Delfest - Cumberland, MD (May 25, 2012)

Photo courtesy of Michelle Schiller
written by Jen Manness

Delfest really is something special, and what makes it so great is Del McCoury. In a genre where tradition is so highly regarded and new styles aren’t always received with open ears, Del has created a festival that appeals to all types of fans. There are not many places where you can go see acts that range from Bobby Osborne and Bobby Hicks to Yonder, Leftover Salmon, and everything in between. And the thing that always makes me smile is seeing Del play and sing with so many of his guests. He is a legend and could very well turn a shoulder to some of the newer styles of bluegrass, but he doesn’t. He welcomes everyone with open arms. You couldn’t ask for a better, more gracious, host. And I think this is beneficial for everyone. Bands like Yonder and Greensky appeal to a new generation of music fans. By having them at Delfest it gives these new fans a chance to hear more traditional acts that they may have never been exposed to. As someone who grew up in Philly, I had never really heard of bluegrass. My first taste came from seeing Yonder play at festivals. As I listened more and more to Yonder, I wanted to learn more about the music that inspired them. That’s how I heard the Del McCoury Band, Bill Monroe, and John Hartford. As I learned more about the music, my love for it grew, especially after my first Delfest in 2010. I like to think of Yonder as the marijuana of bluegrass, the gateway drug to bluegrass, so to speak. This is just one of the million reasons I love this band so much!

Delfest 2012! It was finally here and I couldn’t have been more excited! Sorry again to all my real life friends who had to endure my month long countdown. The lineup was incredible, the best of the season, in my opinion. I was super excited to see Steve Martin, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, the Stringdusters, Greensky, and of course Del, but I always look forward most to seeing Yonder. Everything is better on a Yonder day! And that’s exactly what I said first thing Friday morning. It was a hot day, so we decided to take it easy for most of the afternoon. We got a good spot for Del and stayed for Yonder. Have I mentioned I was super excited? It was finally 10:15 and we were all ready for some serious dancing! After a great intro from Joe Craven, the band came out and Jeff said, “We’ll come back whenever we are asked forever.” I’d like to think the bands feel the same special way about Delfest as I do. Yonder started things off with "Blue Collar Blues". If you have a job, chances are pretty good that you like that song, and I think it’s a great way to get a set going. Darol Anger came out for the second song and stayed for the rest of their set. Darol is definitely my favorite guest that plays with Yonder. Not only is he incredibly talented, but I think he does an amazing job at adding to the Yonder experience without becoming the central focus. Plus, can’t we all use some more fiddle in our lives? Next up was "Left Me In A Hole". As many times as I’ve heard this song and seen them play it live, I’m still always excited to hear it. So Yonder must’ve been reading our minds about needing more fiddle, because the next two guests were Tim Carbone and Jason Carter. We had a fiddle extravaganza for "Dawn’s Early Light", "Girlfriend is Better", and "Two Hits". I always get a kick out of seeing the guys from Del McCoury Band play with other bands. They are so amazingly talented and it’s cool to see them play so seamlessly with everyone. And boy the fiddlers did not disappoint in "Dawn’s"! I thought it was a great early in the set jam. 

Jason and Tim left after "2 Hits" and Yonder continued the awesomeness with another of my faves, "Spanish Harlem Incident". Bob Dylan sung by Adam? Yes please! Next was Dave singing a new song, "Pass This Way". I love when I get to see a new song debuted for the first time, and it had some really good solos too! After "Pass This Way", Del came out and sang "Rabbit In A Log" and "Eli Refro". "Rabbit" was a highlight for me, both because of Del and because I’ve only seen it live a couple times. When you see a band a lot, the more rare tunes are always exciting. Del was, as always, a crowd pleaser and it was fun to see Jeff excited like we were. Everyone was smiling. I know I sure was! Next up was "Only A Northern Song". I really liked Adam’s solos in this one. "Northern Song" was followed by "Complicated" before Ronnie came on stage for "Shake Me Up" and "Angel". "Shake Me Up" is a good dancing tune, and I think the crowd boogied pretty good for this one. Last up was the encore, "Sharecropper’s Son". It was a great ending to a great set. Yonder set the tone for what would continue to be a night of awesome music with Greensky late night. I’ll say it again, Delfest is a magical place! 

People from my real life ask me all the time why I would want to fly all over the country and see the same band so many times. I try to explain the way the music makes me feel, how much fun I have, and how every show is different, but it’s more than that. I have made the most incredible friends at Yonder shows. People who, as different as we all may be, have been brought together by our love of music. It’s the feeling of being home, no matter what state you’re in. It’s that family feel that makes it so special. I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with wonderful people at Delfest, both old friends and new. I want to thank the Prime 5, aka Best Crew Ever, Mike, Michelle, Charlie, and Max. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share this experience with. I love your stinkin guts!

Written by Jen Manness, photos by Samantha Franks

Yonder Mountain String Band
5/25/12 Delfest, Cumberland, MD

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