written by Kelli Scott
Georgia on my mind..... I decided last minute to make the trip down to the GA Theatre with Dorothy and Walker. We opened fall tour in Raleigh at the Lincoln Theatre, and Athens followed the next day. It turned out to be well worth the drive, and one of those perfect nights only experienced in Yonderland. Dot and I rode together, following Michael down to GA. You know... we are not really following Yonder around the country... we are just simply following Michael Walker :).
The afternoon started off with a slice of pizza. Peggy and Earl, a friend from TN, joined us for a bite to eat and then a quick walk around town. Athens is a great town for strolling along and people watching. We got to the venue in time for soundcheck and were treated to a "Jack-A-Roe", "High on a Hilltop", and "Isolate" through the big wooden doors of the theatre. Brown Bird's sound check followed quickly after Yonder finished. It was great to have more music to listen to while we killed time in front of the venue. I'm really impressed with Brown Bird. I saw them for the first time in Raleigh the night before. It's exciting to have them opening all of Fall Tour. They add a lot of soul, blues, and middle eastern style elements to the show. When they play, I suddenly feel like I need a pair zills (finger symbols) and a belly dancing skirt :).
Once we were inside, we were joined by Stray and lots of new friends. The venue is beautiful. A great open space, and total upgrade from before the fire. Folks went upstairs to enjoy the gorgeous autumn sunset from the rooftop bar that overlooks the college town. Brown Bird got the show started off right and loosened up the crowd. Sometimes the opening band is a drag... you are just waiting for what you came for, but I really enjoyed BB. They allowed time for a good warm up before the big cardio blast of YMSB.
A little after 9:30pm the first set started with the hot, hard, and heavy beats of "One More". Then it was Dave's turn to give us that good ole' banjo tune about the boat that got stuck in the canyon with, "Maid of the Canyon". I love this one... the banjo rolls transport you onto a vessel moving down a raging river running fast down the canyon. The highs and lows of the tune are great! Dave then gave a big shout out to the Bulldogs. It was now Ben's turn with "Sometimes I've Won". What a true, relatable story for all of us that have experienced a few mature years in life. I've said it before... Ben Kaufmann has a magical way with words. He is a natural storyteller and a true poet.
Now back to Jeff, who really heated up the crowd with Todd Snider's "Sideshow Blues". I love how Yonder has a way for making covers their own. Everyone kept the energy up for "Sidewalk Stars". The pressure was back on Adam with a charge from Ben to "play it good" with the tune "Near Me". It was really fun to dance with Dorothy and Peggy during this one. It's always so wonderful to have so many fun loving, good dancing Kinfolk near me. Nothing short of True Bliss!
The groove was back on with Jeff's "Southbound". Of course everyone loved this one... we were in Dixie. This song has roots in Austin's love of baseball, but most people think it's simply about traveling through The South. So, it put the crowd in the mood for a rockin' dance party! As Jeff mentioned, "the cardio was up --- no need to cool down now". The boys kept it going with a twisted little love song that I just can't get enough of, the Bad Livers' "Pretty Daughter". Which lead directly into an unexpected, but happily welcomed, "Mother's Only Son"> Bill Monroe's "Southern Flavor". The solos of "MOS" never disappoint, and "SF" was like the little extra kick of hot sauce on Mama's good cookin'! Damn... that was just the first set. The Georgia Theatre was ON FIRE!!!
Halftime was fairly short, with lots of water and hanging out with great friends. Before we knew it Ted was taking down the lights, and it was time for the second set. It opened with a shout out to a birthday girl on the balcony, and a sweet "No Expectations". The sound in the theatre was remarkably clean and crisp all the way to the very front of the house. The crowd's roar, Braves chants, and Bulldog growls filled the air. It was time to put the boogie woogie in everyone's hips with Shawn Camp's "Damned If The Right One Didn't Go Wrong". Dave and Adam take this one to another level. They were on target! Dave followed up with the classic, "Yer No Good". And then, for the best surprise gift all wrapped up nice and pretty --- a long, jammed out "Rag Doll" with lots of pedal action. I heard this version for the first time at Jomeokee Fest in Pinnacle, NC in Sept, but I think was 1st played with Phil out at Terrapin Crossroads this past summer. For those of you that haven't heard this version, OH... just hold on to your hats. :) It's everything I asked for... a rockin' "Rag Doll" that just grooves and melts into a jam. Literally, "I can't shake that old time number from running through my head"!!!
Adam brought me back to reality with "All the Time", another newer tune, very well written. I can feel the emotion in the lyrics. Ben then told us the story of the "Town", followed up by an old-school "I'll Never Love Anybody But You", which makes all the girls' hearts throb. :) "Fingerprint" and "Boatman" led into another stretched out jam surprise, with an extended "Pockets", first heard at the Kinfolk Celebration in Lyons this past summer. I was curious to see if the Kinfolk version was extended simply due to the talented Mr. Andy Hall sitting in, but it seems like the jam will stay... AHHH, two of my favorite dancing tunes were extended on the same night! I really hope the longer, evolved versions of these songs ("Pockets" & "Rag Doll") become staples in the rotation.
The last section of the night started with "Finally Saw the Light". It's always special to share this one with Michael Walker. The tune creates a deep, thoughtful, and spiritual mood. The poignant "Years with Rose" followed, into an out of left field, "Ten". Yet another song about baseball. I love when Jeff taps the vein of passion and determination. It can't be beat! Austin knows how to keep me going when I need a little extra push in life. That is what makes music so brilliant and phenomenal... we can all collectively enjoy the synergy it creates, but it touches us all in distinctively different ways. We all bring our own experiences and paradigm to the common thread of rhythm combined with word. It's nothing short of pure magic.
It got really heated in the GA Theatre. They ask, "Who let the dogs out"? Well, I can say with ease that Yonder Mountain String Band let the MFin' DOGS OUT this Thursday night in the Peach State!!! The crowd was ready for more. The guys came out with "40 Miles From Denver" and "Too Late Now" for an encore. It was complete... another one of those magical, memorable, blissful experiences that can only be gained surrounded by Kinfolk and Yonder! See y'all for Tour Closer!
Written by Kelli Scott, with photos by Eric Martin and Dorothy St.Claire