Jefferson Theatre - Charlottesville, VA (February 26, 2012)

written by Kelli Scott

AAHHH~ Charlottesville! Where to begin.... We all got the word that Adam needed to rush home for a family emergency while waiting in line for the St. Baldrick's fundraiser Friday afternoon in Asheville. We were all bummed, but then it was quickly said that Larry Keel may be the fill-in for the Charlottesville show. Living in Southwest Virginia, we know Larry Keel is a local legend, mad man, and flat pickin' extraordinaire. Jamie and I were super excited to hear that Larry may be the guy for Charlottesville.

Sunday, Feb. 26th, what an amazingly beautiful day to take a drive from the Blue Ridge up the Shenandoah Valley to Charlottesville. The sky was bright with sunshine and a wonderful dreamy color of blue. It was approaching 50 degrees, which was a tropical treat for the last weekend of February. We took our time driving into town, and met up with Derek and Monica at the hotel. From there, the 4 of us headed downtown. As soon as we parked and walked onto the mall, we spotted Kurt, Justin, Jim, and Ann. It was great to see the familiar faces, and get the afternoon underway. After chatting for a while, we got a bit to eat at Miller's. I was told this was Dave Mathew's joint. Great food! I got the fried green tomato salad with goat cheese and cucumber salsa. OH MY! It was so good! We also saw more Kinfolk coming in and out of Miller's, filling up before the big show.

Now it was time to meet Jim and Ann, who were holding our spot in line. Ann and I had enjoyed the previous Thursday and Friday in Asheville at the Orange Peel with some of the most incredible people in the whole world.... so she and I were still beaming and full of anticipation for our last night of Cabin Fever Tour 2012. The doors opened, and we waited some more... I really like the Jefferson Theater. It has a spot for everyone. There are 4 levels, with the top 2 allowing for theater seating. You have a good view from almost everywhere, and there is no metal rail... the floor goes all the way up to the stage. :)  I found my spot down front with Kurt, Justin, Jim, Ann, and John, while Jamie, Derek, and Monica found their spot by the soundboard to get the audio gear set up.

The show began and as expected, Larry Keel came out to fill in for Adam. That was not the only change on stage. Dave was in Adam's spot! (Larry in Dave's spot.) I love Dave, but am rarely on his side, so it was a TREAT to enjoy his rippin' banjo rolls right in front of me. For me, nobody drives the train home like Davey J! They started the show off with a fast and happy "Redbird". It got the crowd moving, but you could tell right off the bat that this crowd was a little different from the outrageous dance party had in Charlottesville the previous year. I don't know if it was just the Sunday thing, but the crowd had a mellow vibe (or my side was mellow... Kurt may have a different story). It was nice. After "Redbird", Jeff welcomed the crowd and with a huge smile said, "Welcome to your Church on Sunday, and we've got lots of bluegrass planned for tonight.". This was followed up by "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" and "Maid of the Canyon". It was getting a little hot and sweaty by now, and it was time to welcome Larry and let him sing a good ole' Del tune, "Mountain Song", one of my favorites. I mean, how could you not fall in love with, "Way up on the mountain, In the sweet southern air, Is where I seem to lose loads I have to bear. Silence of the snowfall and the peacefulness around, I feel so blessed with all that I have found." Then Jeff ripped into a hot ass "Red Rocking Chair"! Oh, the bluegrass fun. :)  Ben cooled it down with a very deep "New Deal Train", and then Jeff mentioned the wonders of the crazy Danny Barnes, which led into "Pretty Daughter". I really like this song and they have been playing it a lot lately.... fine with me! Again, Larry took the reins and gave us his classic, "Groundhog". You know, it's never a good thing to have a member of Yonder missing, but Larry is family and fit in so well... The band and Larry gave many shout-outs to Adam and his family. Jeff said that everyone should dance a little harder to send Adam all their love and energy, and then proceeded to do the running man for everyone. :)  I had to think of Dorothy!

The 1st set continued on with a fun, upbeat, raging "Red Haired Boy", and then everyone got a good laugh from Dave and Green Day's "Dominated Love Slave". He said, "he was far from God Damn alright!", and proceeded to play and sing the hell out of it. The always fun Hartford's "Howard Hughes Blues" followed, and then Larry led the band into "Soul Shakedown Party", which was just that --- a great little soul shakedown dance party. The set ended with a hard driving "Oklahoma". I didn't want it to end... it was a great way to keep the crowd wanting more, and kept the energy up for the 2nd set!

