Yonder Mountain String Band is back on the concert trail
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Adam Aijala of Yonder Mountain String Band performs at Penn's Peak last year. YMSB returns to The Peak stage Friday night.
Listeners of The Show, Yonder Mountain String Band's fifth and most recent studio album, might have registered a bit of surprise at the rhythmic backdrop of some of the songs.
While the Colorado-based band might explore new directions while recording, fans should note the quartet has no plans to change what works in the concert setting.
"You really get across the board reviews," said Adam Aijala, guitarist for Yonder Mountain, which is making another appearance at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe Friday night. "Some people liked it, some people didn't. I think the songs are good.
"If you can mix it up in the studio, you might as well. With technology, you can mess around with certain things."
On stage, however, YMSB remains the same genre-defying foursome that started out 12 years ago and has built up a rabid following for its freewheeling take on bluegrass and acoustic jam band music.
"It's high energy music," said Aijala. "We're not a band of perfectionists. We are going for the big picture."
YMSB includes Aijala, mandolin player Jeff Austin, banjo player Dave Johnston and stand-up bass player Ben Kaufman. All four members sing and contributed songs to The Show.
Concert performances remain the band's forte.
"We don't know when our next record will be," admitted Aijala. "We have never been super successful with selling records. The way things are going with seling records anyway, there's no rush for it."
Yonder fanatics who are looking for a recording can just make one of any of their shows, or else obtain a live recording.
"We record every show, and you can buys every show of ours on the Yonder Mountain website," noted Aijala. "People are also still allowed to record our shows, but we have good recordings mixed right from our soundboard."
The Peak remains one of YMSB's favorite venues. "It's a fun room," related Aijala. "I always say we should do two nights there," he added.
It is not in Yonder's philosophy to shortchange their fans. Those who follow YMSB on the road can always look forward to something fresh each night out.
"We pay a lot of attention to that," stressed Aijala. "We are one of the best bang for your bucks band out there. It sucks when you pay $40-$50 and they do a 75 minute set with two encores. We pretty much play two full 90 minute sets of music each night.
"We do our setlist that day. We got some new stuff we're working on, or at least some newer material, if it's not brand new. For people who really know the music, they look forward to the setlist, because it's never the same. We don't play the same song two nights in a row, unless it's something we're working on and we want to get it under our belts."
Outside of The Show, the biggest change with the band has been that Johnston is a new father and that he took some time off to be with his wife and the newborn baby. Aijala and Kaufman performed as a duo during a five-night stand while YMBS was taking a break.
For now, Yonder is back on the road doing what it does best.
"We have the same mentality as every year. We just got out and get after it," said Aijala. "That's what they come out for. It's a fun time and a product of the music we do. We're a traveling party."
Tickets for Yonder Mountain String Band at Penn's Peak on Friday, June 4 are $17 in advance and $22 the day of the show for general admission seating. Tickets are available on-line and www.ticketmaster.com, at Ticketmaster outlets including Boscov's and Gallery of Sound, and at the Penn's Peak box office and Roadies Restaurant. Call the box office at (866) 605-PEAK for more information.