Jannus Live - St. Petersburg, FL (January 19, 2013)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

We drove by Yeehaw Junction, a bunch of dinosaurs, and over a really long bridge to get to St. Petersburg from Ft. Lauderdale. And in all that... I got a headache. Ugh. I guess it's bound to happen sometimes, given how often I see Yonder and how often I have headaches... but still. 

As Michael and I walked towards the venue, we could hear a faint, familiar sound coming towards us. Why, it was Davey J's banjo ringing through the air, and as we got closer and Jeff started singing, we recognized it as "Little Maggie". It would have been so sweet to hear this one tonight, but I knew in my heart that it was a long shot. We met up with Tom and headed around the corner for some pizza. And a Coke. The food and caffeine helped, and by the time we got into Jannus Live, I was feeling a lot more like myself.

I met a lot of cool folks as the doors opened and the crowd slowly filtered in. I love talking to Kinfolk who get to a show early, because we are in the same mindset: get there early - get up front. I met some folks who had seen Yonder a number of times, and folks who were seeing them for the first time. I even met a girl who flagged me down from across the venue because she noticed my double-jointed arms. We had a laugh as we shared our bendy quirks with each other before the start of the show.

Grandpa's Cough Medicine was opening for Yonder again, and I found myself becoming familiar with a couple of their songs. They had a great energy about them tonight, and got the crowd fired up for some Yonder. 

I peeked my head and my lens up over the lip of the stage as Dave, Ben, Jeff, Adam, and Jason entered the stage, plugged in, and tuned up. I was so excited, and looking at each of the guys, I could tell they were excited as well. I couldn't place it, but there was a buzz in the air tonight. An energy above what you usually feel at a Yonder show. I don't know where it came from, but it built and built as the music built and built, and when "Traffic Jam" finally came in full force, that block of energy hit us hard, and it was on. Dave and Jason immediately took this song to unimaginable places, making it real hard for me to stand still and take photos. On and on it went, giving each of our guys their turn to solo while Ben kept up the low end. And each one of those solos was mind-blowing. Seriously. I think it's Jason Carter. He brings out the best in each musician he plays with, and I could tell tonight would be proof of this. Already, in the very first song, they were playing with the enthusiasm and the energy as if playing to a sold-out Red Rocks crowd. Amazing.

"Well, what a glorious night this turned out to be." Said Ben, with a smile. "Thank you so much for being here with us... hope you don't mind rockin'." And rock was exactly what we did as Adam sang "Jack A Roe" next. The crowd was nothing but smiling faces as they danced through this Dead favorite, and right on into Jeff's "Out of the Blue". Dave's "Fingerprint" came up next, and was another one that just blew me away. "You know, we'd like to play you another traditional bluegrass number, if you don't mind." Oh, Ben. Such a goof. "Another Day" may not be a traditional song, but it sure did hit our bluegrass bones. 

"Let's have Ben Kaufmann sing us an old song... back when Ben had flowing long hair." Adam had a smile on his face as he closed his eyes - no doubt picturing that Ben from long ago. And as Ben sang "40 Miles From Denver", I closed my eyes and could almost see it, too. Jeff then dedicated "Hill Country Girl" to the memory of a couple baseball legends, Earl Weaver and "Stan the man" Musial, who both died earlier in the day. It was a nice dedication, but I wondered at the song choice.

"Anybody want a banjo tune?" Dave got a nice loud response from the crowd, so he followed his question with "Easy as Pie". Nice! It's amazing how quickly Jason learns these songs and then totally shreds when he plays them. I can only imagine what he will come up with the more he tours with these guys. Jeff introduced Dave to the crowd again as we all cheered, to which Dave replied, "That fiddle just gets me all... excited." Me too, Dave. Me too.

The lights went dim and Jeff started giving us some serious mando feedback, which meant we were in for a heavy "Sidewalk Stars". This used to be one of my least favorite songs, but every time I hear it I like it a little more... and now I can't wait to hear it. The end of "Sidewalk Stars" didn't give us a pause, but instead strummed into one of their newer covers, "Gut Feeling"/"Slap Your Mammy" to end the first set. Maybe folks were a little confused as it started, but once we got to the "Slap Your Mammy" part, no one cared, everyone danced, and everyone cheered as Jeff yelled "slap your mammy down!" 

"Best first set ever!" Those were the first words out of Michael's mouth when I met him at the merch booth at set break. I would have to agree. This set was smokin' hot, and the energy that bounced between the band and the crowd was intense. We hung out with Brian, met the street team, and got ready for another big set.

