The Hoppin Boxcars

The Hoppin Boxcars

Collegeville, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Collegeville, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Americana Bluegrass




"Montgomery County’s The Hoppin Boxcars Bring Old Time Folk Tales to In & Out of the Garden We Go Fest"

The Hoppin' Boxcars have a story to tell. It's set in the 1890s and is about hobos and trains and stolen music and moonshine and broken wedding engagements and kidnappings and women tied to railroad tracks and dramatic rescues.

"The old Snidely Whiplash theme," is how Matthew Cicchetti, the man behind this marvelous musical mayhem, describes it.

Or, as the narrator introduces the story onstage: "The tale I'm about to tell is one of danger, adventure, romance, music and friendship. It's about four hobos, their dog Mojo and their band The Hoppin' Boxcars."

Audience members won't get the story's full treatment when the Hoppin' Boxcars close the 10th annual In and Out of the Garden We Go festival at Snipes Farm in Falls late Saturday night. The actors who accompanied the band onstage for the successful first full performance of their self-proclaimed "dustbowl opera" Sunday at Imperial's Catering in Trappe won't be there this weekend.

But the ambitious, 10-piece Montgomery County-based band will still deliver a healthy dose of the eclectic original music that has made them a local overnight success story since forming just over a year ago. The band will also probably perform a handful of Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead covers to match the theme of the two-day event.

"Light on the ears and happy on the heart" is how Cicchetti, 39, says a fan described the Hoppin' Boxcars' sound. "It's a mix of Johnny Cash, some jazz, ragtime, surf, Western, folk, country. We cover all bases with our genres. It's definitely different.

"We give people a treat. We dress up, we're colorful, it's upbeat, and the musicianship is really good and arranged well."

Singer/guitarist Cicchetti, a Jeffersonville native who has been playing in bands for 25 years, started what would become the Hoppin' Boxcars with drummer Tom Musselman, an old Philadelphia Folk Festival friend he met around the campfire in the early 1990s. The duo quickly expanded to a four-piece and played their first show last summer, a fundraiser for the Philadelphia Folk Festival at the Ardmore Music Hall.

But four musicians weren't nearly enough to satisfy Cicchetti's grand vision and soon the Hoppin' Boxcars were a 10-piece, ranging in age from early 30s to mid-60s, with a sound that incorporates electric and acoustic guitars, drums, two percussionists, harmonica, mandolin, stand-up bass, six-string banjo, trombone, piano and accordion. Since then, they've written material for two concept albums (they're in the process of recording the first) and played area venues such as Milkboy, the Trocadero, the Sellersville Theater and the main stage of the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

You can find the band members' real names on their Facebook page. But onstage, they assume the names and personas of their characters in the songs, with backstories and artwork created by Cicchetti and Musselman, aka Grizz and Reds. The rest of the lineup includes original members Ziggy (mandolin-harmonica player Mike Carlton, a longtime Cicchetti collaborator) and Blaze (electric guitarist Justin Monteleone, who writes the music with Cicchetti), plus Tazz, Fish, Edge, Jaws, Juggy and Dooby.

Cicchetti often refers to his bandmates by their stage names during our interview. He believes his entire music career, augmented by years of working in a bakery, has been building up to this story, this band, these songs.

"I've seen this story, written it in my head. It's a movie, a video game, a book, a coloring book," he said. "I've been pushing for this for so long, and when I push, they (his bandmates) produce.

"Anybody who's ever gravitated toward this project loves it as much as me, and we're blessed to have the timing right. I'm just ready for whatever. Either this will happen or that, but it won't happen unless we try."

10 years and counting

The In And Out of the Garden We Go festival (the title comes from a line in the Dead song "St. Stephen") has endured because of its community vibe, organizer George Price believes.

"It's a really unique, family-friendly, low-key kind of event," he said. "Some of the big festivals with thousands of people are kind of corporate events. This is a local, home-grown event, and I get so many emails from people looking forward to it each year."

The bands don't just play Grateful Dead music -- this year's bill includes Steal Your Peach, which plays a mix of Allman Brothers and the Dead, and Tim Tam and Fam, which plays music from The Band.

The lineup also includes Steal Your Face, Only Footprints and Bear's Choice, each of whom has performed at all nine previous festivals. - Burlington County Times

"This Band is Off the Charts Fun!"


The Hoppin Boxcars are an original Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Hobo rag tag, Hill Billy eight piece group sleeping in Montgomery County Pennsylvania. This upbeat eight piece ensemble includes two Percussionists/Vocalists, Drums, Upright Bass, Mandolin, Harmonica, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Banjitar! The band is working on their first full length album "Those Hoppin Boxcars" the band is currently performing acoustic shows at venues in the Montgomery County area and abroad! They sing about their story's of life through their song's like " The County Line" and "The Kid From Kalamazoo" and others. The songs are first written, practiced and recorded in their studio beneath the overpass than straight to your ears. You will love their style and passion as they mix original Pennsylvania folk music with rockabilly, bluegrass and country to create their very own distinctive sound so call us to book Hoppin` Boxcar's before the train leaves - Tribute Nation Talent & Entertainment


Still working on that hot first release.



Out of the foothills of Montgomery County comes a rumblin sound, the sound of a freight train coming down the tracks. A rag tag band of bearded hoboes are Hoppin Boxcars to get to their next gig. Come follow the Minor family with Grizzly, Ziggy, Hubcap, Doobie, Haystack, & Juggy, as they weave their way beyond the tracks as we tell you the stories of our adventures. We will take you on a sonic ride through our tales that will leave you wanting more. From the big barn hootenanny where we find out another band has stolen our hit song, “Wishin We Were Walkin”, to avoiding “The Railman”, to meeting “The Kid From Kalamazoo”, to finding out it was the evil “AnRthur MoneyGrabs” who actually stole our song, to our adventures overseas with tunes such as “We Three Minstrels”, & “The Final Ride”, The Hoppin Boxcars head down those proverbial tracks with a full head of steam, swaying from side to side, but right on time, delivering well thought out, foot stompin, Click It Tee Clack songs, that leave our fans frothing for more. We live for performing our songs.

We hope y’all will enjoy them!

Band Members