Workplay Theatre Soundstage - Birmingham, AL (February 12, 2012)

written by Eric Martin

Still feeling last night’s show in our feet, we headed west for Birmingham and our 3rd night of Cabin Fever Tour.

The venue was actually two venues, a recording studio, and a bar. The stage was about 6 feet tall, and staring straight ahead you could get a pretty good view of Adam’s 3 stripes (that’s Adidas, folks). The room Yonder was given was pretty small, but it began to fill with an energetic group of folks rather rapidly, though there was plenty of dance room the whole show. Good thing, too, cause that Stringdusters band got us all jumpin' around. I like these guys more every time I see them!

I had noticed a box Walker brought marked “Not Quite a Grammy”. Apparently the Grammys (Grammies?) were tonight. Too bad I missed that. The guys came onstage with Jeremy Garrett on fiddle and, to my delight, Andy Hall on “slippery slidey jam table”.

This show would also start out with a “Bentro”. This time “Blue Collar Blues”, dedicated from Ben to the Celestial Seasonings assembly line. An interesting opener that really seemed to set the pace for a fun, light-hearted night of bluegrass. Afterwards, Jeff said something about not being nominated for a Grammy 13 years in a row. To his and the rest of the band's delight, Walker hands them their “not quite a Grammy” trophy. “Sweet sweet validation” pipes in Dave. Jeff ‘doesn’t know who to thank’. “My mom, the guys…. Tebow.”

Then they go in a completely different direction and throw some epic, fuzzy, “traditional” bluegrass at us with “East Nashville Easter”. I love the fuzziness. I also think this song, and every other Yonder song, sounds extra great with some slippy slidey jam table. (More Andy Hall!)

Dave would take the lead next with “Mental Breakdown”, then the always lovely duet “Rain Still Falls”. Before and after this one some guy was repeatedly screaming, “Hey Ben, what happened to your hand in Nashville last year?” Eventually Ben could no longer ignore the question and set the record straight. It was Dave’s hand. And he was defending Ben’s honor.  

Adam and Andy strummed together for a while, and that abruptly turned into “Northern Song”. Yes! They are on fire tonight! "Northern Song" lasted the better part of ten minutes with lots of jams and, what else, an awesome dobro solo; I know, I’m like a broken record. (More Andy Hall!) Jeremy Garrett added his 2 cents too throughout the night. I love seeing these guys play together. They all have such a huge energy and when all 9 are onstage, it is truly a sight to behold. (i.e. “My Gal” and “Up on the Hill” last night.)

Up next was “This Train is Bound for Glory” followed by “Sharecropper’s Son”. I will always love any song from MT1; my introduction to Yonder, and I love a good "Sharecropper’s"! And this was a great one, thanks a lot in part to Jeremy.

Then something crazy happened.

“O! M! G! Dave Johnston has just taken off a f*cking flannel for the first time in my entire time of knowing him! I’ve seen the man shower in flannel!”  Oh man, it is good to have Ben back. But don’t worry Ben, “I think he’s got a flannel on underneath that shirt.” Jeff reassured him.

After everyone calmed down they played the Hot Rize tune “Going Across the Sea”. They were all over the place tonight in the best way possible! Too bad the Grammy convention wasn’t here tonight, things might have worked out a little differently.

For the next tune Jeff introduced the rest of the Dusters onstage. “We’ve created Mega-Tron!”

It was a lot of fun to watch Travis dance for a while as the band started into “Come Together”. Eventually Ben traded off his bass and picked up his electric, even soloing with Travis towards the end. For the next number, Travis and Ben passed the bass back and forth while Ben sang the Barnes tune “Going Where They Do Not Know My Name” the perfect way to end a great set!

After a walk around the bar/recording studio/venue/another venue/who knows what else, we made our way back to the rail for set 2. They came out solo this time, “they couldn’t stick around they said their crotches hurt and they had to leave early” according to Ben. Oh it’s good to have Ben back.

He would start the second set rockin' with “Casualty”, followed by an also rockin' “Fine Excuses” and “Danny Glover”, I mean “Little Lover”. Up next was one of my many favorites, “Honestly”. I was hoping for "Honestly" into "Honestly", as Walker calls it, and no sandwich, which is just what we got. Afterwards some chatter about Ben being a pops would lead us to find out that Yonder WAS the most important thing he’d ever done. Now, “1-B”.

They quickly started off a new one, “Straight Line”. This Ben ballad was a slower paced number with positive lyrics about “walking the straight line” and persevering in life. Very enjoyable. Go listen to it. Things picked up with “Out of the Blue”, then “Just Like Old Times”, A.K.A my bathroom break. I was unsure about this song the first time I heard them play it last year. After hearing it a few more times it began to grow on me. After hearing it even more times I was back to where I started. I think if they pulled this one out less often it would be more enjoyable. And there are so many better Todd Snider tunes.

Afterwards, a familiar tune started to pick up, and I was much more excited as the lights dimmed, and that traditional bluegrass feedback and fuzziness grew into “Sidewalk Stars”. When this song ended, the words to “Ain’t Been Myself In Years” popped in my head. Then the band started singing it! A nice jam that lead us into “Polly Put the Kettle On”.

“Bring on the disco ball and turn off the dubstep!”

A great Jeff quote led us into “New Horizons”> ”Funtime”> ”New Horizons”. What a great way to spend a Sunday!

After a quick break they came out with “Crazy” and one of my favorite sandwiches, “Troubled Mind”> ”20 Eyes”> ”Troubled Mind”. With a great weekend behind us and a great weekend ahead of us, it was time to make the drive back home. Eat, sleep, yonder.

Written by Eric Martin

Yonder Mountain String Band
2/12/12 Workplay Theatre Soundstage, Birmingham, AL

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1 comment:

  1. nice writeup, ol times doesn't quite click for you young pups.....hehe from TN


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