The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC (February 23, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

This was my first trip to North Carolina and, sadly, my first Yonder trip without Colin in many years.  Even though I was without my better half, I knew this would be a fantastic trip with many other wonderful Kinfolk.

On our way from Atlanta to Asheville, Michael, Alison, and I stopped for BBQ... and fried pie.  I'm from the midwest.  We have pie, but we sure don't fry it.  This was one of the most delicious things I've ever had the pleasure to eat.  It would also set the tone for the entire weekend.

Our night began with a couple hours in line, where we caught up with Kinfolk and shared in our excitement for the show to come.  As the doors finally opened and we got settled inside the Orange Peel, we felt the excitement start to bubble over. We were so ready to dance by the time The Infamous Stringdusters hit the stage, and they didn't disappoint.  

When the Yonder boys hit the stage, I was so giddy to have Ben back with the band that I couldn't help but scream, "HI BEN!"  with a wave and a big, goofy grin. My happiness from seeing Ben back in his usual spot only grew as he stepped up to the mic and started the show with "Part 1".  Yes!  I ran around in the pit, taking photos, and was caught totally off guard when "Part 1" ended and they went right into "Piece of Mind".  They weren't messing around.  This "Piece of Mind" stood alone, and cut right to the chase.  The band was on fire and completely synced with each other, and the crowd completely let loose and boogied their asses off. Side by side.  

"If you need to be changed, he's your man... Mr. Ben Kaufmann!"  Jeff introduced Ben, who sang "Funtime" for his son's 3 week birthday.  I love this song, and Adam added a lot of flavor with his playing this time around.  Honestly, all four guys were on their A-game tonight.  Dave brought down the house with his tight banjo rolls, Ben's bass kept us all feeling the groove, and Jeff was his usual animated self, playing faster than should be humanly possible.  "Happy Birthday, everybody!" Ben said at the end of the song, and then it was Adam's turn to take the lead with everyone's new favorite "All the Time".  This was also the first time Adam mentioned their awesome circular poster for the 2 night run.  Let's see how many more times it comes up, shall we?

Dave's turn!  What would it be?  It would be Dave's newest tune, "Don't Worry, Happy Birthday".  Damn, I love this song!  Jeff and Ben started noodling around, and before long it turned into "Free To Run".  Jeff was having a really good time, which was made obvious by his playing... and the big ass grin plastered on his face for most of this show.  That same grin showed on all of our faces as we danced as hard as possible.  How could we not smile with a show like this?  "That's Jeff Austin, everybody!" Adam yelled, also with a big grin on his face.  

Jeff introduced "Left Me in a Hole", mentioning the missing hook that he loves so much (don't we all).  This started as any other version of this song, but as the second verse finished up, Adam forgot the lyrics.  ADAM.  FORGOT the lyrics. This never happens, and the look of embarrassed surprise on his face was priceless. We all loved it, and it made the song more fun.  He even threw in a little bit of that missing hook at the end of the song.  We love you, Adam.  Jeff then took the time to tell everyone about the St.Baldrick's head shaving event scheduled for the next day at the Pulp, telling everyone that Yonder would also be playing a small set. This was going to be a really cool event, but now that everyone knew about it I knew we had better get there extra early.

"Going Across the Sea" was next, and made me really miss having Colin there with me.  Luckily, I was sandwiched between Alison and Kelli - two of my favorite dancing partners - and we tore it up during this bluegrass number.  Andy Hall came out next, and Jeff mentioned that Andy was the favorite guest artist to sit in with Yonder in 2011, and presented him with the Golden "O" (a roll of tape) before starting a nasty "Criminal".  It's obvious why Andy was the favorite guest from last year, he just fits in with Yonder so well.  As he took his solo, it sounded like he has always been a part of this band.  I think the Stringdusters should just stay with Yonder forever.  I think they are the perfect compliment to each other and even though I usually don't want any opening band with my Yonder, I will take the Dusters any time.

