We thought we were awfully lucky as the predicted snow fall hadn’t materialized as we wanted to have dinner with friends in Coon Valley half an hour away followed by an evening of music farther east in Viroqua.

Dinner ran a bit late and we decided to travel in two cars as our eventual route home would then be faster. We also weren’t real familiar with the shortest way so our friends led the way on the dark county highway.

We weren’t barely a mile away when they slowed as our headlights caught deer darting both in front and behind their car. We came to a standstill as white tails popped up on both the fields flanking the road field above and below. One deer decided to cross back in front of our car and another ran back in front of their car. The activity dissipated and our friends continued slowly forward for a couple hundred yards until they put on their blinkers and pulled over.

The driver’s door was kicked open and then we knew what we hadn’t seen, one of the deer had collided with the driver’s front side. Deer are famous for sideswiping. Some molding was dragging on the tire but once removed it was drivable. Don’t ask me how but we arrived before the concert started, but we did.

Two cousins called The Iowans whom we have never had the pleasure of hearing before opened for the Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers. The Iowans played a couple of covers in their set but mostly their own music. They were delightful.

The Iowans

Now for the second side swiping…

After a refreshment break the Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers took the stage but I did a double take as I would have never recognized them. Their retro 50’s look had morphed into a country duo of a honky town sequined bobbed haired Nikki and mustached cowboy hat toting Joe. Nobody had warned us.

Joe’s Alfalfa look and Nikki’s braids/buns and sinched waistline dresses had been replaced. We had loved their old schtick but it’s understandable musicians grow and want to change personas just like anybody else.

When they started playing, their music and humor were still there. They shared their new tunes but if truth be told the subject matter had a new edge. Catchy and very clever as we’ve come to expect with more obvious country themes of love, loss, cheating, drinking, etc… One could feel the unease of the senior crowd around us as the catchy refrain of Jeeeesus Christ, can’t a lady just have a drink? was repeated. But, it was funny.

Nikki and Joe won the room over with Nikki’s fiddling and vocals along with Joe’s picking and some yodeling thrown in for good measure. As I have told you before they are very talented musicians and song writers. Nikki ‘s voice has quite a range and her fiddling is show stopping. Joe’s completes the duo with his candor and guitar and mandolin playing.

The two explained their growth and new performing approach also included moving and making home farther south in St. Louis. Super sad… Promises were made to return for Larryfest but shucks your Coulee fans will miss you two!

Thanks for the memories since 2014 for us starting with the Old Variety Show, Driftless Bookstore, Great River Folk Festival, Coulee Concert Flood Fundraising and other festivals throughout the years.

Wishes for continued success wherever your paths shall take you…

You’re great entertainers!

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