Getting off I-87 and heading on Route 212 towards Woodstock, you pass by a road sign that says ‘Veteran.’ On each trip to Woodstock towards Bearsville, NY, the sign never held any significance to me, but being Veteran’s Day, and heading to see some purely American music – bluegrass from Yonder Mountain String Band and Henhouse Prowlers – it brought a knowing smile to my face, and likely to those of other travelers headed to Bearsville Theater this evening.
Henhouse Prowlers, a five piece bluegrass outfit from Chicago were a well-received opener tonight, channeling Bill Monroe’s classic sound and spreading their music beyond our nation’s borders. There were original traditional numbers, such as Fool’s Carnival Song, with thoughtful lyrics and well-rounded between the five band members. What was truly intriguing this evening was learning that Henhouse Prowlers make a number of international tours through the State Department, bringing American Bluegrass to Africa (three tours so far), Russia, and soon Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Bringing back a little African music, they performed the Nigerian song “Chop my Money”, and as one would suspect, a lively tune, “Dancing Cures All.” The set ended with Todd Livingston’s dobro playing highlighted on the finale, a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.”
Yonder Mountain’s set opened with “Sideshow Blues” and a cover of Smokey Robinson’s
“I Second That Emotion” fit inside, with Jacob Joliff’s mandolin playing standing out among his bandmates, despite not overshadowing the others as the strings were rapidly strummed. “Things You’re Selling,” about televangelists, stood out in a lively set, as did “C’est La Vie”, featuring Allie Kral on vocals. Yonder brought up Todd Livingston and Dan Andree from Henhouse Prowlers for a stellar extended jam on “Angel” and a segue into the classic Grateful Dead tune, “Shakedown Street.” The second set was highlighted by covers of Son Volt’s “Drown,” and The Rolling Stones’ “Torn and Frayed,”, with originals “Looking Back Over my Shoulder” and “Sidewalk Stars” closing out the night.
Watch a performance of “Black Sheep” and “Insult and an Elbow” with a Q&A from Radio Woodstock, recorded earlier that day.
Set 1: Sideshow Blues > I Second That Emotion > Sideshow Blues, I’m Not Saying, Up For Brinkley’s, A Father’s Arms, Things You’re Selling, C’est La Vie, Angel* > Shakedown Street*
Set 2: Around You> Nothing But A Breeze > Drown, Walking Shoes^, Leavin’^, Torn And Frayed, My Gal, Night Out, All Aboard > Looking Back Over My Shoulder > Sidewalk Stars
Encore: Dominated Love Slave
*Todd Livingston on dobro & Dan Andree on fiddle
^Aaron Dorfman on guitar & Ben Wright on banjo