Castle Theater - Bloomington, IL (November 9)

Bloomington brought us together with more of our favorite Kinfolk... and the midwest winter chill.  Our wait in line was cold, but was filled with happy reunions. We had such a small group the night before in Indianapolis, but now that we had more of our Kinfolk with us it felt like a true Yonder party.

The band came to the stage and wasted no time before starting the show with "No Expectations" (our prediction for show opener the night before), and I started my usual trek around the venue.  Usually I don't miss any rarely played songs when I'm running around the venue taking photos, but this time I "missed" two of my favorites, "This Lonesome Heart" and "100 Years From Now".  I can't really say that I missed them, but I spent both of those songs trying to get back to my rail spot through a crowd that would not budge.  Seriously, I would hold my camera up to show them that I was just squeezing through, and no one would move for me. Wow.  I continued to poke and prod my way through the crowd as I listened to Adam sing "A Father's Arms" and was just blown away by his guitar.  Fingers Malone, indeed.

I got back to my Dave-side spot next to Junk and Annie just in time for "Granny Won't You Smoke Some".  This isn't one of Annie's favorites, but I think she likes it better now that we sing it as "Annie Won't You Smoke Some".  Either way, it's one of my faves.  Next was another goodie, "Winds On Fire", which, following "Granny", showcases just how far Yonder can go in any musical direction; it also has some of my favorite Dave lyrics.  Ben stepped up again to speed it up with "Troubled Mind", which everyone loved, then Adam strummed us into "Honestly", and I saw happy faces all around.  This is such a great song, and just as it was reaching its height and we were feeling the groove and were ready to break into the second half of the song, it was split with "Fine Excuses".  Not what we were expecting, and probably not my favorite song to go in the middle of "Honestly".  Since this was their first time playing in Bloomington, I felt they were trying to give the audience a wide variety of songs during this first set in order to better acquaint the audience with their music, which was a great idea and worked out really well.  Adam introduced the next song as one he guessed they hadn't played in over 30 shows, "Darkness and Light".  Michael Walker was pretty darn excited about that one.  "Everybody likes a good banjo song, right?" Ben asked us before Dave ripped into "Irondale". It was a good night to be Dave-side.  As we all took a breather and tried to cool down a little, we heard the familiar beginnings of a Yonder Mountain staple, "Well!!!"... and we knew it was not time to cool down yet because it was "Ramblin in the Rambler".  We never in a million years would have guessed what they threw in the middle of Rambler, however.  It was "Mason's Children".  Yes, you read that correctly.    They hadn't played that song in about six years, and they nailed it. They finished "Ramblin" to end the first set, and left us all to absorb what had just happened.

When they came back out for the second set, Ben asked Adam, Jeff, and Dave what their worst jobs were, with their answers being telemarketing, working for a tuxedo rental, and dish washing at Cracker Barrel, respectively.  "Blue Collar Blues" was the first song of the second set, and boy am I glad they quit their day jobs those many years ago.  And as they played this song, I couldn't help but feel that they were playing it harder than ever, knowing how much they really love their jobs in comparison to what could have been.  "Years With Rose" was next, with its lovely intro and killer jams... and the night's introduction of Jeff's pedal with a little scat to transition into "What the Night Brings".  It was fun and we didn't see it coming.  Ben then introduced another song they don't play very often, "Red Tail Lights".  Really?!  I don't know when I last heard that song, and it made me so happy to get it.  We all boogied to "Damned if the Right One Didn't Go Wrong", followed by "Steep Grade Sharp Curves", then a good old drinking song, "Old Plank Road".  I love "Old Plank Road", and they played the sh*t out of it.  Ben sang "Rag Mama", had us give it up for Adam and his Jimi Hendrix chord, and then Adam sang "Jail Song".

"Free To Run" started off the last leg of the second set, and made sure we were all still in full boogie mode.  "Looking Back Over My Shoulder" and "Left Me in a Hole" were next, followed by a super jammed out "New Horizons" to end the set, with my favorite part being Ben and Jeff's back and forth.  Ah, that was nice.  The encore of "Sangaree" and "Red Rocking Chair" closed out the show, being one of the best encores I've seen in quite a while.

This was the show that we predicted early on would be the scorcher of the final week of tour.  I really can't say that it was better than all of the other shows this week, but it was definitely on fire and one not to have missed.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
11/9/11 The Castle, Bloomington, IL

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