Sherpa / Square Peg Present
Yonder Mountain String Band
The Devil Makes Three
75 E. Locust St.
Des Moines, IA, 50309
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM
This event is all ages
Yonder Mountain String Band
Bluegrass is a music steeped in tradition, but over the past decade and a half -- much of it spent on the road -- Yonder Mountain String Band has spearheaded a renegade movement to rewrite the definition of the genre. Alongside other neo-bluegrass friends such as Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, The Travelin' McCourys, and Railroad Earth, YMSB has thoroughly revitalized and contemporized bluegrass and introduced it to many thousands of new fans. Rolling Stone said that YMSB "liberates bluegrass' hot-shit riffing and blue-sky harmonies from its hidebound formalism," while Paste Magazine wrote, "The Yonder Mountain boys have found a formula that works: take rootsy bluegrass influences, add in some rock 'n' roll, and seek out an adventurous audience."
Yonder Mountain String Band is comprised of Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals), Dave Johnston (banjo, vocals), Ben Kaufmann (bass, vocals), and select special guest artists who will appear with the band throughout 2014. Two standout musicians regularly performing live with YMSB are Jake Jolliff (mandolin, vocals) and Allie Kral (fiddle, vocals). Jolliff is an award-winning mandolin player (First Place, National Mandolin Championship 2012, Walnut Valley Festival), and was a founding member of the disbanded Americana outfit, Joy Kills Sorrow. Kral is well-known as the former fiddle player for Cornmeal (2003 - 2013), and she's worked alongside various notable artists including moe., Railroad Earth, Warren Haynes, and others.
With the band having one of the strongest touring bases in the industry, fans and critics alike have been drawn to both their live shows and singular studio albums. Reporting from the All Good Music Festival (2009), journalist Jarrett Bellini from CNN Showbiz Tonight notes, "The trophy for best musical set goes to Yonder Mountain String Band who, as the sun began to set, left it all on the stage for an hour and a half. The pickers from Colorado had the audience dancing and shaking, kicking up a joyful storm of dust into the cool summer sky."
YMSB has evolved into something of a phenomenon on the concert and festival circuit. The band has sold out Colorado's famed Red Rocks several times, and played sold-out shows with Grateful Dead and Furthur bassist Phil Lesh at his Terrapin Crossroads venue in August 2012. They also host three singular music festivals every year -- Northwest String Summit (now in its 13th year and hosted by YMSB every year), Harvest Music Festival (where they will host for the fifth time in October 2014), and Strings & Sol (Yonder hosts for the third year-in-a-row in Mexico in December 2014) -- and have consecutively sold out runs of shows at Telluride Bluegrass Festival year after year. Every other year, YMSB also hosts Kinfolk Festival @ Planet Bluegrass. In all, Yonder Mountain logs over 100 live dates per year.
Yonder has always played music by its own design. Bending bluegrass, rock and countless other influences, they've come to pioneer a sound that they alone could only champion. With a traditional lineup of instruments, they may appear to be a traditional bluegrass band at first glance but they've taken the customary old-timey instrumentation to new heights, transcending any single genre. Yonder has become a regular performer at major music festivals like the iconic Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Summer Camp, and DelFest as well as massive multi-stage events like Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits Festival.
YMSB is currently working on a new full-length studio recording; fans can expect a new album to be released in early 2015.
For more information on Yonder Mountain String Band, please visit www.yondermountain.com.
The Devil Makes Three
“There’s a road that goes out of every town. All you’ve got to do is get on it,” Pete Bernhard says.
The guitarist/singer and his cohorts in the raw and raucous trio The Devil Makes Three have found their way onto that road numerous times since they first left their picaresque rural hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont. Back then, they had no idea it would lead them to such auspicious destinations as the Newport Folk and Austin City Limits Festivals, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, and on tours with Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell and Trampled By Turtles. Along the way, they drew numerous accolades from a growing fan base and press alike.
TDM3’s travels and travails serve as inspiration for their fourth album and their New West Records debut, I’m a Stranger Here, produced by Buddy Miller and recorded at Dan Auerbach’s (Black Keys) Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville.
