It's almost been 16 years since Colorado act Yonder Mountain String Band first got its start, but it feels like it's been America's most loved bluegrass act for so much longer. Though its genre isn't mainstream, YMSB has fans from pretty much every walk of life. It is as beloved in the Americana circles as it is by jam-band-loving hippies. All of them flock in droves to festivals to dance until they can't dance anymore to the band's driving, energetic, passionate music.
"Our fans are as voracious and musically diverse as our influences," says singer Dave Johnston. "I think that a lot of YMSB fans recognize themselves in how we do things and play. It's a wonderful feeling of community; it's a huge part of our success."
Until two years ago, the band was made up of four core members: Johnston, Ben Kaufmann, Adam Aijala, and Jeff Austin. Austin left the group because he wanted to go solo and had some creative differences. For fans, this was shocking and sudden news. But the band continues to move forward, with new mandolin player Jacob Jolliff and violinist/vocalist Allie Kral.
"Right now, it feels the same way it had for 14 years prior." Johnston explains: "We've been writing, rehearsing, and jamming just like we used to, but of course there is a change; with two new people, there is definitely going to be some kind of change. Overall, though, I'd say the original vibe of the band is back."
Luckily for South Florida, YMSB will be playing Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on Valentine's Day. "It's not where you expect us to thrive," says Johnston of playing this far south. "For me, the weather makes me feel like I'm in another country, but it's still America. It has its own energy, and it's superhip. It doesn't feel like the rest of the South, or anywhere else, for that matter. It's not homogenized, and it has its own vibe."
He adds: "The fans are totally rowdy. Everyone seems like they've been having a good time for a long time," he says and wonders jokingly, "Is it vitamin D? From the sun? It might be vitamin D."
As well as being excited about the upcoming tour, Johnston is amped about the new album the group has coming out Summer of 2015. "Feels really good to have one coming," he says. "We're really pumped and had a lot of fun making it. We're on pins and needles with excitement. Can't wait for the fans to hear this one!"
Yonder Mountain String Band
With Band with Horse Feathers. 7 p.m. Saturday, February 14, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $22 day of show plus fees. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net.