The Yonder Mountain String Band (abbreviated YMSB and referred to by some as just “Yonder”) is an American progressive bluegrass group from Nederland, Colorado. Composed of Dave Johnston, Ben Kaufmann, Adam Aijala, and Jeff Austin the band has released five studio albums and several live recordings to date.
Having met in Urbana, Illinois, Johnston requested Austin to join and sing in his band The Bluegrassholes. Austin, who played no instrument, revealed to Johnston that he owned a mandolin, who then told him to come to the performance and “play anything, just play fast and loud.”
After the collapse of The Bluegrassholes, Johnston moved to Boulder, Colorado, in order to further his bluegrass musical skills. Similarly, Austin moved to Colorado, but instead took up residence in Nederland. Johnston soon joined him there. It was during this time in Nederland that Johnston and Austin met bassist Ben Kaufmann and guitarist Adam Aijala at a local club named the Verve. In December 1998, the four musicians formed Yonder Mountain String Band which was to open for a band at the Fox Theatre in Boulder. They have since developed both a bluegrass and jam band fanbase, and can often be found on tour. Their debut album Elevation was released on Frog Pad Records, an independent record label run by the band, in fall 1999.
From 1999 to 2001 they performed as one of the many attractions at NedFest, a music festival held in the band’s hometown. By 2000, the group was also playing larger venues, such as The Fillmore in San Francisco, California. The band has released several live albums with material from live performances, but fans are welcome to record the concert they attend for themselves, as the band is taper-friendly. Check out the high quality DAT recordings of years 2000-2003 provided by “integral part”, Josh Parsons.
In 2005, their recording of “Think for Yourself” was included on the album This Bird Has Flown – A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul.
In 2008, the band performed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
In 2010, it was revealed that Yonder Mountain would host its very own music festival at Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, Arkansas called Yonder Mountain’s Harvest Festival. This is the same site where the larger Wakarusa festival is held and where the previous Mulberry Mountain Harvest Fest was held. The festival is back again in 2011 during October 13 through the 16th. As well as Yonder Mountain on the top bill for three nights, the headliners includes Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the Simcha Aknin Band, Railroad Earth and the Emmitt-Nershi Band.
In April 2014 it was revealed that Jeff Austin would be leaving the band due to creative differences.