Yonder Mountain String Band,
with Tim O'Brien,
Town By Town
(Frog Pad, 2001)

Town By Town is a CD to take bluegrass into the 21st century.

Four young lads form Yonder Mountain String Band: Dave Johnston on banjo, Jeff Austin on mandolin, Ben Kaufman on upright bass and Adam Aijala on guitar. They all sing and each composes music and lyrics. The result is a refreshing, original sound with traces of other influences (like rock and reggae) lending a broader than normal appeal.

The band coins the term "jam-grass," as they sometimes jam on a number for up to an hour; that ability seems to be a big part of their appeal and success.

They are joined on Town By Town by respected bluegrass musician Tim O'Brien (of Hot Rize) on fiddle and bouzouki. (He also produced the album.)

A glance at the band's packed and professional website will confirm the popularity of their music, with sell-out tours across the States and a European tour planned. They retain a live edginess in this recording and an infectious enthusiasm for their chosen music genre, which they have redefined and claimed as their own. The vocals are easy listening, the lyrics keep your interest and the tunes keep your feet tapping.

There is more than an hour of music on the CD, and don't be in a hurry to turn it off after the last sounds fade away -- after a lengthy silence, there's a bonus for the patient listener! The CD cover contains a lyric booklet hidden in the foldout photo. If you like bluegrass, try this for a slightly different taste; if you hate bluegrass, have a listen and you might just find yourself enjoying it!

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 22 February 2003

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