Three Sisters Music Festival - Chattanooga, TN (October 5, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

Kelli and I spent the day recuperating at Michael Walker's place after the barn-burner in Athens the night before. Kelli had to get home to Virginia, so she didn't stay too late, and Michael had to work, so we didn't leave Atlanta until 5 or 6 that evening. Fortunately, the drive to Chattanooga was a short one.

Michael, Stormy, and I pulled into town with plenty of time to spare before Yonder's set, and we followed the crowds of people to the festival. It was already dark when we arrived, so I really couldn't tell you what this place looked like, other than a big stage right on the river, lines of porta potties, and funnel cake stands. Also, I had a migraine. Bummer. Oh, the smell of those funnel cakes permeated my clothes and my hair, it smelled so good... until it didn't. We figured our best chance to find our friends was to head to the soundboard. This wasn't the type of festival where people stand in front - this was more like a traditional bluegrass festival where people set up their chairs in front nice and early... and you better not stand in front of them. So, we squeezed our way through to the soundboard, and soon found a whole bunch of Kinfolk.

The band before Yonder had some technical problems, and their set went about a half hour to an hour long. We were worried that they would cut Yonder off, but Ted and Hines assured us that we were getting our full hour and a half. They came to the stage, and right away I felt the difference in energy - both from the different type of crowd, and from being so far back from the stage. There was a huge crowd of people there, and when the set started with "Out of the Blue" and the Yonder freaks started dancing, all the other folks couldn't help but look around and smile. The sound was amazing. Every note was crystal clear and cut straight through the darkness and into our souls. It was probably for the best that we were so far back, because I couldn't handle the lights for very long. I took a few photos early on, but I had to keep my eyes closed for most of this show. It had been a while since my last show migraine, but I wasn't going to let it bring me down.

"Well a rich gal, she drives in an automobile!" "My Gal" moved the crowd's attention to Ben after Jeff and Adam's shortened (festival-length) solos, and I could feel the crowd start to loosen up. Dave came up next with "Pass This Way", and when the attention shifted to Adam for "Spanish Harlem Incident", I think the crowd finally started to understand what this band was all about.

Now let me tell you... they sounded good. Really good. Maybe it was my migraine ears, but the sound was crystal clear and seemed to completely surround us. And the band's playing was tight and totally on point. They knew they were playing to a lot of new potential fans, and sometimes that can create a different kind of magic. "Lay It On the Line" was next, and must have been where the crowd overtook the rail and swarmed in. "You folks got really close all of a sudden." Jeff said to the rowdy folks down front. "It's like Footloose in real time." Adam said. "Fast bluegrass is either gonna be a great idea, folks, or it's gonna be a terrible, terrible idea. It could go one of two ways." Ben was hopeful that the Chattanooga Police wouldn't crack down on those fans who had pushed up front, but we got through an amazing "Going Where They Do Not Know My Name" without incident. 

"Polly Put the Kettle On" was their only instrumental of the show, and was followed by "After Midnight"> "Casualty". That was pretty cool. I was sad to be so far back for "Casualty", but I knew I'd get another shot later in the tour. My head was throbbing. I could feel my heartbeat in my teeth, and the pressure behind my eye. But as Adam's intro to "Jack A Roe" sang sweetly into my good ear, I all but forgot about the pain. "Steep Grade Sharp Curves", "Sharecroppers Son", and an unexpected "Things You're Selling" brought us ever closer to the end of the show. I was having a great time, but I was also glad that this was just a festival set. I knew I couldn't handle a whole night of music, but this was the perfect dose.

Jeff dedicated the last chunk of music to Kristen, Aaron, and their whole family for being at the show and for being some of the best people ever. I would have to agree. I just wish we had all had more time together on this trip. The last chunk of music started with a passionate "Cuckoo's Nest" that got everyone moving and raced right into a ferocious "Peace of Mind". It was everything we could have wished for. It was a nice, long, jammed-out "Peace of Mind", with plenty of funky pedal. I love the ride that is "Peace of Mind". The song takes us to so many different places, and then it just goes for it at the end, forcing you to jump around, wave your arms, and shake your head. It's almost overwhelming. It was the perfect way to bring the set to its end, but they still had one more for us - "Good Hearted Woman". 

This was such a fun show, I only wish I had felt better. But thankfully I was surrounded by my Kinfolk, who helped me through the night. We had lots of laughs and lots of good dancing over these first three days of tour. Now, it was time for me to head home for the first time since leaving for Jomeokee, only to do laundry and repack for the next week of tour. 

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

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