Since we didn't have a huge Kinfolk crew to hold down the rail with us, Michael and I decided to check out the second set from Ted's light tower. As the lights came down and "Snow on the Pines" started the set, we knew we had made the right choice. The sound, the lights, the energy - it was amazing watching the show and taking it all in from our perch high above the crowd. And it felt so good to just let go and DANCE! Jason and Dave drove me crazy with their solos before Jeff's pedal came in and I totally lost it. I don't care how many times I hear this song. It IS Yonder. And it is great. And it stood on its own this time, with no need to sandwich around another song to give us what we needed. As Jeff and Adam broke it down and Ben came in to bring it back up, the crowd exploded. Watching the sea of bouncing, dancing, cheering fans below us, I could feel the energy swimming around us all. It was incredible. 

As "Snow on the Pines" ended, the boys started noodling around with a beautiful slow melody that trickled into our ears before becoming "Pass This Way". How nice. Jason added so much to this one, and I couldn't help but sway along with his fiddle. Adam's new instrumental was next, still with no name. Then "Finally Saw The Light" started, and I looked to Michael for his usual reaction. He raised both fists in the air and gave a great big yell, and I had a great big smile as I danced to this tune and chuckled over my friend's predictability. Hell, some tunes really get us... and this one really gets him. 

"Well as you already know, we've got the great Jason Carter up here, and not only is he just one hell of a fiddle player, this man's got one hell of a voice on him, so we'd like to ask Jason to sing us one..." Um, yes please! He sang "Eagles Nest", a tune I had never heard before, but absolutely loved right away. Then Jeff came in with "What the Night Brings", putting everything he had into this emotional song. 

Adam introduced the next song - a newer one that he wrote with Dave, "I'll send this one out to my mom who's home, she lives like 30 miles south, but she's sick... with a bug... so she can't be here." He suggested playing real loud, in hopes that she'd hear it; and Ben questioned if it was a palmetto bug or a potato bug before Adam and Dave finally started "Lonesome Letter". It was around this time that I decided to head back down to the floor. Most of the night I had been able to avoid pushing through the crowd because of an awesome rail that sectioned off a whole path from the photo pit, around the side of the crowd, past Ben Hines, and all the way to the back by the merch booth. It was pretty awesome, but now it was time to dive into the crowd and get down. I was walking through the crowd as Ben took his turn on the mic before the next song, "I really think that something magical happened in that last number. For the entire day I've had a song stuck in my head, and I would tell you what that song title is, but I'm not a d*ck, you know, cause it's contagious. And I think it was successfully replaced by Adam and Dave's new number... so I hope to have that one stuck in my head for the remainder of the night... until I can asphyxiate myself to sleep later on in the bunk. This is a song called 'Boots' and it goes like this." Ha! I boogied around the crowd for "Boots" and into another Sherif Saga number, "Criminal". 

I found some of the fun folks that I met way back at the beginning of the night, and it was perfect timing, because we danced our asses off to "Oklahoma" together. I love moments like this - sharing in the joy and excitement of my favorite band with others who would be strangers, but for their love of the same band. The music brings people together like nothing else can, and we're all friends - we're all Kinfolk when that music is playing. I continued to move around until I was back in the pit, where I watched the end of "Oklahoma" bring a tornado of banjo notes and screaming fans... and if there had been a roof over us, it would have blown right off. 

I visited with some folks on the rail as everyone cheered in anticipation for the encore, and I readied myself for the last couple songs of the night. They started with "Ragdoll", and I was very pleasantly surprised to hear this one in the encore. This might have been my favorite song for Jason at this show. He added so much, that it's kind of hard to think of this song without him now. "Ragdoll" started to break down; Ben held the groove, Jeff added the pedal, and the crowd fell into a trance. Perhaps the band even fell into this trance, because they kind of didn't leave enough time for their last song. "Thank you all again, so much, for all of your energy and your enthusiasm tonight." Jeff said with a laugh. "We appreciate you guys. You're always an absolute pleasure to play music for. Give it up again for Jason Carter joining us tonight, just slaying it. The Cobra strikes!"

Even with such limited time remaining, they went ahead and played one more song. "Redbird" was fast... but it got faster. The looks of amusement mixed with panic that passed between Adam and Jeff had me laughing to myself as I looked between them and the stage clock. Ben took less and less time between lines as he sang, and it was probably the most frantic, frenzied, kick-ass "Redbird" I've ever seen. The show ended promptly at 12:01.

This was such a fun fun fun show! The music was amazing, the crowd was happy, and the weather was divine. This was one of those nights where everything seems to fall together to create the perfect show. The first outdoor show of the year went so well, and with each night in Florida getting better and better, I could only imagine what tomorrow would bring.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

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