Yonder Mountain String Band 12.27.13
Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)
Audio By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings)
Yonder Mountain String Band Live at Boulder Theater on December 27, 2013.
Davey Johnson's banjo playing was better than usual. He seemed to ride the groove a little more confidently than he did at the Red Rocks show this past summer. In a band with such copious talent, Davey held his own, and I wondered if he had been practicing harder lately, or if he just had a good night. One thing was for sure... He could easily have been mistaken as Chris Parnell from Saturday Night Live. Ho ho. Ben Kauffman has long been my favorite songwriter in the band. His ability to craft story lines into beautiful melodies was impressive. With clear, comfortable vocals and impeccable bass-playing, Ben's contribution to the band has been as powerful as any. At times he made his stand-up bass sound electric with his heavy handed slapping and effected tones. He also seemed to be incredibly friendly, approachable, down-to-earth, and genuine.
It took me a while to realize how amazing Adam Aijala's guitar playing was, but the last two shows I've seen, he has been simply fantastic. While it took him a bit to get his sound dialed in, he played crunchy licks with such fervor I half-expected to see smoke rising from the strings. Equally as quick as Jeff Austin, Adam's playing was slightly more refined, classical, and controlled. Aside from his skill in the spotlight, he and Ben Kauffman seem to be the wall on which Jeff Austin hangs his abstract musical paintings. Integral to the foundation, Adam may have been the mortar that kept these bricks together.
With the first of 5 nights ending with "New Speedway Boogie", I was happy to have had a taste of Yonder in my holiday plans. Highlights of the show included covers of Willie Nelson's "Good Hearted Woman," the Dead's "Jack a Roe" and the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" as well as an inspired "Snow on the Pines." Futureman from the Flecktones came out to finish the night off and opened the door for 5 nights of special guests, collaborations, and celebrations. Yonder Mountain String Band found themselves a great New Year's Run venue with the Boulder Theater. In an area that is over saturated with New Year's options, Yonder has earned their place year after year.
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