The 2nd set opened up with "Boatman", which got the crowd back into the show, and was followed up by a funky "Criminal". Then Dave said, "let's play 'Little Lover'" (another favorite), after which Larry was let loose on "Whirly Pig". It was rooted, dirty, spacey, and I LOVED IT! The entire show had spacey elements... maybe more than an average Yonder show, but "Whirly Pig" took the cake. It was GREAT! Although, Ann did lean over to me once to say... I feel like I'm back at a Dead show. :)  Larry definitely made us "all fall down" with the "Whirly Pig".

Dave pulled out "Winds on Fire", which fit really well because Keller & the Keels cut this one on their album, "Thief". Larry gave a very powerful solo. Jeff then gave a big shout out to the Infamous Stringdusters, and everyone went crazy! I mean, we were in Charlottesville. He then sent out a "Steep Grades, Sharp Curves" in their honor. I really missed the Dusters in C'ville. It was great to see them at the Orange Peel. I really got used to them being there, and when they had to sit the C'ville show out, I felt like I was missing something. I can't wait for the Festy this October.

By now, the crowd and 2nd set were heating up! They chopped and picked around to tease us with what became "Traffic Jam"> "June Apple"> "Traffic Jam". OH YEAH, BABY! It was so good! Larry got our attention with, "Hey, Ya'll Watch'tis", and his always fun story about the "Culpepper Woodchuck". The 2nd set ended with a big "Years With Rose"> "Riverside"> "Whiskey Before Breakfast" jam. The "Years With Rose" was soft and sweet, followed up by a dark "Riverside", and then a fun, light "Whiskey". I love how Hines does the sound effects with Jeff's voice on "Riverside"... and Ted's lights! Those 'back of the house' boys are the sh*t! They have elevated Yonder, over the years, to a full show experience. Thanks boys for all you do!

The encore opened with "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke". I'm not sure why, but I can really relate to this song. :)  And they closed the Jefferson with Willie's "Bloody Mary Morning", which made me want the show to just start all over again... I could do 4 sets, no problem. :)  All and all, this was more than a solid show, and a great way to end the weekend. In the honor of "the show must go on", Yonder ordered up the best Virginia could offer, with the out of this world, flatpickin' experience of Larry Keel.

If it's gonna happen... it will happen on Cabin Fever Tour! Don't worry boys, that's life. Keep bringing it, and know the Southeast loves you!!! Here's to all the 2012 CFT Sold Out shows.

Written by Kelli Scott

Yonder Mountain String Band
2/26/12 Jefferson Theatre, Charlottesville, VA

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Tennessee Theater - Knoxville, TN (February 25, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

My first trip to North Carolina was followed by my first trip to Tennessee, with a show at the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville.  This show was going to be so different from Yonder's usual show.  We had heard the day before that Adam would be flying home for a family emergency and that Andy Falco would be filling in for this one show.  Larry Keel would be Adam's replacement the following night in Charlottesville, giving fans two terrific alternatives.  

The Infamous Stringdusters were once again opening for Yonder, and once again played a great show.  However, the Tennessee Theater is all seating and almost all of the few people that were there this early were sitting in their seats.  I was in the pit for the beginning of the Dusters' set and felt so self-conscious standing in front of a crowd of people sitting down.  I found Bear and Brian at the side of the pit, telling them about my insecurities while shooting the band, "Why do you think we're dancing over here?"  I only stayed in the pit long enough to take some photos before I headed to my seat.  Michael, Alison, Eric, and I all had row A seats, putting us in the front row behind the pit, which ended up being a great spot with plenty of room to dance.  

"Bet you guys didn't expect to see me over here."  Dave said as Yonder hit the stage and he got situated in what was usually Adam's spot.  "Bet you guys didn't expect to see me over here."  Andy Falco echoed as he took his place in Dave's usual spot.  They opened with their first gospel song of the night, "Jesus On the Mainline", immediately showing us that Andy was more than qualified for the job.  

"Raise your hand if you had a baby a few weeks ago." Ben raised his hand and told us about his 3 week and 1 day old baby boy before singing the great "Ain't No Way of Knowing".  "Thank you very much, on behalf of myself and my diaper that needs changing."

Dave gave us all some fatherly advice, "Always dab, never swipe" before singing "You're No Good".  Dave definitely got along on this one.  It was so cool to watch him next to Jeff, like a mirror of Fayetteville when Jeff was in Ben's spot.  From a photographer's standpoint, it's awesome to have a different lineup to shoot. "Kentucky Mandolin" came next.  Not one of my favorites, but they played the hell out of it.  Maybe Adam normally stands in the "sweet spot" of the stage, because Dave was channeling something new tonight.  He has been playing exceptionally well lately, but he did some things that I just haven't heard from him in a while.  It was pretty sweet.  Travis Book came out mid-song and took turns playing Ben's bass, back and forth until it all culminated in the four-armed bass monster, with both of them playing the same bass at the same time, driving the crowd crazy. This was a pretty cool "Kentucky Mandolin", that's for sure.  

