written by Dorothy St.Claire
We had a good hour and a half to visit and reconnect with our Kinfolk friends and the Yonder crew, and let me tell you... it felt good. That first show back - even if it's only been a few weeks - always makes me uncontrollably giddy. Each new friend we saw made me more and more excited, and by the time the music started, I was about to burst.
I just about did burst when they opened with "Pretty Daughter". I can think of at least two other amazing shows I've seen that open with this song, and I knew we were in for a good night. As they got into the song, the first thing I noticed was how good it sounded. It was loud and crisp, with a clear and heavy low end. The second thing I noticed was how well they were all playing. I halfway expected to see a hot and tired band on stage, after coming from the brutally hot Bloom Heavy River Romp festival, but they were on top of it and full of energy.
"Thank you all, and welcome."
"Rag Mama" was our second song of the night, putting a bounce in the whole crowd. Adam played a little heavy-handed in parts of this song, which I absolutely love, and Dave took us away with a sweet ragtime solo. Dave was tuning up as Ben gave him an introduction for the next song, "Wherever Dave goes, the ambient temperature increases by five degrees ferinheight. See what I did there? Cause he plays with the five string..." He faded out, giving up on his joke as Dave stepped up to the mic and made his request to himself, "Sing to me, Dave, a song of Wyoming. Okay." He sang a killer "Winds of Wyoming", complete with a full-bodied back and forth between Jeff and Adam before putting his banjo stamp of approval on it and sending it home.
Adam stepped up next and played us his old address and phone number in song form with "Wildwood Drive", an instrumental we don't get to hear all that often. I thought Jeff took the lead on this one, with some really nice soloing that hit me hard. But maybe I spoke too soon, because when Dave and Adam came together at the end, it was really something to hear. And as this song came to an end, the guys started laughing at something in the crowd. I looked over, and there was our pal Donuts - with a big cut out of Dave's head wearing a KU hat. Priceless. Absolutely priceless. "We never thought we would get to the point as a band where people would make giant heads of us with different school's hats on them. We've really made it after all, haven't we?"
"Northern Song" came next, and the band's momentum continued to go up. Everyone was on their A-game tonight, and we loved every second of it. "Word all the way up folks, what is goin' on and how ya feelin'?" Ben asked, and we all responded with a big cheer. "Awesome. thanks for coming out and helping us beat the heat, right? After the gig, let's all hang out by the generator exhaust spittin' out the side of the bus, it's awesome." You know what I think is awesome? "At the End of the Day", which is what they played next. Colin and I were just talking about this song, and how we rarely hear it anymore... then BAM! There it is. "We will either perform for you the entirety of Rush's new album, or a bluegrass song called 'Walking Shoes'. Whatever you want. Colin, if you just wanna count up all the votes and stuff, man... 'Walking Shoes' it is." How funny. Ben sang and played the hell out of it, and we put our own walking shoes to the wood chip covered ground over and over again as those bass notes filled our bodies. Jeff gave mad props to those who made it through Bloom Heavy and still managed to come to Kansas City - I saw some of those folks, and it looked like they'd survived a war zone. "There was a guy who asked if we could play this song tonight, cause I think it's his birthday, so... this one goes like this." "Don't Worry Happy Birthday" was Dan's request, but I know he wasn't the only one who enjoyed it.
"Too Late Now" picked up the tempo and hypnotized me with its bass line. "Dreams" brought us back down, and I found myself just closing my eyes and falling into its groove. Then the band started picking a little "Midwest Gospel Radio", but it quickly changed. The tempo started to increase as Jeff started strumming a familiar riff... Faster and faster and faster it went until they threw us right into "Illinois Rain". Let me tell you, this was one of the coolest things I've heard in a while. It would have been great to hear "MGR", I even like that song better than "Illinois Rain", but the way they did it, and the energy they brought to it and got out of us was unbelievable. At the end of it all, we were dropped into the set break - all hot and sweaty and disoriented, but already completely fulfilled.
I grabbed my camera and headed over to the merch booth to meet up with our Kansas City street team and visit with Scotty a bit. I ended up running into a bunch more people than I expected and had a really great set break getting to know some folks and catching up with others.
I got back down to the front as the band came back to the stage. "You folks still with us on a Sunday night, here?" Jeff asked. "Is it Maya's first show tonight? Our little friend Maya, it's her first show tonight, everybody. We were looking over your requests and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised." I know Maya was already having a great show, but now that she'd gotten a first show shout-out, it could possibly have turned into the best night ever. It just got better and better though, when "Oklahoma" opened the second set. I didn't even notice as Dave then switched banjos, and was pleasantly surprised when they started "Just The Same". What a fantastic song. "Straight Line" came next, and wherever Donuts was, I know he was very happy. "Going Where They Do Not Know My Name" came in like a hurricane and Ben sang and played the hell out of one of my favorite tunes. Dave screeched like a bird before busting out "Strophe"... or "Strophe For An Unsung Albatross (Rhesus Pieces)". This would not be the candy, but the brains of a rhesus monkey, Dave would explain to Adam. "Do you see what happens when you pick up a banjo, folks? Do you see the dangers of it now?" Ben asked us, with worry in his eyes. They were all laughing and having fun as Adam played them into "Corona".
I think Yonder is playing around with their intros a little bit on this tour. I heard that they did an "Oklahoma" intro into "All the Time" recently, and now they were taking us on a little ride that threw us into "Death Trip". This was probably my favorite "Death Trip" in quite a while; maybe Jeff getting heavy-footed on his pedal had something to do with it. They barely paused before driving us into "Bolton Stretch", and our grins spread from ear to ear as we danced. My smile got even bigger as Jeff sang "Lay It On the Line", and Adam followed with "Another Day". Then they all started what I'm going to start calling their "Thanks For Coming, Folks" jam and Ben said, "Aren't Adam and Jeff a handsome, handsome couple of men? Dave sure is smart!" Holy cow Ben, you crack me up. He sang "Naughty Sweetie" before Jeff closed out the set with "Ten"> "Shake Me Up"> "Ten".
"Maya, did you have a good time tonight?" Jeff asked as the band tuned up for their encore. "I mean, you are up so past you're bedtime, it's awesome." They finished off this spectacular show with "Althea" and "Southern Flavor", and I felt that this night couldn't have gone any better. Yeah, it was hot, but we had some cloud cover, and good moods were infectious, with everyone beaming by the end of it all.
Written by Dorothy St.Claire
|Yonder Mountain String Band|
7/1/12 Crossroads, Kansas City, MO
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