With upright bassist Lucia Turino and guitarist Cooper McBean, Bernhard crafted a dozen tunes, part road songs, part heartbreak songs and part barnburners. While most bands are propelled from behind by a drummer, TDM3 builds exuberant rhythms from the inside out, wrapping finger-picked strings and upsurging harmonies around chugging acoustic guitar and bass, plying an ever-growing audience onto its feet to jump, shake and waltz.
TDM3’s sound is garage-y ragtime, punkified blues, old n’ new timey without settling upon a particular era, inspired as much by mountain music as by Preservation Hall jazz. “We bend genres pretty hard,” Bernhard says.
The combination could only have happened via the circuitous route each of them took to forming the band. As kids in Vermont, “all raised by sort of hippie parents” who exposed them to folk, blues and jugbands, Bernhard says, they blazed a path to nearby Boston, Massachusetts in search of punk rock shows. They found venerable venues like The Rat and The Middle East, drawn to east coast bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Aus-Rotten.
“It would be like 6 bucks for 13 bands, everyone playing for 20 minutes,” Bernhard says. “I had so much fun going to shows like that. The energy coming off the stage makes a circle with the crowd and comes back. We were really attracted to that energy.”
Bernhard and McBean, a multi-instrumentalist who plays banjo, musical saw and bass, forged a particular bond. Unlike most of their mutual friends, they both liked to play acoustic music, with McBean showing Bernhard the wonders of Hank Williams and Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys. They kept in touch after high school, when nearly everyone in their clique relocated to the west coast like the characters in Delbert McClinton’s song “Two More Bottles of Wine.”
“It was a mass exodus of kids who went out to start bands and be creative, searching for the unknown, dreaming of something different,” Bernhard says. “We wanted to get away from where we were from, as many kids do, and California was the farthest we could get.” Eventually they landed in sunny Santa Cruz, California, where TDM3 took shape in 2001. Their early gigs were house concerts, then small bars, punk shows, bigger rock clubs and theaters and festivals, all the while defying genre and delighting whomever turned up to listen.
Turino learned bass to join the band, but her unremitting sense of rhythm comes naturally from being raised by parents who were dance teachers, and from her own dance background. Attacking the strings of her upright, she understands how to infuse songs with the force it takes to get a crowd moving.
And the songs on I’m a Stranger Here tell the rest of the story, with the music often joyously juxtaposed against lyric darkness…the rootless nature of being in a touring band, traveling from town to town with little sense of community, represented by a devil-like character (“Stranger”)...thorny transitions into adulthood…struggling with relationships (“Worse or Better”), watching friends succumb to addiction (“Mr. Midnight”), coming to terms with mortality (“Dead Body Moving”), nostalgic notions of childhood (“Spinning Like a Top”). Bernhard even considers the destruction of changing weather patterns, inspired in part by Hurricane Katrina as well as a flood that wreaked havoc in Brattleboro (“Forty Days,” a gospel rave-up recorded with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band).
Bernhard wrote more than 20 songs for the album and turned them over to producer Buddy Miller, who gravitated toward the darker material but insured that the recording was lit up by the band’s innate ebullience. It was Miller’s idea to record at Easy Eye rather than his renowned home studio. “Easy Eye is like Sun Records,” Bernhard says. “There’s one live tracking room filled with amazing gear, and that defines the kind of record you’re going to make. That was exactly the record we wanted to make, and we knew Buddy was the one who could capture us playing together like we do.”
For a band that made its bones with dynamic performances, recording an album is almost like coaxing lightning into a bottle, but Miller and TDM3 succeed on I’m a Stranger Here. Now they’re continuing the journey that began when they found their way to the road that led them out of Vermont. “I can’t wait to get onstage, I love it,” Bernhard says. “Playing music for a living is a blessing and a curse, but for us there’s no other option.”
Tickets are $22.50 in Advance | $2.50 Increase Day of Show
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Tickets are also available at ZZZ Records (Cash Only) or by calling 877-987-6487.