Boulder Theater - Boulder, CO (December 29, 2012)

written by Kelli Scott

“It’s a Powerful Thing... To Fall In Love with a Sound”~ BK

Each of the shows in the four night NYE run were full of pure joy and amazement, but this night was extra special for so many reasons... you could feel the energy and overwhelming excitement in the air. The night opened up to a “You folks ready to go, or what?” from Jeff, directly followed by a powerful, out of the gate rendition of Danny Barnes’ “Pretty Daughter”.  I knew this show was going to be good from the first note!  Jason Carter was the special guest for the night, and he made his presence known from the start.  His fiddle sawed back and forth, echoing the beautiful, yet tragic melody of the tune.  His tight, short bursts of fiddle action led into long, sad draws of his bow, blending the most awesome harmony of strings.  I love the way Jeff’s mandolin notes stagger the ebb and flow, creating the refraining rifts of “PD”.  He was full of energy and putting a little more into each verse.  

The electric energy propagated through the theatre, charging us all with an undeniable, unified spark.  Ben’s bass led into the tale of “Sometimes I’ve Won”.   Dave told us how he was ready to “double it down on America” with the birth of his second child.  His banjo strings then uniquely screeched out the happy instrumental “Strophe”.  The ending allowed for a moment of bliss with a musical connection between Jason & Dave.  It was “the bee’s knees!” ;)  Next, rolling in fast like a ragin’ tide hitting the shore was “Too Late Now”.  This was one of the first YMSB songs that hooked me so many years ago. I’m a sucker for those songs about perseverance and determination... also a continual, underlying theme in Austin’s writing. Carter’s fiddle added so many additional layers followed by Dave’s rolling banjo solos - which every time I hear, I can’t help but to get the visual of Dave doing his little ‘round the circle’ dance with his instrument. What a great image!  

Adam reminded us all about ‘rolling down an empty road’ with his classic “Rain Still Falls”.  He had a perma-smile on his face for the entire four day run.  It was so inspiring to see him having so much fun at home surrounded by friends and family.  Adam was also visibly enjoying watching Jason play to his left. The crowd then got the famous wiggle put in their step with Shawn Camp’s “Damned if the Right One...”.  Adam’s licks set free any reluctance lingering in my soul, resulting in total abandonment. I’m free as a bird to shake it when this one is played. Oh, and did Jason preach us a sermon on that fiddle! It took me right to church; Good Lord, Child! I wanna keep him! The best thing I heard said about Jason Carter after the NYEWinter Tour run was Zach Hightower’s quote, “I love Yonder straight with no chaser... BUT... When are they going to break the bad news to the McCourys?”  Couldn’t have said it better myself! 

As expected, the band gave a shout out to the great Mike Auldridge, the dobro player from the Seldom Scene, and played “Maybe You Will Change Your Mind”. It’s always so fun to enjoy this one with Dorothy. She loves it so much. You can feel her excitement, as she hoists her Kinfolk fan in the air upon the opening notes. This night was no exception! Jeff remarked on Jason’s bluegrass fiddle, and gave us all the wonderful news that he would be hitting the road with the boys for part of January. Adam’s new, “no-named instrumental” followed. To me, this song is like someone running through a meadow of wildflowers on a sunny summer day. It is very light, bouncy, and free; a very well-crafted tune. Ahhh, and then there it was, the opening strums of the heavy hitting “Don’t Worry, Happy Birthday”.  My eyes automatically looked for (d)Eric Martin to share in the joy of this tune.  We all love it so much.  December 29, 2012 will always be known as ‘the night the Happy Birthday Dance was born’. 

Time had come for the ending of the first set.  The boys helped us stretch out a bit with the flutters of "Looking Back Over My Shoulder”. It’s really a symbolic tune... so special.  Again, Jason’s fiddle floated in at the most perfect moments, adding so much depth and intrigue. It is very easy for me to shut my eyes and get totally lost during the solos of “LBOMS”, but the fiddle would awaken and remind me that Carter and his black boots were in the house.  “Death Trip” closed the set.  It was the most amazing “DT” I’ve ever heard, not only by the addition of Jason’s fiddle, but also by Jeff’s little “Funky Bitch” verse in the middle. It made me lose my mind a little! The entire floor was a rockin’ dirty dance party. 

I met Danielle earlier that day working production. It was so incredibly fun to dance with her, Annie, Dorothy, Cristina, and Jessica. I finally got to meet Ryan and Steph Smith in person. They are so generously kind and add a fun-loving groove to the party! Everywhere I looked there were friendly faces. The energy in the room was completely out of this world. We all define family in different ways, but I’m truly grateful for the ‘Law of Attraction’ and magnetism that unites the Kinfolk family together ~ Nothing short of MAGIC! 

