The Pageant - St. Louis, MO (March 30, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

Just like in Lawrence, it was great to see Yonder back in St. Louis.  The last time they were at the Pageant was for their two day New Year run in 2010.  I still think that New Years show was one of their best shows of all time.  But now we were back, and even as Colin, Lori, Stephenie, and I pulled into the Moonrise parking lot we saw Eric, Bub, Michael Walker, and Ted.  Kinfolk were already taking over. This was going to be a great couple of days.

Our wait in the Halo Bar was very comfortable compared to the last time Yonder was in town.  The big difference is that St. Louis bars weren't smoke-free yet in 2010.  Thankfully, that has changed, and we were able to hang out and eat without being suffocated in smoke.  Once inside the Pageant, we were the only ones to go for the front rail.  Everyone else always goes for the second rail, which is also a fantastic spot, just not the spot for us.  It's just funny to always be the only folks down on the floor until right before the music starts.  And as we were all hanging out and catching up, Jen came bouncing down the aisle.  Oh happy day!  We all missed Jen so much and she was in dire need of some Kinfolk and some Yonder.  

Brown Bird opened again and played a really good set, but it was basically the same set as the night before.  I was hoping to hear some different songs, but that's not to say that what we got wasn't good - they are a great band.  David Lamb plays guitar, banjo, and percussion - which means he's stompin' on a bass drum and a hi-hat - while Morganeve Swain plays fiddle, cello, and upright bass.  They both sing, but I must say that her voice completely captivates me.  

Then, like clockwork, it was Yonder time.  "We'll start with some bluegrass music, and see where we end up from there."  Sounds good to me, Jeff!  "Sharecropper's Son" and "Don't You Lean on Me" opened the show, followed by "East Nashville Easter".  "That's Jeff Austin, everybody!"  Adam said, pointing to his right. "And that's bluegra-- no wait, it's not.  Not really."  As I started putting away my camera and getting ready to go back to my spot on the rail, I heard Ben say, "Folks, down there on the guitar is Adam Aijala.  Don't be frightened."  And just like that, they whipped us into "Spanish Harlem Incident".  I am always so happy to hear that song.  We always talk about having props at a show, like a hacksaw for "Riverside", a big spiked hammer for, well, "Big Spike Hammer"; and I'd like to have a sparkly diamond grill for "Spanish Harlem", so I can flash my diamond teeth.  We could all have props.  We'd be the collective Carrot Top of Yonder Mountain.  

"Strophe" came next, and Dave tore it up, as he's been known to do.  Adam wasn't slouching, either, wowing me for the second night in a row.  "Thank you, St. Louis. You have a fine raspberry zinger here."  Dave started as we all cheered.  "I'm gonna use that to segue into our next song, that was written by that gentleman over there, Jeff Austin."  Jeff gave his usual spiel about loving St. Louis, adding "If we need to borrow sugar, you're the first place we're comin', cause you're so sweet."  He also officially announced the Kinfolk Celebration in Lyons, CO this August, dedicating "Too Late Now" to all the cool friends that will be out there playing music with them that weekend.  "Too Late Now" felt really good to hear right then, and with so many of us reuniting at this show, we had truly hit the road to wind up back home.

"So how's everybody doing?"  Ben asked the crowd.  "I only get to ask that question once a night, that's the rules."  They played "Long Time", then Ben asked "So how ya'll feelin'?  I only get to ask that twice a show."  He then sang "Redbird", getting all the Cardinals fans jumping like mad.  "This next song might very well prove to be the feel-good hit of the endless summer, folks.  It's been in heavy rotation in the old brain, if you know what I mean.  It's like that space earwig from The Wrath of Kahn - but in a good way."  If Ben was this excited about any song, it had to be Dave's "Don't Worry Happy Birthday".  Dave finished it off by saying, "That's right, put a little ice cream on it, send it air mail special."  Seriously?  Dave just cracks me up.  "Looking Back Over My Shoulder" came next, which put a huge grin on my already happy face.  And once again, Adam owned this one.  He also took "Looking Back Over My Shoulder" seamlessly into "They Love Each Other". The set closed with a fast and frantic "Illinois Rain".  Jeff was so frenzied, in fact, that he broke a string.  That doesn't happen everyday.  "Thank you guys, we're gonna take a short BREAK!  And we'll be right back."  Jeff said as he yanked out the string and left the stage.  Hardcore. 

Set two opened with "Out of the Blue" and "Straight Line", easing us gently into more music.  "How are you feeling?" Ben asked us again.  This time, however, Adam called him out, "You've already asked that question, you said you'd only ask it once.  That's Ben Kaufmann

"I take it you like the "'Boatman'."  Adam commented as the crowd erupted with excitement.  Then Adam and Ben sang "Rain Still Falls", another old favorite.  As they went from one oldie to another with "Things You're Selling", the hugs started again.  I got one of the best hugs of my life from Jen, who's happiness hit me deep down inside, and it was all I could do to keep from bawling my eyes out with joy.  It was one of those all time great moments that I will never forget.  The band could also feel the energy coming off of all of us, with Ben asking again, "I said it last night, but it's good to say again today: What did they give you when you came in, and where do I get some?  Was it a big cake or was it a little cake?  Did it say 'smell me', 'eat me', was it frosted?  Do you have any more?"  They were obviously having just as good of a time as we all were.  Then, a big surprise, "Mason's Children".  Colin and I have heard this song every time they've played it since bringing it back in Bloomington last fall, but now, finally, Whitney was there to hear it.  That made me happy, since she was pushing for this song's return for such a long time.  

There was some confusion at the start of the next song, when Jeff started "On the Run" before he realized his mistake and took it to "Part 1" instead.  It was funny, but they pulled through it so well, I'm sure most people didn't notice.  These guys are pros.  "Hello", Jeff started as the band played their familiar lounge act intro music.  He made sure everyone was feeling happy, before rolling into "If There's Still Ramblin' in the Rambler, Let Him Go."  After everyone toasted, they started a strong "Girlfriend is Better".  I love it when "Girlfriend" comes out of nowhere.  I always expect it to come out of a jam, so when it doesn't, it's such a sweet surprise.  Then came "Angel", with some sweet new banjo licks at the beginning. And when it slammed into the fast part of the song, Dave just took off running.  It was hot.  But it wasn't long before it was time to wrap up the sandwich, and the second set, with the end of "Rambler".  

The boys came out for their encore to wild shouts and cheers, with big smiles on their faces.  The energy in the Pageant was huge on this night, and it reflected in the music, the band's interactions with each other, and with all of us.  They started the encore with "Sometimes I've Won", a song I like to just close my eyes and absorb.  They then finished with "Let Me Fall", which I think is probably the best encore song.  It's fast and sent people away in a really good mood.  I know we were all completely amped up after this show.  Delmar was filled with Kinfolk on this Friday night, and we took full advantage of having a travel-free day ahead of us.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
3/30/12 The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

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