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

Click below to preview tracks from this show


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

Click below to preview tracks from this show


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