Boulder Theater - Boulder, CO (December 31)

Night five.  New Years Eve.  When this week started, it felt like we had all the time in the world.  But now, as we looked back on all of the fun times and incredible music we had experienced the last few days, we had mixed emotions as we faced the last night of music and the last night of the year.  Yes, we were all exhausted.  Yes, we all missed our cats.  But after tonight we would all have to say goodbye; that is, until the next show.  Once we got out of the cold and windy line, shed our layers, and settled into our spots inside the Boulder Theater, we thankfully forgot any sad feelings we might've had about parting ways, because we knew we were about to have a phenomenal show.  

"Happy New Year, everybody!"  Jeff said as the band entered the stage, and we all welcomed Darol Anger back for one final night.  "Let's send this sucker out in style, what do you say?!"  And they opened the show with "Too Late Now".  My new favorite older song.  The last time we heard it, I found myself really hooked into it like never before, and this time I was ready and loved every minute of it.  The words to this song really hit home, and the bass line ensnares me and pulls me along for the ride.  "Folks, bringing the heat all week, David Johnston on the five." Ben introduced Dave, who replied, "I can't feel the heat, cuz I got so much plaid on." before busting out "Irondale".  It was a Dave Johnston rock block with Dave, Ben, and Jeff singing "High on a Hilltop" next.  Yes!  I think this is one their all-time best songs.  This show was starting out very sweet.  

"There's a lot of things I'm thankful for," Ben said, "but one of them that sort of swims to mind is I'm so happy that I'm able to procreate and that all my junk works... And now here's a pretty song, called 'River'".  What a lovely song.  So here we were, having just enjoyed the forth song of the set, and they started playing "Ruby".  Already.  Some songs just tend to come towards the end of a set, usually in a big sandwich, so it was such a surprise to get it so early in the night.  Darol just killed it on this song, and right when we thought we couldn't take any more, Jeff went into "Reuben's Train".  Have you ever felt like you were dancing as hard as you possibly could?  Like there was no way you could dance harder, but then the music and the energy get bigger than you thought possible, and somehow you find that place inside yourself to bring that bigger dance out.  That happened to me, and it felt like it happened to everyone around me.  It was a swell of energy like a tidal wave.  That's why I'm hooked on this band.  

Next they gave us some time to catch our breath with a barely ever played song, followed by a never yet played song.  It was Adam's wonderful instrumental "In the Seam", which sounded great with Darol.  Ben's "Straight Line" was the new one, which he told us was actually very old.  I enjoy hearing new songs, but it was time for another oldie that Adam kicked off, "And Your Bird Can Sing".  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I know I have a lot of favorites (Yonder plays a lot of songs, after all), but this is definitely one of my favorite covers.  They pick the perfect Beatles songs to cover, and they always do it so well.  Terrific job, as always, Adam.  

A new Dave song was next, and before playing it he informed us, "It's got partial nudity, adult situations, and is rated PG-13."  The song is called "Don't Worry Happy Birthday", and just like all of Dave's new songs the past couple years, I was immediately drawn to it.  Ben even said it was is new favorite song.  "Smells like reefer in here."  Dave said before Jeff sang "Fine Excuses".  After the song, Ben took a moment to tell us that the Boulder Theater staff found us to be one of the greatest communities of people to gather there in a long time.  "What a pleasure it is to be able to call you all Kinfolk.  I know it's hard to take a compliment folks, but you guys kick ass.  Just deal with it."  This heartfelt speech, followed by "Midwest Gospel Radio" made for a very emotional part of the show.  I love that every "Midwest Gospel Radio" is different.  You know you're going to get a beautiful song, but you don't quite know what's going to happen in there.  Tonight, Jeff added his own sentiments about our community of Kinfolk.  It was a wonderful part of our night, and I know I wasn't the only one that felt so grateful in that moment. This set was feeling especially long tonight, but they still had a couple more to go. They had to bring our heart rates up one more time with a huge "Traffic Jam"> "After Midnight"> "Traffic Jam".  Everyone played their asses off for this one; it was almost as if we were getting "Traffic Jam" for the first time.  Then when "After Midnight" hit, everyone started going wild, because Jeff was damn right, "After midnight, we're gonna shake, jump, and shout."  The crowd energy was unbelievable when "Traffic Jam" came back around, and as we cooled down into the set break, I could tell that the whole room was having a freaking great New Years celebration so far.  

