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Gabriel Kahane Book of Travelers

Freight train, freight train

Brooklyn composer Gabriel Kahane visited MASS MoCA in 2013, on the eve of his major label debut The Ambassador. Now he returns to stage an intimate new song cycle, solo at the piano, based on his recent two-week Amtrak journey around the country.

The morning after the 2016 presidential election, singer-songwriter Kahane packed a suitcase and set out for a two-week train trip across the U.S. with no phone or internet, embracing 8,980 miles of a reclusive Amtrak existence.

The result is this hymn to the analog intimacy of American rail culture as an antidote to the fragmentation and efficiency of modern life. Alone at the piano, Kahane draws from dining car conversations with dozens of strangers — cowboys, postmasters, religious luddites, national park conservationists, drifters, and software engineers — to sing of his own upended assumptions about the body politic as revealed through his unplugged railroad exile. The highly anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed stage piece, The Ambassador, Kahane’s Book of Travelers is a meditation on the beautiful terror of getting lost in an unfamiliar landscape.

Photo: Josh Goleman

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