After nearly two months off the road Yonder Mountain String Band returned with a week’s worth of dates that lead up to hosting its Harvest Music Festival, Oct. 17-19, at Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, Arkansas.
“The recent break’s for home and family time,” said guitarist/vocalist Adam Aijala, who along with Jeff Austin, Ben Kaufmann and Dave Johnston spend a good portion of each year crisscrossing the country.
The progressive bluegrass band did some recording during its time off the road and recently released “YMSB EP ’13,” which is available on iTunes.
“I'm really happy with how it turned out and it's making me want to make more time to get back in the studio. We have tons of material that's not on any studio records not to mention ideas in the making. A full record is definitely past due, I know. Stay tuned.”
Similar to the Colorado-based act headlining three nights of the Northwest Summit last July, the quartet offers lengthy sets each day at Harvest. Aijala admitted, “We're not really involved in the operations of either event but we do give our input on what bands we'd like to have with us.”
The Harvest lineup should please the members of YMSB as well as festivarians. It includes Tedeschi Trucks Band, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, Railroad Earth, Beats Antique, JJ Grey and Mofro, Justin Townes Earle, Greensky Bluegrass, Elephant Revival, Everyone Orchestra, Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien, Kacey Musgraves, Hot Buttered Rum with Allie Kral, Hot Club of Cowtown, Mike Dillon Band, Kopecky Family Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Ha Ha Tonka and Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds.
Together 14 years, Yonder Mountain String Band has been actively touring nationwide in opening and headlining slots as well as becoming veterans of the growing music festival scene. Aijala elaborated on the different approaches between playing for an audience that’s there specifically to see his band versus maintaining the attention of a festival crowd.
“A full, two-set show allows us to breathe easier because we have more time, and it enables us to create a good ebb and flow type of show. A festival set is generally more action-packed due to a strict time restraint. Not to say we won't perform longer jams in either scenario, but the festival set has more flow than ebb, if you know what I mean.”
Settled in at Harvest, should put YMSB in a mood to give fans maximum jams as well as dig deep into cover versions. Besides originals, the group has given its taken on songs by the Beatles, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan.
“We generally look for more obscure songs and there's really no template,” said Aijala. “I also can't think of a time when someone brought in a cover and we didn't play it at least once.
“Sometimes, you need to play it on stage to see if it "works". I'll use "Gut Feeling" by Devo as an example since it's one of the more recent songs we've been covering. Devo is a well known band but the song is not. It's a great chord progression and Jeff does a great job on the vocals. Good enough for Yonder.”
And what’s good enough for Yonder is usually more than good enough for its fans.
For more information, visit yonderharvestfestival.com.