Yonder Mountain String Band brings bluegrass to Rose



Grammy-nominated progressive bluegrass act Yonder Mountain String Band will perform at the Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Friday, Aug. 11.

Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals), Ben Kaufmann (bass, vocals) and Dave Johnston (banjo, vocals) were all Colorado transplants when they formed Yonder Mountain String Band in 1998. The band has released numerous studio and live albums since its debut, “Elevation” (1999). The group, which has included Nick Piccininni (mandolin, banjo, fiddle, vocals) since 2020, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for its ninth studio recording, “Get Yourself Outside” (2022). Plans to record the follow-up are slated later this year.

Aijala, a Massachusetts native, recently answered questions about the group, which is still going strong after 25 years and is on the road this summer with Railroad Earth and Leftover Salmon.



Q: Congratulations on 25 years as a band. What does that mean to you?

A: It’s crazy but we’re lucky to do what we do. Those guys are my brothers. I know Ben and Dave better than pretty much anyone on the planet. It’s easy to have serious conversations and we still clown around a ton. We can just be ourselves and we’re like best friends. Even if people are frustrated, in the moment, or angry, we all know not to take stuff personally.

Q: What can folks expect from the three-band show at Rose Music Center?

A: When we’re in Huber Heights, that’s one of five shows we’re doing with Railroad Earth and Leftover Salmon. We’re lucky to be able to come play with two bands we’re really tight with. We’ve known each other forever. I knew it would be fun because all three bands get along, but it’s like a touring festival so it has been way more fun than I expected. We swap who closes each night. We drew straws at the beginning to decide on an order. Basically, if you closed the night before, you play first the next night, and we just keep going down the line. We cross-pollinate and bring up some guests. Whoever closes usually gets as many people up on stage as possible and that’s quite a spectacle.

Watch the official music video for “Into the Fire” from Yonder Mountain String Band’s Grammy-nominated album, “Get Yourself Outside”:

Q: What’s next for Yonder Mountain?

A: Working on new songs. We actually blocked off seven or eight days in November to go into the studio. We all have a bunch of ideas but sometimes we have to do that to motivate ourselves. I like going into the studio with these guys. Our really good friend John McVey is a great engineer. He’s done our last three albums. He’s also one of my favorite people, too. He’s super flexible with us. He helps us produce it as well. It’s easy because we make our own hours. If we feel like going to midnight, we can. Other times we finish at 7 o’clock and go eat dinner. If we feel like we’re being productive, we’ll keep going. If we feel like we’re getting burned, we bail.



Q: What’s the hardest part about keeping the band going after more than two decades?

A: Everything is so expensive now. All expenses for touring musicians have just shot through the roof since the pandemic. Every road dog band is in the same boat unless you’re a top tier band. Everybody is cutting costs where they can and trying to find new ways to net more. It has definitely changed. It’s not the same. Obviously, we love doing what we do. We want to do it and be able to save money and pay our bills, so we have to be smart about everything we do. It’s definitely harder now but I feel pretty content. It seems most people change jobs every three or four years these days. Here we are 25 years deep. I don’t have a lot of other qualifications. My resume is pretty thin these days, so I feel really fortunate. Twenty-five years is just mind-blowing.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or donthrasher100@gmail.com.


What: Relix Presents Tour with Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth and Leftover Salmon

Where: Rose Music Center, 6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights

When: Friday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Cost: $33.50-$69.50

More info: 513-232-6220 or www.rosemusiccenter.com

Artist info: www.yondermountain.com

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