Barrymore Theater - Madison, WI (January 31, 2015)

written by Jana Mihalak

I’ve been a YMSB fan for years, but this was my first Madison show. I usually hit up the Big Top shows and the First Ave shows. Winter Tour was something I had never done. Mostly due to my need for hibernation in Northern Wisco. I entered the Tunespeak contest to win two tickets to Madison just to see what would happen. Come to find that after weeks of watching videos, I had won! So my brother, his wife, and our friend decided to make the trek downstate. I’ve heard of an “energy” that the Madison shows have. Knowing it wasn’t the usual Orpheum venue, I had no clue what to expect. I loved that the Barrymore not only had a small pit for those who wanted to be close and dance their butts off, but also seats for those who preferred to sit back and take it all in. My choice, of course, was the pit. Securing my spot close enough to the stage, I settled in, chatted with some Kinfolk, and waited for Horse Feathers to start.

Horse Feathers blew my mind. Plain and simple. I was more than impressed with their talent and danced my butt off. The acoustics in the Barrymore were the best I had heard in a while. My only comparison is First Ave and a tent in the Northwoods, but Barrymore wins indoor venues hands down. After Horse Feathers warmed us all up for the main act, we waited patiently.

I always get this surge of energy when Yonder takes the stage, and Madison was no different. I had suggested a few songs to the band via Twitter and was waiting in anticipation to see what they would open with. After Ben greeted us all and told us that Madison has something about it that they all love, "Spanish Harlem Incident" was the opener. Oddly enough this was on my wish list. Keeping up with a fast paced tempo, they killed it. One of my favorite things about that song is the end where everyone gets to shine in their own mini solos. Excellent choice to get the show rolling, and to check one off my list! I have to say, I loved where I was standing. I loved who I was standing around. And most of all I love that my concert buddies are my family. During many points in the show I could look back and just give both my brother and my sister-in-law a look that they knew all too well... ”Holy crap!!” It was also amazing to spend most of first set with Dorothy a person or two away. Always a pleasure seeing her and chatting.

“Mother’s Only Son” started, which is always a treat. Dancing and singing my heart out along with Ben was such a pleasure. This is one of my sister’s favorite songs so I know it was much appreciated by the Mihalak clan. "Nothing But A Breeze" started and Jake took the lead. I’ve been so ecstatic with the addition of Jake and Allie; they add something that is just amazing to the band.  Jake’s voice is something I haven’t heard before and I love the songs that showcase his talent. Not to forget his crazy mad skills on the mando. He blows my mind on the mando... so much talent and so fast!! I always find myself just staring at his fingers, amazed.  "Irondale" kicked in, which is one of my fave instrumentals. Personally I love that they take time to showcase each member’s talent. Little jam sessions on every instrument are my fave.

photo courtesy of Jana Mihalak

A high energy "Jail Song" started and I was pretty much jumping up and down; another from my dream list. Adam’s voice is always so smooth and in Madison it was no different. Allie’s fiddle also adds something that is impossible for me to find words for. When she saws on that fiddle it’s nothing short of magic.

I have to admit, the next song I seriously thought was going to be Cypress Hill…. But it turned out to be "Son of a Preacher Man". Allie belted that out better than I’ve ever heard before. She’s so sweet and demure when she’s talking to the crowd and then there's the booming voice that comes out when she belts out songs.  She’s such a phenomenal musician and it’s such a pleasure having her in the group. "Damned if the Right One Didn’t Go Wrong" started fast and furious. Ben sang that song with such an upbeat tempo it was hard to try and take pics while dancing furiously.  Next came one of my favorites that I hadn’t heard in forever... Davey busted out "Deep Pockets" and I danced harder than ever. Something about that song and Davey’s voice just gets me. His banjo pickin was impeccable as well. Always my favorite moment when the man referred to as “his own triple word score” busts out of his usually quiet corner with a classic. Which brings us to "Traffic Jam"... Ahhhh… I absolutely love this song. And Drew Emmitt?!?! AMAZING! This was my first experience with Drew and his skills just blew me out of the water. He can sit in anytime, in my opinion. One of my favorite things about "Traffic Jam" is the fact that it’s a sandwich song. In between the bread of "Traffic Jam" Drew sang "Get Me Outta This City". As I said before, this was my intro to Drew and there’s no better way than with that song. Watching Jake and Drew go back and forth on the mandos was like watching a furious shredding competition. I was awestruck for sure. Finishing the sandwich with "Traffic Jam", first set was done. After a short set break and the longest bathroom line I’ve been in, it was time for set two.

Set two started with an amazing version of "If You’re Ever in Oklahoma" sung by Drew. One word comes to mind: epic. They all ripped it up on this song and it was the best version I had ever seen.  Which brings me to "Kentucky Mandolin"... This is a song that my little clan and I have been chasing for years. Jake's solo at the beginning kept everyone mesmerized. It was clean and technically amazing. I can’t help but wonder how his fingers move so fast. This song really got me moving. My sister took video and I’m pretty sure this is the song where I have “spirit fingers”. Up next was Adam with "Another Day". Then the crowd started jamming to the bluegrass jam, and it was followed by Ben with "Must've Had Your Reasons". It had been a while since I had heard this song and it was an added treat for sure. Mister Jake Jolliff sung and played his heart out with "Whitehouse Blues" after. That high energy song kept me moving even though I had thought my energy was gone a while ago. Next was a song that has grown on me. "Years with Rose" is a song that I had to learn to love, and I can honestly say that I love when Adam sings it. Now for my favorite part of the whole night: The red lights came on and the first part of "Angel" rang out. This is a song I could hear every damn show that I go to. Davey just has the perfect voice and I love love love when they get dark. It’s also a perfect sandwich song. This sandwich was the perfect dark sandwich, too. "Fingerprint" came up, which is so perfect following Angel. I think this review makes it clear, I LOVE me some Davey songs.  In the middle of this amazeballs sandwich was "Robots". This was the perfect middle of this insanely dark dance your ass off sandwich. Ending the second set we went back into "Fingerprint" and closed it up with "Angel". 

Like many of the crowd members I screamed my head off until the gang came back out and rocked us with an amazing encore. Allie belted out "C’est La Vie" and I know that the whole crowd was doing the shuffle from Pulp Fiction. "Troubled Mind"> "20 Eyes"> "Troubled Mind" closed the night. Those songs are some of my faves and it was the perfect way to end our lovely evening in Madison with Yonder. All in all this was one of my fave shows to date. I love the new lineup and how well they mesh together.

Written by Jana Mihalak, photos by Dorothy St.Claire

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