Ben talked about how there are little pockets all over the country that have a special feeling when Yonder comes to visit, Asheville being one of them.  Even though I had only been in town for a few hours, I would have to agree with him. "Dawn's Early Light" was next, and as Andy Hall added his sound, I was transported back to the first night of the New Years Run (voted show of the year for 2011), that opened with "Dawn's"> "Cuckoo's Nest" with Andy on dobro for the entire show.  This was a great "Dawn's", like usual, and with Andy Hall in the mix I felt this one down to my bones.  It's amazing, the happiness you can feel from music.  Especially from the same songs, over and over.  But that's what keeps us coming, isn't it?  By this point in the show, my face hurt so much from smiling, but there was nothing I could do because "Dawn's" blasted into a seriously frenzied "Boatman" and the whole crowd bounced, danced, and sang together to end the first set.  

Coming back out for the second set, Jeff had a new sticker to add to his collection, showing his love of North Carolina.  Then Adam asked us if we had seen their circle poster yet.  That's twice.  We had rested a bit during the set break, but the energy level shot right back up as soon as the second set started with "Southern Flavor".  Perfect way to pick it right back up and get us all back into the groove. "Casualty" came next, complete with one of my favorite little mandolin licks... thanks, Jeff.  This song rocks harder and harder every time they play it, and I love it!  "Caffeine, coffee, and everything, folks!  Give it up for Dave, and Jeff, and Adam, playing all the fast notes.  Good Lord."  Good Lord, indeed, Ben.  

Chris Pandolfi came out for one song, "No Expectations".  Now, during this whole show, although we were dancing and singing and having a blast... we couldn't get fried pies off of our mind.  This turned into changing song lyrics into "fried pie" or just "pie".  It happened again in this song, "As I watched you leaving me, you packed my piece of pie".  Needless to say, there was a lot of laughing happening on our little section of the rail.  Mmm, fried pie.  But, even better than the fried pie was the jamming that happened on this song.  If only we could fry that.  Holy hell. 

Chris Pandolfi left the stage too soon, in my opinion, and as he left Adam asked us again if we had seen the circle poster.  That's three times, now.  "In honor of the circle poster and our friend Max, we'd like to play this next tune for you." Jeff said as he started that familiar "Polka on the Banjo" plucking.  How awesome that Max got a shout out and he wasn't even there.  We love you, Max, we love some "Polka", and we love some Dave, "Serving all of your banjo related polka needs since 1974."  Another oldie but goodie was next, and Adam sang the hell out of "Idaho".  A foot-stompin' "One More" came next, and the little thing that makes this song so great (in my opinion) is Jeff's bullhorn voice when he says "One More". Seriously, it's the little things that make or break a song.  Oh, and how could I forget that pedal?  This was a nicely pedal-heavy song, granting our request for "more pedal please".  Thank you.

"Callin' an audible here, folks."  Ben told us as the guys talked it out and decided what to play next.  It was a good choice with "Things You're Selling", with Ben telling us at the end, "That one was fun to sing today.  I love it when that happens." Already, it was time for one last big chunk of music, which started with the lovely "Years With Rose".  As the song progressed, it turned into a "Jumping Jack Flash" jam, which was weird and unexpected.  After "Years", they went right into "Shake Me Up", which got all of the ladies (myself included) shaking their goodies.  A juicy "Angel" finished out the set and left us all breathless as we cheered through the encore break.

As the band came back to the stage for the encore, we could see that there were far too many musicians to be just one band.  It was all nine guys from both bands and they were ready for a big group pick.  Jeff reminded us that Tom was shaving his hair for charity the following afternoon, "I hope he finds somebody to pull on it one last time tonight."  On that note, "My Gal" started with Jeff and Jeremy Garret going back and forth with an "Over the Waterfall" jam, followed by Adam and Andy Falco playing back and forth to each other before the song picked up and everybody started playing.  This was the best, most energetic "My Gal" I have ever heard, and every one of the guys put all of their energy into it.  This was a sight to see, but not one to photograph, as I was told the bands asked for no pictures of the encore.  I don't believe it, but, whatever.  It's easier to dance without a camera anyway.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
2/23/12 The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC

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