Spring Tour Thoughts

This recent Spring Tour I was given the opportunity to give back to a band that has had a huge influence on my life. I’m not saying that I ever followed them down to the riverside or anything like that however I believe I would if it were going to be a bubbling and a bubbly. The opportunity was to do marketing for them with teams for a portion of the Spring Tour. Within a week or so, I was given the responsibility to write about the shows, while taking some concert photography as well. Writing is a passion of mine, and I was just thrilled for the opportunity to give back. 

We have all had bad times but the last 2 years have been the lowest by far. I will be dammed though if just like clockwork, when I would be feeling really low, the perfect Yonder song would pop into my head and give me new hope, shed in a different light. Without even knowing, this band from Colorado was helping me through very difficult times. So of course, I was excited. I was geared up and ready to tour. That is when I found out that my mother was going to have open heart surgery. Devastated by another rock in the road, I felt as though I was letting the band down somehow. But come on. It is Mom and there was no question that I would be making a call to inform that I wouldn’t be making any of the shows. Mom had an emergency surgery. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't remember Adam, Jeff, or Ben rocking me to sleep as a child. But, we have all had or have Moms and I knew there would be no issue of misunderstanding. All I can say is there are a lot of solid hearts in their organization. At 5:00 AM, I was with my mom right before she was going into surgery, both with thoughts of love and fear, and that horrible question that pops into your head. NO! We were both trying to smile and act positive. I noticed that I had an e-mail on my phone from the band and management giving my mom their best wishes and hoping that all goes well. What band does that? Apparently, YMSB of Colorado does. They don’t know me, or my mom. Yet they were that thoughtful. It made us both smile and allowed us both a moment of distraction before the surgery. Good news, Mom is home today, and she is moving around fine. Healing will take time but I am here for her. It is so evident how these pickers can play a song with so much passion. They really do care about their fans. That means you. So without further ado.... I can faintly hear.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Dave Johnston on the banjo”, With..... The Kinfolk making up the crowd. There are critics, silent listeners, singers, wigglers, chatters, tapers and Yonderers. A personal favorite of mine would be, the high five you give your friend when they sneakily led you into the perfect next tune or the right cover that floored your senses. All while each and every one of the entertained is having their very own, unique experience. Yet so harmonious it is simply accepted as, the magic of the show, or maybe I should say voodoo. So how can a concert post take you back to that show that was so unique to you as an individual? The great news is it can’t. If it could, your show would no longer be unique to that single moment when you were enveloped by the music being played. It was happening. You heard that song that you have heard so many times but this time... you realized, that you’ve been “Red Tail Lights” and your gone again or maybe, damn you know what, my gal really can’t cook pork chops. Then, pork chops are just never the same.

So does a tree make a sound in the woods if no one is around? No, it just waves passing through the air. Yonder, yes they make sound. Sometimes, as pleasant as a twig floating in a stream, then, “ When you're listening late at night you may think the band are not quite right,” until they are bantering about a Cuckoo's Nest
. I believe, I should use or create a word other than sound for them. Sound can just fall off deaf ears. We hear and digest these stories and harmonies because they give us no choice. Once we have made the choice to go, a guaranteed adventure is what they give. I never even have left a show before without learning something new about myself. Even if it was simply that I am not the only person that has gone through hard times, someone else was left in a hole or needed help finding their way home. It is evident the amount of time they put into their timing, harmonies, creations and delivery. It almost sounds selfish, to speak of the things we are taking from the shows. On the other hand, that is the best gratitude imaginable to such a unique act. Your life was touched by their music, even if it was as simple as having one hell of a night with good friends. I can confidently assume why the boys spent so much time in our beloved California. New ears, new venues (Harlow’s) and all the good ole’ ones that we love to visit, The Mystic, Catalyst, State-line, The Historic Fillmore Ballroom, El Rey, and Eureka Theater. Had I been able to hit the tour as planned I’m sure I would have joined in on the smiles. And just like yourself, had those nuggets to take away with me from the shows, keeping them, as I go on with new journeys because that is what we do and why they give it their all every night.

Written by Jason Travis 

The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA (April 23) A.D.

