El Bicho's Hive

A Collection of Reviews Covering the Worlds of Art and Entertainment alongside other Snobbish Ramblings.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Yonder Mountain String Band
Frog Pad Records

The latest installment of YMSB’s Mountain Tracks series is Volume 3, a live two-CD set recorded at the 2003 Kinfolk Celebration; the Kinfolk are the loyal followers of YMSB, which sounds much better than Yonder-heads. These shows took place on Sept. 12-13 at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, Colorado, the band’s home state, and each disc represents the best of each day although the songs aren’t in the order they were played, but the listener would never notice.

YMSB are Dave Johnson on banjo, Adam Aijala on guitar, Jeff Austin on mandolin and Ben Kaufmann on bass, and for these shows fiddle player Darol Anger joined them for their entire sets. They play bluegrass while bringing a jamband sensibility to the music. They cover traditional and contemporary bluegrass and all members contribute to the writing of their songs.

They are at their best when playing live in front of an audience because they are very playful and unpredictable on stage. You can hear the fun they and the crowd are having. “If There’s Still Ramblin’ in the Rambler (let him go)” comes to an abrupt end so the guys can throw back shots of Jagermeister or maybe whiskey. Sometimes, they slip in lyrics out of the blue from unexpected sources, such as The Sound of Music or The Muppet Show. On the end of disc one, they honor Messrs. Johnny Cash and John Ritter who both died that day. They played “Ring of Fire,” and ended with in a snippet of the theme from Three’s Company.

Kinfolk will certainly enjoy these discs, and this album is a perfect intro to the band for bluegrass fans who have yet to discover them. For those new to the bluegrass, YMSB are good entry points to learn whether or not you like the genre. If you like music, you will appreciate their skills and passion. Samples can be heard at their website.

YMSB allows taping at their shows, so if you like these two discs, you can find the entire concerts from these days, and others, online, but make sure you buy these discs and help support the band.