Soul on a tracks: ‘Fun Train’ boogies on adult to Reno

February 22, 2015 - Picnic Time

Right on time, a “Soul Train” rolls into a Sacramento Amtrak hire during 1 o’clock, a slit already on and many confidently bringing a funk, carrying left Emeryville scarcely 3 hours progressing on a moral and stone-cold chillin’ approach to Reno.

Actually, it’s a Reno Fun Train, that many Fridays in winter carries epicurean revelers and, yeah, somewhat some-more composed folks, too, over a Sierra and down into a Biggest Little City in a World, where they will spend a improved partial of a weekend doing what people do in Reno before locomoting behind to Northern California and relations normality in a harsh, cold light of Sunday morning.

Thematically, this Friday’s outing is dedicated to essence and disco strain of a 1970s and ’80s, a 15 newcomer cars franchised by Key Holidays blazing adult a marks with up-tempo, throbbing, amphetaminic anthems in concussive 4:4 time signature. If we don’t find yourself, whatever your credentials or ethnicity, removing down and jolt your income maker, afterwards someone needs to check we for a pulse, so assistance me Don Cornelius.

And a Sacramento “Soul Train” contingent, braving a brunt of a ostensible Atmospheric River charge while watchful on Track 5 for a hiss of a pneumatic doors to let them benefit entrance to a celebration train, did zero to moderate a vibe.

Peggy Hauser, 85, of Roseville, and Rose Marie Luther, 74, of Fair Oaks, leaders of a organisation of 11 seniors mostly from a Maidu Walkers club, reason their tickets in one palm and had a other clamped on their heads, gripping a breeze gusts from unconditional their way-cool black afro wigs purify off their heads and median to West Sac.

“We’re perplexing to dress like soul, like that TV show,” says Hauser, a 20-year maestro of Reno Fun Trains, nonetheless this being her entrance as a Soul Sister. “I didn’t know any of that (culture).”

“Yeah,” jokes Luther, “you were usually a immature lady during a time.”

“No, we was a homemaker, and we didn’t do any soul.”

She need not worry, for if this incarnation of a Reno Fun Train will infer anything, it will uncover that it’s never too late to channel your middle Marvin Gaye or Donna Summer.

Down a height a ways, a funked-up 30ish threesome of Ryan Maguire and George Lingonis, both of San Mateo, and Matt White of San Francisco are carrying a helluva time removing their feign ’fros to limit fluffiness. White’s wielding a Aquanet with impunity, crop-spraying a throng watchful for a doors to open. They are partial of a organisation of 15 friends, nonetheless they’re late to a party, a dozen others boarding during Emeryville and, presumably, approach forward of them on a merrymaking continuum.

“Wait, you’ve got a small bit of a white showing,” Lingonis says to Maguire, whose fire-engine red trepidation ’fro is a bit askew. Lingonis tucks a close in and adjusts a gaunt a bit.

“There,” he says.

“Thanks, man.”

At last, a doors open, and a insane hasten of roll-away luggage and clop of height heels ensues, given usually 5 hours of merrymaking stays until a sight is scheduled to arrive in Reno during 6:15 p.m.

1:18 p.m.: Pimpin’ a float in Car No. 6

Still in Sacramento. Word is, a duck pot pies from KFC, to be served to a “silver level” passengers (“gold level” business get a white-tablecloth, sit-down dish with mixed snack options), are late in arriving.

No one seems to mind, nonetheless a incessant grin of Jade Chapman, a trainer of Key Holidays, looks a small stretched during a delay.

During this lull, we can hear, several cars away, a gloomy thrum of disco entrance from a Dance Car, where a Bay Area-boarded passengers continue flailing their limbs in syncopation to a beat. But not Kenneth Pratt. He and his poetic ladies take adult scarcely a whole behind third of Car No. 6. Pratt, dressed in a prolonged purple hairy cloak with white zebra-striped lapels, relating broad-brimmed shawl and a silver-handled shaft for good measure, looks like a younger, slimmer Issac Hayes. He’s got a bang box set adult in one corner, and he’s shuffling CD valuables cases in his hands like a casino play display off.

KC and a Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight” segues into Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Shining Star,” while during a other finish of a automobile another bang box is grating Lou Rawl’s “You’ll Never Find,” causing an peculiar discordant collision of funk.

Melvina Hill, glowing in a glittery red-and-gold gown, rounds adult her “ladies” (Barbara Brown, Donna Merrida and Jackie Wiley) for a organisation selfie, with Pratt smiling broadly in a core and holding his shaft like a sceptor. He is such a boss.

“It’s all about a music,” Pratt says. “You hear a song. You can brand it with what what we were doing. Takes we to a impulse of time or a sold situation.”

1:45: Blue-eyed essence

Train relocating easterly now, we event and gaunt along a slight aisle and gaunt shoulders on doors between cars, a Dance Car your ultimate destination, when who should seem nonetheless an Elvis impersonator. This was a shock. Wouldn’t a Marvin Gaye imitator have been some-more thematic?

