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Published: 2014/04/23

Jeff Austin Leaving Yonder Mountain String Band

Yonder Mountain String Band have announced that Jeff Austin will be leaving the group. The band released a statement on their Facebook page this afternoon that reads:

Yonder Mountain String Band is all about family, and through the support of our family of fans, we have been able to play music for you for the past 15 years. We couldn’t be more proud about our successes and experiences performing at the best venues and festivals in the country, and for the most dedicated fans any band could ever wish to have. With this said, YMSB would like to share some news about the future of the band. Collectively, after long, heartfelt discussions, we’ve all decided to move forth with a newly formed line-up due to varying career goals and creative pursuits. As of today, all future YMSB shows will be performed with Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals), Ben Kaufmann (bass, vocals), and David Johnston (banjo, vocals). We will welcome exciting special guests throughout the rest of the year and we look forward to a new permanent line-up in 2015. YMSB fully supports Jeff Austin and his emerging solo career.

Yonder Mountain String Band will perform all scheduled dates throughout 2014 with the new line up and special guests. Jeff Austin will be announcing more dates for his solo endeavors in the coming months. The band wants the fans to know that this decision did not come easily, and we’ll certainly keep all of our fans up to date with the new Yonder band-member line-up information.

We greatly look forward to seeing everyone out on the road this Summer and Fall!

With Gratitude & Respect,
Ben, Jeff, Dave & Adam

As previously reported, Yonder Mountain String Band played a number of tour dates earlier this year without Austin. Members of the Travelin’ McCoury’s, who were also co-headlining the shows, filled in for him for during the hiatus. There is currently no word on who will be performing in his stead during Yonder’s upcoming gigs.

Austin has already played a number of shows with his other band, The Here and Now, and he has also scheduled a number of other dates with a different band that features Danny Barnes (banjo and vocals), Eric Thorin (bass and vocals) and Ross Martin (guitar and vocals). Additionally, Austin has also confirmed that he will be recording an album with Barnes, Thorin and Martin this May.


There are 81 comments associated with this post

No! April 23, 2014, 17:04:30

Worst music news in a very long time. Jeff, get real dude, the Here & Now will never ever get where YMSB is. Think it over again dude. Major mistake! Major disappointment! Glad I didn’t purchase those Dark Star Jubilee tix yet. Yeah, I go for the other bands,just like when Hookahville used to be good.

Erndog April 23, 2014, 15:12:26

Wow, holy shit. Well, I hope it all turns out for the best . . .

Voracious Stegosaurus April 23, 2014, 15:14:47

What a bummer, his playing and singing is a huge part of their sound.

TCinNYC April 23, 2014, 15:23:16

When Jeff did the “Friends” show while Yonder was still on tour I knew (& commented so) that it felt odd, & that a split seemed inevitable. I just hope everybody is ok, & i will root hard for both Yonder collectively & Jeff individually. They all make such awesome music. This was so telegraphed.

Steve b April 23, 2014, 15:29:45

Booooo. They say “solo” career but come one man, you won’t match what Yonder can do with Danny Barnes (although great) or anyone else because the magics been broken. U left yonder for another band- not a solo career. Maybe if Allie Krall jumps on board something can continue in the league of What Yonder did, but random guest sit Ins will not do it- the chemistry will be gone and sets stale. Not many front men like Jeff. UGH!

Strings n ? April 23, 2014, 15:38:10

Oh man, this is tough news, very tough. Jeff will be sorely missed..and who am I going to Taco Crawl with now? Boy, this info would have been useful 2 hours ago when I was booking Strings n Sol. ;) Well, I certainly wish him the best, but it will be tough really love Yonder without him….although…most of my favorites are Ben songs..hehe. Keep Calm and Pluck On.

Sam April 23, 2014, 15:43:48

Congrats to Jeff. He will emerge as a legend.

