Yonder Mountain String Band is coming to Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre at 9 tonight to liven things up. Given the band’s rave reputation for live shows as well as four live records, the concert will be the perfect remedy for middle-of-the-week boredom.
Yonder Mountain is comprised of four members, each with an innate sense of creativity on his respective instrument: Adam Aijala on guitar, Jeff Austin on mandolin, Dave Johnston on banjo and Ben Kaufmann on bass. They got together in Colorado in December of 1998, and they have been writing and touring together ever since.
In May 2006, Yonder Mountain released their self-titled album, making it the group’s fourth full-length record. The album marked an important time for the band; with this recording they rose to whole new levels of innovation. It was the first time they had spontaneously written most of the songs. The band members would get together in the studio and improvise for hours; therefore, the album gives listeners an idea of the energy and emotion the band will evoke during the concert.
“I’ve seen them live once before. They were so energetic and involved the crowd in a huge way. It was so solid,” Michael McCall freshman in communication studies said.
Their blend of traditional elements and fresh instrumentals satisfies listeners of all different musical cravings.
“The great thing about Yonder is that through the jams, through the more progressive, rocked-up songs, they are exposing a whole new generation to the great bluegrass tradition we have in this area and in this country,” Luke Brogden, publicity intern for AC Entertainment, said.
Terms such as “energy” and “crowd involvement” can be lent to many bands when it comes to live performances, but there are those rare characteristics that set Yonder Mountain String Band apart. For instance, during random jams, it is a common occurrence for mandolinist Jeff Austin to jump into scat.
Aside from that, Yonder Mountain encourages its fans to tape the band’s shows and share the recordings with other loyal listeners. Not only does this make a strong statement about the band’s connection with their fans, but it also attests to the fact that the hearts of the Yonder Mountain members lie deeply rooted in the love of the music instead of the business behind it.
With bluegrass as one of the root forms of music in East Tennessee, the Yonder Mountain String Band concert should attract a good number of people. Colorado-grass is similar to bluegrass, just a little higher and lonelier, but it translates well to Tennessee crowds.
“I’ll be there Wednesday night with bells on,” Brogden said.
Tickets for tonight’s show are $25 at the door.

Leah Forbus
Staff Writer