"Sideshow Blues" came next and got the whole crowd bouncing around.  Then Jeff held up our friends' daughter's sign asking for a couple songs.  "We already played that one," pointing to "Jesus on the Mainline", "how bout that one?"  "River" was the next of Brylee's requests, and Ben sang a beautiful version for her.  Next was something I just couldn't believe.  Ben and Dave sang "Long Gone".  Holy smokes. I've been waiting so very, very long for this song, and I finally got it.  And it was better than I ever could have dreamed.  I only wish that Colin had been there to hear it with me.  I think they should really just throw this one back into the rotation.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Jaquish
Photo courtesy of Stephen Jaquish

"We'd like to play another gospel song, if that'd be alright."  Well, duh.  Jeff introduced "This Train is Bound for Glory", which was followed by Willie Nelson's "Good Hearted Woman"; two fantastic songs to dance to.  And once again, Dave was doing some awesome stuff during "Good Hearted Woman".  Actually, I was blown away by Dave during this song.  We sent a bunch of good energy Adam's way, then Jeremy Garrett entered the stage for the final two songs of the set, "Cuckoo's Nest" and "2 Hits and the Joint Turned Brown".  You really can't go wrong with adding a little fiddle, and these last two songs were right on.

"Please take your seats for the beginning of the second set," Jeff said in his best deep announcer voice.  Thank God no one was still sitting down.  Dave and Ben gave us some great banter as the band got tuned and ready to play.  "Kaufmann, can you get me down to the depot on time?  I gotta sugar-candy my rig."  "You got a little sweetheart you waitin' on down by the depot, David?"  "A little rock candy, a little gingham..."  "I don't even know what gingham is..."  Well, alright.  Ben definitely got us to the depot on time with "Going Where They Do Not Know My Name".  I love this song and thought it was the perfect way to kick off the second set.  Chris Pandolfi came out next and took his place next to Dave, keeping the banjos contained next to the fire extinguishers as they played another Danny Barnes tune, "Death Trip".  Falco's solo during this song was super trippy and added a whole new sound to the song, then Pandolfi came in and added his unique banjo sound.  It was pretty cool.  You know what else was cool?  Hanging out and dancing by Ted for a couple songs.  This is what Alison and I did for "Death Trip" and "Rag Mama", giving us a rarely seen view of a Yonder show.  It's a cool view, and it's really fun to watch Ted and Hines work, but our home is on the rail.  So even though there was no rail on this night, we couldn't stay in the back for long and made our way back to our spots before Dave started singing "Loved You Enough", which "Features the feeling of heartbreak, alienation, post-coital idiosyncratic blues..."  And here's something else that was very cool about this show: sharing our dancing space with Peggy, Kristen, and Aaron.  Getting to boogie with them just made my week.

An extreme "After Midnight" fell upon us next, which after much hardcore jamming turned into a stellar "Shenandoah Valley Breakdown".  "Country Boy Rock and Roll" came next, which always makes me dance extra hard, with tonight being no exception.  Before the next song, Ben asked our permission to play a "proper" bluegrass tune, in the key of B, like they teach you in the schools and on the streets.  I will never object to some bluegrass, and it was a good choice with "Sharecropper's Son".  Andy Hall, or the "last of the Dusters", joined the band on stage as we all kicked ass for Adam during the last chunk of music, starting with "Up On the Hill Where They Do the Boogie".  We all missed Adam dearly, but we also know that some things are more important than shows, and he needed to be with his family for a few days.  "Up On the Hill" turned into a dark and dobro-heavy "King Ebenezer", featuring the creepy green light on Jeff.  Finally, one of the most kick ass versions of "Raleigh and Spencer" brought up the rear, with Andy Hall adding just what this song has always needed.  The Tennessee Theater might have been full of seats, but there were no butts in them during this chunk of music.  

The encore brought everyone back to the stage, where the eight piece bluegrass monster would play a funky "Come Together" and the best "Shady Grove" I've seen.  Hell, it was so good, even the musicians had to lay down for a second.  This was such a good show and a fun way to end a three night run.  

What an incredible three nights with so many of my favorite people.  You Kinfolk are all so amazing and every time I see Yonder I am overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of our community of people.  Through births and deaths, a lot has happened on this Cabin Fever Tour, but as long as we are all here for each other, we know everything will be alright.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
2/25/12 Tennessee Theater, Knoxville, TN

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