Chug along 

From The Byrds to The Band, country-inspired folk rock played a huge part in the path Last Train Home has taken since forming in 1997.

So did Slayer and Megadeth.

For seven years, bandleader Eric Brace was a Washington Post music columnist before quitting to focus on his burgeoning roots-rock outfit. The time he spent in unlikely concert halls shaped his approach to his own tunes.

“I went to about 10 speed-metal shows in three months. Even though it wasn’t my thing, I had to start listening critically,” Brace said. “Before that, I would say I love The Beatles or Tom Petty, but I couldn’t say exactly why. When you are asked to write about something and pass judgment on something, you should probably know what you are talking about. I learned that there’s good in every genre.”

It opened not only his mind, but also his eyes.

“I saw so much live music, I promised myself if I ever got onstage, I would never put on a boring show. That’s the cardinal sin,” he said. “If I was going to put out a record, it would be a well-crafted product, and if I was going to be onstage singing that song, I’d invest 100 percent of myself.”

As Last Train Home’s infectious live sets became the talk of D.C., bigger opportunities beckoned in Nashville, so Brace made the move with the members who could join him. Ever since, the group accepts whichever player is available and interested.

“It’s fun to be able to walk around the neighborhood and be like, ‘Hey, want to be in Last Train Home?’ There’s about 15 revolving members, and it’s maybe a little more fun that way,” he said. “Every night is a little different. The downside is that the sound kind of changes every time. For people listening, I hope they’ll decide it’s still awesome.”

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