Huh April 23, 2014, 16:01:38

Seems like it all headed south when they teamed up with the whores known as UM a few years back. Idiotic marketing with stupid decisions made for the band by seeming total dipshits. The tweet based Instagram light show act band isn’t the same deal as marketing a bluegrass band. Yonder without Jeff? What’s gonna go on the Sherrif saga every night for Ben? GTFOH.

Voracious Triceratops April 23, 2014, 16:12:08

Yeah I’m sure it was UM that did them in and not 15 years of touring and not a lot of growth over the last 5-8. I mean, I’m not a UM fan but jesus christ.

Huh April 23, 2014, 16:14:57

FYI they share the same manager and have for the past few years. YMSB began using their full time manager.

Umphreys sucks April 23, 2014, 16:19:55

Umphreys sucks donkey pecker. I blame them.

Your mom's a nice lady April 23, 2014, 16:22:57

Wow that’s cool dropped lots of coin on string summit and now the driving force to YMSB amazing unique jam band blue grass is gone. Hope it works out for everyone but I’m a little PO’ed I’m already half a grand in on string summit. Over half of there cataloge is Jeff.

Voracious Pteridactyl April 23, 2014, 16:30:36

yeah i guess management could be it but probably better to at least blame it on the manager and not UM. Or really just blame Yonder for accepting the decisions of that management.

Your Mom is a Blind Whore April 23, 2014, 16:32:48

Are they going to try and use Jeff’s songs or move on with 20% of the catalog and zero of the stage presence? This seems insane for them not to at least take some time and grab a new mando player or switch it up with another guitarist. This is a bunch of people not making smart moves.

mattspliff April 23, 2014, 16:34:36

Yeah Um and their management are real shit heads…... that’s why they are blowing the fuck up right now…... you people are 1000% cunts

Umphreys sucks April 23, 2014, 16:35:55

No I blame Umphreys. They are shite. Jeff’s BFFs w/ those dudes. Mgmt situation just muddied the water. I’m sure a lot of it has to do w/ the fact that he’s recently had a child & is wanting to stretch out more musically ie play w/ other people. See JA & The Here & Now lineups. But regardless I still blame Umphreys. They are fvcking terrible.

Voracious Allosaurus April 23, 2014, 16:36:03

I honestly don’t see why they’d even bother calling it YMSB anymore. Just start a new band without Austin and call it something else.

Umphreys sucks April 23, 2014, 16:39:32

mattspliff just bc they’re blowing up doesn’t mean they’re any good. See EDM. That shit has blown up & its worse than Umphreys. Young kids & flatbrim crowd getting all mahl’d out & buying up tickets to UM does not great music make. You’re a cunt.

Blowing up? April 23, 2014, 16:50:33

Common bro. Mostly the same venues for a decade. I was at the Aragon Ballroom in 09 I think for New Years. It was hard to get tickets. Denver this year you could wipe your butt with them and the first two nights were half full with a smaller venue. I mean whatever you need to tell yourself for that second skin to work brah. Are you in this pic from stage at UM? They cannot even play the venue I saw them at in 09 because they are to small now.

April April 23, 2014, 17:28:25

Really no Jeff at NWSS? One last Strummit Hurrah! That’s madness. I’m so glad I got 2 of the spring tour shows.

RFS April 23, 2014, 17:39:09

My money is on Austin-Songwritng and performance skills beyond anyone else in that band. These seeds were planted years ago, the guys just don’t get along. I hope they enjoy playing his songs-what a joke. Hope Adam, Ben and Dave have been padding their savings accounts, they’re going to need it!!!

