Yonder Mountain String Band ends 2O11 with a massive five-night run
:: Yonder Mountain String Band ::
:: Boulder Theater :: December 27 - 31::
By Timothy Dwenger
There are a couple of little mountain towns up the canyons from Boulder with just the right number of hippies and local roughians to scare away the yuppies. It’s these towns that are some of the last known bastions for honest-to-god mountain bluegrass music. Mountain bluegrass is not that polished, every note in the right place, kind of bluegrass that comes outta Nashville, but the rough around the edges, whiskey soaked bluegrass that was sired by the likes of Vince Herman and Billy Nershi when they picked up where bands like New Grass Revival left off. Taking it upon themselves to have a little fun with an age-old art form, they opened the door to a whole new world of music that can safely call the wooded enclaves around Boulder home.
One of the biggest bands to come out of this scene is Yonder Mountain String Band. Long championed by Herman and his band Leftover Salmon, Yonder has taken the reigns that Herman and company maintained for so long and set off on their own course. It is a tough game to stay on top of and the boys in Yonder have had their troubles with well documented, almost tabloid worthy, riffs between band members. But today, it sounds like they are back on their game as the reports flood in from their fall tour that the band is getting along well onstage and everyone seems to be having the time of their lives.
“We are doing good, man. We kinda feel rejuvenated,” said guitarist Adam Aijala in a recent interview with The Marquee, just days after returning from a lengthy fall tour that took the band all over the East Coast and Midwest. “I don’t know what it is, we started writing a lot of new stuff, and I think that just having new material makes it more fun. I was digging through some old stuff recently and found some setlists from ’98 and thought, ‘Damn, that could be the first set of something we would do now.’ We’ve been playing some songs that long. I do get sick of songs, but you shelve them for a little while and then you do them again and they are fun, but having new material onstage makes it a lot more fun for sure!”
Aijala went on to say that while the band broke out several new songs back in April, there are a whole bunch more that still haven’t seen the light of day and may be debuted during the band’s upcoming five-night stand at the Boulder Theater leading up to, and including, New Year’s Eve. “We have a bunch of stuff in the pot, so to speak. There are a bunch of songs that are still stewing and not done yet, but we definitely have cool ideas,” Aijala said. “Dave has a new one that he wrote and showed me that we are really digging and I really like a lot. Jeff has a bunch of stuff that he does with 30db that he said he wants to start doing with us, Ben has a couple, and Dave and I have a ton of instrumentals if we wanted to start throwing those in. The point is, that we have a ton of material and there will be new stuff above and beyond what people have already been hearing.”
Despite all this new material that is bubbling to the surface, Aijala debunked a pretty strong rumor that a new Yonder Mountain String Band studio record is imminent. “There is nothing ready to go at this point. In fact, Jeff came up with this and I think it is really funny. He said, ‘We’re gonna be the reverse Beatles, we are only gonna tour and never release any more albums.’ He’s half joking, but a part of us is like, ‘We release every show that we do,’ so to us, we always have new stuff coming out,” he said. “We definitely have the material for a new record, that’s not an issue at all, it’s just trying to figure out all the details. We actually have plans to get together after Thanksgiving to talk about what we want to do; really think about it and try to come to a conclusion. I think another album sometime next year would probably be a safe bet.”
In the meantime, fans have an epic five night New Year’s stand to look forward to that will definitely whet many appetites and provide countless surprises. In fact, the recent announcement that the amazing Andy Hall (of The Infamous Stringdusters), the incredible Rushad Eggleston, the fabulous Futureman (of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones), and the inimitable Darol Anger, will all be joining them over the course of the run has only caused anticipation to run higher.
“When we decided to bring in guests, one of the things we didn’t want to do was bring in someone that played the same instrument as one of us in the band,” Aijala said. “So that rules out banjo, bass, mandolin, and guitar, so obviously Dobro and fiddle are the clear choices from there. Andy sat in with us in February when Dave broke his hand in Nashville and he just crushed it with no rehearsal. So he was an obvious choice. That guy is amazing. For fiddle, Darol was the obvious choice, he’s kind of our go-to guy. We like playing with other fiddle players as well, but Darol is the fifth member, so-to-speak.”
While the other two guests weren’t quite so easy to pick out, when Aijala shared the stories about why they were selected, he seemed equally excited about each one. “We picked with Futureman at The Sheridan Opera House in Telluride back in June and it felt really good so that seemed to be right,” he said before launching into the story that seemed like he had been itching to tell for days.
“We first met Rushad through Darol when we were playing Boston a few years ago. He said, ‘Put Rushad on the list and have him come down and pick with you.’ So we did,” remembered Aijala. “In September, we played up in western Mass and most of the guys flew home, but we had four days before our next show and I went down to visit my folks on the Cape to play golf with my dad. My mom had been at some of those shows in Boston when Rushad had played with us, and just killed it, and she was like, ‘Hey do you ever play with Rushad anymore?’ So that put it in my head. We hadn’t played with him in ages but I called him and I was like, ‘I don’t know if you are interested,’ and he came back with ‘That would be great!’ So I guess that part of it was my mom’s idea.”
As of press time the band hadn’t revealed who would be joining them on which nights, but Aijala did confirm that there are no additional special guests that haven’t yet been announced and went on to say: “There are four people, five nights, so we don’t really know how it all will play out just yet, but there will be guests every night.”
Sweetening the deal even further, he let us know that they have asked each one of these guys if there was anything specific they wanted to bring to the table for the run. “We told all these guys, ‘We have five nights and we don’t want to repeat anything, so if there are any songs that you guys do or that you want to learn, let us know and we can make room for a song or two a set.’”
With new songs, rejuvenated relationships, and a small army of “A-List” special guests, it sounds like the stage is set for an epic, and long overdue, Yonder New Year’s run in Boulder. While the band has played many year-end shows in Colorado, they haven’t rung in the New Year in Boulder since 2000, and they have never done it on the stage of the Boulder Theater. From the sounds of it, they are loose, primed, and ready to unleash some mountain bluegrass fury on the hippies, yuppies, and local roughians who will come together to dance away the last days of 2011 in Boulder.
:: Yonder Mountain String Band ::
:: Boulder Theater :: December 27 – 31::
Recommended if you Like:
• New Grass Revival
• Greensky Bluegrass
• John Hartford