Bloom Heavy River Romp - Grassy, MO (June 29 & 30, 2012)

written by Eric Martin

As we pulled into the festival grounds, I could feel the excitement rising in my gut like a bad dinner. It had been start of Spring Tour since I got a good Yonder fix, and although Summercamp was one of the best daytime-festy Yonder sets I've seen, nothing quite satisfies like a good 2-night run. Throw in a bunch of kinfolk and the McCoury family and you've got one hell of a weekend.

We arrived early and got what had to be the best spot at the festival. We were in the shade and had a perfect "front-row" view of the main stage from our site. We spent the rest of the day hanging out, catching up, and catching whatever music the 110 degrees would allow. My Thursday night highlight was definitely Elemental Shakedown, a high energy band with lots of good covers of non-traditional bluegrass songs. Friday would bring even more heat, the McCourys, and night one of Yonder. This was my first time seeing Del McCoury, and I have to agree with Jeff, they definitely stole the festival. 

Around 10:30 the boys walked onstage. They gave their greetings and after a couple plucks I immediately caught a quick tease of a familiar riff. This is an easy call, and I notice several surrounding kinfolk would agree, muttering, "Dawn's!" A few more picks and plucks and the guesses were confirmed by Adam taking us off on what we always expect to be a great journey. As if dropping off a cliff, "Dawns" smoothly and abruptly transitioned right into "Cuckoo's Nest". Up next was "Troubled mind", and every time I hear this song I hope for a "20 Eyes" in the middle, and I wasn't alone in my wanting tonight. It was meant to be though, and it didn't take long for the surrounding kinfolk and I to be jumping in time with Adam's manic strumming and constant singing. Dave's turn came next with "Don't you Lean on Me" which lead us to a pedal heavy intro to "Girlfriend". After a little flub with the lyrics, Ben Hines had a little fun adding a cool echo effect to Jeff's voice I've never heard before. Girlfriend came to a sudden halt, and the boys’ plucking suddenly became "Funtime". Then I got my first "Rabbit in a Log", and it was hard to tell who was having more fun during this one; me, or Jeff and Dave. An always upbeat "River" would keep the fun going after that. 

"Saddle up on Uncle Davey's lap and get ready for a little tune. Creepy, huh?" Oh Dave. You always know just what to say.

"This one's for Max." Jeff said, and as they started "Polka" Max was nowhere to be found. Oh well.

"Let’s play some fast-ass bluegrass and see what we can do to the dirt in this field." Jeff said after Polka. It was at this point they began "Spanish Harlem Incident" and I realized that what I was smelling and tasting for the past hour had been the constant flow of dust and dirt I had no choice but to breathe in. Afterwards they started "Looking Back Over my Shoulder" and Ben messed up the lyrics! To a sheriff saga song! Crazy. 

An interesting, upbeat intro lead us into "Rambler", and the shots were brought out afterwards by Ronnie McCoury and Jason Carter, who stayed onstage for a rockin' "Kentucky Mandolin", which turned swiftly into "Boatman". The tempo was a little off at first, and it seemed like it took them a while to all come together on this one. It was at this point I started wondering if the guys were on the same level I was tonight. They would close it out with the rest of "Rambler". This show definitely had its ups and downs. I remember thinking it was a weird one, whether that was my fault or theirs, we may never know. 

Night 2 would prove to be totally different. We decided to brave the dust up front again, which was just as bad tonight, especially since they got everyone moving early with a "Casualty" opener. Next, I was very excited to hear "Rag Doll", which took us into "Mental Breakdown". I said earlier that night 2 would be different, well it was; except for that horrible, horrible dust. I decided during "Mental Breakdown" to take my camera back to the campsite so I could enjoy the show and not worry about equipment and dust. As i was making a drink at the campsite, still able to see and hear perfectly, the boys started up "Honestly", one of my many favorites. And somehow the timing worked out perfectly that I made it back to my spot right as the song picked up for the second half. A good "Country Boy Rock and Roll" was followed by "Big Spike Hammer", a definite crowd-pleaser. "Dominated Love Slave", another first for me, would follow. Nothing like being serenaded by Dave about whips, chains, and leather. An epic “No Expectations” would follow. I love it when Ben brings out the bow.