Hello Kinfolk,

Yonder’s tour closer on Saturday, April 23 at the Fillmore in San Francisco was nothing short of spectacular.  During the first set, Jeff couldn’t help but shout to the crowd that the band had been “rejuvenated” simply by standing on the stage looking out at the throngs of fans and Fillmore chandeliers.  The boys started things off on the right foot with a particularly funky “No Expectations. “ However, the climax of the set was undoubtedly their rendition of The Grateful Dead’s “Althea.”  Jeff proclaimed himself a Dead-head as the band stood looking at a picture of the man himself.  As they did in the previous show, the boys played a lot of new tunes on Saturday.  This raging first set ended with a bang in the form of a tasty “Come Together” cover sandwiched between a thunderous “New Horizons.”  The crowd barely had enough time to unwind from the onslaught before the boys returned to open their second set with a grassy version of the Talking Heads’ “Girlfriend is Better” packaged neatly in the middle of a triumphant “Keep on Going.”   This wild second set also saw a very dirty “Kentucky Mandolin” that got the crowd wiggling.  Yonder’s tour closer ended with Dave belting out a beautiful version of his “Wind’s on Fire” before an extremely raging “Traffic Jam>East Nashville Easter>Traffic Jam.”  In fine form, the boys capped off their tour with a great two-song encore and, of course, by bidding adieu to their San Francisco fans. 

Cheers to a wonderful Spring Tour!

Written by Andy Dalton

Yonder Mountain String Band
4/23/11 Theatre, San Francisco, CA

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The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA (April 22 & 23) D.S.

We arrived at the Hotel Tomo in San Francisco a bit tired, but ready for the final two shows of the spring tour.  We couldn't believe how quickly these shows arrived, and we all felt the importance of staying in the moment and enjoying every minute of the rest of our time together.  We had a lovely dinner together in Japantown before heading down to the Fillmore.

The wait outside was quite longer than anticipated... apparently there was a problem with the plumbing.  But we finally got in around 8:30, found our spots, bought our kick-ass Fillmore Ragdoll posters, and were more than ready when the boys hit the stage around 9:30.

It started with that oh-so-familiar opening riff of "Ten", and the party was on.  From my vantage point in the photo pit, I got to watch a whole heck of a lot of Kinfolk dancing their butts off, with huge smiles on their faces.  Right from the start, this was a terrific show.  I had to run over to my friends when they started "Polka on the Banjo", we were just so excited that they were pulling it out - and so early in the show!  Next was "California Cottonfields" - another old gem.  I think I've only seen them play this maybe twice before.

Next, was Dave's new instrumental that we first heard in Austin, now named "Strophe for an Unsung Albatross (Reese's Pieces)" (or Reese's Peanut Butter Cup - I've heard them call it by either name), followed by "You're No Good". Get along, Dave!  Next they did one of their new favorites, "Just Like Old Times", followed by "Town", "Raleigh and Spencer", and "Honestly".  Adam hadn't done any singing the night before, and we were all happy he was back with us for this show. Another new one - "One More" - was next.  I really dig this song, and I'm excited to see how it evolves and gets sandwiched in the future.  The set ended wonderfully with "On the Run"> "High Cross Junction"> "On the Run".  I especially enjoyed this "HCJ", Jeff just gets after it.

The second set opened with "Ramblin' in the Rambler"> "Oklahoma"> "Ramblin'", followed by another new one - "Far From You".  Then "Sidewalk Stars" and, you guessed it, ANOTHER new one - "Pretty Daughter" (a pretty awesome Bad Livers cover).  I'm loving all these new songs for the Spring Tour.  And what would be a good way to balance out all of these new songs?  By polishing off an old chestnut like "High on a Hilltop", that's how.  "Finally Saw the Light" was next, and Ben being sick, he was a bit hoarse through this song.  But it actually felt more emotional that way.  No complaints here.  Oh!  ... And who do you think brought out the "Ramblin'" "Jagermeister" shots?  The one and only Slowbear (Party! Party!).

