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7/21/05, Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival, Trumansburg, NY

Setlist (courtesy donnabase.com)
Seems to Want to Hurt (started then stopped, called it a soundcheck), Way Back When, Living In Babylon, Positive Friction, Love and Gasoline, Family Picture, In Another World, Revolution, I Don't Need A Riddle,* 40 Days & 40 Nights, Rock Of Ages, Every Day, Hey Trudy,* If You Only Could, The Call
Encore: Went Down to the River

*with Deme Thomas of Keith Frank's band on scrubboard

By Jeff Bauer

I showed up at the Fairgrounds for my first GrassRoots ever shortly after 7 p.m. I figured I'd climb up into the Grandstands to get my bearings on where everything was located. After running into a few friends, I headed over to the Dance Tent and caught the first few songs of the Buvas. It was nice to see Jed Greenberg, as I hadn't seen him since the last time I'd seen him play with Donna in 2003.

After a few good tunes, however, I hightailed it down to the Grandstand and worked my way up to the front to enjoy Keith Frank. Even without Jennifer on bass, the band was great, but I decided to sit for most of the show to conserve some energy for Donna's set. After they ended I went over to check out the Art Barn, and then headed for the Infield.

Donna wasn't supposed to come on until 11:30 and I correctly assumed that meant they wouldn't start playing until midnight or so. I hung out near the front of the stage for a while and eventually saw Tom Clausen. We spent some time catching up and then shortly before Donna came on around 12:00 he wisely suggested that we move slightly back but into the center of the field, right in front of Gary's mic stands, where the sound was guaranteed to be best.

With the sky filled with an absolutely gorgeous full moon, the band came on and started to play Seems To Want To Hurt This Time. I was psyched because I'd heard that the version they'd played at Great Blue Heron a few weeks back was one for the ages, and I was hoping some of that energy would carry through to this night. Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties, and the band eventually stopped playing. When they restarted they played Way Back When, perhaps with a little bit of extra oomph to make up for the false start.

While Living In Babylon came next, things really started to get interesting for me with Positive Friction. The audience all sang along and though I didn't realize it at the time, the size of the crowd on this night would make for a much more intimate experience than when the band next played the Infield Stage on Saturday night. Lots of diehards enjoying the first Donna set of what was going to be a long and amazing weekend is exactly what it was.

Tara launched into Love and Gasoline next, and I was happy because when I'd seen the band play this song in Albany a week earlier, she screwed up the lyrics. This time she nailed it, and even though this song has been around since long before Life's A Ride, I'm convinced that the CD release has breathed new life into this particular tune.

I literally jumped up and down when I recognized the opening chords of In Another World. This is one of my favorite songs, and even though they've played it a bunch of times so far this year, I'd only heard it once before, and that was almost two years ago. To be perfectly honest, it started a little shaky, but the band hit its stride at about the midpoint, and finished it off nicely, trailing into Revolution as is their custom. "Take the love that you have and pass it from side to side..."

Next came accordion time, and Tara built up a comfortably hypnotic groove through I Don't Need A Riddle, which has been in heavy rotation recently. For this song the band was joined by Deme Thomas, the scrubboard player from Keith Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band.

40 Days & 40 Nights was superb, and whipped the dancers into a frenzy. After that we most definitely needed to be cooled down, and the band obliged with a pretty version of Rock of Ages. Every Day contain the spacey jam at the end that I've become quite fond of, though it seemed shorter than most versions.

Then it was time for more zydeco. Deme Thomas came back out on stage to play scrub while Donna pushed into absolutely high-octane version of Hey Trudy that had the entire Infield shakin it in a public place. Fun, fun, fun!

Back to Tara next, this time on guitar for If You Only Could. Then I was thinking they'd pick up the tempo again to close the set, but instead the band opted for Jeb's heartfelt The Call. After a very short break, the band sent us dancing into the night with Down To The River as the encore. All in all, it was a solid set, made even better by knowing it'd been only the first in many, many hours of great music to come.

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