Yonder emerged on stage in front of a packed house a little later than usual, but with excitement clearly painted on their faces. After quickly tuning up, Jeff Austin, jubilant as always, exclaimed, "This is going to be fun as hell," and dove right into an energetic and always welcomed, "Spanish Harlem Incident". This Dylan tune is one of my favorites and is a great way to kick off a Friday night in Music City. The band opened their sound up a little with "Ragdoll", falling into stride and warming up the crowd. Before proceeding into the obligatory nod to Nashville songwriter and performer Shawn Camp, Ben comments on how Nashville is a tough nut to crack and sincerely appreciates the warm reception and great vibes from the crowd. An excellent rendition of "Ain't No Way of Knowing" was followed by a rowdy "Jesus on the Mainline", offering a tip that this Friday with Yonder might be a little out of the ordinary.
In the middle of the first set, with a smirk on his face, Jeff asked the crowd, "You know what is some badass sh*t?", before introducing longtime friend Todd Snider, as well as Andy Hall of the Infamous Stringdusters on dobro. The anticipation from the crowd for what was about to unfold was palpable and written on the faces of the band. It was evident that Jeff Austin felt at home with Todd filling in on vocals for a mandatory "Sideshow Blues". It was also clear that from his time at the String Summit, Andy felt very comfortable with the pace and openness for experimentation that Yonder's music offers. The audience had the pleasure of hearing two more numbers from Todd Snider, one of which included an extraordinary version of "Fortunate Son". It was very nice to hear an emotional Credence Clearwater Revival cover, which was also a new debut for Yonder. Although Todd Snider's sit-in was short and sweet, Andy Hall decided to hang around for more of the shindig.
Once Todd had left the stage, Yonder proceeded into, "Keep On Going", which is a great standard as evident by the results of the 2010 Yonderpoll on Phantasy Tour. The "New Speedway Boogie" was a pleasant surprise, and the "Keep On Going" > "New Speedway Boogie" > "Keep On Going" delivered as the audience reached a feverish level and the show's pace rocketed into orbit. The band moved almost seamlessly into a huge "Traffic Jam" to close out the first set, which served to only fuel the fire that had been set under the heels of the audience. It was fun to watch Adam and Jeff's faces as Andy Hall launched into some stratospheric jams. What a talent! The first set ended like a showstopper after more than an hour and a half. Out of breath, but still begging for more, the Nashville crowd stocked up on their favorite beverages for what would prove to be an enormous second set of music.
After what seemed to be a quick set break, Yonder was back on stage and ready to pick up where they left off. They kicked off the second set with "What The Night Brings". This newer, fast-paced tune is a great set opener. Dedicating the next number to Del McCoury and his band, Yonder launched into what would be a monstrously good "Kentucky Mandolin". I always use "monstrously good" when Bryn Davies sneaks in to tickle Ben's bass. In Ben's own words, "That is the closest I've ever come to having sex on stage.", which was made in reference to how Bryn had just completely abused his bass during "Kentucky Mandolin". Following a "Funtime" breather, Yonder quickly restored the aerobic workout to the audience by speeding into "Raleigh & Spencer", and then into a huge "My Gal" > "No Expectations". They then played "Redbird" to round out Andy's extended stint for the night, and Bryn Davies also managed to sneak in one last time. "At The End Of The Day", "Night Is Left Behind", and "Corona" were a nice respite before Yonder jumped into a giant "Years With Rose" > "Peace of Mind" > "King Ebeneezer" > "Peace of Mind" to close out the second set. "King Eb", written by Jeff Austin and Andy Pond, is always great to hear because of how far it has evolved from its debut in Nashville at The Trap in 2004. Closing in on 2:00 AM, the audience, although still stomping and spinning, was visibly tired from what had begun almost four hours earlier. "Peace of Mind" ended and the band graciously thanked the audience for spending their Friday night, and now Saturday morning, at the show. Yonder's genuine respect for their audience and fans, and the high level of interaction they have with the crowd, are refreshing things to see in a band. After very little prompting, Yonder came back out for a single encore. As if to cap off an almost perfect evening that spanned into the early morning, Yonder played "Ooh La La", which was a fitting cover to end a full night of music. Now, the waiting game is on for another raucous night in Nashville with Yonder Mountain String Band. I'll be there, will you?
Written by Jeff Green
|Yonder Mountain String Band|
1/28/11 Cannery Ballroom, Nashville, TN
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