Yonder Mountain String Band Continues to Make Magic.

Published on March 16, 2019
Emily Butler Photography

Yonder Mountain String Band kicked off the 2nd week of their 2019 Spring Tour with a midweek show at the 20th Century Theater in Cincinnati, OH. The night started with the Fireside Collective from Asheville, North Carolina. Formerly Jesse Iaquinto and the Fireside Collective, Jesse takes center stage with mandolin and vocals. Among Jesse, the Collective is comprised of Carson White on bass, Tommy Maher on dobro, Joe Cicero on guitar, and Alex Genova on banjo. The Fireside Collective played tracks from their first two records while adding a stellar cover of Bob Marley’s Is This Love? and a tight rendition of Uncle John’s Band.

Yonder Mountain bassist Ben Kaufmann, guitarist Adam Aijala, 5-string banjo plucker Dave Johnston, fiddler Allie Kral, and mandolinist Jacob Jolliff took the stage just after 9 o’clock. As of lately, Yonder has been scrapping the set breaks and giving their fans a single but longer set which clocked an hour and 45 minutes. This one saw them dive into a Rambler’s Anthem followed by Tom Petty’s I Need to Know, letting Jake Jolliff take lead vocals for the first time in the evening. They went back to other older songs in their catalog with Fingerprint from their album The Show, and the core of the group (Adam, Ben, and David) showed off the improvisational mastery they have perfected by more than two decades of relentless touring while Allie finally busted the crowd out of their midweek blues with a peaking fiddle solo. The Adam Aijala tune All the Time rom their EP showcasing a song from each member came next followed up by the mid-set sing-alongs How ’bout You? off of Sidewalk Stars and a cover of Blind Melon’s song No Rain featuring Allie on vocals.

The last time Allie Kral was at the 20th Century Theater was back when she was in her previous band Cornmeal – and just as she did for years with her previous outfit, she took over the stage with her charisma and fiddle prowess for much of the night. Ben gave a shout out to all the other venues they’ve played in the area over the 20 past years such as the Madison Theater, Southgate House, and Moonlite Gardens with the fireworks going off behind them on the 4th of July.

Photos by Emily Butler Photography. Adam Aijala photo by DeWook Photography.

Not extending much of No Rain to stick close to the original, Adam started strumming the chords for the Jail Song and then they went into a heavy-handed distorted mandolin on Jake’s version of KY Mandolin which carried the distortion on through the night. Now with Ben taking up the electric bass, they rocked a good Boots for some classic foot stomping. Their first record with the new lineup gave the crowd the Black Sheep tune I’m Lost. Jake came up to the lead vocals for the Waylon cover of I’ve Always Been Crazy followed by Allie taking over the mic once more on the classic Townes Van Zandt tune White Freightliner Blues. YMSB laid into a deep Fade to Black cover that gave each member the chance to wow the crowd again with solos, group jamming, effects, and their new light rig. Ben jokingly thanked “Kirk Hammett” and “Lars Ulrich” along with the members of the band as they ended the set.

With a very short break before encore, the crowd barely had a chance to check their ear drums after the headbanging Metallica tune before the quintet came back out and Ben asked the crowd if they wanted to hear a classic Yonder song or some improv jazz accompanied with slam poetry. The crowd insisted on the former and they broke into a nostalgic rendition of 40 Miles From Denver. For the last song of the night they welcomed the entire Fireside Collective to the stage and did an extended My Gal with Adam orchestrating the jams as they all traded licks on stage in what was a highlight of the night.

Yonder brought plenty of old tunes and new tricks for the current tour, and sharing the road with great groups such as Fireside Collective and Dangermuffin for future dates makes this tour one to catch as it rolls across the country. Jamgrass groups basically grow on trees now-a-days, but these pioneers continue to show why they remain at the top of scene of they helped push into our culture.

Find an upcoming date near you at yondermountain.com/tour-dates.

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