We started the last 32 minutes of 2011 with a shiny pants wearing Jeff singing "I Am the Slime" with some crazy Darol fiddle action.  Then Adam sang the hell out of "All the Time", one of my favorite new songs of 2011.  As they were preparing to play the next song, Adam said "Auld Lang Syne", to which Ben replied "Me and you buddy.  We're gonna have an old Massachusetts duke em out!".  "Things You're Selling" was next, which has the same chord changes as "Auld Lang Syne", and I could hear Dave plucking a little bit of the New Years tune under Darol's solo. "Here's a Little Love Song For Ya" Jeff said as they started "Half Moon Rising", and from the first word, the whole crowd was singing along.  Then something awesome happened.  They started playing a song with a cool slow groove, but I didn't know what it was.  Adam started singing, I thought I heard him say the word "bong", and I thought to myself, "could it be?"  Yes, it was "Baked As A Rat".  

As they finished "Baked As A Rat", Jeff announced that we only had 90 seconds left in 2011.  We all made as much noise as we possibly could, and the mass of hugs had already begun as we all started the countdown.  As we hugged and kissed and cheered for the new year, a mass of balloons fell down upon us.  And not just regular balloons, gigantor balloons.  And so the popping began.  It was like fireworks, and every time they popped next to me I couldn't help but jump.  They gave us a few minutes, then Ben said, "Well, wasn't that fun?  Let's everybody pop those balloons as loud as you can, it'll go great on film."  And before starting the first song of 2012, Adam said, "It's gonna be dodgeball for this next song, but..." "Southern Flavor" was the song, and Adam was right on the money.  Only about half way through the song did the massive balloon popping finally die down.  Just in time for Adam's second solo, which is my favorite part of the song.  It was a great way to ring in the new year, and our dear friend Scott Loeber's birthday.  

"Everybody doing okay out there?" Adam asked.  "Yes?  I see smiles, that's good."  Yes.  There were definitely a lot of smiles.  "Loved You Enough" was next, and Colin held my little hand in his as we danced to this great song.  Jeff yelled, "Mr. David Johnston, friends!" and Dave replied, "Here for all your jamtastic needs in the year 2012.  Well, maybe not all of them, but many of them."  Then Jeff gave it up once again for Darol Anger, the best unofficial 5th member of Yonder there ever was, and Darol kicked it into one of my favorites that he brings to a Yonder show, "Ewie With The Crooked Horn".  It was getting late in the set, and there were a couple songs that we knew they wouldn't leave out.  Eric and I had talked about the possibility of a big "Snow On the Pines"> "King Ebenezer"> "Snow On the Pines" sandwich.  Well, that was exactly what happened next.  Adam wished Scotty a happy birthday as they transitioned into "King Ebenezer", and as the song started, Jeff said, "Hello.  My name is Scotty Loeber.  But they call me Party.  I do believe I have a fitting name for this night!"  And looking to the side of the stage, I saw Scotty himself dancing his ass off, wearing his Lilli Safety Vest.  It was perfect.  As Jeff and Adam brought it back into "Snow On the Pines", they seemed to have more fun with it as usual, and the buildup ended up being a bit different.  It was a good end to the song, and without a breath, Jeff went into "Boatman".  We could feel that this was the end of the second set, and we listened to the lyrics and danced.  

"Well congratulations everybody, you've officially done a great job."  Ben said as they came back to the stage for a few final songs.  "And so far, I can speak for myself I suppose on this one, we have achieved the entire duration of 2012 without any mistakes!  I've done nothing wrong.  We are all perfect!  Until we leave."  They started the encore with a Darol-led fiddle tune, "Ride The Wild Turkey".  That was pretty sweet.  Then I was super shocked when they sped into "Going Where They Do Not Know My Name".  This is such a great song, and Yonder plays the hell out of it.  This could have easily been the end of the show, but they came back out, Jeff thanked their crew, and they pulled out one more, "New Speedway Boogie". Not one of my favorites, but it is a favorite to many, and I understand why they would end the show with this song.  This is another one that got the whole crowd singing, and it brought us all together for one last time.  

This was a truly amazing five days.  Seeing Yonder isn't just going to a concert, it's an experience of music and friends that I've never felt anywhere else.  Colin and I are so lucky to have had so many great experiences with Yonder and our Kinfolk family all over the country this year, and we can't wait for all of the good times down the road.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire
Yonder Mountain String Band
12/31/11 Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO

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