Fourmile Benefit with Phish guest appearances, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain, Leftover Salmon

Categories: Jam Bands, Photos

Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon from Phish performing last night.

Yonder Mountain String Band • Big Head Todd and the Monsters
The String Cheese Incident • Leftover Salmon • members of Phish
10.09.10 | 1STBANK CENTER

The Fourmile Canyon Revival Benefit started its quick life as a small, Thursday night production at the Boulder Theater and wound up being one of the biggest nights of Colorado music in years -- raising more than $300,000 for the Boulder Mountain Fire Relief Fund.

Leftover Salmon kicked off the evening last night at the First Bank Center in Broomfield, with String Cheese bassist Keith Moseley sitting in from the get-go. Guitarist Vince Herman was in fine form (read: not over-served). Always loud and boisterous as always on stage, Vince led the band through some classic salmon slamgrass with mandolin master Drew Emmitt shredding away on the solos.

Phish's Page McConnell joined Salmon on stage after a few songs, sitting in next to keyboardist Bill McKay for the Cajun-influenced Mama Boulet. Washboard player Bonne Crane from Elephant Revival came out next, joining the band in a rousing version of "High on a Mountain Top," with McConnell taking the bluegrass piano lead in the tune. The two keyboardists really shined during Salmon's last tune. McKay's "Just keep Walking" is a bluesy piano romp with boogie-woogie piano that had McConnell throwing down soulful Hammond organ lines over McKay's barroom.

Yonder Mountain.JPG
Jason Nickel
Yonder Mountain String Band last night.
After Salmon's set, stage hands began the massive shuffle of instruments and amplifiers to get Yonder Mountain String Band on stage. Usually, the percussion-less band is very bare-bones on stage -- with only four amplifiers and four microphones -- but as YMSB mandolin player Jeff Austin mentioned in an interview last week, their stage setup for Fourmile included a drum kit. As the crews worked, scenes of slurry bombers dropping chemicals on the Fourmile Fire were shown on the massive digital curtain that hangs above and to the side of each band.

Yonder Mountain took the stage to a huge roar, which didn't help their muddy sound issues in the first tune. By the end of "Too Late Now," however, sound engineer Ben Hines had dialed in the band and the crisp, flowing guitar solos of Adam Aijala were coming through loud and clear. The band dipped into the distance-appropriate "40 Miles to Denver," with most all of the crowd singing along during the chorus. After getting warmed up, the band brought out Phish drummer Jon Fishman for the rest of the set. Fishman, who has an amazingly light jazz touch to his playing, filled out the band's sound through songs like "Pockets" and "Steep Grades, Sharp Curves." Austin took time between songs to point out the two sections of seats that had been reserved for firefighters and volunteers.

"You guys are some bad-ass motherfuckers," he said to the firefighters and their families. "I'll take you on my team any damn day of the week." The highlight of Yonder's set was the cover of the Talking Heads' "Girlfriend is Better," a song that Fishman has played with the band in the past but not to this level. The song went into an extended drum and stand-up bass jam with bassist Ben Kauffman before meandering into the reggae-inspired "Two Hits," John Hartford's song about rolling one up and smoking it down. Kauffman slyly teased a pot-related Phish song, "Makisupa Policeman" in the opening bass solo, which Austin picked up on and later inserted the first line of the Phish tune into the Hartford song. Yonder's set lasted just over an hour before the great shuffle began again, this time to get risers in place for Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

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