Theatre of Living Arts - Philadelphia (October 26, 2012)

written by Kelli Scott

No Flannel Philly~ 

It was Friday morning, and the time had come for Dot and I to leave our little sanctuary created over the past few days. We'd been at the Windjammer, in South Burlington, since the wee hours of Tuesday morning. It was very relaxing to stay in the same place for a few days. Dorothy had been traveling over the past 5-6 weeks, really for pretty much all of Fall Tour, so our time in VT was a great chance for her to get some well deserved rest and photo editing done. We made a little home out of our standard double hotel room, but now it was time to say goodbye. We were off to the seven hour trek to Philly and Ms. Jen Manness' new abode.

The drive down to Philly was pretty, but long. We were so excited to see Jen, her new place, and to visit the Theatre of the Living Arts for the first time. The commute into the city was thrilling, to say the least. I live in an Appalachian mountain county, population just over 15,000 people, home to one stoplight for a stretch of 380 square miles, and is proudly known to be the home of more cattle than people. :) Driving into the 'City of Brotherly Love', population over 1.5M people is a totally different cup of tea. Although a little anxious about the drive, Dot and I are strong, independent women. We had it covered, just focus and look ahead. Ahhh, it was so nice to arrive at Jen's place in Pennsport, conveniently located just a couple of turns off the interstate. We met her handsome little dog, Hunter, took time to freshen up, eat some take-out, and then were off to TLA.

We got a ride to the venue. It was in the middle of Philly's South Street, a very busy hustle and bustle section of the city. As we walked up to the venue, we saw Ben and Adam. All the talk was about Usher's appearance on South St. a little earlier that afternoon... That's right, I said Usher! "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...". He apparently came to town to do a little shopping. ‘Gotta stay street, Yo!’ It was noted that his red shoes were absolutely pristine.

Photo courtesy of Christine Gouwens

This was my first visit to TLA.  Getting in was fairly easy.  As we walked to the alley to line up, we ran into Jim & Annie Katz, as well as Jim and Tom and more friends.  We had to line up and be escorted to the venue... a little weird, but worked out fine.  The staff said they couldn't have lots of people lined up in front of the venue.  It clogs up the already busy streets.  The venue is really nice inside.  There were a few different levels and sitting areas available.  We all found our places down front and Dot was off to take photos.  Just after the doors opened, we were joined by more energized Kinfolk, as Noah, Christina & Aaron, and John & Jessica plus more walked up.

Brown Bird opened. I've seen them a few times on Fall Tour, so by now I had gotten more familiar with their tunes. Once again, it was great to dance to their soulful beats, and get a great warm up in before the main event of Yonder. Although all the pieces of the puzzle were present in Philly, my vibe was off... I'm not sure if it was the long drive from VT, being immersed in the intense urban setting, or a poor wardrobe choice, but something-- for me, was off .

The crowd grew larger as BB ended their set. You could tell this Friday night show was going to be a rowdy one. Folks were pumped up. Many were dressed up in costume for Halloween. I felt comfort surrounded by so many Kinfolk, and my mood had improved to all smiles by the time Yonder entered the stage. They always put a genuine smile on my face, and find a way to lighten up my day. It was no holds barred, with the excitement of knowing for certain "What The Night Brings". Once again, they "reminded me of all the reasons why..." Which led into a contiguously driving "Polly Put The Kettle On". The crowd was greeted by Welcomes from the band and Ben's story of the famous Usher sighting on the street earlier that day. Ben then gave us a sermon I can relate to with “Things You're Selling". By now Dorothy had made her way back from the photo pit to her spot beside me, Jen and Annie Katz. Then Dave whipped one out, with "Loved You Enough". 

There was a small pause, Dorothy and I could hear it in the tuning..."Pockets" was next. Oh, the dancing can't be stopped! This is one of the best Yonder songs to bust a move to. A lustful groove lives in "those poisonous pockets down deep inside." "Pockets" ended, which gave us a chance to catch our breath and get some water. Ben handed it to Jeff. A fast mando intro of "Raleigh & Spencer" followed. This tune is extra special these days. So many of us are getting healthier and trying to live a better lifestyle, which makes the lyrics a little more symbolic and powerful. The horticulturist in me will always be in love with the line, "You can stomp the flowers that grow around my grave, but they will rise and bloom again... rise and bloom again..." So many wonderful, quotable lyrics can be borrowed from "R&S". By the end of this one, the crowd was getting a little out of control, and the dynamic was really changing. 

