Yonder Mountain String Band & Two High String Band :: 1.30.05 :: Liberty Hall :: Lawrence, KS

If you remember the '70s, you weren't there.

Dave Johnston and Adam Aijala :: 1.31.05
Likewise, if you remember the sold-out Yonder Mountain String Band show Sunday night at Liberty Hall, well... you weren't drinking enough Jager.

Hopefully, all the old-timey fun didn't totally extinguish from memory the good ol' sounds from opening act Two High String Band. The Texas quartet is made up of Billy Bright (mandolin), Bryn Bright (bass), Brian Smith (guitar), and newcomer Geoff Union (guitar). On this particular night, however, Bryn Bright was replaced with a stand-in, causing the music to lose some of its honesty and the crowd to have a bit of difficulty catching a steady groove.

YMSB :: 1.31.05
While there were a few bumps in the road at first, those gathered to see YMSB definitely didn't have any trouble grooving when the band took the stage, opening with a kinfolk favorite, "No Expectations." Towards the middle of the set, Two High String Band's Geoff Union joined Yonder for a few fast-paced guitar licks, finally ending the first set with crowd pleasers "Jesus on the Mainline" and "Two Hits and the Joint Turned Brown."

After a brief break where smokers huddled outside under the marquee, exhaling into the slushy Lawrence night, hippyfied Yonderheads met back inside to warm up for a rowdy, high steppin' second set.

Set II opened with "Ten," leading into the Talkin Heads' "Girlfriend Is Better," "Winds Of Wyoming," and eventually back into "Ten."

Around this time, Yonder mandolin mad man Jeff Austin preached to his little congregation, who replied with high mountain stomps, claps, and drunken hoots and hollers. The crowd howled, stomped, and clapped so fiercely, in fact, that little Liberty Hall literally began to fall apart. What looked like strips of paint and dust from the hand-painted ceiling gently drifted down through a stream of blue stage lights and onto the dance floor below.

Jeff Austin & Billy Bright :: 1.31.05
As the set pushed on things got downright hog-wild when the band ripped into "The Dukes of Hazzard" theme song. Other highlights of the set included Two High String Band's Billy Bright on mandolin and vocals for a remarkable version of the now classic, "If You're Ever In Oklahoma."

The final touches of the evening came in the form of a triple encore. First up was; "Left Me in a Hole," an audience request via hand-written note on white paper napkin passed to the front of the stage. Then, Austin paid homage to crazy-in-a-good-way banjoist, Danny Barnes (who will be at YMSB's Northwest String Summit 6.24-6.26) with the cover "Funtime" off Barnes's 2001 Things I Done Wrong. As the madness wound down the night came to a close with a rousing rendition of "Shady Grove."

All in all, it was one of the best Yonder shows I've seen... I think.

Listen to YMSB on Rhapsody.

Words by: Sandra Walsh
Images by: Robert Foster
JamBase | Kansas
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[Published on: 2/8/05]

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