Perhaps in a nod to last night’s hiccups Ben would state, “I gotta tell ya folks this seems to be going well. Everything seems to be going just fine. And that always makes me nervous.” He would then step back up to the mic to sing “Finally saw the Light”. Adam’s turn was next with another one of my favorites, “Pockets”. After "Pockets" and some brief silence came one of my favorite parts. The fuzz. “The fuzz” usually only means a handful of songs; this time it was “Sidewalk Stars”. I personally love this song. This song more than any off the same album reminds me of my re-introduction to the world of Yonder. Shortly after this album came out my interest became full blown obsession. As Jeff wailed on the pedal at the end of the song, Adam slowly built the intro to “Years with Rose”. Seeing and hearing these guys do stuff like this is what keeps me coming back for more and more. “Rose” ended in a super-funky breakdown that turned into the bass-driven “2 Hits and the Joint Turned Brown” faster than you can take two hits. Ever the crowd pleaser, “40 Miles From Denver” was next. The end of "40" brought some rap from Jeff I don’t think I’ve ever heard before about a city (Anowak?) that “used to be my home, now you’re not anymore”. Another first would come for me next as Dave sang “Pass This Way”, followed by Adam singing “Jail Song”.

After a brief “band meeting” Ben would step up to the mic and, to the crowd’s excitement, sing “Traffic Jam”, which segued into “Snow on the Pines”, only building the excitement more and more. How could it get better? Oh it got better. They played the pants off “Snow”, with plenty of funky pedal action, plenty of Fingers Malone; and then it slowed to a familiar bass riff, Jeff started singing about a little girl, and I got really, really excited. I love “Riverside” and this one got really good. It included a story about David Hicks, based in the 1920s, set on the very same river we were rockin' this weekend. This one is definitely up there as one of the best “Riversides”, but still it was no Asheville 2011. Anyway…. A rapid Adam solo lead us back into “Snow”. Man I love this band. Why? Because they once again kill the rest of “Snow” and as the song faded out, the plucking is backed by that familiar bass riff once again, and they brought us back into “Traffic Jam”. My legs were killing me at this point, but I had no choice other than to dance even harder, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. And just like that, it was over. They thanked us and walked off stage. Of course we needed more, at least one more, and they obliged with a nice, energetic “My Gal”.

And another one down. It’s always tough to say goodbye to friends and go back home, but it always helps knowing the next reunion is just around the corner.

Written by Eric Martin

Yonder Mountain String Band
6/29/12 Bloom Heavy River Romp, Grassy, MO

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Yonder Mountain String Band
6/30/12 Bloom Heavy River Romp, Grassy, MO

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Telluride Bluegrass Festival - Telluride, CO (June 23, 2012)

written by Lori Gleason

Telluride Town Park is such a magical venue, in a box canyon with waterfalls, mountains, and trees all around us. The people-watching is really fun too; we all had lots of fun waiting for Yonder to take the stage. Before we knew it, they dropped the ropes up front and all of the Kinfolk started lining the fence. Yonder plays one super set at this festival, but it's fully loaded with great songs. Finally they took the stage and said what an honor it was for them to be on this stage for the 13th year. Jeff said, "We have been looking forward to this for a year!" 

Peace of mind was the first song. What a great opener! They had a great jam in the middle, first with the mandolin, then Adam playing his magic. Then "Shake Me Up"> "POM"! Ben had a really groovy jam in this instrumental version of "Shake me Up", and Jeff got on his pedal with the wow-wow effect. Love it! Without missing a beat, they went right back into "Peace of Mind". Today happened to be Jeff's mother's birthday, so he thanked her for being born, and dedicated Dave's song "Don't Worry Happy Birthday" to her back in Chicago.  Adam then happlily sang "Another Day". I loved seeing Adam bounce to the song. You can tell they were all really enjoying themselves on stage and they were very interactive with the crowd. 

