The Pageant - St. Louis, MO (December 31) D.S.

New Years Eve! The official Day Last of our Yonder year. The day itself was pretty laid back for me and my friends. There were tornado warnings, but hey, we're from the midwest. Tornado schmornado. At about 4p.m. we got things started and headed down to the Halo Bar.

Photo courtesy of Stephenie Gardner

We were super excited for the early entry because we were hosting a Kinfolk raffle for the fans that got there early and waited in line. We had a box full of merch and a whole lot of winners. Thanks to everyone who participated!

When we got into the Pageant, the air was electric. Everyone was just anticipating what was to come, talking to each other about their requests and what they thought the band would actually play.

It seemed to take hours, but the band finally hit the stage and the show began. They started with "Jesus on the Mainline"... then incredibly, they went into "Polka on the Banjo". Holy cow. It was amazing to hear that song in Lawrence, and now they were doing it again! Needless to say, Max was pretty happy.

They wrapped up "Jesus on the Mainline" after "Polka", then we got "New Deal Train" and "Deep Pockets". After that... "Althea". The crowd went WILD! So many people requested this song, and they did a killer job.

After "Althea" was "Gilpin Swing". So first, we got a Max freak out from "Polka", then a Steve (and nearly everyone else) freak out from "Althea". Now it was Carin's turn. She's been waiting for a "Gilpin Swing" as long as I've known her. Another new cover, "Goodle Days" was next, followed by "Up on the Hill". Then it was my turn to freak out. Adam played those first chords of "Dogs" and I was in pure bliss. I never expected to see them play it, and it was so much more than I ever expected. It's just so heavy and emotionally charged. One of my favorite Yonder moments, ever. End of set 1.

So the first set break went pretty quick. The band came back to the stage, and it was obvious something was up. Todd was standing with a couple other people on the side of the stage, looking out at the crowd. I looked over at Ben, tuning his bass, and he just had a huge smile. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I felt it coming...

Jeff: "Hey Ben, will you tell us a story?"
Ben: "Only this once."

Jeff spoke the magic words. The crowd went wild. I had talked to someone before the show who knew what was going to be played. She asked me what I wanted to hear, and my reply was "Dogs and the Sherif Saga". "Well, this might be your lucky night." It certainly was. The saga started off with an "On the Run" jam that broke into "Part 1". Now, I have one tiny, miniscule complaint about this. And it's really stupid, but I can't help it. One of the best musical moments at a Yonder show is when "Part 1" goes right into "Bolton Stretch" - without pausing or slowing down - and they slowed it down here. Not a big deal, but I had to mention it.

Besides the sheer elation and excitement of hearing the Sherif Saga in its entirety, we now know the order of the songs in this story:

Everything in this show came together perfectly: amazing song selections, high-energy performance, and the company of so many wonderful people. And it was just Yonder. Pure Yonder. There were no frills or New Years gimmicks. They just came out as they always do - and rocked it.

The second set break was full of laughter and hugs. We were all in disbelief over what we had just heard. The break didn't last long, and the band was back for one last set. What else were they going to do? We didn't even care. This last set was just icing on the cake. Delicious icing. They opened with "Piece of Mind", Jeff finally getting back in the spotlight after a very long "Ben" set. A few songs in, it was finally just about midnight. I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be ringing in the new year than with my favorite band and some of my favorite people. Balloons fell, couples kissed, friends hugged, and we started 2011 with "Keep On Going".

Photo courtesy of nebraskawhit
Photo courtesy of nebraskawhit

The show rounded out with "New Horizons"> "Dreams"> "New Horizons" in the "Keep on Going" sandwich, followed by "Someday's Reunion", "Left Me in a Hole", and a slightly drunken "Angelside". The encore closed out the show with "Ooh La La" and "Another Day".

Photo courtesy of nebraskawhit
Photo courtesy of nebraskawhit
Photo courtesy of nebraskawhit

If anyone ever doubted this band's dedication to their fans, this show would make them believe. There were so many requests posted all over the internet for this show, and the band really listened and put together the perfect show. It felt like a thank you to everyone who follows Yonder all over the country, seeing show after show, year after year. Hands down, this was the best Yonder show I've ever seen.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
12/31/10 The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

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The Pageant - St. Louis, MO (December 31) M.M.

The second night of Yondergrass was scheduled to be an all fan-request set and it got off to a rolling start with a nice "Jesus on the Mainline" with Jeff ranting about tornadoes tearing through St. Louis telling everyone to get down, then rambling on into a solid version of "Polka on the Banjo" back into "Jesus". Great way to get the crowd into the rhythm of what's sure to be an epic new years show.

