JamBase Questionnaire: Jeff Austin

Welcome back to JamBase's regular feature where we put a baker's dozen of probing, wide-ranging questions to the bright lights in the jam scene (and beyond) in order to expose juicy tidbits about their musical minds. Last week we heard from John Butler and upcoming weeks will include insights from Trampled By Turtles, Cornmeal and more!

Jeff Austin by Tobin Voggesser
Hair flying, sweat pouring off of him, fingers a happy blur, Jeff Austin is a sight and a half. He's also a surefire catalyst to anybody onstage with him. Some players excel in the role of trickster and instigator, and Austin exudes a heady musk full of mischief and in-the-moment jubilation that makes nostrils flare. He is a smile (or salty tear) transmogrified into musical notes. There's no doubting his sincerity or passion – it vibrates in every fiber of his being and presence. In his long-standing role in Yonder Mountain String Band he is the ringmaster for their idiosyncratic circus that reminds us of the vaudeville and traveling show roots of their big string thing. As a guest with myriad other bands, he's a free spirit that frees up others. And the boy can play a pretty dang good mandolin on top of everything else.

His new project is 30db, a spirited, crazy charming collaboration with Umphrey's McGee singer-guitarist Brendan Bayliss. Their debut studio effort, One Man Show, arrives May 11 on SCI Fidelity. It's a swell, press-repeat kind of rock affair that wraps a fine pop streak with the vibe of vintage Poco, The Byrds and other folk-tinged, vinyl-era rock combos, giving one the sense 30db is the 21st century answer to Loggins & Messina, except their mamas CAN dance to their rock 'n' roll. This pairing is melodically ripe and filled with thoughtful, catchy verses that stick around after the music stops. 30db begins their first tour tonight at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison, WI. Then it's on to Chicago, Boulder, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and an appearance at Summer Camp 2010. Find full 30db tour dates here. Joining Austin and Bayliss for these shows is the stellar assemblage of Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars, Hill Country Revue), Eric Thorin and Nick Forster.

(Dennis Cook)

Here's what Austin had to say to our inquiries.

1. Great music rarely happens without…
Listening. It's amazing how many great collaborations go to shit when no one is listening.

2. The first album I bought was…
I'm pretty sure it was Freeze Frame by the J Geils Band…vinyl, of course. I was pretty damn young. The one that made the most impact was American Beauty by the Grateful Dead. Big life changer, right there.

3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
The Devil You Know by Todd Snider. Every damn track made me pull the car over and just rock out for a bit. Best album in the last ten years as far as I'm concerned.

4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
What I am now, a full time musician. The path has been a little different, but I've known what I've wanted to do with my life since I was very, very young. I'm really glad I have a mom that always encouraged me and let me follow my dreams.

5. My favorite sort of gig is…
Packed to the rafters...50,000 folks at a festival like Bonnaroo or Rothbury…Telluride Bluegrass Fest in front of 10,000 people is the best gig to play all year...and Red Rocks...just mind-blowing.

6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
I cannot get you Telluride Phish tickets. No, really, stop asking me, please

7. I love the sound of…
My house when it's quiet. When my girlfriend and the dog and cats are sleeping, the silence is really quite beautiful.

8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
Demon Days by Gorillaz. Fucking rock show from top to bottom.

9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
McMahon's Steakhouse in Arizona. It was my birthday and we ate for hours; finished the meal with a magnum of Nicholas Feuillatte 1999 champagne. Pretty hard to beat that one.

10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Wherever folks are all there for the same reason and the energy is really flowing, be it 100 or 20,000 folks. When a crowd is all there for the same reason it just takes on a life of it's own.

11. The worst habit I've picked up being on the road all the time is…
The ability to sleep until 3p.m. That's a tough thing to shake off when you get back home.

12. The Beatles or the Stones? Por qué?
The Beatles, because they are just the best.

13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
The international space station flying over the bowl at Horning’s Hideout at String Summit 2009. Folks thought I was crazy making them all look up. But, when that sucker flew over, three thousand faces all turned skyward, staring at an object floating thousands of miles up in space – and realizing there were humans in that machine looking right back at us. Everything stopped for this amazing moment...and the roar after it passed from view was just incredible. Really a moment I'll never forget.

30db Tour Dates :: 30db News :: 30db Concert Reviews

Yonder Mountain String Band Tour Dates :: Yonder Mountain String Band News :: Yonder Mountain String Band Concert Reviews

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[Published on: 5/7/10]

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