As I sit here writing, the room is filled with the familiar sounds of last Wednesday night and bathed in the glow of game 6 of the World Series. The red baseball caps remind me of a dear friend, and I am taken back to Wednesday night, October 19th, in Athens, Georgia. “I promise you, everyone is bringing it big for the theater.” Those were my friend’s words as I greeted him Wednesday afternoon after arriving in Athens. After a great Harvest Fest weekend I was pumped for, what else, more Yonder, and I hoped/knew that Yonder would live up to the expectations of the newly rebuilt Georgia Theater. “The phoenix of theaters”, as Jeff dubbed it that night, burned down in the summer of 2009 and just recently re-opened its doors earlier this year. Fittingly, this would be my first time back at the theater.
Historically for me a Yonder show in Atlanta is nothing short of a family reunion, and Athens was no different. I immediately began running into old friends and kinfolk outside the theater. After making my way inside and a quick conversation with Slowbear, I was surprised and thrilled to see one of my newest kinfolk family friends, Eric the Fred. Not surprisingly, I quickly spotted that red baseball cap that I am reminded of by tonight’s game 6. Even less surprisingly, the cap is front and center, “riding the rail” along with more kinfolk, including Peggy! I also can’t help but be happy for Michael Walker and his Cardinals, as David Freese just blasted an 11th inning walk-off home run to tie the series at 3 games each. And now I can really concentrate on this review. Back to last Wednesday.
The show started off great with “Years With Rose”> “Bolton Stretch”, followed by “Paul and Silas”, to which Michael Walker would exclaim, “Yes!” as if to say, “Holy sh*t! What a start!” And I would have to agree. Holy sh*t. What a start. Some 1st set highlights for me included a kick-ass, crowd-pleasing “Strophe”, “Sidewalk Stars”> “Ain’t Been Myself in Years”, and “Pockets” with Ben on electric bass. THE electric bass that was last played by…. Victor Wooten. My favorite 1st set sandwich had to be “Isolate”> “New Horizons”> “Criminal”> “Ob la di Ob la da” tease> “New Horizons” to end the set. Talk about filling.
If the 1st set somehow didn’t please you, then you must be an extremely picky person. If the 2nd set didn’t please you and get your feet stompin’, you better check your pulse. Dave would start off 2nd set with “Winds of Wyoming”. Afterwards, Jeff introduced the next number as a “traditional bluegrass number often played around the campfire.” I didn’t see this one coming. After 31 and a half shows, here in my own hometown state, I finally got “I am the Slime”!!! “Thanks for loving the old bluegrass” Jeff went on to say after the song.
Several days earlier, after eating the greatest Brunswick stew ever (thanks Michael) at Harvest fest, I told Jeff it would be nice to hear some gospel music. Specifically “Going Up”, which the boys played at my first yonder show back in 2005, and I haven’t seen it since. Fast forward again to Wednesday night in Athens, after “I am the Slime”, we got “Sharecropper’s Son”, then “Going Up”!!! Another one off the list!
Some more 2nd set highlights included “Ten”, “Come Together”, and “Free to Run”> “Honestly”> “Sideshow Blues”> “Honestly” to close the show. I like my “Honestly” all together, I think it’s a great song that flows well, but I really enjoyed it sandwiched this time. Maybe it was “Sideshow Blues”, maybe it was being home, who knows, but it was a great version and a great way to end the 2nd set. And as quickly as it got here, it was all over much too soon. After a “Troubled Mind” encore I said my bittersweet goodbyes, and began counting the days until New Year’s Eve. See you then, Kinfolk!
Written by Eric Martin