7/11/09 Ribfest, Fletcher, NC

Ring of Fire, Locket and Key, Family Picture, Funkyside, Beauty Within, Ding Dang Dong, Why Do You Want to Leave Me? (Crowd sings "Happy Birthday" to Tara), It's Love Time, Blue Sky, Magic of Love, The Ones You Love, West Virginia Rastafari, If You Only Could, 40 Days & 40 Nights, No Place Like the Right Time
Encore: To Have and to Hold,* Hey Trudy**

*Jeb and Tara only
**full band, Ira Bernstein on scrubboard

View photos of this show

By Paul Roberge

Intuitively, an event called Ribfest seemed an improbable venue for a Donna show. It was held at the Fairgrounds of the Western NC Agricultural Center, about 7 miles south of Asheville. The atmosphere was a mix of small-time county fair (rides, cotton candy, carnival games) and pork. For the carnivore, Ribfest offered varied and abundant barbeque fare, though lines were long. My daughter was very satisfied with the ribs that she obtained at an emporium based in Chattanooga. My pulled pork sandwich (with a mild sauce) was also quite good. A shower passed through and lasted about 30 minutes. We had the good fortune of having found seats under a tent, where we were eating our food. But the shower passed through, and the weather was a nonfactor for the rest of the evening.

At our table were a group of five young people (early 20s) from Asheville, three of whom were seeing Donna for the first time. They were incredibly nice, and the newbies were clearly very excited. I recall feeling the same sense of anticipation before my first live show years ago (and I was in my early 50s at the time).

The show itself was mellow and enjoyable on every level. Four new songs were performed this evening: It's Love Time and Magic of Love are crystalizing quite nicely. Ding Dang Dong and Why Do You Want to Leave Me, which made their debut last weekend at Great Blue Heron, I believe, have great promise. And now Jeb's To Have and to Hold (John Yust and Linda Dicus provided the working title, which Jeb very graciously confirmed for me afer the show.) It's a bittersweet ballad, with some stirring imagery ("drawn to your fire, out of the cold").

The Ones You Love was a pleasant surprise. West Virginia Rastafari was a birthday request, I believe.

Random notes: I thought Vic Stafford played quite well, especially on If You Only Could and Hey Trudy. I continue to appreciate, indeed admire, what David McCracken brings to the band. There were some sound issues (e.g., Jeb's mic cut out during Magic of Love). Tara's amp was adorned with a vase of flowers and ballons in recognition of her birthday.

I think what made this such a pleasant evening was that the show felt like a reunion of friends--the band, band family and associates, and so many fine folks in this Herd -- in the cool evening air of the North Carolina mountains, with mist and fog rolling in to heighten the effect. It was just so nice to be in the company of these gentle people.

Well, that's the report from Asheville. G'night all.

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