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Yonder Mountain String Band keeps the joy coming

The Roxy, Boston, Oct. 21, 2004

By Jeffrey B. Remz

BOSTON - The gleeful spirit infiltrating Boston since Wednesday night made its way to the Yonder Mountain String Band concert from the get go.

Lead singer and mandolinist Jeff Austin told the happy crowd, "Hello joyful city of Boston, Mass.," he said. "It was great in this city watching what was happening."

And what was happening, of course, was that the long suffering Red Sox snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to beat the Yanks and go to the World Series.

Now nothing so exciting resulted during the two sets covering 2 1/2 plus hours played by the boys from Colorado, but they did spread their joy in plenitude.

None of the four members of the Yonder Mountain String Band proved to be an unbelievable musician in concert, but like the Red Sox, they are more of a team than a superstar-only led outfit.

Yonder Mountain really is a souped up bluegrass band with enough edge that bluegrass purists would not exactly embrace their sound, while those looking for a bit more oomph are more than happy to do so.

Considered for better or worse part of the jam band scene, the four guys who comprise the Colorado-based band know their place whether playing or singing.

Austin is the main guy, and he does a good job. He, like the other members, gives a sense of warmth about him in playing and talking. He sings well enough - none of the Yonder boys are extraordinary singers, but they each do the job well enough (all sing) to put the songs across.

The music itself is quite easy to get into. There's a bounce and movement to the proceedings. "At the End of the Day" was a particular highlight. Sometimes bassist Ben Kaufmann will set a thumping backbeat to power the songs. Other times, Austin on mandolin, Dave Johnston on banjo or Adam Aijala on acoustic guitar will breath life into the songs.

And they didn't stick strictly to bluegrass. They encored with Todd Snider's "Good News blues," a bluesy song, obviously, and did a good job with it.

Since they are part of the jam band grouping, of course, this is part of the repertoire. Interestingly though, a few times, songs seemed to come to their end a bit too suddenly, but at least on one occasion, a 20-minute or so long song proved to be a bit too hard to maintain total listener concentration. On the other hand, Yonder Mountain jammed for awhile on "Easy As Pie," but didn't overdo it.

Their crowd stayed with them. And they obviously know their audience as they played a new song or two that will be on their next album.

The quartet wasn't afraid to share the stage either as they brought on strong opener Darrell Scott (best known for songs recorded by the Dixie Chicks and Travis Tritt) and his mandolinist Nick Forster for several well done songs and later a guitarist, Brad Barr, with New England-based jam band The Slip.

Even if the Red Sox hadn't won, the Yonder Mountain String Band would have been enough to put their fans in a good mood.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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