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Bluegrass with an alt attitude

Yonder Mountain String Band
Yonder Mountain String Band
By Yonder Mountain String Band

Vanguard / Welk Music: 2006

This review first appeared in Turbula in May 2006.


raditional instrumentation with an alt-rock sense of rebellion brings us the Yonder Mountain String Band. Three studio and four live recordings since the late 1990s have earned the band a spirited following, if no simple label or designation for their modern interpretation of bluegrass.

This isn't newgrass or even new traditional; the four 20-something members of the band (guitar, bass, banjo and mandolin) can play with as much virtuosity as anyone, but their approach is all their own. There's a touch of The Jayhawks in here, but there's also a nonconformity that recalls 20-something alt-jazzsters The Bad Plus.

Mostly, though, the band's newest release is about a solid collection of new songs written by members of the band and performed with great skill and passion.