Coming up next was "New Deal Train" and "Deep Pockets". Jeff tells a story about two fans that came up to him in a restaurant earlier in the day and paid for his lunch. He returns the favor with an always welcomed Dead tune, "Althea"(1st time played), which they proceed to knock out of the park evoking all the emotion of the Dead. The boys proceeded to change up the groove with a jazzy "Gilpin Swing" and kicked into the first verse of Hartford's "Goodle Days" straight into another great Hartford cover of "Up on the Hill Where They do the Boogie".  Being a Colorado kid I can't help but stomp around to it!  Coming to the end of the set we were all treated to a very psychedelic version of Pink Floyd's "Dogs". As an all request set, there's few songs I or any Yonder fan could have requested to see performed better.

Coming back from set break there is a subtle but noticeable anticipation in the air that something epic is not far away. With no sheriff songs played on the 30th and none first set tonight, I'm feeling lucky! The Yonder boys take the stage with Jeff asking Ben to tell him a story. Ben agrees by saying "just this once." Opening up the set with a "Lord Only Knows">"Bolton Stretch">"On The Run", I think to myself, "Holy shit! We're actually going to get it!". They continue to rip through the saga with "High Cross Junction">"Sometimes I've Won">"Jail Song" into a foot-stomping "Casualty" with Adam in all his flatpicking glory and Dave tearing up the 5-string and the story progresses quite fluently. "Things Your Selling" comes next, a little slower than all previous tracks. Thank god because my legs were already getting tired from bouncing around The Pageant. St. Louis was then treated to "Catch a Criminal">"I'd Like Off">"Looking Back Over My Shoulder" into one of my favorite sheriff songs, "Mother's Only Son". They continue to segway into a "Finally Saw the Light" that evokes thoughts of life's tales that have come and gone back into "Mother's Only Son".  Next up comes the "End of The Road", played only once before by YMSB, hopping straight back into the raging bluegrass everyone has become accustomed with for Yonder with "On the Run".  Set two is over, legs exhausted from dancing, face hurts from a constant smile for 80 minutes, my god are we lucky to have heard the first complete saga in years.

After a well-deserved second set break I make my way to my spot for the third and final set, not having a clue what to expect after the madness I have just witnessed.  They waste no time breaking into an always popular "Peace of Mind" after which Jeff informs the crowd of YMSB's plans to produce a new record in the following year.  Next up Adam sings his song "Pockets", Ben  sings "Ain't No Way of Knowing" and a nice bluegrassy-version of "Brown Mountain Light" to round out 2010.  Jeff and the band make their thank yous for the year and then the new year's countdown begins.  The new year is rung in with a solid 5-layer sandwich known as "Keep On Going">"New Horizons">"Dreams">"New Horizons">"Keep on Going". They're on fire and the year is only about 30 minutes old.  Ben sings us "Someday's Reunion" and Adam "Left Me in a Hole". Very nice boys.  We are again treated to an end of set sandwich with "Angel" into a dark and dirty version of "Follow Me Down to the Riverside" where Jeff likes to play with his hatchet in the tool shed back into "Angel" to round out the last set of the New Year's Celebration.  After a short break, the Yonder boys come back out to wow us one more time with Ben opening up with an uplifting "Ooh La La".  Adam ends the night with "Another Day" sending the crowd out into the streets of St. Louis with faces full of smiles, and I am so extremely grateful to have had the chance to witness such an amazing night of music. 

Written by Matt Mertz

Yonder Mountain String Band
12/31/10 The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

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The Pageant - St. Louis, MO (December 30)

Headed for good ol' Saint Louis

The sky was overcast as we headed east bound on I-70 out of Kansas City; the temperature wasn't too bad but the cloud cover was definitely present. As usual, my friends and I were trying to contain ourselves as the spirit of anticipation ran rampant through the car. You can't really help but laugh when you know you're about to experience something so epic in such a short period of time. We cranked the Saturday night Liberty Hall set to 11 and sped off towards the gateway to the west!

We arrived at our hotel around 4 o'clock and by the time we reached the front desk I could already tell that we had picked the right spot. Yonder fans seemed to be surrounding us; checking in, leaving for the hotel bar, carrying ice to their rooms, it was like a gathering all in itself. As we got to our room I heard bluegrass through the door two doors down and a lady excitedly talking to someone on the phone down the hall. She could barely contain excitement as she shouted "Yonder in Saint Louis!" to her awe-struck friend. That was on the fifth floor. I could only imagine what was going on the other four floors.

