The Grass Is Greener

While stretching the boundaries of old-timey bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band has reached a peak

But the ability to sell itself to jam fans and audiences at the Opry sets YMSB apart from like-minded acts. Granted, to bluegrass and country purists, a jam-grass act playing the same stage as the Osbornes is as sinful as Garth and Shania stealing time from Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn. But such thinking sells the band a little short. Sure, YMSB turns dusty acoustic numbers into lengthy set pieces embellished by rock, reggae and other non-grass touches. But the group bears a strong allegiance to its cornerstone forms and a back-porch vibe that often involves playing old-school style, gathered around a single microphone — a technique that endeared it to the Opry audience.

By contrast, Kaufmann says, "We plug in and are able to get loud. And we're younger and dress like we want to dress, like every other kid in Boulder, and we go to the same parties.

"I would like nothing more than to be a bridge band from the jam-band scene back to bluegrass," he adds. "If we can be that bridge, then we will have done something valid for bluegrass. And that's important to us."

Roots music: The men from over Yonder remain rooted in bluegrass and folk, using rock and jazz only as accents to their hippied Americana.
Michael Weintrob
Roots music: The men from over Yonder remain rooted in bluegrass and folk, using rock and jazz only as accents to their hippied Americana.
Keep on the grass: The Yonder Mountain String Band sparks some kind jams, brah.
Michael Weintrob
Keep on the grass: The Yonder Mountain String Band sparks some kind jams, brah.

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