You would think a blackout that kills all the power to a performing arts center would be the end of a live concert that relied on amplification and colorful stage lighting.
That was the scenario facing The Tillers at the Yucaipa Performing Arts Center last Saturday night when the facility lost all power. The situation did not faze The Tillers one bit. They invited the audience to come in closer and finished out their second set in an “unplugged” fashion.
The audience obliged and moved to the front of the stage, where the members continued to dance the night away to the epic Bluegrass/Modern Folk sounds that echoed through the YPAC.
The Tillers have had the power go out on them before, so they knew just what to do.
“It has happened quite a few times,” said singer, songwriter, guitarist Sean Geil. “Luckily, we play acoustic instruments, and it doesn’t require electricity.”
Some bands don’t have to rely on the gimmick of a crazy light show or busting guitars on stage to capture an audience. Some bands have such a pure ability for storytelling in their songs, that they can stand and let the music do all the work. The Tillers are one of those rare bands.
Each of their songs captures the audience as if it were a tall tale around a campfire. The songs are pure, and the lyrics tell little stories of pure Americana. The haunting ballad “Willy Dear,” describes a Romeo and Juliet type of a tragedy about a woman who commits suicide after thinking her lover perished in an explosion on the riverboat he was working on. In the Romeo and Juliet twist, her lover comes home the next day on another ship.
Each song is real, and the lyrics are superb. “The Old General Store Is Burning Down,” tells the true story of the Rabbit Hash General Store built in Burlington, Ky., in 1831. It is an homage to the importance that a gathering place can have in a community. A place we go to meet up with friends and talk about the goings-on in a small town. The Rabbit Hash stands again after being rebuilt in 2017.
The Tillers are masters of their craft, and this was by far the best concert on the indoor YPAC stage this year. Masterful harmonies were on display, The vocals of Geil, and Mike Oberst floated to the rafters on pillows. Just flawless.
For information on upcoming events at the YPAC, go to www.yucaipaperformingarts.org