Glenn April 23, 2014, 18:12:36

Last summer, I interviewed him for a piece for Blue Grass today about his solo project. And I had a few Yonder Questions for him as well and he totally flipped and refused to answer any questions about Yonder. It was hilarious.

rusty April 23, 2014, 18:22:57

Super bummed… was really looking forward to the RRE/Yonder tour. Thankfully, still have RRE. Feeling bad for anyone who dropped $ on String Summit, still be a great weekend, but the headliner just dropped out basically. As for the rest of Yonder best of luck. As for Jeff, good luck becoming the superstar you always wanted to be, but I think that ship is sailing away.

rusty April 23, 2014, 18:24:31

Guaranteed future marquees: JEFF AUSTIN, FORMERLY OF YMSB. Fuckin’ lame sauce

Anthony April 23, 2014, 18:25:35

Man… I am not sure what to say, this sucks. I do wish the Adam, Ben and Dave all the best in continuing on YMSB, however, this is tuff loss. Jeff you will be missed.

No Expectations April 23, 2014, 18:28:33

Certainly the ship has passed for Jeff’s solo career. He has no shot at ever even becoming a Sam Bush type solo act so this is pure stupidity. He and Danny are fine and good, for a couple songs with yonder or opening for Yonder. The guys are going on to get paid this Summer and not lose any cred with booking agents, but don’t kid yourself these guys will be working on TPS reports in a back office bullpen in suburban Denver within 5 years. The show is over unless people want to hear Dave’s vocals in their Phil Lesh like acquired tasted realm without the gravitas behind them.

Gregory April 23, 2014, 18:36:02

Time for everyone to get Dusted!!!!

Your mom is a nice lady April 23, 2014, 18:51:32

Just saw them in Seattle you could tell the fire and fun wasn’t there. this really is a big blow to my summer and winter plans…. Well I saved a bunch on not going to strings and sol now.

Your Mom is a Blind Whore April 23, 2014, 19:28:08

@nicelady that’s awful man. Sorry to hear you had so many plans linked up. This is blatant disrespect to fans like you to not hold this until after a profitable summer at NWSS etc. is Adam tuning up to sing Oklahoma or Raliegh and Spencer? Give me a break. They need to pay you back.

I come in peace April 23, 2014, 20:26:58

Still not clear why it’s UM’s fault? Not a big fan. Just curious to the reasoning.

cfo April 23, 2014, 20:37:21

Jeff Austin solo…Hahaha…The fourth best player in a second-rate band heading out on his own…should be great.

Mole April 23, 2014, 20:47:32

Man this hurts. To say it is the worst news of the day is an understatement (although I saw it coming a mile away). I was hoping Jeff would hang out through the YMSB/RRE shows coming up (I’ll be in Hampton Beach for that one!) but at least John Skehan can sit in with YMSB for those shows.
And to all the UM haters out there, give it a rest. I was fortunate enough to catch one of the east coast UM/YMSB shows on their dual bill tour from (can’t remember, maybe 2007 or so) and yes, they don’t really go together, but I still get out to support both bands because IMHO they are both phenomenal at what they do. ‘Nuff Said.

Jacobi April 23, 2014, 21:20:55

Heartbreaking news. Jeff is the integral member of the band. I love yonder and all the boys; been with them since the beginning when they were traveling in their little Mallard RV and performing regularly at the Abbey Pub here in Chicago. I respect the others, but I feel that there is no YMSB without Jeff. His voice, his energy and presence, his songs define the band. There are other great mandolinists that can play the parts, but without Jeff’s personality leading the music it isn’t yonder.

jamesdinct April 23, 2014, 21:32:03

Bummer!!! Had a great time at their fest at Hornings a couple times and a bunch of shows all over the country since.