Little matter. Just go with it. Elvis (a.k.a. Dennis Thornberry, of Cripple Creek, Colo.) has a full-time gig on a Reno Fun Train, so here he is, donning a rhinestone-studded blue jumpsuit, a front unzipped scarcely to his navel, display an considerable timberland of black chest hair.

“There are some themes that Elvis doesn’t unequivocally work with,” he says, in his possess voice, not Elvis’. “But it doesn’t matter. It could be essence if we unequivocally had to, since ‘Soul Train’ was on in ’70s and Elvis was creation his comeback. … Last year, they had a Johnny Cash Fun Train, and they done me spin into Johnny Cash.”

Here, Thornberry breaks into a opening lines of “Folsom Prison Blues,” sounding like Johnny Cash with a conduct cold. You change a subject, so he’ll stop. You ask if he’s got some luscious stories to tell after 5 years in this gig.

“Oh, yeah,” he says, “but zero we can tell you.”

2:22: Hegemony of a Dancing Sentry

There’s a wreck over down in Car No. 6. A woman, plenty in her breadth and with margaritas sloshing in any outstretched palm since she’s dancing to a Temptations, blocks a aisle streamer to a Piano Lounge and Dance Car, a categorical attractions.

One by one, people fist by, nonetheless she creates them boogie with her before permitting them to pass. She does a hip strike with an comparison lady to whom a hip detonate is not an epitome worry. When we pass by, she creates we do a small shimmy and asks, teasingly, “Who’s your mama?”

2:30: Piano Man takes five

Silence from a Piano Lounge. John Lee Sanders, a 14-year maestro of a Fun Train, departs from his keyboards and bends over a duck pot pie. His tip jug – some-more than a jar; this thing is outrageous – is half full of bills, so he feels protected removing some sustenance.

“You know, we do write my possess music,” he says, and mentions his website. “But in this gig, they usually wish me to play covers and stuff. I’m excellent with it.”

2:35: Getting down

A peace during a Dance Car, as well. Chicken pot pies, apparently, reason some enchanting allure. But a pies and cole slaw – don’t forget a torpedo cole slaw – don’t lure a foursome of Maurice and Shellie Mack, and Tony Beville and Robin Noble, all of Danville. DJ Brian Welch, who contingency risk epileptic seizures operative in front of dual pulsing strobe lights, has deserted a Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and now spins Kool The Gang’s “Get Down On It.”

And a couples mind Kool’s correct words, juking on a laminated hardwood dance floor, Maurice already so sweaty he’s totally unbuttoned his shirt and rivulets of persperate using down a disruption of Shellie’s earth-toned one-piece jumpsuit. Beville and Noble are not utterly so animated, maybe since Robin’s bullion sore pants are so parsimonious that it’s tough to move.

“Shellie’s a large disciple of thesis things in whatever we do,” Maurice says. “So here we are. But speak to (Beville and Noble), they were featured in a Fun Train commercial.”

It’s true. Beville and Noble adds a magnitude of refracted luminary to all others in a Dance Car, stuffing adult again now that, train-wide, pot pies have been reduced to fragmented crusts.

3:21: White table-cloth use

You are “Pullman Gold Level,” so no pot pies for you. You wait patiently in a upstairs Dome Car, where far-reaching windows would’ve afforded good views of a foothills and tools of a Sierra, if usually a Atmospheric River hadn’t hit. It’s 20 degrees colder in a Dome Car, for some reason – maybe all a windows – nonetheless it keeps a drinks a white-coated waiters manipulate we with easily chilled.

Downstairs, we opt for a goat cheese salad, herb roasted duck with furious rice and mushroom-sherry cream sauce, and before a initial forkful can be stabbed, a sight stops. And it stays stopped by all 3 courses, Key Lime cake being a go-to dessert in your cooking seating. A adjacent caf� asks a white-coated waitress a reason for a delay, and she says a tree with a 3-foot case has depressed on a tracks, no doubt interjection to a Atmospheric River.

Chapman pops in. She, like a train, stops. She chats we up, and her Key Holidays unrestrained for all things Fun Train is as honeyed as a Key Lime.

“This is a usually sight like this substantially in a world,” she says. “Well, usually contend a country. we know there’s no other smoking automobile in a country. we know that for certain.”

Yes, a Fun Train has a eminence of being a usually form of open transport that allows smoking. Quite impressive, nonetheless it would take an act of journalistic will we don’t possess to revisit a Carcinogenic Car adult front.

“The boomers and younger (people) have not gifted sight transport like this,” Chapman continues. “We make it a genuine celebration atmosphere and have a tradition of BYOB. Even in initial class, they can pierce champagne. No corkage like during a review charges. It’s KFC in coach. The reason we feed them (in coach) is that there’s a lot of celebration going on.”

4:57: Moveable feast

Moving once more. A 6:15 attainment is sad thinking. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” wafts from Pratt’s bang box in Car No. 6, nonetheless many of his ladies have wandered off. (Rumor is, Elvis is doing a set in a Dance Car.) But not Hill, 59. She fusses over an elaborate widespread on a opposite nearby a car’s door. Not usually has she BHOB, nonetheless a whole potluck picnic, too. Impressive.

