Ah, the northwest run. I'd been waiting and waiting for this since the end of last summer. I don't know about you folks here in the west, but I've been following Yonder since I found them at Bonnaroo in 2003, and living in Ohio for most of that time, Yonder gave me the run of my life and countless shows I will never forget; including the infamous Newport Music Hall experience of Cabin Fever (02.21.04). If you haven't heard this show, you need to, if you have, you get what I'm saying. So, it’s fair to say that over the years I've seen these boys grow, shall we say, even to the point of crowd surfing, which I witnessed at a Yonder show in Cincinnati for a July 4th bash. Now, at Northwest String Summit 2010 (you know...you were there) Yonder did things a little different. They added a little twist and pushed bluegrass into the many dark little alleys of each one of our souls. We followed them down to the riverside and they made each and every one of us dance till we GOT IT OUT! When you get it out like that it creates this need, this crave and desire to have that experience again and again, but unfortunately, Portland is not on the way to anything, so I waited 6 months before I got this sort of “GET IT OUT” again. Now, with this need for gettin’ it out, you get how excited I was for a three show run.
I was so excited that I bought my tickets way, way early, and begged all my friends to do the same. Of course none of them did, the show sold out, and there I was all ready for Seattle to find my friends bailing last minute; same old same old. So, I was off anyway to crash with a friend who lives just a 10-minute walk from the Showbox. I haven't really spent much time in the nightlife of Seattle, but arriving the night before to catch Kyle Hollingsworth of SCI at the Nectar, I fell in love with the chill and friendly vibe where there was a feel that everyone seemed to know everyone. I left just at 9:00, knowing I could walk right in and stumble into a dancing crowd and try to find a good landing spot with room to move. And damn, I arrived at 9:15, and missed a killer opener of the fast paced “Sideshow Blues”, but caught the old miner's tune “Not Far Away”. The boys picked up the pace a bit with “Troubled Mind”, followed by “Rain Still Falls” and “Deep Pockets”. Next, we got a bluesy “Suspicious Minds” with some nice banjo rips into “Steep Grade Sharp Curves”, a definite crowd pleaser because Jeff always throws it down. Dave had some great banjo throw downs, and I could really feel Jeff's soul when he wailed at the end of this one about how much he wish he had "never, never, never, never believed her!" assuming he was releasing a bit from recently being single again, I felt it. Next we got a little taste of Yonder's newest member Mr. Sampson, a Matchless amp, when we got a short little bit of it into “Sidewalk Stars”. I love when the boys' vocals harmonize in this one; it’s so lovely when they blend so nicely together. Their newest member gave us a little deep grit dive, I loved the feedback and rockin’ feel; Seattle was definitely a little taken, but totally captured and seemed stoked to hear the this new rockin’ sound.
Jeff checked to see if we were all having fun, then we got a little Dave. I just love when Dave sings. “Night is Left Behind” is such a lovely and uplifting tune. After a quick invite for us all to come to String Summit this summer, we got the fast paced, twangy tune “Lost John”. "Crazy", I know I've heard before but I had a hard time placing it; looking into it, it's a Split Lip Rayfield tune? Anyway the song is great. So many emotions can be bottled up, but this song takes the cork off. Next we got a little ballad of “Part 1” where Ben sings, Jeff revs us up and Adam replies. After a little “getting it out” guided by Jeff, the crowd was rocking, hyped, and amped for “Rambler”> Cheers...Jeff sang us the Dead tune “They Love Each Other”, where Adam just flowed-as always, and then back into “Rambler”. No matter how many times I've heard this done, it’s always nuts, and you never know what you're going to get. You can imagine the energy we were left with at set break; the guys were hot and so was the crowd. Fun times.
Now, set break, a time when everyone is hustlin’ and bustlin’ to get somewhere or find someone. It can be awkward when everyone around you is on a mission and you're flyin’ solo just wanting to chat it up with Kinfolk. After finding myself a tasty beverage, and awkwardly in conversations that didn't seem to include me, I moseyed on and found myself in the middle of the venue under a nice cool vent, in front of a super cute boy; who after a couple glances also seemed to be flying solo for the night. Talking myself into the approach is always rough, but I recognized him from the Kyle show the night before, so I had an easy in. Ah, a Colorado boy...easy to converse with, always down for a rockin’ time, loves cheap beer, and isn't afraid to dance his ass off.