"Ripcord Blues" got everyone dancing (as usual), and "Eli Renfro" was just as spooky as ever.  Then "Holding".  I don't know, maybe they should've chosen a different song and let Ben rest his voice.  It got better as the song went on, but it had to be hard to sing while so sick.  Next they went right into "Shake Me Up", another new one that was previously called "B-Boogie".  Whatever you want to call it, I call it a hip-shaker.  Then, before we knew it, we were being swept away with the soft beginning of "Morning Dew".  This song has always been great, but when they play it like this, and build it up into a monster of a song, it's just amazing.  Into "Boatman". Fun second set.  "Crow Black Chicken" was the first song of the encore, and let me tell you... I've heard this song quite a few times, and I've never heard such awesome banjo-ness during this one before.  Dave killed it.  With a tasty groove. Then how did they end the show?  With "Southern Flavor".  Really? Yes.  Thank you, Yonder.

What a great group of people - from all over the country

Night two.  
I love seeing Yonder, and I love these little runs of shows that we get to do, but the last night of tour is always bittersweet.  But we were ready.

The boys came out, Ben grabbed his bow, and "No Expectations" opened the show. I immediately thought about Ian and how much he loves this song as an opener - and he got it twice on this tour, way to go!  Second was "Little Lover" - another new Dave tune.  This was the first time I got this song, but I'm pretty sure we heard it during the soundcheck in Austin.  I just love all of these new songs, and Dave especially seems to be writing some really great songs lately.  After "Little Lover", he introduced us to Ben, "Get yourself a shot of vitamin BK!", who voiced his appreciation for all of the love and well-wishes he received after last night's show. Then he started "Sometimes I've Won".  And after that was "Another Day". Both Ben and Adam were obviously feeling better than they had the past few days, and they were all having a great time playing their final show of the tour.

Next, they played another new one.  A Jeff tune titled "Lay it on the Line".  I love the way this song starts off one way, then just turns around and changes into something else once the vocals start.  "Casualty", "It Takes a Lot to Laugh", and "Nothin But Nothin" came before yet another new song.  An Adam song called "All the Time".  I think this one will really catch on.  Then Jeff announced his Deadhead roots, and they played "Althea".  Let me tell you, after missing a bunch of great shows the past few months, Tim got just about everything he could have wanted out of this run, including "Althea".  He was talking about this cover for days, and I'm so glad he finally got it the last night.  The first set ended with "Damned if the Right One", "New Horizons"> "Come Together"> "New Horizons".  It was a fun and long first set.  

If you had asked any Yonder superfan in the Fillmore that night what song they KNEW would be played, they would have said "Keep on Going".  It's the ultimate end-of-tour-show-the-fans-some-love song, and they opened the second set with "Keep on Going"> "Girlfriend"> "Keep on Going".  Nice.  This second set was full of Yonder "heavy hitters" - "Deep Pockets", "Rain Still Falls", "Complicated" (dedicated to Stella), "Kentucky Mandolin", and "Too Late Now".  Before starting the next song, Ben told us that the poster made for the Fillmore shows, based on the following song, is his favorite Yonder poster of all time.  "Ragdoll".  Love this song, love this poster (thanks for the sneek peek, Jeff!).  The show continued going hard with "Sharecropper's Son", "Southbound", "Part 1", and "Winds on Fire" before going into the final sandwich of the evening - of the tour - "Traffic Jam"> "East Nashville Easter"> "Traffic Jam".  Man, people sure do love that "Traffic Jam"!  I just love seeing so many people dance their butts off with huge smiles on their faces.

The encore break applause was loud and deserved.  Yonder always puts on a great show, and I just can't believe that no matter how many times I see this band, I just have more and more fun.  The boys came back out, grateful for all of the love, and finished their tour with "Steep Grades, Sharp Curves" and "Hit Parade of Love".  

I feel like a broken record, but thanks to Yonder Mountain, their crew, and all of the Kinfolk for being some of the most amazing people I've ever known.  You all bring such joy into our lives.  I think we've got a pretty good thing going here.  See you all this summer!

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
4/22/11 Theatre, San Francisco, CA

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Yonder Mountain String Band
4/23/11 Theatre, San Francisco, CA

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