Yonder Mountain String Band Dedicates ‘Half Moon Rising’ To Jeff Austin

By Andy Kahn Jun 23, 2019 9:20 am PDT

Yonder Mountain String Band performed Saturday on the Main Stage at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, marking the group’s 20th consecutive year at the Colorado fest. The set was performed after the band learned of the hospitalization of their former co-founding member Jeff Austin, who recently suffered an undisclosed medical emergency.

Austin posted a message on Facebook on Saturday canceling upcoming festival performances due to a “medical emergency.” Soon after, Yonder Mountain String Band responded with a Facebook message asking for prayers following “Jeff Austin’s recent hospitalization.” Austin co-founded Yonder Mountain String Band in 1998. He left the group to pursue a solo career in 2014.

Midway into YMSB’s set in Telluride, co-founding bassist Ben Kaufmann addressed the audience, stating:

Twenty years ago me, Dave and Adam and Jeff Austin stood on this stage and we shared our music with you for the first time. We woke up today and the internet was on fire with rumors and speculation about our brother Jeff Austin. And what we can say is that he is still with us. What is appropriate right now: if you’re a prayer, send prayers his way. If you’re a lover, send love his way. If you’re a healer, send energy his way. This is what we’re going to send his way.

The band then performed “Half Moon Rising,” the first song on their 1999 debut studio album that Austin sang lead on and fell out of Yonder’s live repertoire after his departure from the band. Guitarist Adam Aijala provided lead vocals for Saturday’s performance.

Later in the set, Kaufmann stated that anybody “that’s a friend of Yonder Mountain and a friend of Jeff Austin” was going to play some music with the band. Among those brought onstage were Tim O’Brien, Chris Daniels, as well as Greensky BluegrassPaul Hoffman, Dave Bruzza and Anders Beck. Yonder and their guests teamed for “Traffic Jam” and “Two Hits And The Joint Turned Brown.” The emotional set was capped with a “Hey Day” encore.

Yesterday’s YMSB set can be streamed below via DiGiHoArDeRs:

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