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Album Review

Colorado-based neo-bluegrass quartet Yonder Mountain String Band are 11 years into their career and remain a unit with mixed intentions, the instrumentation of banjo, mandolin, guitar, and bass suggesting a bluegrass lineup minus the fiddle, although the group members' sensibility seems closer to Neil Young than Bill Monroe. Hence, they have attracted a following on the jam band circuit, but no attention to speak of from Nashville. Their fourth studio album, The Show, won't change things much. It's been produced by Tom Rothrock, whose other clients have included Beck and Foo Fighters, and he has given it a rock sound, focusing on giving rich body to Ben Kaufmann's bass even on the tracks (about half the album) when Elvis Costello sideman Pete Thomas isn't sitting in on drums. As is true of most bluegrass bands, however, the picking is what counts, not the songs, even though the players clearly intend otherwise. The album consists entirely of original compositions written by the bandmembers, and the CD booklet provides lyrics to them. Yet it's not Kaufmann's philosophical reflection "Complicated" ("I don't believe that/I was born this complicated"), nor guitarist Adam Aijala and banjoist Dave Johnston's declaration that "Rain Still Falls" that are most memorable here. It's the extended interaction the musicians exhibit in between the verses, suggestive of the jamming they get into on their several live albums and in their shows.

Customer Reviews

NO good

I appreciate bands I love trying something new (adding drums) but part of YMSB's originality is how well they jell together to put out the rhythm without the drums. I threw up in my mouth when I heard this version of Steep Grads, Sharp Curves.

Sub Par

I am a huge YMSB fan and will always be a loyal listener and follower of the band. However, this album did not strike my fancy. Its called Yonder Mountain String Band, not Yonder Mountain String Band plus the drums. Loose the drums and this is yet another great album from YMSB.

The Yonder Show

Another solid album by YMSB, a number of these songs they have been playing live for awhile. And though this might not be there best album ever it has songs that have helped make their live show this summer the best ever. Seeing the Yonder Mountain Sting Band in Telluride, Rockygrass and the Big Top Chautauqua makes for one fine summer. Its been great watching them progress over the last ten years from a little bluegrass band into what could be there generations Beatles. Seeing what happens when your dreams do come true. Looking forward to seeing them many more times.


Formed: 1998 in Nederland, CO

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Fusing bluegrass with elements of rock, progressive, and improvisational music, the Yonder Mountain String Band have become one of the most celebrated acts on the acoustic music scene, thanks to the group's inventive style and busy touring schedule. The group's story began in Urbana, Illinois, where Dave Johnston, a student at the University of Illinois, met fellow student Jeff Austin. Johnston played banjo in a local acoustic band called the Bluegrassholes, and when he learned Austin was a novice...
Full Bio