Yonder Mountain String Band Comes Ready With A Bag Of Tricks, Treats and Jams At Manchester Music Hall [PHOTO GALLERY]
Manchester Music Hall has deep roots in the Lexington, KY live music scene, almost as deep as bluegrass music in Kentucky. In it’s previous life it went by the name Busters Backroom & Billiards, a place I saw many of my favorite bands live. Artists such as Band Of Heathens, Randy Rogers Band, Wade Bowen, and Lucero have all played there, not so much huge names in the jam band scene but big names in their own right. Under the new management, Busters was tuned into Manchester Music Hall, with a few much-needed updates. Instead of feeling like an old creepy basement it actually feels like a live music venue, a venue that played host to Yonder Mountain String Band’s 2017 Halloween show.
The stage was set for the festivities of the night. In front of stage left there was an animatronic grim reaper, the right, an animatronic haunted tree, the rest of the stage littered with a mixture of haunted ghouls and pumpkins. The Last Revel, hailing from the upper Midwest, opened the show, nne dressed as a sailor, a juggalo, and a hot dog. The Last Revel were great; amazing harmony, skilled musicians, and high energy.
Yonder Mountain String Band (faces painted like skeletons) hit the floor running with a lengthy “Ramblers Anthem” into a personal favorite (this took me back to my teenage years), “Skull” by The Misfits. The night was full of stand out covers including “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” “Werewolves Of London,” “Frankenstein,” “Torn & Frayed,” “You’re No Good,” “Scent Of A Mule,” “Piss Up A Rope” (yes, the hilariously obscene one by Ween), and the encore was a nice jam out on Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” Everything was on point, from the set list arrangement, the stage props, and the overall energy from the band and crowd.
Unlike other groups in the jam band, jam grass, or bluegrass genres, Yonder Mountain String Band sets themselves apart with their unique song arrangements, fantastic light show, and their secret weapon Allie Kral, the bands fiddle player. There are very few musicians right now that can saw a fiddle the way she does. If Bob Wills was still alive, he’d be front row at every YMSB show just to watch her play. It also wouldn’t surprise me if we start seeing “Let Allie Sing” shirts popping up, if they aren’t already out there. I drove out to Red Rocks Amphitheater in August to see Yonder Mountain String Band play (17 hours 39 minutes/ 1,261 miles) and there are very few bands I’d do that for. Hands down one of my favorite live bands and a band you need to catch on tour.