The clock read 5:15 and it was time to hit the Halo Bar. As my friends and I finished up procuring a decent buzz, we got a call from our taxi driver that he had arrived at the hotel, and soon enough we were on our way. We arrived at the Pageant in less than ten minutes and got our will-call tickets in under 5 - I guess showing up early has its perks. For the next hour and a half or so we mingled around and helped ourselves to the always wonderful discounted PBR tall boys until they finally opened the door at about 7:45. We were in the back of the line but we still found a decent spot to the left of the sound stage on the aisle line.

The fans were pouring in and it felt like you could cut the energy in the air with a knife. As the lights faded and the house music came down, the 23 strings of disaster mosied their way onto the stage. 12 months of preparation and anticipation all culminating into this one glorious moment in which all Kinfolk would be united as one with the knowledge that this band and this time and space would be the only way to ring in the new year, knowing that there is no turning back now, and joining in the peace of mind that you would never want to be anywhere else but right there, had all come down to this moment in time. With the boys back in Saint Louis and a more aerodynamic Ben Kaufman, all bets were off and the weekend was ready for kick-off.

It wouldn't be a far-fetched claim to say the first set was one of tales about the road, love and loss and above all, finding your way back home. There are many Yonder tunes that could go in these categories but an arrangement such as this, in my opinion, is more valuable than many other similar sets that we've seen throughout the year. The abroad words of "Southbound" and the blatant realities of "Ramblers Anthem" confirm this thesis. Following these classics was "Ripcord Blues" and once again Davey Johnston writes us a metaphor for the ages, "a corner makes the room, the room goes to the street, your heart'll hang your head and your body moves your feet," as if to say keep walking buddy and take it all in stride. A "Redbird" gives us a short pause from our lonesome blues for a little bit of floor stomping goodness before they went on to an 18-minute "Honestly", "Complicated", "Ragdoll" ramble.

If there is anyone out there who has beef with the "Fingerprint", I think you might be at the wrong show. This is by far one of the Dave Johnston fans favorite anthems and will be so for many years to come, not to mention a perfect icebreaker for a gem like "Must've Had Your Reasons". This is a testament to Yonder's ability to deliver such a crush groove right before a classic three song mash up followed then by one of the best sandwiches of the night. "Ruby">"Ten">"Ruby". Need I say more? Set two? What would they think of next?

As I stand waiting for my two tall-boys in the smoke filled Halo Bar, I overhear someone say that the boys are back on stage, which prompts me to leave a ridiculous tip and sprint into the Pageant to see what song they would start out the second set with. I find myself in the middle of the first verse of "What The Night Brings" and I couldn't be more pleased. It seems as though Jeff Austin has mastered the art of writing songs that have driving verses that seem to seamlessly segue into rock steady chorus lines and "What The Night Brings" is a perfect example of this.

By this point in the show everyone in the crowd was feeling the Yonder Mountain Pageant vibe in spades and from "Southern Flavor" on it was a no-holds-barred throw down! I stood back and watched as my fellow Yonder nerds wiggled it out to "Damned if the Right One Didn't Go Wrong" and pounded the invisible walls of "East Nashville Easter". If you're in the mood for a treat, our brother Steve Day got a wicked video of the super spacey "Midwest Gospel Radio Piper" tease, not to mention all his slow motion videos( love 'em all dude!).

With a "Sidewalk Stars", "Boatman", "KY Mandy" and a "Steepgrades", we neared the home stretch and I began to think of what had been played and what was still left in the realm of possibilities. After a night like that what else could they do besides throw down another killer sandwich? Would they throw in a curveball? It wouldn't be a Yonder Mountain Show if they didn't. "Traffic Jam"> "Out of the Blue"> "TEAR DOWN THE GRAND OL OPRY"!> "Traffic Jam". Unbelievable!

Howls and hollers rang out in complete satisfaction as if that was the last tune we would ever hear. I knew what I had seen. I think it's safe to say we all did. An array of basically all the new material that they debuted in 2010 merged with the old-time numbers that have warmed our souls for so many years. The only thing that could make this night just that much better would be good old fashion Misfits cover. "Troubled Mind">"20 Eyes">"Troubled Mind". The crowd exploded in utter disbelief, the fellas put up there axes, made their way off stage, and left us with one of the greatest cliff hangers I have ever experienced.

All and all I am more than pleased with the Saint Louis Pageant run and I can't wait to do it again sometime! Special thanks to Jeff, Dave, Adam, and Ben. Ben Hines, Ted Atwell, Todd Zimmerman, Kevin Gregory, Scotty of the merch table and everyone else who makes our Yonder world go round. Thank you to all Kinfolk for making this the greatest crowd in music today.

Written by Dan Ottinge

Yonder Mountain String Band
12/30/10 The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

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