Setlist: Yonder Mountain String Band at the Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR – 3/18/16Set 1: Mental Breakdown> Sometimes I’ve Won, Nothin’ But A Breeze, Near Me, Blue Collar Blues> Wheel Hoss> Blue Collar Blues, If It Hadn’t Been For Love, Around You> Robots> Around You Set 2: Traffic Jam> I Second That Emotion> Traffic Jam, Love Before You Can’t, Sister Golden Hair, This Lonesome Heart, Years With Rose> Finally Saw The Light, Fingerprint, Summer In The City, Scent Of A Mule> Only A Northern SongEncore: White FreightlinerCheck out a full gallery of photos from our own Rex Thomson below Load remaining images Yonder Mountain String Band brought their never ending road odyssey to Portland, Oregon’s fabled Crystal Ballroom last Friday, March 18th for a homecoming show for their two newest members. Mandolinist Jake Jolliff was all smiles as he worked the crowd before the show, greeting friends and family members with smiles, hugs and promises of wonderful music to come. Illinois transplant and fiery fiddler Allie Kral was happy to be in her new home town, even if it was just for the night. The site of Yonder’s visit, the Crystal Ballroom, has seen every type of act imaginable in its hundred plus years of existence, starting as a dance hall and vaudeville stage before hosting thousands of concerts from some of music’s most legendary acts, from Tina Turner to some of the first shows from the Grateful Dead. Though the past belonged to many, this night belonged to Yonder and they weren’t planning on letting go.Yonder left nothing to chance, utilizing their tried and true blend of crowd favorite originals, inventively reworked covers and instrumental interludes that ranged in tone from transcendental to furious. Bassist Ben Kaufmann handled most of the stage patter as usual, using his “Aw Shucks” demeanor to effortlessly connect with the crowd and repeatedly thank them for their support. Adam Aijala and Dave Johnston, Kaufmann’s fellow original members shared not just the vocal duties on the nights tunes but the wide, satisfied smiles that rarely left their faces as they rocked through the night’s songs. Their deceptively mellow demeanor belied the intricate and passionate fret board work the pair demonstrated all night long. Kinfolk favorites “Traffic Jam” and “Robots” were complimented by inspired takes on America‘s “Sister Golden Hair,” The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City,” Phish’s “Scent Of A Mule,” The Beatles’ “Only A Northern Song,” and a crowd pleasing, boogie down sing-a-long version of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion.”The 2.0 version of Yonder has gelled into a remarkably varied ensemble, capable of bringing a sense of newness to their older material and an unpredictability to the direction of their newest songs. Kral’s majestic, droning chords during “Around You,” the closer to the first set of music, were counterpointed with an eastern modality plucked by Johnston that seemed more at home in some distant, mystical land than at a bluegrass show. Jolliff, whose speed and dexterity can transition from a slow simmer to an overflowing boil seemed to relish the opportunity to play for so many familiar faces and he made each solo a memorable event. Fellow newcomer Allie Kral’s emergence as a powerful vocalist in her own right has added yet another dimension to Yonder, and her all out assault on the encore rendition of the bluegrass standard White Freigtliner had the near capacity crowd on their feet and begging for more. Thought the show was sadly over despite their cheers, since the Yonder Mountain String Band will be back to the area for the Northwest String Summit in just a few short months, they won’t have to wait too much longer for another chance to dance up a storm. The night got started by another act destined for the stages of Horning’s Hideout during the String Summit, Washington’s Polecat. This five piece Americana bluegrass fusion wasn’t afraid to get things riled up, though they were also adept at painting trance like sonic landscapes. Their drummer Karl Olson managed to stir the mix gently and unobtrusively, while still being able to ring the thunder, a much needed talent in a band that wants to vary their sound as much as Polecat does. They showcased a number of songs from their forthcoming album, as well as tunes from their previous releases. Loyal supporters were treated to a couple of special guests, with Kat Fountain on harmonica and Paul from MarchFourth! on trumpet to help make a memorable set even more impressive.