Marathon Music Works - Nashville, TN (January 11, 2013)

written by Kelli Scott

Bluegrass Buddies in Music City, USA~

Nashville was an unexpected show for me.  I was in Knoxville the night before, and decided last minute to make the 3 hour journey west for the Marathon Music Works show. (d)Eric Martin made the trip with me. We arrived in town early that afternoon. A nice stroll through Antique Archaeology from the History Channel’s famous American Pickers show helped us pass the time. The store - full of high value, vintage loot - is located in the Marathon Village, next door to the venue. The word “Village” would imply a nice little area, with lots of things to do, but that’s not the case. Marathon Music Works is located in an industrial, old warehouse section of town…down near the railroad tracks. After the Antique Archaeology store, we headed down to the slick side of town to meet Peggy and Tim for some dinner and window shopping before the show. Broadway Street was full of action, glitter, and neon lights on the unseasonably warm winter Friday evening in Nashville. If you are in need of a new pair of boots, this is the place for you ;). 

A Nashville show is not complete without a few sit-ins. Jason Carter was on the bill for the evening, and was the special guest for the first nine shows of the Winter Tour 2013 run. The Travelin’ McCourys were playing a few tunes across town at the Opry. A rumor was circulating earlier in the afternoon that Futureman, and possibly Ronnie McCoury, were going to make an appearance at Marathon Music Works. The anticipation of collaborations with musical buddies filled the air.

Wood & Wire opened the show. I saw them for the first time in Knoxville the previous night.  They were really enjoyable and a great opening act for YMSB. Kimber Ludiker, 2009-2010 National Fiddle Champion, and member of the amazing all-girl bluegrass band Della Mae, came out for a tune with Wood & Wire. She brought bushels of energy to the stage and really ignited the crowd. 

“Illinois Rain” opened the show. For me, this song really strikes a chord combining a number of my true loves. JA’s lyrics are chalked with underlying themes of optimism, relentless hope for a better day, perseverance, and the gift of unanswered prayers all swirled around the forces of nature and the weather. Ben kept us traveling through a journey across the flat plains into the great west with a tale of another location-based song, “40 Miles from Denver”.  Next, it was Dave’s turn with “Loved you Enough”, followed up by another wonderful banjo tune, “Strophe”. Jason Carter has just simply ruined this song for me... it will not be the same without the amazing fiddle/banjo dynamic. Adam’s “All the Time” was next. The realistic lyrics of this tune and AA’s hard-hitting licks make it one of my new favorites.

The boys welcomed Futureman to the stage, and a ragin’ “King Ebeneezer” really got the party started. It was reminiscent of days past with a heavy dose of raw scatting and teasing from Austin, infused with a new brand of funky pedal action. My every movement and breath rest on the notes flowing from the stage… this “King Eb” was spellbinding and had me under its whim. Ben lifted the intense vibe with the reggae bounce of “2 Hits” for a fun loving groove, allowing plenty of space for Futureman and Carter to shine. It was great to boogie with Peggy, Tim, Eric, and Kayla plus all the other extremely fun-loving folks of Nashville. Jeff commented on the million reasons they loved ‘Music City, USA’.  The fast ass bluegrass licks gave us all the freedom to kick up some dust and ease our “Trouble Minds”.

Things cooled down with a really special, “Don’t Worry, Happy Birthday”. The next day was Eric Martin’s birthday, and he was so excited with the new winter schedule, which gifted him a birthday show.  It was better that (d)Eric got his favorite in Nashville, the night before his big day... that way he could actually remember it ;).  The cheerful “Idaho” followed, and the first set ended with a rockin’ version of “Angel”, amplified by Carter’s fiddle. The deep dark sinister tone gives me chills reaching all the way from my toes to the tiny hairs on the top of my head.

The wonderfully written “Jail Song” opened up the second set. “You can’t drown that kinda flame”. I really wish Adam would finish “JS”. I miss the good ole’ days when he would give us the ending riff after the small rest at the end of the song. I always wait for it, but it just doesn’t happen. I really miss it. I’m always happy to hear the cover “Althea”, and it really united the crowd. I closed my eyes and allowed my mind to wander... Funny, both “Jail Song” and “Althea” reference playing with “fire”, and the cautionary tale of the unfortunate consequences. Goes to show, many things are better left alone and should only live in your imagination.

“Straight from stage of the Grand Ole’ Opry, it’s one of Nashville’s greatest sons”, Jeff said as the band welcomed Ronnie McCoury to the stage. With no time to waste, Carter opened up the extremely fast “Katy Hill”. It was noted that Yonder had not covered this one since 2004. Next the fun continued with “New Deal Train”. This was a little unexpected to play with Ronnie, if you ask me... but he added lots of fluttery, flirty mando rifts. The trio of songs with Ronnie was completed with the Bad Livers' story of a father’s smothering love, “Pretty Daughter”. Ronnie’s mandolin notes are as cool, clean, and crisp as the pure mountain dew on a brisk Appalachian morning. Jeff was so excited! - jumping up and down like a little kid and resting on Ronnie’s every pick and strum. He was obviously taking notes. It was so fun to watch.

“Honestly” was next, followed by a Ben and Adam tune that I’m so happy has found a way onto Yonder’s setlist, “Smiles”. I’ve loved this tune ever since I heard Ben and Adam play it at Delfest so many summers ago. Dave and Jason kept the strings hot for ”You’re No Good”, trading off on solos. Dave’s banter is unmatched. He is the “Witty Wildcard” of the bunch. Ben gave us more of a serious mood with “I’d Like Off”, which provided the crowd with some needed breathing room. An explosive “Ten” was the first layer of the big sandwich ending the 2nd set. As the jam slowed down in the middle of “Ten”, Jeff surprised us all with a tease of Marvin’s Gays “What’s Going On”. I’m assuming it was inspired by the overzealous, extremely simulated crowd. “Looking Back Over My Shoulder” > “Ten” finished the set. I had to take a break from the rail around mid “LBOMS”. The crowd became too rowdy.

Futureman was back out for the encore. I thought I was OK with sitting out the rest of the show in the back by Ted. But the opening notes of “I am the Slime” pulled me back up front where I got my second wind and danced my heart out with Peggy and (d)Eric. You know, “I’m totally controlled and do what I am told...” The encore ended with Willie’s “Bloody Mary Morning”, a very appropriate and fitting cover for this energized Friday night crowd in Music City. 

Written by Kelli Scott; photos by Eric Martin

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