Yonder Mountain String Band

Years at Winfield: 

2003 - There is bluegrass, new grass, slam grass and now JAMGRASS! Taking bluegrass where it has never gone before these four young players form Nederland, CO have in just a few short years, accomplished what many bands dream of achieving in a lifetime. The band has played such prestigious festivals as Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rockygrass, Berkshire Mountain Music Festival, Strawberry Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival and now the Walnut Valley Festival. Yonder has performed over 150 shows this past year. Expanding upon the traditional bluegrass arrangements and ballad-oriented songs, the banjo, guitar, stand-up bass, and mandolin quartet call their fast picking and high-energy brand of bluegrass, “drive with-out drums.” Another word for it might be “fully resonated bluegrass from the high country!”

Adam Aijala hails from Massachusetts and started playing electric guitar at the age of 13. While an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts, he studied forestry and graduated with a BS, but never gave up his love for the guitar. Adam found his passion for acoustic guitar listening to the Grateful Dead’s reckoning, Old and In the Way and of course Bob Dylan. An on-the-job injury forced him to play more music and this helped aid his way to Nederland, CO where he met Jeff and Dave. Dave Johnston spent his extra-curricular time at the University of Illinois learning the banjo. One year after he started he was playing gigs. He decided he needed to move to the Northwest in order to hone his banjo playing and was eventually drawn to Boulder, CO’s acoustic music scene. Yonder Mountain String Band has created further opportunities for Dave to stretch out on the banjo. Dave says his goal in life “is to become an ambassador of acoustic related music as well as a respected traditional bluegrass banjo player. Jeff Austingrew up in Elk Grove, IL and spent his college studies at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. As fate would have it, he met Dave Johnston who asked him to sing in his band. Despite his lack of bluegrass experience and instrument skills Jeff agreed. And when he said he owned a mandolin, Dave told him to bring it along. Austin studied by ear and points to Roland White, John Duffy, Sam Bush and David Grisman as influences. “It’s all about inspiration and listening,” says Jeff. His goal is to take the music where it has never gone before. Ben Kaufmann was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Stow MA. He started playing piano at age three, but it was not until 6th grade that the bass finally came into Ben’s life. He started playing rock in high school and later picked up the acoustic upright bass when he played with his dad’s big band. College took Ben to New York University where he studied film before finding bluegrass in Boulder, CO. Ben responded to a “bass player wanted” ad and after a six month education in bluegrass, new grass and acoustic genres, he moved on to other bands and developed his writing and singing skills which eventually led to his being spotted by Jeff Austin.