Front Range Roots 1

Backstage with the 
Yonder Mountain String Band.

Colorado has become a calling for great music; one can attend a concert while being immersed in the breathtaking scenery. As inspirational a night of music can be to attendees, consider the effect on the artists in residence. The community encourages new music, in turn, a genre of progressive bluegrass is embraced. Yonder Mountain String Band has risen alongside this genre, with members labeling Colorado home for nearly 20 years.

You will not hear YMSB via mainstream radio waves; the powerful frequency’s that they produce have a sustainable following. Since their first show, September of ’98 at Boulder’s Fox Theatre, the group has performed internationally and are headlining festivals. Yet, YMSB returns annually for a NYE run at the Boulder Theatre. Guitarist, Adam Aijala attributes much of the band’s confidence from the support of local fans.

“When we first started out, we were received so well, that gave us the confidence to leave the state and try the tour,” says Adam Aijala. “There was that acceptance of acoustic music especially. Bands like Salmon (Leftover Salmon) and String Cheese (The String Cheese Incident) were Front Range bands who helped paved the way for us.”

Songwriting mainly falls on the shoulders of the banjoist, Dave Johnston, and Aijala, who live in Boulder, practically in the same neighborhood. They act as creative catalysts and filters for one another. Both musicians practice and preach humility while writing new material. Stepping into the writing process with Dave and Adam, they are quick to admit they are lucky to have found each other, especially so early on. The two never force melody, tempo or lyrics, and welcome criticism openly. Between Dave’s notebooks and Adam’s voice memos, concepts can be traced back about a decade, almost two. Allowing ideas to steep and collect over time, there ends up being a significant amount of creative output to wade through. Thus one verse or melody is bound to synchronize.

In the process of releasing a new album, “Love. Ain’t Love,” YMSB is on tour Jan. 19th- Feb. 19th and March 15th – Feb. 8th. One of two music videos, in accordance with the new album, ‘Alison,’ is available on YouTube. As the band prefers playing different material each night, ‘Alison’ and ‘Bad Taste’ have already been played on stage. If you enjoy Red Rocks, be sure to catch them there along the tour. Dave and Adam have a contagious energy, grateful to be where they are and can’t wait to see what is to come.