Now, being in the back middle was a nice change. I was right in front of the soundboard, and the sound was so much more amazing. I usually hang to the side where I can have a view or lots of room to dance, but in the back middle I found more than one perk. They started the set with a welcome, and a little amp action to go along with the rockin’ tune “East Nashville Easter”. Then the oh-so-lovely “Illinois Rain”, where everyone got their beat back. Next was “Pockets”. Adam should sing more; love the bluesy feel of this one and he just wails and wails on the guitar. He rocks it so sweet, bending the strings so precisely; almost like a slide guitar. Love the amp tease, it’s so rockin’. Next we got a nice run of a quick and easy “Fastball” into a new one, “B-Boogie” which Jeff wrote; Ben's bass will never make you want to leave, it’s funky & fresh. I love how this tune has a lot of different elements going on with lots of room for jammin’; yeah Ben! Then right into “Bolton Stretch”. I can watch the YouTube video of this over and over. Everyone in the crowd was moving as one and just groovin’ to the beat. The lights were all over the place, in your face, and just meshing to each member's instruments and capturing the crowd.
Dave loves Seattle. Ah, the good things of life are a plenty here in the PNW, we know how to live right. And I love Rag Doll, a tune Jeff wrote with Danny Barnes, which they played next. To me it’s a tune that transforms you from whatever state you may have been in, into this smooth soulful vibe where everyone’s instruments just flow miraculously in and out of the jam; but its got guts and dirt to it too if you listen for it. I love its sweet ending. Now what happened next was a brand new number, never ever played for folks before, called “All The Time”. How special are we? This is a tune Adam sings, yay! Jeff, Adam, and Dave all took us for a ride on this one. The crowd got a paced clap going afterwards to show their appreciation. Next, “Finally Saw the Light”, followed by “Sometimes I've Won”.
“Brothers & Sisters” started a little run for us which just Kept on Goin'. Dave took us about, as did Adam and Jeff, but Ben, oh Ben, must have been that ''thunder" that took us over the rainbow. Epic little solo, thank you, Jeff-way to keep us going; I mean, I couldn't see what was happening, but being in the back middle, and knowing the band needs to know you're feeling it, I just threw my hand up, kept it up and threw it down. What a jam! And then Dave, oh Dave, you just rolled us up over and over, by the end I had both my hands up making them dance like my feet! Such Awesomeness that then threw us into “Northern Song”, a tune I just love, that always starts so serious with lovely and fun harmony and then just jumps into a fun groove with lots of room to jam - and jam they did. Adam started so smooth, Jeff fed us till we were full, and then Dave gave us dessert. Man can his fingers move fast; and how those high notes just ring. Nearly 3 minutes of Adamness. Then Dave just kept us going over and over in the lows and in the highs. Love those long rips the boys can get out. Then Jeff and Adam chatted back and forth with their rigs for a few more minutes, like a conversation happening on stage, which pushed us into “If You're Ever in Oklahoma”, where everyone had it together and the bass got everyone moving as one again. Man those boys were so hot; flawless. Jeff got me absolutely spinning. That’s when you know it’s real. Adam just kept shoving it in our faces. Unreal. The feet just never stopped. Still on the run, the boys weren't done yet. Ben gave us a little tease, Adam rocked it, then Jeff just cranked the notch a little and freakin’ annihilated the mandolin and the energy jumped, and the guys got right back in and finished “Keep On Going”. That epic run took us to the encore.
The crowd was ready for more, so sad it was the end. That paced clap started again and the place just roared with energy. Everyone was hollerin’ for them. And they came back for a couple more, and an invite for us all to come down to Eugene for the next show and a little meet and greet to benefit little Lilli, prior to the start. Ben sang us a good old number I've never heard them do before, "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys", where Jeff just hit those high notes that ring oh so sweet. They picked it up and followed with an Oh Me, Oh My, Oh Sh*t... same closer to that epic Newport experience I mentioned before. No better way to close the night than with some fast-ass dancing to a song about boozin’.
Oh so much fun! And my night wasn't done; there was no way I was going to make that meet and greet tomorrow.
Written by Audrey Whitlatch
|Yonder Mountain String Band|
4/9/11 The Showbox, Seattle, WA
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