Day last + Kinfolk Celebration = super fun time. The votes were tallied months earlier and it was decided to move the annual Kinfolk Celebration to a new town. It was unexpected, but change is good, right? Well, we all proved that change can indeed be good, because this year's party was a complete success, and possibly the best Kinfolk Celebration in years. Over 100 Kinfolk RSVP'd, and as they all started filing into the Bourbon, finding their free beer and Kinfolk t-shirts, the smiling, hugs, and laughter took over and we all felt right at home. No matter how much time or how many shows come between meetings, Kinfolk are always there with a hug and a smile, like no time has passed. I love this family, and I seriously think Yonder has the best fans in music. Period.
As the pre-party wrapped up and doors were about to open, we found our spots up front against the very tall stage, and continued the fun as we waited for the music to start. It was a good wait, but when Yonder hit the stage, we were ready. And apparently, so were they, because they started the show strong with "Pretty Daughter". Oh hell yes. Also, one couldn't help but notice the bass. Maybe it just affected those of us in the front, since the speakers were under the stage, but holy moly, that bass was loud. Good job Ben Hines for making it sound so clear, and good job Ben Kaufmann for slappin' that bass and shaking the room. The next song was "Redbird", followed by a funky stand-alone "Come Together". This was probably the best "Come Together" I've ever seen. The crowd was already going wild and the energy in the Bourbon Theater was off the charts. Jeff took a moment to say a few words before continuing on with the music: "Welcome to the Kinfolk Celebration of this lovely year 2011! Tonight, when you come through those doors, you can be as freaky as you wanna be. You can dance your ass off as hard as you want to. Shake your ass with some fine lookin lady, cuz those doors are closed and we got you now, we aren't gonna let you go till we're done with you. So let your freak flags fly, my Kinfolk brothers and sisters! You are the reason we do what we do. Let's play some bluegrass for yo ass!"
Dave sang "Don't You Lean On Me", then Jeff introduced a gospel song by The Hillmen, "Going Up". Oh, thank you. I don't know what it is about gospel songs, especially "Going Up", but they just send me to my happy place. Adam sang "California Cottonfields", a rare treat, and then we were shocked when they started "Little Maggie". Colin had called a "Little Maggie" a couple nights before (in Bloomington, maybe?), but since they barely ever play it, I still consider it a pretty good call. The song was nice and jammed out, with some crazy pedal action on Jeff's part before going into "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough". This was the first time in 107 shows that I have seen them play the same song two nights in a row. I guess it's acceptable, since there was about 565 miles between these two shows, and since it was such a fun song. They finished "Little Maggie", and we were all thankful for such a fun 15 minutes of boogie.
We needed a bit of a breather after that one, and it seemed the band had known that we would need one as well, because "Dreams" came next. I love it when all four guys sing together. Then it was time for a Dave Johnston banjo number, with Dave introducing it as "Strophe For An Unsung Albatross (Reese's Pieces)" Then there was some back and forth about the title being either "Reese's Pieces" or "Reese's Peanut Butter Cup", to which Dave replied, "Man, I can change my heart." Then he rocked it out. It was then Ben's turn to sing with a couple sherif saga numbers, "Boots" and "I'd Like Off". Then, all of a sudden, we were hit with a major "Angel"> "Morning Dew"> "Angel". This was definitely a highlight of my week. And then it was time for our final set break of tour.
"We brought the peanut butter, so I hope you're ready" were Jeff's words as the band tuned up for their last set of their fall tour. They opened the set with "Polka On the Banjo", and I'm sure I'm not the only one who missed Max as we all shook our fannies to the song we love the best. Adam's groovy "Pockets" was next, followed by Dave singing "You're No Good", which included one of my favorite parts of a Yonder show with this song - Dave yelling "Get along!" before his solo. You gotta love the enthusiasm. Ben then sang "Sidewalk Stars", and I don't know what happened, but something clicked and I got into this song way more than I have in a long time. In fact, I was so immersed in the song, that I didn't even stop to wonder if they would go right into "Ain't Been Myself in Years", which is what I hope to hear after every "Sidewalk Stars"... and what do you know? That's exactly what they did. I love "Ain't Been Myself in Years". It has so much emotion and so much power.
"Fingerprint" was next, then Jeff told us a story about something that happened to Ben Hines before the show, "He was outside before the show and somebody walked up and said, 'They're not gonna play that song, are they?' It's day last of tour, f*ck yes we're gonna play this song! Because how often do you get to have a drink with 800 of your best friends in the world?" Everyone in the band and everyone in the audience gave a huge "Welllllll!" to kick off probably the biggest fan favorite Yonder song in existence, "Ramblin' in the Rambler". Yes, they play this song a lot, but it's a Yonder staple, and this time they played it harder than ever, and then we all shared a heartfelt toast. It was pretty awesome. "Out of the Blue" came next, followed by something new called "Setting Sail". This felt like a funky jam turned freestyle scat, turned full-blown song. It was neat, and I hope to hear more of it in the future. They finished "Rambler", then busted out "Ain't No Way of Knowing". Awesome! I love this song! Ben then sang another goodie, "New Deal Train". I don't even know when we last heard this song. After singing, Ben checked in with everyone to make sure we were all doing ok, and to tell us it was good to see us.
Adam started playing and although the melody seemed calm, we all knew what it preceded. And as the guitar got faster and harder, we all started moving faster and harder, until the band exploded into "Oklahoma". This was one of those songs that we really hoped to hear on this run, and the fact that they played it at the end made it that much better. As the song progressed, we heard a familiar change before Jeff said, "Hello", and the song moved into "King Ebenezer". We all danced in a Yonder daze through this last bit of music, making sure we fully experienced the last chunk of Yonder we would get for a few weeks, which came full circle with the end of "Oklahoma". As the band left the stage, we all cheered as loud as we could, making sure our love and gratitude came through. This time of the night is bittersweet, with the joy of seeing some amazing shows and the sadness of knowing it is all so close to coming to an end. But, the end isn't really the end, just a little break. The boys came back to the stage, and as they tuned up for the encore, Jeff thanked the crew, to which Ben replied: "You know what I think they'd like better than a shout out? Is if we'd carry our own sh*t for once." Ha! The night ended with "New Speedway Boogie" and my favorite "Casualty" of all time. It was the last song of the last night of tour and just exploded with energy. God, I love this band.
I remember many years ago, when Colin and I would go to shows and not know a single person. Sometimes we would be social, but most of the time we kept to ourselves. Then we started seeing Yonder - a lot - and started meeting the most amazing people in the world. We all share something very special and I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful Kinfolk family. And as another tour comes to a close, I remember all of the amazing times we shared with our incredible friends and our favorite band, and I am thankful for every single one of you. See you all in Boulder for the New Year Celebration!
Written by Dorothy St.Claire
|Yonder Mountain String Band|
11/12/11 Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, NE
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