The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC (February 24, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

Day two at The Orange Peel wasn't just any old show day.  It was also the day that our Kinfolk brother Tom would shave his head for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. The party was scheduled for 4pm at The Pulp, in the same building as The Orange Peel, and since Jeff announced this event to the whole audience the night before, we got there super early.  Tom said his goal was to beat Michael and be the first in line... that didn't happen, but he still got there pretty early.

There was a 70 person limit, and it seemed as though we were all long time friends as we milled around, sharing hugs and smiles.  After a while the band got their instruments out and took their spot on one side of the room.  Ben was the only one plugged in, and Jeff asked Tom what song he wanted to hear to get the show going.  Tom immediately responded with "Pan American", which elicited a nervous laugh from the band before Ben, Jeff, and Adam sang an intimate version of this song.  Then, it was time for the main event.  You could feel Tom's nervousness as he took his seat next to Adam and Peggy grabbed the scissors.  "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke" was the song they played as Peggy cut Tom's long locks.  It took quite a while to hack away at his hair, since the scissors used actually belonged to the venue and were not made for cutting hair.  Ben threw in a little change to the chorus one time around, singing "Dim Lights, Thick Hair".  Yonder also played "Bolton Stretch", and before "Half Moon Rising" Scotty came out and announced that we had raised $2,005 at the event, with an additional $1,500 previously raised online.  The show finished off with "Shenandoah Valley Breakdown" and "Don't You Lean On Me", and we were all so happy with how successful this event turned out to be.  

It was still pretty early when we all headed back outside, but what else did we have to do but get in line?  We had already bought candy by the pound earlier in the day, so we got our sugar buzz on early as we once again waited outside of The Orange Peel for night two of what was turning out to be a pretty incredible little run.

Once again, The Infamous Stringdusters killed it.  I really hope we get more Yonder tours with these guys because the two bands mesh so well together, and the Dusters just know how to bring it.  Some bands that open for Yonder just don't.  

"Well hello again!" Jeff said to all of us as the Yonder boys filled the stage.  "That was the longest set break ever."  As the band prepared to play, I was in the pit, preparing to take photos.  "Are you ready?"  Well, apparently no, Jeff, I wasn't ready.  They opened with "Pretty Daughter" and it was so hard to contain myself and take photos instead of run back behind the rail and boogie with my friends.  Oh well, there would be plenty of chances to boogie.  Before the next song, Jeff introduced Ben with, "You may remember him from last night from such songs as 'Part 1', Mr. Ben Kaufmann on the bass!"  Ben talked about seeing his baby dressed as a bear by mom and Grandma through his iPhone, and at this point I also noticed Ben's shoes. Interesting.  He introduced the next song as a Benny Galloway number, but I was not expecting it to be "Picture In A Tear".  Wow.  I was totally blown away by the beginning of this show, and really wished that Colin was there to share it with me. One of my favorite parts of this song was when everyone besides Ben ended the song early, but then brought it back for one last chorus.  It sounded pretty sweet. "That's Ben Kaufmann, everybody!"  "Every day since the day that I was born."  

Adam strapped on his harmonica for "Amanda Rose", then Ben actually remembered something someone reminded him to do (thanks, Michael), and he checked the Yee-haw factor in the room.  Oh man, it sure had been a while, and it felt good to get it out.  "Little Lover" was next, and I was happy that I had made it back to the rail and could dance it out with Kelli.  It's a rare thing to get two Dave songs back to back, but it happened tonight with an even more rare occurrence, "Isolate".  Wow.  I know this isn't a fast song, and you can't dance to it like other songs, but I love it.  It's just so different and... heavy.  Of course, they had to bring people back with the perfect song, and of course, they didn't disappoint.  "Ten" brought the tempo back up as we all stomped it out.  As the song progressed, we were hit with our favorite pie-replacement lyric of the weekend, "I was ten steps from my fried pie", and we couldn't hold in the laughter.  That's one thing I love about Yonder shows; the reunions with friends that lead to so much laughter as we enjoy the music and dance together.  