The new daddy, Ben Kaufman, was introduced. He said it was the best thing he ever did, Yonder was the second.  "Sorry guys, that's my boy!" He joked, in his best Scottish accent about his Lamborghinis in Moutain Village and how he gets to flaut his small willie. He tested the joke out the night before at the Opera House too! Adam said it was much more refined than last night. Then came one of my new favorite songs "Straight Line". What a great tune. The whole crowd was swaying to the music. Jeff wanted to play us a bluegrass love song, which meant something messed up was going to happen. Get evil people! Jeff belted out the Danny Barnes song "Pretty Daughter". I'm not sure what happened to start this, but the crowd was bouncing and marshmellows were being thrown at Yonder! Why? That was one hell of a marshmellow war! Adam said that he could think of worse things you could throw at them and Jeff made light of it and said that at least they weren't glow sticks! Touche! This just egged those people on and more marshmellows were being thrown. Adam joked that this was so not green! Ben said "Nothing says green like Chinese Fluff!". The topper was when Jeff said that those smores were going to be really gritty later! That was pretty funny, but didn't stop people from throwing them. "Casualty" came on next, and the dust started getting kicked up from everyone dancing! Adam was on fire in this song. Dave asked in his very polite voice "May I sing another one that I wrote with Adam?" This lead into "Pass this Way", a nice chill tune. Adam had a great solo in this song. He's such an amazing guitar player! The band apologized to the stage crew for the marshmellow mess. It was really nasty; there were even marshmallows in the Stienway piano on stage (for Bruce Hornsby). 

Next came an oldy but goody "40 Miles from Denver". It's always great to hear this song, especially in Colorado! The entire crowd was singing along. Ben thanked the crowd "Word all the way up folks!" As you know, there were many fires in Colorado this summer, and there was one several miles away, but the smoke was coming into the canyon during the day. By the time Yonder was on stage, most of the smoke had moved away. According to Jeff, this was from the crowd's great energy! I chose to believe that, too. Adam belted out a tune that was written by Bob Dylan, "Spanish Harlem Incident". This song really got the crowd moving, as always, and the whole crowd got a cheers! Then Sam Bush joined Yonder on stage... well, alright! He was warned by Dave about the projectile marshmellows. 

Jeff started riding that pedal again, and it lead into "East Nashville Easter", one of my favorite classics. Sam gave the song some high energy fiddle, and along with Dave's picking, this song rocked it! "On the Run"> "Steep Grade Sharp Curves"> "On the Run" came on fast and furious! Lots of mando, fiddle, and banjo. "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!". They were honored about the marshmellow war and how gentle the marshmellows were. Ben said, "The best thing was at the end of the set: Yonder -1 and Marshmellows -0" The guys were kicking them like soccar balls. 

Then I thought, "Oh no! This can't be the end of the super set!!!  Whew, there's an encore." It was a 'gentle little waltz'  called "Southern Flavor"... not gentle at all! Jeff said "Let's see how much dust we can kick up!"  Well, he asked for it! As the mando was jamming, dust and dirt were flying! And with Sam's fiddle came more dust! Yeah! I watched Adam's fingers glide across the strings, like it was no effort at all. Then the song kept building and building until it was suddenly over. All I could think about was, "when will I get to see Yonder again?!"

Written by Lori Gleason, photos by Lori Gleason and Stephenie Gardner

Yonder Mountain String Band
6/23/12 Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride, CO

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Sheridan Opera House - Telluride, CO (June 22, 2012)

written by Lori Gleason

The long awaited Yonder Opera House show was finally here! It was completely sold out in the lottery; heck it only holds 140 people! People were scrambling for tickets before and during the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. My friend Stephenie and I had a perma-grins on our faces all day in anticipation for this show, and in true Kinfolk fashion, everyone managed to get a ticket! This was my husband Tim's first show of the year since the big New Year's Run in Denver, and as show time got closer, you could feel the energy in the room. This was the beginning of their summer tour. 

Jeff came out and thanked everyone for getting there early. We had to leave the festival early to line up for our rail spots! They opened up with "Yes She Do", and Jeff scatting through most of the song, and ending with Ben's thumping bass! The boys were very interactive with the crowd - chatting up quite a bit, which I really enjoy. Ben was talking about all the Lamborghinis in Mountain Village. Then Ben busted out his famous Scottish accent and said he was going to sing a ballad "I've Got a Small Willie!"  We laughed, and then he jammed out "Sometimes I've Won". The entire crowd was singing along with him. Then it was the crowd's turn; everyone was yipping and hollering, and Adam wished Ben a Happy Birthday! Ben said all he wanted was three things "Titties and Beer..." This was the perfect lead into "Corona"! Then Dave took over and sang "Don't You Lean on Me". Jeff wanted more crowd feedback, and told us how this show and festival was their "Baker's Dozen", 13 years in Telluride. Then he joked how the nude photos of the promoters were still working as blackmail! Ha ha. 

