Yim Yames | 02.14 | Louisville

Words by: Nick Todaro | Images by: Kory Johnson

Yim Yames :: 02.14.10 :: Seelbach Hotel's Rathskeller Room :: Louisville, KY

Bootsie Anne & Yim Yames :: 02.14 :: Louisville, KY
Historically speaking, the Seelbach Hotel's Rathskeller Room has built quite a reputation for itself. Upon entering this chamber full of concave architecture, it becomes patent what inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to use the setting for a scene in The Great Gatsby, or why Al Capone once made this location his nightclub of preference back in the 1920s. This Valentine's Day, Louisville's most esteemed place of pleasure added to its antiquity by playing host to "An Affair To Remember," an intimate performance featuring Bootsie Anne and hometown hero Yim Yames (aka Jim James of My Morning Jacket) celebrating Louisville Is For Lovers' 10th anniversary.

Surrounded by pelican statues perched on pillars, cosmic sign murals, and 300 snazzy looking audience members - all of whom received a rose at the door - Bootsie Anne took to the stage to deliver a pacifying showcase of ukulele-driven folk tunes. For this particular occasion, the mellow songs set an ideal mood for the amorous evening. After several songs, a familiar face sporting a brown suit, with a white boutonniere and miniature owl head pinned to the left chest, stepped onto the stage.

"Happy Valentine's Day, gang," said Yim Yames as he took hold of his acoustic guitar and led Bootsie Anne into a bittersweet rendition of the Tennessee Fire favorite "I Will Be There When You Die." Much like the version played during the recent Monsters of Folk tour, Bootsie took over the first few lines of the song with Yim coming in to sing, "There will be bigotry and there will be open minds."

As the last guitar notes rang out and the audience roared their approval, the duo went into the first cover of the night, Harry Warren and Al Dubin's "I Only Have Eyes For You." Highlighted by the song's humorous hook, "shwub shwub," the two singers worked this classic down to perfection. Following it was another soulful cover of Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers' Grammy Award-winning hit, "Just The Two Of Us" again done duet style. Having never played either of the songs before live, Yim had already delivered upon the "Affair To Remember" billing of the evening three songs into his set.

Yim Yames :: 02.14 :: Louisville, KY
Now completely solo, Yames kept the surprises flowing as he switched out his guitar for his Omnichord. Lifting the device to his face, he used his chin to press the start button for the beat of "Tonight I Want To Celebrate With You." It was at this point everyone in attendance could tell good ole' Yim was in the zone. While belting out the finishing "ohs" of the composition, the artist's eyes rolled into the back of his head, as if possessed by an otherworldly deity that had come to take a hold of his spirit and never let go.

Before progressing, Yim took a minute to banter about Louisville Is For Lovers. "It seems like 100 years ago the first compilation was released," he said. "I'd like to thank [curator] John King for including us all those years ago."

The unreleased track "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)" tranquilly continued the show and preceded two of the most haunting songs in My Morning Jacket's catalogue, "Hopefully" and "Bermuda Highway." Yames was thrown into a visibly emotional state during the latter. Directly following the line, "Sometimes I wonder why that meek guy got all the fame/ Maybe I'm to blame for his short, bitter, fucked up life," he pressed his head against the microphone, began shaking it back and forth, and barely raised it again to finish out the song.

Yim Yames :: 02.14 :: Louisville, KY
With the audience left dead silent, Yames described the next number as "a song with an old time Valentine's Day feel to it." "Right Place" sounded remarkably resilient as a solo effort, as did "Look At You," which followed. Closing out the Evil Urges track with a tumultuous drumbeat created by pounding his fist against his guitar, Yim instantly went into another solo interpretation of a Monsters of Folk track, "His Master's Voice." The standout song from the self-titled album demonstrated Yames' transcendental, strong vocal projection and gracing harmonic capabilities.

Yim picked up his Omnichord again and dove into a rare version of the Z crowd pleaser "What A Wonderful Man." After hearing the Omnichord's digital melody accompanied by Yames' angelic voice, it's hard choosing which version of the song should have actually been released on the album. Continuing to add to the recherché element of the occasion, Yames transitioned into a never-before-performed Omnichord cover of Rogers and Hart's "Blue Moon." Backed by a programmed hip hop beat, the classic received a jaw-dropping revamp that only Yim could have pulled off.

Next, a cover of Berlin's "Take My Breathe Away" - featured on Louisville Is For Lovers Vol. 1 - graced the Rathskeller's balmy acoustics, and left many in the audience tittering. Even Yim stopped mid-falsetto to let out a snicker for the jocular moment. "It Beats 4 U" extended the sentimental element of the show, with many of the couples in the crowd elated to hear Yames bellow out the adoring line, "Just believe and you can do/ You know my heart it beats for you." For myself, what came next was possibly the biggest shock of the evening: a "Sweetheart" tease into "Knot Comes Loose." Considering "Sweetheart" has only been played live once before, this Valentine's Day was feeling more like Christmas morning.

Yim kept the theme of first timers coming by dedicating Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways" to a mystery woman in the crowd. Accompanying this cover was the live premier of the Louisville Is For Lovers Vol. 10 track "Good Morning Dove." "Do what you do, to get yourself ready/ Good morning dove/ Anything can muthafuckin' happen today," sang Yames as onlookers smirked and realized how relevant that particular line was to the occasion. From here, Yames segued into a stripped down version of recent gem "Smoking From Shooting" and managed to bedazzle the crowd by capturing its emotional intensity by hollering and stomping about the stage during its conclusion.

Yim Yames :: 02.14 :: Louisville, KY
John Prine's "All The Best" provided another pinnacle moment of the night. Yim's take on the song was quite evocative of the haunting emotions that come with past Valentine's Days. Staying true to the country vibe of the original, Yames became the quintessential heartbroken debonair the song's narration describes. Allowing a few seconds to let the applause die down, Yim grabbed hold of his trusty Omnichord once more to create a transfixing "Anytime." As he continued to push the instrument's buttons with his chin, Yames playfully switched between the regular tempo of the song and a much faster one. Dancing along with the quicker of the two, Yim worked his way around the stage, dropped the instrument, and suddenly dashed out of the room.

Just as the possibility of an encore reached its height, "Just The Two Of Us" kicked in on the PA system, leaving the crowd pleading for more. Much like a box of Valentine's Day chocolates, Yim's performance proved to be an addictively sweet way to express one's devotion of love with a significant other. However, unlike chocolates, this gift may be a bit harder to top next year.

Yim Yames :: 02.14.10 :: Seelbach Hotel's Rathskeller Room :: Louisville, KY
I Will Be There When You Die*, I Only Have Eyes For You (Warren & Dubin)*^, Just The Two Of Us (Withers & Washington Jr.)*^, Tonight I Want To Celebrate With You$, Wonderful (The Way I Feel), Hopefully, Bermuda Highway, Right Place, Look At You, His Master's Voice, What A Wonderful Man$ > Blue Moon$^, Take My Breath Away (Berlin)^, It Beats 4 U, Sweetheart (tease) > Knot Comes Loose, True Love Ways (Buddy Holly)^, Good Morning Dove^, Smoking From Shooting, All The Best, Anytime$
* - w/ Bootsie Anne
^ - first time played
$ - Omnichord

Continue reading for more pics of Yimmy on Valentine's Day in Kentucky...

My Morning Jacket tour dates available here.

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