While several jokes were made throughout the night in reference to the tigers, no tigers were actually present for the Yonder Mountain String Band show at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley. And although you can’t actually see them from your seat in the Weesner Family Amphitheater, I like to believe that the tigers and other animals are close enough to hear and enjoy the summer Music in the Zoo concert series as much as I do.
The evening started out a little warm, but it quickly turned into a beautiful summer night for an outdoor show. The band started promptly at 7:30pm and played strong for nearly three hours, with just a brief intermission.
From the moment I arrived, I knew I was going to enjoy this night. Looking around, the amount of facial hair alone intrigued me. Everywhere I turned, I saw smiles. And that’s when I realized I was smiling too! This high energy, American progressive bluegrass band from Nederland, Colorado, composed of Dave Johnston, Ben Kaufmann, Adam Aijala, Allie Kral, and Jacob Joliff, created an energy that was contagious. This music made people happy!
Loyal fans were not only dancing in their seats, but they were quickly filling up the space in front of the stage, where all ages were enjoying a makeshift dance floor. Everywhere you looked, heads were bobbing and the crowd was jiving along as each of the five members of the band took turns with lyrics. The various vocal strengths were impressive on their own, but their impeccable synchronization was astounding!
My eyes were quickly drawn to their fingers, and I found myself wondering, how they can move that fast? I realized I was watching true artists, fully engulfed in their music, talent overflowing! Mandolin player Jacob Joliff played so fast and intently, even his own band couldn’t comprehend how he does it. Allie Kral on the fiddle was equally impressive. Between their voices and the multiple instruments, every member of the band, individually, as well as a whole, should be commended. This is a band I would see live again, any day.
The few times the jams began to get a little long for my liking, I found my mind wandering to other things, but it was brought back by screams and claps from the crowd! As the night neared its end, those still in their seats were raised to their feet by a song called “Dancing in the Moonlight,” and they did exactly that, right up to the very last minute. Shows at the zoo are on a tight curfew. Those tigers have to get to bed!