We finally headed downtown around 4:30, and even before we parked the car we saw some of our Kinfolk wandering around. It felt so good to have everyone here. We hung out outside for a while, watched the soundcheck, and caught up with friends.
Finally, as the line started to form, the crowds started to gather. We got in pretty quickly and easily, and found our spots up front while other friends found great spots on the lawn for their chairs. There are so many great spots at Simon Estes Amphitheater, you really can't lose. I spent most of my time before the show visiting with people, taking photos, and handing out Hope for Lilli bracelets.
I loved the mixture of friends we had with us that night. Not only did we have some of our usual Kinfolk down front, we had some of our best Des Moines friends and Colin's best friend's son Austin on the rail as well. As the sun started going down, the band came out only a couple minutes after 9 o'clock and got right after it with the traditional Yonder Mountain number "If There's Still Ramblin' in the Rambler (Let Him Go)". The crowd roared along with Jeff, "Well!!!!!" and we were off. As the crowd started bouncing and waving I ran around the amphitheater, taking photos and dancing a little with some non-railriding friends, but my roaming was cut short when they started "Southern Flavor". I just couldn't be without my Kinfolk for this song so I bolted back down to the front and rocked out with some of my girls. Immediately, I noticed that Dave, Ben, Jeff, and Adam were all ON FIRE! In a good way. They always play a great show in Des Moines, and I could immediately tell that this night would be no different. After "Southern Flavor", I continued my roaming for a couple more songs. After playing "Goodle Days", Jeff said that they based the night's show on a long list of requests made online, and I got even more excited, knowing how many great songs had been requested. But next they went into a song that Ben said "was not requested at all by anyone...", the crowd favorite "40 Miles From Denver".
I made it back down to the front just in time for "Strophe". I tried to tell Annie the name of the song, but somehow she couldn't understand "Strophe for an Unsung Albatross" over the music. "Jesus on the Mainline" was next and I thought about Emily, who really wanted to hear that song, but had to work a little late that night. I hoped she would make it to the show, and as if on cue, she appeared right behind me! It was just perfect. After "A Father's Arms", Jeff sang Happy Birthday to a young lady named Gabby that was celebrating her seventh birthday on the rail with her mom. It also just so happened to be Austin's eleventh birthday, so it was a young Yonder Kinfolk birthday party up front that night.
After the birthday shout outs, they went into a crazy "Traffic Jam"> "Whipping Post"> "Traffic Jam" sandwich. I could hear "Whipping Post" all the time, and lately we have been getting it a lot. They gave us a little bit of a breather with a beautiful "Midwest Gospel Radio". By this point, most of us were completely drenched in sweat; I think Pearhead had left his shirt in a soggy heap on the ground. It was such a hot and muggy night, with just no breeze. Oh well. We forgot our discomfort until a song would stop or we would dance so hard we would come close to passing out. In a good way. They finished off the set with the end of the "Rambler" sandwich. Wow. Now that's a first set in Des Moines.
When Yonder came out for the second set, I knew what I hoped to hear, but I didn't have any clue what we were in for. It was a "Rubyside" opener. Yes, you heard right. They opened the second set with "Rubyside". Next, Ben got a little pep talk from Adam before singing "Someday's Reunion", another request. I always think of Pearhead and Amanda when I hear this song, so it was nice to have them there with us. Next, from the depths of Dave's "dark, stinky imagination" was "Mental Breakdown". Always fun. Then Adam introduced the next song as a newer song that "if you don't see us that much - you've never heard it, if you see us a lot - you have". It was Jeff's "Lay it on the Line"; a song that has been in my head quite a lot in the week since this show.
Jeff spoke some great words about our Kinfolk family before Adam strummed the opening chords to "Northern Song". I love this song. I think they do a great job with Beatles covers and should definitely do more of them (hint, hint). But this time this song raged harder than ever before. Dave was just playing the heck out of that banjo. Maybe it was because his mom was there, but whatever the reason, he was MVP of this show. I think Colin said it best, "Save some for later, Dave!"
Their next song was one of Colin's requests that we were both so very excited to hear. "Pretty Daughter" is such a great song, and what Yonder has done with it is just awesome. Awesome, I tell you. Then we got "Spanish Harlem Incident", which we hadn't heard since Groundhog Day... which is way too long to go without this song. The second set wrapped up with "Keep on Going"> "Part 1"> "Mother's Only Son"> "Keep on Going". What a great sandwich. "Keep on Going" is such a feel-good Kinfolk song. And who doesn't love a little chunk of the Sherif Saga?
As they came out for the encore, Jeff expressed his love for the Midwest. "We'll play this next song as long as you promise to dance your little asses off." They finished off with Boatman, and the crowd was happy. This was yet another fantastic hometown show, and after so many miles, it's good to just drive down the street and see our favorite band and so many of our favorite people. Take my advice: don't ever miss a Des Moines Yonder show. That is all.
Written by Dorothy St.Claire
|Yonder Mountain String Band|
7/8/11 Simon Estes Amphitheataer, Des Moines, IA
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