Juniper503 April 23, 2014, 22:19:18

Good riddance

Thoughts April 23, 2014, 23:16:04

I don’t have any “inside information” but I’ve heard the relationships in this band have been very strained for quite some time now. There’s only so long you can fake it. I don’t see how YMSB can recover from this, and Jeff’s solo career doesn’t seem likely to reach anywhere near the success of YMSB. Too bad it had to end like this. For anyone who is holding out hope for “Jeff sit-ins” will have better luck finding the Easter Bunny in their back yard. This has every look of a bad break up and until the bank accounts get low, there won’t be any Koom-ba-ya reunions on the horizon.

kafkas hat April 24, 2014, 00:28:03

YSMB early on (1999 to 2002) was fun, like a hopped up version of Hot Rize. But Austin in particular failed to grow as an instrumentalist. His solos always were the same: arpeggios and the same scale. I always felt he reached a point in his playing, saw himself as a performer, and stopped practicing and improving. As a solo artist, I don’t think it works. As fir YMSB as now left, several of those guys right decent songs. It might be a more traditional approach and sound which might fit them better then trying to be a bluegrass version of Phish.

Mitch frank April 24, 2014, 02:54:23

Huge bummer.

R Daniel Brown April 24, 2014, 04:31:02

They had a good run, but hey, look how great Phil sounds when he juggles the lineup. It gets stale with all bands and it’s not like your parents broke or something. And there are lots of musicians would kill for Jeff’s spot(or to play with him). These guys will all hit the ground running

Boring April 24, 2014, 07:11:41

I find UM, YMSB, even ISD to be very monotonous and boring. Somehow they all have a following…..

nickt1631 April 24, 2014, 09:05:21

Jeff was the key writer for the group, but as far as playing their instrument, he was the least talented. I really enjoyed seeing them earlier this year without Austin, so this could be good….for a while.

Sean April 24, 2014, 09:40:08

Jeff what are you thinking?? Yonder won’t be the same and, let’s face it, no one wants to listen to just a mando. Hopefully he will realize this is a huge mistake. What’s yonder without him???

jazzfester April 24, 2014, 10:20:54

This is my favorite currently working band. What terrible news. YMSB, as are most decent bands, is clearly worth more than the sum of its parts. These 4 guys are great songwriters and can play well enough. Adam is a monster on guitar. Jeff, what are you doing? I get it—the schedule is difficult, the road is difficult, now, being away from your family must be more than impossible. However, lets take a look at a similar situation—How many TAB shows have you traveled to go see? That’s the same guy who fronts a band that takes the audience on a musical journey at every show. When he is playing solo, something is missing. Right now, YMSB is riding high, you can pack a venue as a solo act, and probably end up with more money in your pocket at the end of the show. Wait until your departure ruins a lot of momentum. I wish both parties the best of luck…and don’t add a drummer.

Dusty Trainhopper April 24, 2014, 10:49:48

This will go down just like when Allie left Cornmeal. Jeff will be back. Either way leaving a band with momentum like YMSB has is stupid and this fan is pissed.

Your Mom Goes To College April 24, 2014, 13:56:04

This feels like when I broke up with my b*tch ex-girlfriend and wanted to take other girls to a show when she was at the same festival. If Jeff tries to go to Hornings, will the new YMSB mando player have to stay away from Jeff if he shows up? Wouldn’t wanna hurt any feelings or get uncomfortable.

Tutorial April 24, 2014, 16:21:16

Some of you need some educating on what a “Solo Career” is. It’s NOT just Jeff and a mandolin. It’s a band that Jeff will put together with hand picked musicians, will write almost all the material, make the setlist, choose the touring schedule…..where he will basially be the CEO and H.N.I.C. A band, is more collective / democratic.

jazzfester April 24, 2014, 19:47:22

Like TAB?

hawks.fan35 April 24, 2014, 21:15:04

Let’s face it – Yonder stopped growing a long time ago. Perhaps that’s a result of interpersonal problems within the band. Jeff made the band what it was and if they think they can keep touring under the YMSB name with a rotating cast of characters filling in for Jeff, I don’t think they’ll be very successful. Additionally, Jeff is no Grisman caliber mandolin legend so I don’t think he’ll be wildly successful as a solo artist. I see a lot of wasted talent here and I agree that it’s a bummer.

