Canopy Club - Urbana, IL (March 4, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

Day last already?!  I know that this tour was probably dragging on for the band, but for me, it felt as though it just whizzed by.  I was lucky enough to see a lot of different things on this tour: Travis from the Stringdusters filling in for Ben in Fayetteville, an intimate acoustic benefit performance in Asheville, and Andy Falco from the Dusters filling in for Adam in Knoxville.  Not to mention the four "regular" Yonder shows I saw in the midst of all that.  It was, most definitely, a crazy tour.

On this last day of tour, we found ourselves at the Canopy Club nice and early (where else would we be?), allowing us to hang out in the hallway outside and listen to the soundcheck.  It was obvious these guys had been on the road for almost a month.  We heard a funky "Rambler's Anthem", then we had a little dance party to "Fire on the Mountain".  They also played a song that had beautiful three part harmonies, with lyrics I will not repeat here.  It was funny.  Really funny.  It made us very excited for tonight's show, knowing that the guys were all in good spirits.

It was a huge party the moment we all got into the venue.  This is a favorite show for many, and we all spent the first hour inside finding friends and giving lots of hugs.  It was our last chance to catch up before the tour was over, and we were not ready to say goodbye.  Good thing we had a whole show ahead of us.

Before this tour started, I wasn't necessarily looking forward to seeing the Stringdusters opening for Yonder nearly EVERY night.  But now that I had gotten four shows with them, I was sad we wouldn't be getting more.  I've liked these guys for a while, but now I am officially hooked on the Dusters. Fortunately, no Dusters meant all Yonder, and we were more than ready for one more night.  As the guys filled the stage, I was pleasantly surprised to see Ben wearing his awesome new shirt.  Gotta love PacMan Smurf, I know I do.  

They opened with a rowdy "Bloody Mary Morning", skipping the warm-up and pushing us right into the heat.  "A Father's Arms" came next, followed by "Lord Wontcha Help Me", a tune that our good friend Pearhead requested on Phantasy Tour a couple weeks before this show.  "I cannot believe that this was the right show where we were supposed to play that song!" Ben exclaimed afterwards.  I could not believe that I was getting ANOTHER song I had never heard live. That makes three songs on this tour.  Awesome.  Dave took charge next with "Mental Breakdown", a must for any Illinois show.  They momentarily slowed things down with "Lay it on the Line", and then being a Sunday, they gave us a gospel number, "Paul and Silas".  We have gotten "Paul and Silas" a lot lately, which is cool, but I'm itching for a gospel tune other than that or "This Train is Bound for Glory".  Then the Yonder boys decided to shock all of us with "Mason's Children".  Hell yeah.

"Mason's" went into one of my all-time favorites, "Looking Back Over My Shoulder", and I just closed my eyes and let the groove take hold.  The right thing to do next would be to play some bluegrass music, which is exactly what they did, with "Red Rocking Chair".  What a treat!  What would be next?  It was Dave's new one, "Don't Worry, Happy Birthday", but poor Dave forgot the words.  We all thought it was adorable, but he looked pretty embarrassed.  Then the coolest thing happened; Ben sang the first verse, giving Dave the push he needed.  I know musicians never want to forget the words when they're on stage, but this was a really cool moment, and Ben was ecstatic to get to sing some of his new favorite song.  "Please give a big round of applause to Ben Kaufmann, for draggin' my sad ass out of the fire."

"Rag Mama" came next, then Jeff sent out the last chunk of music in the first set to their new best buddies, The Infamous Stringdusters, saying that they will continue to do a lot with them in the future.  I sure hope so.  "Polka On the Banjo" would be the first of the last, and the second this song started, we all turned around to see Max, but he was nowhere to be found.  Luckily Bill knew where he was and was quick enough to bring him back for his favorite song.  Silly Max, you can't miss "Polka"!  Also, it never fails, I always go Dave side the night BEFORE they play "Polka".  Someday I'll get it right.  "Too Late Now" was the last song of the set, and a great song to send us into the set break.  

"I just wanna say, I've seen some pretty nice plaid shirts out there.  Give yourself a round of applause for the plaid.  Normally I wear plaid, but today my plaid's all dirty. Plaid's really important sh*t to me, and I'm really into it.  For sure."  Oh, Dave.  "20 Eyes" started the second set with a jolt, reminding us that there was much more music ahead of us, including "East Nashville Easter".  Then it was time for a couple of my favorites, "Polly Put the Kettle On" followed by "Pretty Daughter".  I can't find one thing wrong with that.  After being blindsided with a "Pretty Daughter" opener in Asheville, it was good to get this song later in the show and get to really dance instead of take photos in the pit.  

Ben's new song, "Straight Line" came next, and then he told Adam to play his favorite song, "Idaho".  I couldn't say if it's Adam's favorite, but we all enjoyed it. "Let's sing about another state."  Adam said, sending us into "Winds of Wyoming". They always tear it up on this one, and this was no exception.  "When it gets dry, and you wanna get high..." Jeff sang us into "Granny Won't You Smoke Some", getting the crowd bouncing and smoking.  My favorite part of this song was Ben's bass.  He just knows how to punch through with his bass, no matter what the other guys are doing.  Sometimes, I lose the rest of the song and I find myself just caught in the bass.  Ben went on to sing "I Had Someone Else", which just made my day.  It doesn't get played very much, but has such a great swing to it.  I hope they'll be bringing it out more often.  

It was time again for Dave's new banjo and "Just the Same", with Dave throwing in some Dead lyrics.  This was the second consecutive time I've heard him do this with "Just the Same", and I hope he keeps it up because it flows so well and the crowd just loves it.  It was certainly turning out to be a killer Dave night!  "Give it up for Dave Johnston's new banjo.  Her name is Jeff Austin.  It's awesome."  Very funny, Jeff.  Ben then talked about how big and kick ass this tour has been, thanking all of us for coming out.  Jeff followed suit and thanked everyone for kicking ass.  Then it was Adam's turn, and he gave us something I've been waiting years to hear.  A little bit of Metallica's "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" to lead us into "Dawn's Early Light".  This former metal head was in metal heaven.  To top it off, "Dawn's" went into "Robots".  Yep.  "Robots".  It was kick ass.  Before we knew it, "Robots" went right into "Good Hearted Woman".  I don't even know how that happened, but it did.  Whenever we hear this one, I think of how Colin said it was written about Max.  Maybe he meant that Max was the good timin' man, but I picture him as the good hearted woman.  Cracks me up every time.  

I could feel the end coming near, as they finished the set with "No Expectations". After seeing this song open many shows in the past couple years, it was interesting to see it closing a show.  The last night of the tour always comes with some sadness, knowing we all have to go our separate ways, and we were hoping for a nice, long encore to delay the inevitable.  The band had other plans, however, and "Death Trip" was our last song of the night, sending us dragging our feet outside to the snowy streets of Urbana.  

Day last at the Canopy Club has turned into a Midwest Kinfolk party tradition, with so many people coming in from all over to share this last night of music together. We were celebrating life the best way we all know how - with Yonder.  From Junkyard booing me as I took photos, to Max's over the top Cardinals gear, this was another night that will go down in history.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
3/4/12 Canopy Club, Urbana, IL

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