The Ghost Train Orchestra was founded in 2006 by composer/arranger Brian Carpenter. That year Carpenter was hired as the musical director for Voltaic Vaudeville, an event marking the 90th anniversary of the historic Regent Theater in Arlington, MA. He selected five composers from a transitional time and place in America: the late 1920s Chicago and Harlem, when the jazz orchestra was being developed by bandleaders such as Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Tiny Parham, Fess Williams, and Charlie Johnson. Carpenter began transcribing the parts from old 78s and arranged the music for a 9-piece ensemble to back performers on stage. The reaction to the band's debut at the Regent Theater was tremendous, and since then the band has performed regularly in New York City, home of all its members except the leader, a Boston resident.
In 2008, Carpenter arranged the music with added strings, voice, and musical saw, and the following year recorded the band in New York City at Avatar Studios with engineer/producer Danny Blume. The result of this work accumulated in Hothouse Stomp, released on Accurate Records in 2011. The album achieved much critical acclaim and reached the top 10 of the Billboard Jazz charts in the weeks following Carpenter's spot on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. The band has performed at the Museum of Modern Art, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the NYC Winter JazzFest.