Your mom's a Ol boy April 25, 2014, 00:21:38

Hey lets just agree sh*ts done for now just like the cheese for a few years, let’s start thinking about a rail road festival at hornings! and if you all don’t know what I’m talkn about then you don’t know about that bobby brown….SON!!!

YSMB = Eh, whatever April 25, 2014, 09:09:06

I don’t know why people are making such a big deal about this. The guy was in the band for a long time. They grew really quickly in the beginning and have been on the same level for years. They play small venues and festivals and are pretty good but not amazing. I love bluegrass but I’ve never been all that drawn to Yonder. Saw them a few times a while back because friends said they were amazing; I was underwhelmed….fun but not something I’d go out of my way to see. Why anyone would fault him for wanting to try something new after well over a decade doing the same thing is totally beyond me. Musicians, like everyone else, get bored doing the same things over and over. I wish both Austin and the rest of the band well in their new endeavors.

miles davis April 25, 2014, 11:59:41

good. these guys need to stop makin noise

flowski April 28, 2014, 09:40:47

When the member of a band bails on the group, I make it a point to NEVER go see their solo project. Hope it doesn’t work out well for you Jeff, I despise quitters.

FistingYourGaper April 28, 2014, 11:24:33

At least I have multiple band to see now

Douglas April 28, 2014, 13:00:55

I just caught Jeff playing at City Winery here in Chicago and I have to say I was underwhelmed. I wish him the best. Watch for reunion tour in a few years.

smark April 28, 2014, 13:13:40

“ let’s start thinking about a rail road festival at hornings! and if you all don’t know what I’m talkn about then you don’t know about that bobby brown” Please no, don’t ruin one of my favorite bands, oh wait, too late …

Frankie Beans April 28, 2014, 18:56:58

It was obvious the intrapersonal relationships in the band had been strained for a long time. They are lucky they had 15 years together. Most bands never even last that long—let alone keep the same line up for that long. Nearly every single band I have ever liked in history has had a line-up change at some point—The Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, just to name a couple. Perhaps Jeff didn’t leave on his own accord, maybe he was pushed out. Regardless, I think they have a strong enough following with their “Kinfolk” that they should last. Ben, Adam, and Dave are all incredible musicians in their own right, and none of them were really able to shine on stage with Jeff taking all the lime-light with his sub-par mandolin solos, and terrible (as of late) vocals (face it, his singing ability had steadily declined over the past 5 years or so). He might have mad song-writing skills but it was the other three in the band making his music sound good—not Jeff. I’m curious and excited to see what the future holds for these guys.

rodney April 29, 2014, 00:35:34

Jeff leaving the band is sad! no question asked. I’ve never been so attached to a band ever, minus the dead. but in the grand scheme of things, I hope to see each band grow for the better. But man am i gonna miss some dirty “King Eb”! Just really glad to have seen them at the fox a couple of weeks ago. It looked like they “all” were having so much fun!

jake April 30, 2014, 13:36:22

Why would people assume he is trying to get to the same level as YMSB was anyways? He’ll be taking in likely similar $$$ since his business costs are about to be shredded in half. And does anyone here know who DannY Barnes even is? Christ, those guys in YMSB are talented, but Danny Barnes is Grammy winning level talent who sells out shows internationally. He has his clean up hitter, he doesn’t have to be the most talented person on stage just bcuz he is the leader.

Bo knows Bluegrass May 4, 2014, 15:18:00

I think that adding Sam Bush…YMSB will go to the next level. Jeff brought the energy and great jokes, but I would love to see where Sam and Adam could take the music.

jclark May 12, 2014, 23:18:28

Younger is great and Jeff Austin is great! Everything is gonna be just fine peeps! By the way ump McGee is crazy good and who ever says different needs to get a life dude.

jclark May 12, 2014, 23:21:23

Yonder is great and Jeff Austin is great! Everything is gonna be just fine peeps! By the way ump McGee is crazy good and who ever says different needs to get a life dude.

callingyounotsmart May 14, 2014, 16:55:34

@Frankie Beans intrapersonal means within one’s SELF you f***ing burnout

Jables May 21, 2014, 01:20:01

IT’s Just Music you Bunch of WUSS-BAGS! let the music move you where it goes.

