Yonder Mountain String Band

Fusing bluegrass with elements of rock, progressive, and improvisational music, the Yonder Mountain String Band have become one of the most celebrated acts on the acoustic music scene, thanks to the group's inventive style and busy touring schedule. The group's story began in Urbana, Illinois, where Dave Johnston, a student at the University of Illinois, met fellow student Jeff Austin. Johnston played banjo in a local acoustic band called the Bluegrassholes, and when he learned Austin was a novice mandolin player, he invited him to join. The Bluegrassholes proved to be short-lived, and Johnston decided to relocate to Boulder, Colorado, attracted by the city's active music scene. Austin also headed to Colorado, but instead settled in nearby Nederland, and when Johnston found out Austin lived nearby, he packed up his belongings and made the 17-mile journey to Nederland. Austin and Johnston soon crossed paths with a pair of like-minded musicians, guitarist Adam Aijala and bassist Ben Kaufmann. In December 1998, the new quartet adopted the name the Yonder Mountain String Band, and landed their first gig, opening for a band called Runaway Truck Tramps at Boulder's Fox Theater.