Review by Bill Bradley
Revolution Live, in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was packed this past Saturday night for a show headlined by Yonder Mountain String Band. Revolution is always a great venue for a show, and Yonder brought a crowd that was ready to get down.
Travelin’ McCourys who’s members just won a Grammy with their other act with their father, the Del McCoury Band, got the night started with a smoking hot set highlighted by songs off their new album with Keller Williams. Ronnie McCoury also got the crowd going with a facetime call to father Del and led the crowd in singing him a Happy 75th Birthday to celebrate.
By the time YMSB came out, the crowd was nice and warmed up, and all kept up with the enthusiasm from the get go first offering a couple of their own tunes, and then really getting the crowd going with a nice rendition of Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come.”
The usually four piece string band consists of Ben Kaufmann on stand up bass, Adam Aijala on guitar, and Dave Johnston on the banjo. Usually Jeff Austin ties it up, but for this tour he’s back in Colorado with his brand new baby, while Ronnie McCoury fills in on the mandolin. Fiddle player Jason Carter once again is on tour with the band and always makes for a welcomed fifth member.
The energy was high by the time Ben got the group started on “Polka on the Banjo.” The jamming was stellar, and they improvised the lyrics due to Jeff’s absence. Calling the repeated chorus, an “audible.” Dave joked they called “Omaha,” poking fun at Peyton Manning, for any football fans in the audience.
The jam kept up for the rest of the first set, with Ronnie McCoury proving he was more than just a fill in with an awesome solo jam during “Sideshow Blues.”
Besides the great jamming, the first set was also highlighted by the continued feeling of family and celebration. Ben Kaufmann took the time to introduce his sister and mother to the crowd, who he said were both “cooler” than he was. Everybody got especially excited to hear Ben’s mother had shown up to the show with a cake. It was a little slice of home and comfort, after dealing with some rough weather and cancelled shows earlier in the week.
As great as the first set was, the second set got even better, with the rest of the McCoury band coming out to join the jam. This gave the group a second guitarist and banjo player, as well as Uncle Earl McCoury on the fiddle.
Crowd favorites in the second set, included the Jerry Garcia Band’s “Reuben & Cherise,” and the Beatles “Only a Northern Song.” Being an all string band gives covers a very unique sound, although sometimes it seems there has to be a percussionist and keyboardist on the stage, with the range of sounds they are able to get going.
A three song encore followed the second set, leaving the crowd more than satisfied and definitely happy for having made it out to such a great show. Would definitely recommend anybody checking out any of the remaining shows on this winter tour, if given the chance. The Travlin’ McCournys and Yonder Mountain String Band together is one good time.