"Rag Mama" was a happy jug tune that seemed to calm everyone down, followed by the classic tale of "Althea". The famous ballad written by Hunter/Garcia a few decades ago is still so relevant today. That's what makes that writing duo truly AWESOME... their lyrics are timeless and priceless! A loud "QUAW" and “Fingerprint" followed. The grit of this one always gets me. It's dirty and raw... and has so many hidden meanings. Everyone has their own interpretation. "Sidewalk Stars" was next, into the hard, fast intro of "Casualty". Kaufmann got it so right on this one, just like hitting a nail on the head! 

Halftime was a fun time to hang out with Annie K and Jen. A few of the Kinfolk went up the balcony or to the back of the house. Again, the crowd was rambunctious. We all had to hold our own.  The second set opened up with a tour closer favorite, "Ramblin' in the Rambler", sandwiched with an always smokin' hot, "Shake Me Up", back into "Ramblin' Reprise". Ben told us the "too damn hot for flannel" story, and the funky beats continued with "Criminal". Man, this tune has evolved. Everyone has stepped it up a notch, with a pedal infused groove, mixed with a vibrating bass, everlasting guitar licks, and a jazzy banjo creating a gettin' down & dirty kinda jam. A fast and happy version of Dylan's "Spanish Harlem Incident" led into the familiar opening bass thumps of "On The Run". "OTR" stood alone followed by a newer song of Dave’s, with "Pass This Way". Again, I don't know how Dave and the boys have done it so many times in a row, but I love the new stuff. All the material has gotten rave reviews from the fans. Keep up the good work! 

The crowd was really getting out of hand by this point. It was hard to handle, even for those of us that have been on the rail more than a few times… At the end of "Pass This Way" going into "Idaho", Dorothy left the rail. There was some commotion during "Pretty Daughter", and I danced in the crowd for "Sharecropper's Son". At the end of "SS", Jim Katz, being the gentleman he is, so kindly slid back, giving me a spot beside Annie. I found Dorothy, and we locked eyes for the beginning of her favorite, "Looking Back Over My Shoulder". It was comforting to see her sidestage by Kevin, but I really missed her on the rail for the rest of the show.

After "LBOMS", I could hear Jeff quietly playing sweet mandolin notes. I looked to Jim and said, "Natchez". We were all treated to hear Hartford's "Natchez Whistle" blow. This song really transports me to another place, which was exactly what the doctor ordered. It's one of those tunes that you just feel inside and out. The second set ended with a jam that I'd been waiting to hear; crisp, cool mando chops opened "Snow On the Pines". Austin can take this one is so many different directions. This was a full serving of "SOTP", no jamwich. Not a lot of scatting, just straight, hard-hitting, raging solos. Davie J doesn't give up. Jeff chops, stomps, and kicks creating the big boom necessary to break the snow away from the top of the peak, and then DHJ drives the avalanche down the mountain. Adam's guitar skills are beyond amazing. He makes it looks so simple and easy, as if he were fluid. It was Fingers Malone at his best. Ben kept my hips moving from side to side with his wickedly sick, solid bassline. Jeff steadily raged the mando to finish the set off with the crowd favorite, "Boatman". 

A two song encore finished off the night. First, it was a treat to hear Ben's "Naughty Sweetie", which was a pleasurable second helping of "NS" for Fall Tour. We also heard the rarely played tune in Raleigh for tour opener. Ah, the fun that ensues when this one is played. It's ragtime at its finest. "Angel" completed the show at TLA. All the guys have begun to gather around Dave at the end of "Angel". It was so fun to see them move around the stage following the music, natural vibe, and flow. This had to be one of the best moments of the last week of fall tour! The show ended perfectly, with Hines' house music of Usher's "Yeah". 

Dorothy, Jen and I said our goodbyes to the other Kinfolk, and then made the steady, brave one mile walk back to Jen's place in the twilight of the Philly night. We were alert, but felt protected with Jen. It was a great way to cool down after the hot and crazy show.

Written by Kelli Scott; Photos by Dorothy St.Claire and Pati Bobeck

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