Yonder Mountain String Band: Bluegrass for People Who Don't Like Bluegrass
"I don't feel at all that we have made it in the bluegrass world. We exist on the fringe at best," Yonder Mountain String Band bassist Ben Kaufmann lamented back in 2003. "The bluegrass music we are writing is different than the other bluegrass music that is out there. I think it is going to take people a long time to realize that we are interested in bluegrass and respected."
Tobin Voggesser Yonder Mountain String Band
A lot has changed in 10 years. Today, YMSB is one of the most respected names in bluegrass, and alt-bluegrass in particular, a genre that includes artists such as Split Lip Rayfield and Trampled by Turtles.
"When we started [out] and no one was there, we thought, 'Man, this sucks,'" Kaufmann recalls. "But we just kept going because what hell else were we going to do?"
Yonder got its start playing small bars in Boulder and the nearby mountain communities to small but enthusiastic audiences who found something more than bluegrass within this bluegrass band. Audiences discovered a sound that draws on musical influences as diverse as hard rock, punk, metal, and jazz in shaping a sound, though bluegrass-based, that is progressive in direction and scope and not bound by staunch traditional formulas. The band is just as likely to draw off Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, or Ozzy Osbourne as they are Bill Monroe or David Grisman.
"We have that responsibility to ourselves to play what we want to play and write the way we write, but do it from the heart," he adds. "All of that has to come out in the music that we make if it is going to be honest music."