Yonder Mountain String Band,
Mountain Tracks: Vol. 2
(Frog Pad, 2002)

Yonder Mountain String Band is not the kind of band you would expect to see from the name, though the music may somewhat fit the role. For those biased against backwoods "yee-haw" hillbilly music, Mountain Tracks: Vol. 2 makes for a smooth transition album, filled with songs all genres can enjoy, such as "Two Hits & the Joint Turned Brown." This catchy tune gives stoners a different association; banjos and pot is a rather unexplored combination for the general public. Psychedelic references aside, this is actually a top-notch song and remains one of the most memorable of the compilation.

Mountain Tracks: Vol. 2 is the second installment of a five-part series of live concerts, and one gets the impression it was a hell of a show. At certain points, the audience is unable to contain its enthusiasm and breaks into applause during both impressive solos and swear words alike. The second track of the album, "Dawn's Early Light," almost sounds like a more upbeat, folk version of the Dire Straits, especially due to the lengthy nature of the jamming, similar to that of the Dire Straits' live two-disc album Alchemy. This track being a bit darker than the rest; the overall mood of the album is very happy-go-lucky, as most of YMSB's music tends to be. Ranging from about three minutes to almost 30, the track length varies constantly, showing no care for structure whatsoever. That type of random improvisation is what makes for a legendary concert, as proven by the Allman Brothers Band with their album Live At The Fillmore East.

No matter your musical preference, Mountain Tracks: Vol. 2 is a work that should be observed by every true fan. While following no definitive structure, the performance keeps a virtually flawless rhythm from beginning to end, only rarely breaking the music for more than a moment. The concert was performed as every great concert is meant to be: an experience, rather than just a show. On top of the brilliant stage presence exhibited by the band, the music itself is nothing sort of incredible. I challenge any listener to make it through the duration of this album without tapping their feet to just about every song. I should just warn -- and I'm speaking from personal experience -- "Two Hits & the Joint Turned Brown" is a terrible song to have stuck in your head at work.

music review by
Bryan Frantz

19 March 2011

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