Musical Green Train to Make National Whistle-Stop Tour

NASHVILLE, Tennessee, August 15, 2008 (ENS) - Country music giant Merle Haggard and his friends are climbing aboard the environmental movement by organizing a sun and biofuel powered concert tour by rail through the United States next spring.

Carrying musicians, actors, athletes, scientists, environmental activists and media, The Green Train will visit 28 states, giving eight major concerts and performing dozens of smaller "acoustic whistle-stops" in cities and communities on the route, according to The Green Train website.

Among the artists supporting The Green Train are Cher, Collective Soul, Dave Matthews Band, Vince Gill, Jewel, The Indigo Girls, Kris Kristofferson, John Mayer and Willie Nelson.

Nelson is a big promoter of biodiesel, having learned about the fuel in 2004 from his wife Annie. The country music artist began producing his own mix of conventional diesel and biodiesel from Carl's Corner truck stop on Interstate 35 between Dallas and Waco in Texas.

Now WillieDiesel is sold at 12 outlets in six states.

The Green Train will run on biodiesel, and its stops will be powered by alternative energy. The train will carry at least 20 cars, plus two flat-bed acoustical stages. Participants will campaign on behalf of greener living.

Haggard is partnering with friend and fellow musician Bob Wolf to promote the tour. Wolf says on the website, "People do really want to make a difference - they just need to know how. The Hag and I came up with an old-fashioned way to deliver a new and simple message: A World's-Fair-themed train carrying exhibits and simple solutions to living green in a modern world."

Haggard and Wolf chose a train to highlight its importance as a form of alternative passenger transportation and carrier of goods. They also consider it a symbol of unity, because most countries of the world have trains, they say on the site.

While not many countries have trains that run on biodiesel, there are a few. A biodiesel train is now operating in the UK and a new one took its first test run in eastern Washington state at the end of June.

The Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad is conducting a three month test of biodiesel for its 109 mile rail line between Cheney and Coulee City. The line is used for grain harvest transporatation. Soy, canola oil, grease and other undisclosed feedstocks will be tested in a 25 percent biodiesel blend.

The musicians' Green Train tour is scheduled to depart from Portland, Oregon in April 2009, The Green Train will pass through every geographic region in the United States during a six-week whistle stop tour finishing in Washington, DC.

A route map shows major concerts scheduled for Portland, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New Orleans, Charlotte, North Carolina, New York and Washington, DC. Acoustic whistle-stops are scheduled so far in Sacramento, Memphis, Atlanta and Boston.

The Green Train plans to reprise the tour in Europe in 2010, and run simultaneous tours of each continent of the world in 2011.

Find out more, click here.

{Photo: From left, Willie Nelson, Bob Wolf and Merle Haggard will ride the Green Train next spring, courtesy The Green Train}

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