Big Top Chautauqua - Bayfield, WI (July 6)

Big top!  We were so excited that it was that time of year to go to one of our favorite places.  Not only is the Big Top Chautauqua a unique venue, but it's in such a beautiful part of the country.  We drove all day and made it to the venue by 6p.m.  We immediately started running into our friends, and our long-awaited Yonder Summer Tour was under way.

Since this show had assigned seating we weren't too worried about getting in right away, and we stayed outside of the tent a little too long.  We heard them ring the bell, and before we knew it, the boys were coming out and I was scrambling to get my camera ready.  It all worked out just fine, like always, and we got our boogie on in the middle of a pretty cool group of folks.  

Fittingly, they opened with "Sideshow Blues" and got the tent riled up right away. You could see the joy and excitement on every face in the crowd.  Next, Dave stepped up and kicked off an always groovy "Irondale", which was followed by our favorite written by Ben and sung by Adam song, "Jail Song".  As they played "Looking Back Over My Shoulder", I ran around the tent taking photos and watching all the people having a great time.  Unlike last year, the weather was cooperating and the side flaps of the tent were up, allowing fans to spill outside into the grass where they had more room to dance.  

Finally, I put down my camera and got my boogie on with my friends as they started "One More".  "One More" just has this pounding, driving beat that you can feel running all the way down your spine and shooting out of your heels as you dance.  It just makes you stomp.  After "One More" I turned to Carin, "I hope we get Little Lover tonight!"  And what do you know?  "Little Lover".  I would say that this is my favorite new Dave tune, but he's been on fire and there are too many great newer Dave songs, I can't pick just one.

We had really good seats, but I need air in front of me.  So after dancing in the crowd up front for a few songs, I headed back to watch the show from the soundboard.  I don't do this enough.  It's so fun getting to hang out with Ben and Ted and watch them work their magic.  The first set closed with a killer "Elzic's Farewell"> "Raleigh and Spencer".  

As we all left the tent for set break, it felt quite bizarre that it was still light outside.  People were mingling in clusters all around, and there was a big group of people gathered to watch the half-time performance - fire hula hoopers.  How cool!  This show actually felt more like a small festival than a regular show.

The boys didn't waste any time and the second set started off hard with "King Ebenezer"> "Bolton Stretch".  They played "Night Out" next, which is one of my favorites.  I just love the harmonies... good stuff.  After "Loved You Enough", Jeff finally put words to the feeling many of us were carrying around that night.  We were all thinking of sweet, little Lilli, and Jeff charged us with the mission to "dance your ass off for Lilli Trippe!"  As Jeff burst into "Ten", Lilli's presence was definitely felt all around us, and we were further moved by the "Have Mercy" sandwiched in.  

During "Easy Come Easy Gone", I was back by the soundboard (where I spent most of the second set), and there seemed to be some sort of ruckus in the front row.  After the song, Jeff said, "Thank you folks.  Is everyone calming the f**k down right now?"  Followed by Ben talking about his Breathe tattoo, "It's not just magic marker on my arm folks, this is like the single most important thing you can remember to do."  Followed by, "When you forget to breathe, you get all punchy."  

"Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" came a little later in the set, and afterwards the crowd (and Dave) just went wild.  Dave doesn't get all riled up very often, but he was getting a kick out of all the energy in the crowd, and he gave it all right back to us.  The rest of the show was solid, with the second set closing out with a juicy "No Expectations" and "Casualty".  The boys came back out for their encore, wasting no time before jumping into "At the End of the Day", and finishing with a fast-ass bluegrass song, "Down the River Road".  What a show!

The crowd really gave it their all at this show and I can't imagine there was anyone who left disappointed.  I don't know about anyone else, but this show was also very cathartic for me and Colin.  It had been a couple months since we traveled, and with the news of Lilli's passing the previous day, we needed this experience with our Kinfolk.  I am so happy to be a part of such an awesome group of people.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Harris

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
7/6/11 Big Top Chatauqua, Bayfield, WI

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