“Drinks on one side, food on a other,” Hill says. “See, I’m a mom here. They wouldn’t let me set it adult usually right. But they left (for) a Blues Car, Dance Car, whatever. Now we can get busy.”

4:59: Dancing Sentry, redux

“Gotta dance your approach past,” she says, smiling maniacally.

You do a few sore conduct shucks, call your arms spasmodically, spin laterally and trifle by. She – what a …? – gooses you. You feel so violated.

5:16: Burnin’ love

Far as we know, Elvis never available a essence album. No matter. The throng in a Dance Car is watchful as he plows by a Sun Records songbook. Right there by a lifted height are Hauser and Luther, a afroed ladies from a Maidu Walkers. They pierce with a beauty that creates we consider everybody should take adult volkssporting.

Hauser looks overheated, nonetheless no approach she’s holding off her sweatshirt. On it, she proudly displays no fewer than 14 buttons from prior Fun Train adventures. Elvis creates eye hit with her during “Burning Love,” and she beams. Five mins later, Elvis and Hauser have left a Dance Car – not together. Elvis, who went a small complicated on a Old Spice, is sweaty and needs a break, and Hauser and Luther correct to a Piano Lounge, where Sanders is in mid-set.

5:45: Twistin’ a night away

It’s ostensible to be some-more resigned in a Piano Lounge. Twice during a trip, Sanders will croon “Tiny Dancer,” and other mid-tempo ditties. But his Chubby Checker cover has 4 of a Maidu Walkers tortuous knees and jolt booty. You get a sniff of, we think, perfume. Smells suspiciously like Mentholatum ointment.

People noise down when Sanders subsequent plays “A Rainy Night in Georgia.”

6:01: Dancing Sentry meets Elvis

“Hey, Elvis, all these ladies wish to see we naked.”

Car No. 6 is agog.

Elvis: “Thank you. Thank we really much.”

For a record, Elvis does not disrobe, and a Dancing Sentry lets him by with a blown kiss.

6:45: Partying Like a Donners

The sight is approach late. It’s usually flitting Donner Summit, according to a worker. (It’s too dim outward to see anything.) Word is, a sight is slowed by a burden sight ahead.

Windows in a Dance Car are steamed up. There’s a frenzy on a floor. “Shout” blares, and 5 guys from Santa Rosa dressed as a Village People hold court. Eddie Ortega, wearing a red convenience fit and a mistake bullion sequence with “DISCO” in 3-inch letters, is about to lift partner Lorennah Alanid onto a dance floor. But first, we ask him if he’s carrying fun nonetheless on a Fun Train.

“F– yeah,” he shouts. “I work with a garland of comparison guys, right? And they always contend this is on their bucket list, nonetheless they never do it. we didn’t wish to be one of those guys.”

Someone slips on a dance floor. The multiple of some-more than 6 hours of celebration and a surge and gaunt of a sight has led to several Exxon Valdez-type of spillages, and a few comic pratfalls. Over in Car No. 5, a lady fell in a bathroom, and usually stayed down for 10 minutes. “Just one some-more minute,” she slurs, clearly impending a blackout.

People aren’t usually tipsy; they are sloshed. Tipsy was behind in Auburn. Tipsy incited to blotto by Emigrant Gap. Now it’s impending full debauch, and few seem to notice a sight has stopped again.

7:37: Gradual detriment of cruising altitude

As a sight passes by Truckee, streamer usually closer to Reno, a raucousness has peaked. The Dance Car thins out. Hauser and Luther lapse to their seats in Car No. 5. The Dancing Sentry stands there, hands on ever-widening hips, revelation we simply to “Suck in that tummy to get by.” Pratt is still inspecting CD cases and has a mellower instrumental playing. Several people in Car No. 7 are possibly defunct or upheld out, potato chip bags on their laps. Sanders finishes a final records of “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and a lady raises her conduct from her faint and says, “Hey, John, sing ‘Reno Bound.’”

“Wish we knew that one,” he says. “Who does it?”


8:30: Gold-level conversation

Woman No. 1, watchful for a restroom: “Nine hours! We could be in New York by now.”

Woman No. 2, behind her: “Thank God for a alcohol. Only approach to survive.”

9:04: “Hear That Train A-Comin’”

Arrive in Reno, a delayed toil to a hotel pleasantness vans, some passengers clearly in a fugue.

Sunday, 10 a.m.: The lapse trip

Just dual words: “Bloody Mary.”

OK, a third: “Mimosa.”

Call The Bee’s Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis.


What: The Reno Fun Train, offering by Key Holidays, runs weekends (Friday by Sunday) by Mar 13. Upcoming thesis trains: Feb. 27 (Rock ’n’ Roll Chocolate and booze tasting); Mar 6 (Country and Western); Mar 13 (St. Patrick’s Day drink tasting).

Cost: Train alone is $250; supplement $150 for bullion level; total with Reno hotel stay, $320-$394.

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