McDonald Theatre - Eugene, OR (April 10)

So stoked for the show today, and totally on cloud nine from the show the night before and those cute boys you always seem to meet that never live close by. So, Eugene or bust.  I left Seattle with a grin ear to ear, and I was on the run.  Made a pit stop in PDX to regroup & pick up my home girl, who had never seen Yonder or really knew what she was getting herself into.  Yay for friends that try new things and make the commitment to get to the show.  Oh was she in for a surprise. Determined not to miss a beat this time, I made sure we got there at show time. But I think that meet and greet prior left the boys also needing to regroup, so we waited and did our own little meet and greet, I even threw down some beats at some young folks-totally random.

We found a good spot down in the pit and definite middle.  It was after 9:30 before they hit the stage.  Jeff didn't waste any time and started with “Out of the Blue” where Ben got us movin and everyone’s jam had a chance to grab us.  A nice little Jimmy Cliff song for the youngens was next, “The Harder They Come”.  Ben's bass is so lovely in the back of this tune.  Dave sang us our next tune, “Loved You Enough”.  A crowd favorite for its fast foot stompin' and quick pickin; oh how I just love when Dave sings.  Ben teased us with a little “Rapper's Delight”, then got into the little swing number “The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me”; I just love how the honey bear thuds on this one.  “A Father's Arms” next followed by a reminder that NWSS this summer is the 10th anniversary bash.  They took us down “Wildewood Drive”, and pulled some interesting elements and a lot of variation together all at once.  Ben just wails on this one, the bass is so clean he just rips out the "thunder" right off the bat.  Jeff's mandolin and Adams guitar are quite the mesmerizing match.  “How Bout You” is one I don't hear often enough; took a nice spin down electric avenue, which was fresh and fun to catch.  “At The End of The Day” is a homey tune that followed.  Jeff revved us up a little crank of wham and rocked out “Nothin’ But Nothin’”, a Todd Snider/Elvis number, for us next.  “I'd Like Off” had a sweet electric glow to it thanks to Yonder’s newest member. That changed the pace to a nice slow sway with notes that trickled like a fine mist from the sky with a little hail here and there.  Boys picked it right back up with a run of “New Horizons”, with the heavy bass and smooth guitar, and fast mandolin.  Ben pulled out the bow for the bass on this one.  Love how the bow just shoves that thunder deep into each of our throats, dishing out that deep roots feel. That deep thunder rolled us into “Catch A Criminal” where Adam’s guitar flowed so smooth.  Jeff gave us a little Michael Myers/Halloweeen freak session and the boys got right back into “New Horizons” with Ben heavy on the bass with that oh so lovely bow.  Jeff chimed in with his new amp and the crowd got movin again; ah set break. 

For set two we moved up to the balcony with the of age folks. Super rad to have such a clean view of what’s going on up on stage, but the trick is to find a spot free of chairs-which leaves you with the aisle-which means dancing to a beat that others can freely move about.  Not a stopper here, we danced and danced to 20 minutes of “Snow On the Pines”.  The boys took this number in a slow groove with a bluesy kind of vibe and Adam just endlessly shredded and shredded the guitar.  Jeff kept us all on edge with his rhythm the whammy of the pedal he’s using.  He would just bend the sound around and help us keep our foot on the gas while Adam took us for a ride with no rest stops.  Adam, Jeff, Adam, Jeff, Adam, Jeff, man they just kept at it one after another, mimicking with variation; I kept movin and everyone else did to too.  They both brought us home, making each and every one of us get it out, and they still weren't done.  Twenty minutes of absorbing a one of a kind experience.  It's yours, your very own.  It takes so much energy from both the band and the crowd to keep that focus and allow for so many individualized experiences to become one; a unison not possible without each other and the end result is ultimately your experience, your very own; only a reality because of the process and presence of those present.

“New Deal Train” featured the newest member of the band which everyone seemed to really get into.  “Corona” was followed by “Too Late Now”, and my friend rested for a breather.  Dave just rips it in this tune.  I love the lyric "everything I ever wanted was in front of me", "sometimes you gotta hit the road to wind up right here back at home", and  "where I'm coming from is where I belong".  Ben gave us “Mother's Only Son” next.  And Dave took us for another little stroll in the park.  “Mental Breakdown” was next with all sorts of fancy banjo action going on and some fast ass picking.  “Southbound” was to follow, appropriately. “Complicated” was next followed by “Brown Mountain Light”, which always has some good foot stompin’ to it.

Dave sang us the lovely “Winds On Fire” with a little electric flare to it, it’s a good one that stops and makes you think.  We got a little psychedelic tease action from Jeff before getting into one of my favorites “Elzic's Farewell”. It looked as though Jeff had his mandolin sideways on top of his amp and was just tapping the sh*t out of it and scratching the strings, almost like "scratchin’" a record or something and produced these warped and almost electronic beats out of it.  The warp was super heavy, then just faded out.  Super Cool.  I love “Elzic's Farewell”, it’s everything bluegrass should be, it’s fast, it's got raw & dirty string action with a nice heavy bass that keeps it deep; with so much room to move about, you never get this one the same.  The energy picked up even a bit more with an always great cover, “Whippin’ Post”.  A song everyone feels; Jeff pours it out to where he's already dead, after Adam just smothers us in flawless fingering, bending those strings ever so sweet; love the Jeff breakdown at the end.

Ah “Boatman”, such a contrast and what a good dancin’ pick.  The crowd moved instantly.  Jeff got a little of his be-boppin’/sputterin’ out at us, getting everyone bouncing to the beat, just boogying down; spinning and dancing arm and arm to the encore.  The guys left, we hollered.  All I could think about was “Riverside”. With a stoked crowd, the boys came back out and pulled out Adam’s fast fingers again for “Damed if the Right One Didn't Go Wrong”.  Love Bens' super quick vocals on this one; and how Adam just continuously annihilates the strings on this one; I think I actually saw his fingers start to smoke after that one.  They closed the evening with a good old John Hartford number, “Steam Powered Aereoplane”.  No “Riverside”; but I was still on the run.

Written by Audrey Whitlatch

Yonder Mountain String Band
4/10/11 McDonald Theatre, Eugene, OR

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