just a road with many memories and home to the ‘best breakdown story‘ of all time? As Pat Monahan put it “There are so many funny and interesting stories that resonate on that highway for us”.

It is easy to tell that Northern California holds a special place in the hearts of the band, hugely influencing their songs’ lyrics and videos as of late. After becoming temporarily derailed in 2006, the band took a few years hiatus before returning with their 5th album ‘Save Me San Francisco’ in 2009 featuring the hit song ‘Hey, Soul Sister’, once again putting them back on track.

Speaking of saving San Francisco, it’s far more than just an album or song. In 2009 Train deviated from their regular beat and started the Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co., releasing their first vintage in the form of a Petite Sirah. Who knew that Drops of Jupiter came disguised as a 2009 Petite Sirah from no other than, you guessed it; Northern California. 2010 then introduced 2 more varietals; ‘Calling all Angels’ Chardonnay and ‘California 37′ Cabernet. The really cool thing about enjoying a bottle of ‘Drops of Jupiter’ (other than it being a Petite Sirah), is that a portion of the proceeds go to support Family House, a non-profit organization providing temporary housing for families with sick kids. Now there’s a wine with a purpose! If nothing else, that’s certainly a reason to drink more of it. So hop on the wine train and support the band in a whole different way as they themselves, give back. My only complaint; the wine was not easy to find in local stores, so help save San Francisco by ordering it directly from the Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co website.

With numerous pre-tour, club performances around the city, San Franciscan’s flocked to show their support for the band, and were certainly not disappointed. What makes Train even more popular is their support of local talent, using Bay Area musicians to open for them, as well as local support artists and backup singers. We were lucky enough to have the best of both worlds, also seeing the band live in concert at The Independent on Fillmore on April 14th; where by the way they served an excellent Drops of Jupiter, Petite Sirah. Seeing them in this setting was an excellent contrast to hanging out with them just a few days prior. In all honesty, I preferred the up close and personal version!

After spending the summer touring in Europe and Australia, Train will be back on their North American segment in July, revisiting the Bay Area in late September accompanied by Mat Kearney and Andy Grammar. Will we be there? You bet ya! Stay tuned for continued coverage.

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