Yonder is one of those bands that’s difficult to define even though you know exactly where the four members – Jeff Austin (mandolin, vocals) Dave Johnston (banjo, vocals), Ben Kaufmann (bass, vocals) and Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals) – are coming from. Louder than most bluegrass bands but not exactly rock or country, YMSB has blazed its own trail since forming in 1998.
What can you expect from your first Yonder Mountain show? That depends on who you ask. While talking with Pollstar in 2011, Kaufman said Yonder may look like something akin to a bluegrass act, but once he and his cohorts begin playing, well, that’s another story.
“If someone has never heard us before, you can expect a band that looks like a bluegrass band in the sense that it has these acoustic, traditional instruments,” Kaufman told Pollstar. “You’re going to get volumes that are rock ’n’ roll volumes. Nobody is sitting down.”
But Kaufman is only one voice out of four. YMSB’s Austin had his own perspective on what first-timers might experience at one of the band’s gigs.
“You better come with shoes tied tight because it’s going to happen and it’s going to happen for a long, long time,” Austin said. “We don’t do a 75-minute set, thank everybody and come out for an encore or two. That’s our first set, about an hour and a half. Expect the unexpected and get ready to have a big f***in’ party.”
And you’ll have several chances to check out the band and its party-hearty ways. On the festival side of the schedule, look for YMSB in Live Oak, Fla., at the Suwannee Springfest March 24; Cumberland, Md., at Delfest May 25; Thornville, Ohio, at Hookahville May 26; Chillicothe, Ill., at the Summer Camp Music Festival May 27; Telluride, Colo., at the town’s annual Bluegrass Festival June 23; Grassy, Mo., at the Bloom Heavy’s Grassy Grumble June 29-30 and North Plains, Ore., at the Northwest String Summit at Horning’s Hideout Aug. 9-12.
Yonder Mountain String Band has also found a non-Colorado home in Ozark, Ark., where, for the third year in a row, the group will curate the annual Harvest Festival Oct. 11-13.
But festivals aren’t the only destinations on Yonder Mountain’s GPS this year. Upcoming headline stops include Lawrence, Kan., at Liberty Hall March 29; St. Louis at The Pageant March 30-31; Tulsa, Okla., at Cain’s Ballroom April 1; Oxford, Miss., at The Lyric April 4; New Orleans at House Of Blues April 6 and San Francisco at The Fillmore April 13-14.
Some shows are already on sale. Visit YonderMountain.com for more information.