Photos by Jim Mimna
The Scene: On the eve of New Year’s Eve, Yonder Mountain String Band sold-out a benefit concert for flood-ravaged Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, Colorado. For weeks there had been desperate attempts made for those who hadn’t been quick enough in buying tickets, so expectations were unusually high. While Kinfolk up and down the Front Range had been looking forward to the whole five night run for months, this particular night was even more anticipated with profits going straight to aid the reconstruction of Planet Bluegrass, a favorite venue for locals and Rocky Mountain-ites.
It wasn’t just in the spirit of music that these Bluegrass boys sought to rock the house, because even more important on this night was the spirit of community. There was a strong sense of togetherness as we filed into the Boulder Theater, with emotions high for those who drastically suffered from the traumatic September floods. We had joined in support of a local community, in support of our friends Adam, Ben, Dave and Jeff, and in growing support of our love for each other as the New Year swiftly approached.
Yonder Mountain String Band: From the very start it was clear this was not your average YMSB show. The number of musicians on stage started with four during the opening of “Here Comes Sunshine,” but this number grew to six, and eventually the small stage was filled with ten guys, each pluckin’ on their respective string instruments. Jerry Douglas on the dobro and Sam Bush on the fiddle and mandolin joined the boys for most of the show, and one by one more special guests were brought out to add on to the fundraising festivities.
Things got turned up loud and fast when the boys came at us with “Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie.” This raucous tune got our blood pumping, and the night took a quick and unexpected turn when legendary John Oates casually walked on to the stage, joining in on “All That I Ask Of You.” The now seven-piece band moved swiftly through the first set as Jeff and the audience together cried out “Yonder Goes My Beau!”
Yonder Mountain String Band added on to their extensive list of friends with the addition of Nick Forster on the guitar and Pete Wernick on the banjo. With so many musicians joining and leaving the stage, we were caught in a whirlwind of delightful string pickin’. All but Oates made it back onstage for a cover of “Come Together” before the group finished off the first set with “Little Maggie.” As the lights came up we all wandered to view the array of merchandise being auctioned off for the recovering mountain community of Lyons.
After the set break, the four YMSB boys kicked off the second half of the night with “Blue Collar Blues.” As quickly as it all happened in the first set, the number of friends to join the band onstage was really amazing. These friends were not just there in support of Adam, Ben, Dave and Jeff, but in support of the community and its coming together on an overwhelmingly meaningful evening.
Following the first half of the second set, where the boys grazed through a number of awesome tracks, we were blessed with the surprise of few songs being performed by Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas alone. These songs included “I’m A Man,” “Crossroads” and a two-part cover of Little Feat’s “Sailing Shoes.” It was a treat to have these two on stage alone for a while as the night was turning out to be multiple concerts all in one. It wasn’t YMSB, it was a community of talented and loyal musicians dedicating their talents and passions to a night of fun, love, and togetherness.
A tune from YMSB’s most recent album, The Show, was played next. We jived and jigged to fan favorite “Out Of The Blue” before the last song of the second set, a well-known but unanticipated “After Midnight.” A quick breather preceded the three-song encore.
When the whole gang came back for the last few minutes of the night they broke into “My Walking Shoes.” Next came the most perfect selection for an encore song that could have possibly been chosen, Bob Marley’s “One Love.” The famous lyrics “let’s get together and feel alright” reverberated throughout the Boulder Theater, sending a message of love to all in attendance and reminding us one last time the importance of community, especially in the face of tragedy and hardship. YMSB and friends reminded us that with love and friendship, everything is going to be alright.
The night would not have ended on the correct note had it ended on anything other than the third and final encore song, “Shady Grove.” A genuine pickin’ tune calmed the crowd before turning the night over to the silent auction occurring across the lobby. Having been served a good dosage of YMSB originals, classic covers and songs that simply bring people together, we sauntered out of the Boulder Theater. Our favorite Nederland locals had surpassed the highest expectations we had had for the night, and had brought a great feeling of pride to their Rocky Mountain territory.
December 30th 2013 • Boulder Theater • Boulder , CO
Set 1: Here Comes Sunshine, Follow Me Down To The Riverside1 2 > Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie1 2, All That I Ask Of You1 2 3, Crow Black Chicken1 2 3, Had I Known You Better1 2 3,Polka On The Banjo4 5, Pow Wow the Indian Boy4 5, Come Together1 2 4 5 > Little Maggie1 2 4 5
Set 2: Blue Collar Blues, Hey Bulldog1, Everytime1 4 6, Poor House1 4 6, We Hide And Seek1 2,I’m A Man7, Sailing Shoes7 > Crossroads7 > Sailing Shoes7, Idaho, Sometimes I’ve Won, Out Of The Blue, Girlfriend Is Better1 2 3 4 5 > After Midnight1 2 3 4 5
Encore: My Walking Shoes1 2 3 4 5, One Love1 2 3 4 5, Shady Grove1 2 3 4 5
1Jerry Douglas on dobro
2Sam Bush on vocals, fiddle & mandolin
3John Oates on vocals & guitar
4Nick Forester on guitar
5Pete Wernick on banjo
6Benny Galloway on vocals and guitar
7Just Sam Bush & Jerry Douglas
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: B+