When the Yonder Mountain String Band threw a party for their ever expanding, rabid family of fans, known as the Kinfolk, they decided to record it and release it as an album. Mountain Tracks: Vol. 3 was recorded live on September 12 and 13 2003 at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, Colorado, and serves as the band's first double disc release. YMSB expanded to a quintet on these two nights with the addition of Darol Anger on fiddle, a very welcome addition.

Essentially bluegrass revivalists, YMSB are bringing this old form of music, with their own unique twist, to the young masses, and the youth are eating it up. Mountain Tracks: Vol. 3 recently debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts, and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch. This is a glimpse of YMSB in their element playing a live show for their most dedicated fans.

Starting things off is the Willie Nelson tune "Bloody Mary Morning," a quick tune about the pitfalls of the "business" and of a little town called Los Angeles. Peppered with many covers, we hear a "fiddle tune" next, "Coo Coo's Nest," by the legendary John Hartford before we are treated to our first YMSB original, "Town," written by bassist Ben Kaufmann. Town is a fun little ditty about the town from hell, where the author "took off running right out of that town" and hopes he never has to go back.

Perhaps the strongest writer in the band, next we hear one of seven Jeff Austin originals. "If There's Still Ramblin' in the Rambler (let him go)" segues into "Steep Grade, Sharp Curves" and then right back into a "Ramblin' Reprise." Austin's versatile vocals really show on this tune, as do the excellent harmonies the group is capable of. Eventually we find the first extended jam in Kaufmann's original, "Traffic Jam," which segues into a couple Benny Galloway tunes, "Years with Rose" and "Winds O' Wyoming," which then segues right back into "Traffic Jam." They close out the first disc with another John Hartford tune, "Holding."

Beginning the second night of the party is "Queen of the Earth," a slow, traditional, fiddle driven tune. Another Benny Galloway tune is next, "Train Bound for Glory Land," and there is a great little call and response jam towards the end, which continues through the segue into the next tune, another traditional, "Little Rabbit." We then hear our first, and only, Adam Aijala tune, "Left Me in a Hole," one of the older songs in the bands repertoire. The last traditional tune played on the album, "Old Plank Road," which leads to a few Dave Johnston tunes. The first, a song about "economics," called "Deep Pockets" and sung by Johnston, was co-written with Benny Galloway and then "Maid of the Canyon." A long string of segues closes out the album, beginning with the creator and master of bluegrass, Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Moon," which drops into two original back to back Jeff Austin tunes, "Peace of Mind" and "Snow on the Pines" and back into "Peace of Mind," to end the fantastic two-night Kinfolk celebration. A worthy listen throughout, Mountain Tracks: Vol. 3 is yet another great album from the newest masters of bluegrass, the Yonder Mountain String Band, and it really gives the listener a strong idea of what they can expect to see and hear at a YMSB show.

Sam Katz
JamBase | Boston
Go See Live Music!


[Published on: 11/21/04]

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