Show Review – Yonder Mountain String Band, 12/30/12, Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO


Written by Kayla Clancy

This evening Yonder would be joined by special guest and local drummer,Christian Teele, and guitarist, Nick Forster. I was really curious to see what adding electric guitar and percussion would do to influence Yonderʼs sound. Before the show we speculated that tonight would be the night for a Grateful Dead cover given the guest instruments. Night one, a little Phish. Night two, The Beatles. Night three, I was feeling Grateful. Once inside I joked about hearing a Terrapin, which had been done once, but I knew the Dave train would not be taking us to that station.

Anyways, the night starts up with ʻOut of the Blueʼ. I didnʼt have much familiarity with this one, but really enjoyed it. Thereʼs a lively melody and some great mandolin soloing. At the close Jeff comments, “Thanks again. Night three; you all look quite refreshed.” It had definitely been a festive few nights, and this run was flying by.

The verses of ʻRiverʼ echo out next, which offer a sweet sway to the crowd.Afterwards Ben adds, “I like Dave Johnston, personally.” A Dave pause fills the theatre, and then, “I could embarrass myself or I could embarrass Todd.” Always with the oneliners.

Next up is ʻLoved You Enoughʼ. The beat grooves along and the banjo is on fire,in fact one of the strings breaks right on stage. Just as the song ends Adam says,“Youʼre killing it alright dave, killing it.” The audience agrees with their cheers. As the banjo is brought back to commission, the others start a quiet, but intricate little jam. The mando slowly picks, the guitar comes in with some riffs of its own, and in the background some bluesy bass lines. The mellow jam rolls on for awhile before the chords lead into a soft, sweet ʻHonestlyʼ. The rhythm picks up near the end, preparing us for the much-loved ʻHalf Moon Risingʼ.

As the song opens everyone cheers and sings along the loudest Iʼve heard all week; itʼs a great Yonder moment. The ceiling of the boulder theatre is beginning to crack open, slowly but surely exposing those southeastern skies. ʻOnly A Northern Songʼ keeps the vibe rolling; the night three magic building with every string. Thereʼs stand out playing from everyone on this one, and the Dave train is on fire, really impressive.

At the start of the next song Jeff introduces Teele and Forster to the stage. The guests work their way in as ʻRag Dollʼ comes into full swing. The new instruments add a psychedelic dimension; spacey electric guitar riffs echo through the jams. The intermittent beat of the drums reminds me momentarily of a Mickey Hart show, and as the chorus breaks itʼs time for ʻNew Deal Trainʼ.

It took a moment to adjust to hearing percussion in the usual stringsclusive sound. The volume of they rhythm was definitely amplified. After, Ben shares, “[The bands I thought of as a kid] had face paint and a big huge drum set so its kind of like getting to be a kid again; what a good feeling that is.” Then, story time comes to a close as he adds, “You know, I always thought that Adam Aijala was a sexy son of a bitch.”

We laugh as a new cover is brought out; itʼs Smokey Robinsonʼs ʻI Second That Emotionʼ. Itʼs a lighthearted and upbeat song to carry us into yet another new song, this time an original called ʻLove What I Do For a Livingʼ. The drums are a definite focus to this semi-southern rock sound, with twangy electric guitar solo and all.

The amps are buzzing as ʻEast Nashville Easterʼ begins. I start to hear the banjo and mando becoming more prominent again; the song really picks up near the end, rockin the Boulder Theater, and closing out the first set.

After intermission the boys are back, and I couldnʼt have been happier for theʻPeace of Mindʼ we got. The drums are taking a break, so itʼs just Yonder up there for twenty glorious minutes, and damn do I love this song. Halfway through the jam becomes quiet; I listen for where we might be headed next. The notes gradually build,getting louder and quicker. The banjo has re-ignited, and the crowd is ready for the returning verse. Voices are heard from every direction, itʼs just too good. The crowd cheers go on and on at the conclusion. Yonder stomping fills the Boulder Theater!! “Geez will you guys have some fun?” Adam jokes.

A quick ʻDonʼt You Lean On Meʼ is served up next, followed by a fast, banjo-filledʻMaid Of The Canyonʼ. A slower melody ʻBelle Parkerʻ brings a brief break to the fast pace, but the vibe remains high.

“Your energy is second to none; itʼs absolutely a pleasure,” Ben says.

There are no objections to this as itʼs time for rag round two-ʻRag Mamaʼ, that is.True to the name, the beat is catchy and the bass notes jazzy. Another favorite, ʻNo Expectationsʼ comes next. The tone of the jam is soft with some pleasant mandolin riffs.The cheers and stomps are endless yet again, and at this point we all canʼt help but smile.

Some comic relief comes as Ben looks to Adam, “I like that black shirt. Did you get that for Christmas?”

“No Itʼs old. I think I only have one actually.”

We switch from comedy act back to bluegrass with ʻJail Songʼ. Adam sings this one, and we sing along with him. Another solid Yonder moment ensues. Afterwards the boys welcome Christian and Nick to the stage again, so we know things are about to heat back up.

ʻFine Excusesʼ starts percussion round two and electric power chords signal the start of a bad ass ʻHey Bulldogʼ cover, which isnʼt in the usual mix. Maybe itʼs just that Iʼm a rock and roll girl at heart, but I was thoroughly enjoying that electric guitar.

This trend continues through ʻCatch a Criminalʼ, and yet another new cover is broken out-The Whoʼs ʻThe Seekerʼ. Damn Yonder, what are you trying to do to us. The theater is rockin hard as Jeff channels some great vocals. More cheers. More stomps.Weʼre reaching ridiculous levels of awesomeness here.

And what is this we hear? A ʻTraffic Jamʼ?! The drums bring some added intensity, and the Boulder Theater has gotten beyond rowdy. Then the jam begins to change directions, giving way to ʻLegalize Itʼ.

“Well hey, I donʼt even have to ask that question right?” Sure donʼt Adam.

“So I decide to move to California and Colorado legalizes, huh?” Sounds about right Ben.

ʻLegalize Itʼ comes to a close and itʼs time to finish off that ʻTraffic Jamʼ. I couldnʼt think of a better, or louder, way to end that set, and still we wanted more. Hooray for encores.

The boys come up solo and start with an endearing ʻDreamsʼ. The acoustic guitar comes in strong and a harmonica follows. ʻSouthboundʼ is up next. Itʼs a familiar tune so we all sing along.

Jeff announces that thereʼs time for one more, and Christian and Nick are welcomed back to the stage.

“Weʼll close with Bachʼs Third Sonata in D Minor.” Funny Jeff. So whatʼs it gonna be?

As the music plays I realize Itʼs time for the Dead cover weʼd been waiting for,and itʼs a groovy ʻShakedown Streetʼ! Words canʼt describe the joy that filled that theatre. The boys sing and we promptly reply, “Donʼt tell me this heart ainʼt got no heart! You just gotta poke around.” And with that you canʼt help but grab a friend, smile, and get funky. Then comes a mandolin solo, followed by yet another electric riff. I close my eyes and listen to the guitar ring out into deep space. Itʼs our last chance to dance, and the crowd takes full advantage.

And just like that Shakedown comes to an end, and so too does one of my new favorite nights of Yonder. It had been a beyond memorable show, and I couldn’t of been more Grateful to share it with everyone.