Yonder Bassist Ben Kaufmann Shares Personal Note

Last week Yonder Mountain String Band announced they were parting ways with mandolinist Jeff Austin. The other three members of the band will continue on with guests until a new permanent lineup is unveiled in 2015. This morning bassist Ben Kaufmann shared a note with the band’s Kinfolk followers reflecting on the week that’s passed and discussing the future.

Kaufmann’s note mentions that he’ll soon head into the studio with the other two remaining members of the group to record new songs and will be joined by other musicians. Here’s the full text of the note, which was posted on the group’s Facebook page.

Hi Kinfolk!

I’ve been enjoying this amazing Spring day here in California. I got to barrel-roll in the grass with my son and just got him down for his nap. I want to thank everyone for their notes and emails of support. It is wonderful to see people expressing love at any time but never more so than during challenging times. As time has passed I have gotten to observe just how deeply Yonder has been a part of people’s lives. I’ve gotten to read reactions that range from deeply positive to deeply negative and I read each one regardless of content from a place of deepest respect for the individual. We have all, band and fans, invested varying degrees of our being into the Yonder experience. We have sung and danced. We have laughed and cried. We’ve shared our joy as babies are born and our grief when we lose friends and loved ones. I believe that a change like this is experienced in the same way that a child experiences a parents’ divorce, or indeed the passing away of someone loved. We quite simply must acknowledge and honor all of our emotions during extraordinary times and recognize their importance in what amounts to a healing process. We’ve shared nearly 16 years of life together and are all now beginning a time of change. As unique individuals we have to walk this road of change on our own feet, under our own power. But isn’t it nice to see that we are not alone on our journey? What a community of beautiful people you are. What joy wells up in my heart when I center in the present moment and allow myself to simply feel it’s power. I’m moved quite literally to tears. It gives me a chance to teach my son about tears of joy; what an amazing gift!

I center myself in the present moment and ask, what is it that I’m feeling now? What can I share? And the overwhelming experience is a feeling of power being generated. Like a motor being revved. I haven’t felt this sense of personal empowerment, at least not this quality of it, ever before. I’m resonating with the energy that one feels standing at the beginning of a grand journey. Music is my connection to the divine, in my personal understanding of what that means. Through song and melody I attempt to make sense of myself and the world. I share that music because I’m compelled to do so. I hope with every new song that it can contribute something positive to the world, a contribution that can manifest in so many ways. Some can begin the building of energy and encourage an audience into a wonderful dancing frenzy. Some make us laugh. And on rare occasions, I have been given the great honor of meeting people who say that a song saved their life, a particular expression that we use for lack of other words. More impactful than the words is the look in a person’s eyes as they say them. And, if nothing else, perhaps I write a song that allows a concert-goer to take a much needed pee break mid-set. They can’t all be Ferrari’s, after all.

Adam, Dave and I are gearing up for the studio and hitting the record button in mid-May. Of course we’ll have other musicians joining us and I look forward to sharing the process with you all. There are some great songs in the works. The rest of our touring year is coming together, again enlisting the talents of some world class artists, faces familiar and faces new. And here’s a promise to you all: Yonder will still put on the best party in town. We will always embrace our progressive nature while honoring the history of this music. We will still play with the purpose of building the energetic peaks that I feel are the signature of any good Yonder show. I invite you all to join us as we walk into a brand new day.

Love and Light,
Ben Kaufmann