With their latest album, "Get Yourself Outside," Colorado-based Yonder Mountain String Band once again echoes out into the universe its place as not only a pioneering jam-grass act, but also one of the most innovative groups in the live music scene — something the groundbreaking ensemble has proudly held high for the better part of a quarter-century.
"The whole thing has always been about the energy and the connection between all of us onstage and everyone out in the audience," says guitarist Adam Aijala. "And with this iteration of Yonder Mountain, we’re really tapping into that onstage connection once again."
Aside from the obvious nature of the new album, it’s a complete restart for the live music industry. Internally, it’s also a fresh start for the group in welcoming its newest member, mandolinist Nick Piccininni.
"Nick is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist. He’s brought a whole new vibe and dynamic to the band," Aijala says. "But, at the same time, he’s such a natural fit."
Recorded during the shutdown at Cinder Sound Studio (Gunbarrel, Colorado) co-produced by Yonder Mountain and John McVey, "Get Yourself Outside" (Frog Pad Records) is a musical odyssey of string instruments and sonic textures.
There’s the usual foot-stomping melodies and sorrowful ballads that reside at the core of the Yonder Mountain signature tone. But, there’s also a deep, honest sense of renewal and rejuvenation running through the heart of the record.
And, by being back on the road, Yonder Mountain has been taking note of its long, bountiful journey from its foundation in 1998 to the here and now — with its 25th anniversary just around the corner.
Looking back on those early days, the members of Yonder Mountain can’t help but shake their heads in awe — of where it all originated from, and what the live music landscape looked like at that time.
"When we started, we were the only example of what we were trying to do," Kaufmann notes. "You can see a bluegrass band at a rock festival now. But, there was a time where something like that was incomprehensible."
And it’s the fearlessness of youth — of being present within the serendipitous whirlwind of artistic collaboration and musical discovery — that remains a thick thread of inspiration and ambition within Yonder Mountain.
"I’ve never doubted for a second that this band wouldn’t work," Kaufmann says. "That’s a wonderful experience to have known that early on — to not have fear or doubt in the creative experience. And when you think of it, how unlikely of a journey has this been?"