Back to the music.  Ben sang "Complicated", then brought out the bow for "New Horizons"> "Rag Doll"> "New Horizons". Jeff and Ben had a real high energy jam session, bantering back and forth and speeding up the timing. They slowed it back down with "Criminal", then they started "Train Bound for Gloryland", going into "All the Time", with Adam jamming on his guitar and singing his heart out. The crowd was bouncing to the music. Next came "Mason's Children", and we all got into a groove remembering the Grateful Dead tune. They ended the set with "Out of the Blue", which got the crowd revved up and wanting more! Whew! What a set! 

At the start of the new set, we were all ready for more... and boy did we get it! Jeff introduced Anders Beck from Greensky Bluegrass. Adam and Jeff discussed the pronunciation of his name, "Anders or Onders"> potato-potahto> tomato-tomahto! Ha ha. They belted out "Rambler"> "Snow on the Pines"> "Rambler". This the best "Snow" I have ever seen! It had 18 minute solo jams, starting with Anders, then Dave with an awesome banjo solo. Jeff had his own jam, along with his foot on the pedal with the wow-wows going! Jeff, of course, had his own rambling going on too. "It's going to be a hot, hot time don't you know... I think I'll go anywhere with you..." Then in true Yonder fashion they went right back into "Rambler". Well that was a pretty awesome jam! Adam said that they wanted to keep Anders and asked him to stay! Good news for us, he adds a great dimension to the show. 

Dave then went right into "Ripcord Blues", ending with Ben slapping that bass! Love it! The next song began with the dueling banjo and dobro. The classic Adam song "Left Me in a Hole" came next. We all got excited and sang along again. Adam kicked off the Sean Camp song "Damned if the Right One" next, and Dave was on it! Jeff commented on how much they love playing this f***ing festival!  And what an awesome place it is! That's so true, there's no place like Telluride! "Maid of the Canyon" was next, an instrumental where they all had their jams. Dave, a man of few words, commented on how he doesn't know how Ben Hines does it, giving them great sound from a closet. He asked us to give him a kiss when we see him. How sweet!   "Looking Back Over My Shoulder" started us back up. This song always reminds me of my dear friend Dorothy. What a great song, and Anders rocked it! Ben said "That's what they call ripping the diapers off of that bitch! I'm new at this father thing!" I loved the analogy! They wished Ben another Happy Birthday, but he was over it and told them to leave him alone until next year. Adam said they can wish him a Happy Un-birthday, like the Mad Hatter. Ha! "No Expectations" got the crowd hopping next. Jeff gave lots of props to Leftover Salmon, saying what a great influence the band has made on Yonder, and that they wouldn't be there without them. That's when Andy Thorn came on stage to join the party! He crushed Town Park, so I was excited to see what happened here. The whole crowd chanted "Andy! Andy! Andy!", and the Frank Zappa song "I am the Slime" came next. I have to say, it's not one of my favorite songs they play, but this version was rockin'. Jeff sang it in his enhanced angry voice, and Andy's pulsating banjo added a new dimension, along with the dobro. Jeff ended the song with "That's right folks, don't touch that dial." The last song of the set was Todd Snider's "Sideshow Blues". We were all thinking to ourselves, "Oh no! Last song!" Jeff re-stated the verse "with all of you freaks and these musicians!" Gotta love it! 

People were all stomping their feet and hollering for them to come back. Time for the Encore! Before you knew it, Vince Herman and Bridgette Law were on the stage! Wow! They said that they were going to play the next ones old school... unplugged! I was in such awe, I didn't even take any photos, I just watched the music. What a great venue to play unplugged, the acoustics are amazing in this historical building. Everyone was shushing people so Vince could take us to church and sing the gospel song "Angel Band".  At one point Vince got up on the speaker to sing! Of course he customized the song to apply to a Friday night in Telluride; you gotta love Vince! Then he asked the crowd, "What song do you want to hear?" There were many requests, including "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". Huh? OK, but then Ben started thumping the bass to "Sharecropper's Son", and everyone bounced and sang to the music! The whooping and hollering was non-stop! Someone yelled out "get it Ben!" Bridgette was tearing it up too! I just stood there in awe and listened. Unfortunately, it was soon over, and Jeff said how much he appreciated us. We appreciate all of you, Yonder, for such an awesome evening!!! One of the best shows I've been to, hands down!

Written by Lori Gleason, Photos by Lori Gleason and Stephenie Gardner

Yonder Mountain String Band
6/22/12 Sheridan Opera House, Telluride, CO

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