Adam and Ben sang "Rain Still Falls", which was followed by a fun ditty, "Town", about which Ben said "It just kinda takes you to a time and place where we almost peed on a pool table."  After "Town", they brought Jeremy Garrett to the stage to add some fiddle to the mix.  "Bluegrass is a better state right now because The Infamous Stringdusters are around."  I agree, Jeff.  They finished out the first set with Jeremy on fiddle for "Too Late Now", "Looking Back Over My Shoulder", and "Northern Song".  Three excellent song choices that gave the fiddle a lot of space to really add to the music.  

The second set started with a favorite of many, "Spanish Harlem Incident", followed by another favorite, "Ragdoll".  Seriously, these guys really know what they're doing, and they put together such amazing setlists every night.  Of course, this just continued with "Damned If the Right One Didn't Go Wrong", which put the wiggle in our steps and the shake in our hips. "Polly Put the Kettle On" was next, with Dave and Adam coming together so precisely at the end.  Jeff and Ben sang "Walking Shoes" next, which Jeff said was because they had the coolest shoes on stage. With Ben's odd shoes with toes AND laces, and Jeff's pink Crocs, I would have to agree that they had the most DIFFERENT shoes on stage.  Then it was time to welcome to the stage for the very first time, Dave's new Stealth banjo.  "You look happy, Dave" Adam said as we all noticed the huge smile on Dave's face as he pulled out his new toy and said,  "That's right, Yonder Mountain's gone double Stealth, drop it mother f*ckers."  This new banjo would be replacing The Stump for "Just the Same", and it sounded fantastic.  We were really getting some great Dave tunes tonight, which made me a very happy lady.  

"Out of the Blue" came next and Dave's excitement over his new banjo must have rolled into this song, because he was on fire.  Between songs, Ben talked about learning not to say everything that pops into his head in the microphone, then Hines did a nice voice change as Ben introduced the next song, "Naughty Sweetie".  Really?  We have been getting this song at least once every tour for a while now.  And I love it!  "I'm sure by now you've all had time to see the round poster,"  Adam said before singing "Another Day".  This was another one that made me really miss having Colin there with me.  "Let's not stop the body rock!" Jeff said as Andy Hall made his way to the stage, and I heard Eric say, "More Andy Hall!"  I would have to agree, Eric.  The last chunk of music started with "Girlfriend Is Better" and I was so excited to hear what this song would be with Andy Hall.  It was kick ass, in case you were wondering.  We got some good pedal action, and some hardcore distorted guitar along with the dobro magic.  One of the best "Girlfriends" ever?  Possibly.

They slowed it down a bit before blasting into "Snow On the Pines".  I could cry with joy.  I have dozens of favorite songs, but after much soul searching while filling out my 2011 Yonder Poll, I have decided that "Snow" is my FAVORITE Yonder song. This song also has my favorite little mandolin riff - the one Jeff uses as the beginning and the end of his solo - it's just perfect.  "Snow" went into what could have turned into a "Robots", but didn't, then right back into the end of the song, totally skipping the back and forth between Adam and Jeff to bring it back around. Then they slowed it down for a minute with a soft intro that exploded into "Over the Waterfall" to end the second set.  Way to go.  

Both Yonder and the Dusters came out for the encore, which started with "Crow Black Chicken".  Unfortunately, I missed most of this song because some drunk guy decided to dance on Peggy.  We were all trying to get him out of there, but when he started grabbing on her we had to call in the forces.  Kelli jumped between the guy and Peggy and danced a little bit of space between them, and finally it took two people from security to get him out.  It really put a damper on our moods for a minute, but luckily we had one last song to pick ourselves back up. "Blue Collar Blues" ended the show, and by the first few notes we had all forgotten about the drunk guy.  There was no way he would ruin our good time.  

These two nights at The Orange Peel were absolutely amazing, and I know I will try to make it back to these shows every year.  Kinfolk gathered from all over the country for these shows and with so many of us together, you can't help but feel the magic in the air.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
2/24/12 The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC

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