Yonder Mountain String Band Re-Releases ‘Elevation’ For 20th Anniversary

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Yonder Mountain String Band re-released their debut studio album, Elevation, in celebration of the LP’s 20th anniversary. The formerly out-of-print record is available on 180g double vinyl via the group’s online store and at the merch table during stops of YMSB’s current tour.

Founding members Ben Kaufmann, Dave Johnston, Jeff Austin and Adam Aijala recorded the 15-track album with producer Sally Van Meter in 1999, one year after the group started performing live under the YMSB moniker. Van Meter, Mike Marshall, Darol Anger and Celeste Krenz are guests featured on Elevation.

Elevation is featured on JamBase’s 20 For 20 list detailing 20 Standout Debut Albums By Jam Acts. Read a remembrance and note on the album from Sally Van Meter below:

Twenty years ago, over a good meal and margaritas, a pivotal moment in acoustic music transpired and forever changed the face of acoustic and bluegrass music. That moment was the agreement to produce Yonder Mountain String Band’s first studio recording, Elevation . YMSB’s Elevation broke past traditional bluegrass music boundaries, opening the door for acceptance of the next generation’s take on a new style that audiences would fully embrace. YMSB had something special about what they played, and how they played it. Their songs showed that it was not just jamgrass party time. No matter what they played, they did it with a full musical heart—both familiar and new concert attendees fell in love with them. Young and old listeners together could feel that this first recording was a wind-direction change in acoustic music that had not been felt possibly since the 70s with Tony Rice and David Grisman.

When YMSB came to me to produce Elevation, they told me, “We want to make a studio recording that will show people we are serious, and that we can make a studio recording that is professional.” What emerged from that conversation was near equal to a paradigm shift in the Bluegrass Universe. At Rancho De Ville recording studio in Boulder, we shared laughter, disagreements, commitment, and hope. We recorded a great album in the way YMSB members and their fans approach life in general: we had fun and worked hard together. I am still thankful that I took them at their word and accepted the job as their producer.

With the 1999 release of Elevation, YMSB brought their new music and songs into folks’ living rooms, weddings, parties, and more prominent concert venues. The new fans earned from Elevation are fans that understood they had become part of the magic that is YMSB. The band always worked together as one unit; no one offered more than the other and all remained true to their vision and audience. YMSB’s gift to the music community remains evident.

Now, upon the 20th Anniversary of the release of Elevation, it is good for me to remember and to celebrate this recording for what it was and still is: full of heart, great music, and the best of times for so many.

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