Half-time went by so fast... the boys were coming out on stage before I could get back to my spot.  It opened up to “Blue Collar Blues”, which we proudly now sing the lyrics as “I love Dorothy’s Job”.  Dot had just made her way back from taking photos to her spot beside me for the moment we had both been waiting for. She and I, along with many other Kinfolk, saw Jason sit in with Yonder at Jomeokee Music Festival this past September in NC. This next tune had been on our minds since then, Jason’s version of Hartford’s “Vamp in the Middle”.  That tune is so good, and Jason’s deep voice… Oh, MY! He really does make his livin’ with a hillbilly fiddle ~

Jeff’s strong, defined beats of “Kentucky Mandolin” opened a flood of instrumental string fusion and sheer delight. I love dancing to this tune, and taking a moment to watch all the boys. Adam is really making an emphasis on pulling and bending his strings these days.  His notes are bold and they resonate with deep emotions inside the core of my soul. “KY Mando” ended with a big “YEAH!” from Jeff and huge applause from the crowd. The energy was growing. Dave gave us some nice growls and shout outs during “Don’t let Your Deal go Down”. I always like to say, “If these blues don’t leave my mind... I’m gonna listen to that banjo play”. ;)  Coming through loud and clear were Carter’s welcomed draws of the bow across his fiddle strings. There was a small pause for Ben to put down his bass, which could only mean one thing, “Holding”. This Hartford cover was taken in stride here in Boulder... cause really, who ain’t holdin’ in this town? It was really nice to hear Jason pick his solo out.  

There was a little teasing, leading into the solid, blasting bass beats of “Casualty”. This song is on my workout playlist, so I’m conditioned to get the cardio up when it’s played. Everything about this song gets me going; the lyrics, the rifts, the strong solos... it’s all too damn good. Another great tune followed, with the very danceable “Pockets”. This was the newer, extended jammed out version, complete with some pedal action from Jeff, along with funky fiddle licks from Carter. Again, it was awesome to be in Boulder and immersed in a revival of Kinfolk; from the front of the house to the back there was someone that you knew and loved.

Now was time for the boys to get down to some serious bluegrass business with another Seldom Scene tribute, “Pan American”. Ben said one of the most endearing things I’ve heard in a really long time, and something I will keep close to my heart. He was talking about the Seldom Scene and Auldridge. He said, “Auldridge’s playing was part of a sound I fell in love with. It’s a powerful thing, to fall in love with a sound.” Typing it now brings a tear to my eye. I think all of us music lovers can feel the power of what Ben is describing. The harmonies showcased in this song are unmatched, and Jason really brought the "Pan American" to life with the howl and moan of his fiddle. It’s like the real life blowing whistle of the train as it rolls down the track.

The feel of ragtime and swing was in the air with Dave’s “Ripcord Blues”. It was so enjoyable to look down the stage to my left towards Rick and Melissa during this tune. They are huge Dave fans, and are happy to tell you, Dave’s side = Rage side! They were just getting down dirty and loving every second of this song. It was AWESOME! The fun continued with “My Gal”. The theater came to life with claps and stomps in the opening solos. This is such a great sing along song. 

Each of the four nights had a theme of a different season, and the theme of the 29th was winter. “Snow on the Pines” couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for the evening. Ted’s amazing prism of lights illuminated the white, sparkly material acting as snow, and the naked tree branches cast shadows down upon the crowd, providing the feeling of a realistic outdoor environment. “Snow” stood alone, but had a very dark, gritty, earthy jam in the middle, as well as an extra-long dose of Adam’s famous porn rifts. ;)  As they came out of the jam things got quiet, and the building excitement finally erupted into one of my all-time favorites, “Raleigh & Spencer”. Rise and Bloom again, Baby! 

The encore opened with many smiles and Thanks. Jeff said they could play a few more.  They started with “Night Out”. What a way to “fill me up, when I’m down”. Jason and Dave met in the middle of the stage to finish out the tune. Then it was time for what has been kindly coined as my theme song, “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke”.  My honky-tonk heart can relate, but that’s only one little piece of my puzzle. ;)  The band gave many thanks to Jason for sitting in and remarked on how “he was the best fiddle player in the world”. The encore was complete with a fast ass bluegrass number, "Troubled Mind"... leaving us all wanting so much more. Hines so appropriately topped the night off with  Nelly’s “It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here”... I danced through the crowd until I found Carin for a little dirty dancing.  ;)

It was an honor and a privilege to have Jason Carter sit in for the 29th at the Boulder Theater.  He is a true bluegrass gentleman; from his stance, to the way he holds his instrument, right down to his cowboy boots. Not to mention, his amazing talent and ability to saw off a fiddle tune like it’s as easy as the warm, gentle wind blowing. He is a true enjoyment and amazing to watch. We would love to have him back, anytime!    

Written by Kelli Scott; Photos by Dorothy St.Claire

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