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The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Yonder Mountain String Band visits Chicago

Countless jam band and bluegrass fanatics treaded through the rain Friday and Saturday night to the House of Blues where Yonder Mountain String Band performed to a sold out audience.

Originally formed in December 1998 in Boulder, CO, the band has many roots laid in the Midwest.

Consisting of four members, Dave Johnston on the banjo, Jeff Austin on the mandolin, Ben Kaufmann on the bass and Adam Aijala on the acoustic guitar, the band has wowed audiences across the country for several years. Mandolin player Jeff Austin and banjoist Dave Johnston originally met in Urbana, Ill., which is how the bands strong following in the Midwest was created. The popularity of the band skyrocketed after their first opening gig took place at the famous Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colo.

Music lovers occupied the entire block of Dearborn Street while time ticked closer to the hour at which the doors would be opened. Shortly after a small light became visible from inside the venue, fans rushed the gates to quickly find the perfect spot to enjoy the performance. Views were split as half the audience scampered up top to the balcony to get a birds eye view of the event while others hustled down to the floor to witness the bluegrass music at eye level.

With every passing minute the anticipation grew more intense. While the clock moved past the start time of 9:30 p.m. the crowd’s excitement mounted. After only a few minutes, the curtains were pulled back and night one had officially begun.

To get the show going on the right foot the band came out with an electric performance of a classic bluegrass tune, “Sideshow Blues.” Instantly the crowd erupted into a frenzy of dancing and raucous cheers. Expectations of the crowd were exceeded as the group weaved together all forms of their bluegrass and jam band music. Night one’s set consisted of many classic tracks such as “Too Late Now” and “Ramblers Anthem”. As the first night came to a close, fans reluctantly left the venue in hopes of more music.

Night number two could not begin soon enough for the eager bluegrass lovers patiently waiting outside of the House of Blues. Several individuals begging for extra tickets on the outside were left empty handed as Saturday night’s show was completely sold out.

With the beginning of the second show, the musicians promptly arrived on stage shorty after 9:30 p.m. with a more old fashioned, traditional bluegrass approach. Fans appeared to be impressed with the quick finger picking of banjoist Dave Johnston and the smooth bass lines of Ben Kaufmann. While the set neared its end, the band had a finale in mind that would blow away all who were in attendance.

After returning from a short break to provide the audience with more music, the crowd roared as the final song approached. With the last song of the performance, Yonder Mountain String Band carefully crafted together a masterpiece of two of their songs.

First beginning with a slick performance of the song “Angel,” the band quickly manoeuvred into another fan favourite, “King Ebeneezer.” After the completion of the second song, the band moved back into the song “Angel” disguised by a beautiful blend of string instruments. Countless minutes later, the instruments of all four band members ceased to play, simultaneously causing the wide-eyed crowd to burst into a final applaud.

As fans slowly poured out of the gates, many people in attendance expressed feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Kyle Scheffler, a sophomore student at DePaul University was especially elated.

“I couldn’t be happier, it was great to hear them play the song Idaho since I’m originally from Boise,” said Scheffler.

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