Eric May 22, 2014, 13:51:45

Holy shit why are some of you kids trying to blame UM for this LOL.. get real. UM is an awesome band, you’re just venting because you’re upset and you dislike UM. Get the fuck over yourself and stop talking random bullshit.

Nick May 23, 2014, 14:19:31

to be completely honest, I have only been listening to Yonder for about a little over a year now but I fell in love with them so incredibly fast. Jeff seems like the heart and soul behind yonder. This makes me very very sad. I’ve never even seen them in concert and I was planning to….. FFS man!

Lang May 30, 2014, 12:37:51

I’m willing to bet the majority of critic’s on this page have no musical talent @ all. Ya’ll need to get laid.

The Mad Buddah June 12, 2014, 08:41:52

wheres the bathroom I got to take a shit

Matt June 20, 2014, 10:47:09

I agree that this sucks but why cast blame and hatred when I am sure this decision was not made in haste. I’m sure that after long discussions it was decided that this is for the best…Maybe not the best for ME, or YOU as an individual who would much rather dance and listen to the music we have loved for so long; but possibly the best for the musicians responsible for creating that lovely music for us. Jeff will be sorely missed no doubt, but whatever he or the rest of Yonder decide to do is their decision and only their decision.
Love, Light & Grateful Vibes!

Mary June 21, 2014, 00:25:47

I just can’t believe that I will never hear him play with YMSB at string summit ever again. There is no point in going at all now that he won’t be there. He was what made the band so amazing. I will miss him. To think, I decided NOT to see them the last time they were in town because I had a big test the next day. I had no idea that it would be the last one I would have a chance to see. Good luck guys

BoyMan, God, $hit June 21, 2014, 18:19:45

Well listening to them now at TBF and it sounds good. Everyone has to do what makes themselves happy, even if that means it makes a number of others unhappy sometimes. Hope and health to all 4 members, my bet is that we see them reunited in a few years.

YMSB-stole my baby June 22, 2014, 09:26:35

I am gonna catch them on July 6th and can’t wait, can’t say I am happy about the split but what can I do about it? We can feel blessed to have had them together as long as we did, and look foward to a reunion.

Yonder Still Rocks July 7, 2014, 00:58:00

For all of those that posted comments about how Yonder isn’t worth seeing without Jeff, think again. I just got home from the show, absolutely amazing still.

negative nancies July 16, 2014, 21:46:42

WOW! People are so negative. I just appreciate the shows I got to see. Started seeing them in 01 and they really got me into bluegrass, them and old and in the way. Really I could see this coming don’t know if it was interpersonal or business…. I remember hearing years ago that the other guys were getting families and slowing down and Jeff wanted to do more (not sure if it was accurate just rumors). But they used to write a lot of new songs back in the day there output has slowed a lot since probably Town by Town days. I felt with the self titled you could feel members drifting. I’m just glad I got to see so many great shows, bluegrass bands traditionally didn’t stay together with the same line up so hopefully we will get some good new music out of both Austin & YSMB. Best luck to both, I’m forever in debt for the great shows and intro to bluegrass!

YMSB - Ned August 23, 2014, 20:32:09

Just saw Jeff at NedFest – there are a dozen pickers here in town that he can’t touch. He’s just another guy with an ego without Ben and friends. There wasn’t a single song that touched me and we can catch better music & poetry on a Wed night at any of the brew pubs in town. Yonder will be better off in the long run, Jeff will be playing brew-houses and lets face it – he really just wanted it to be the Jeff Austin band after all.

YMSB - Ned August 23, 2014, 20:32:10

Just saw Jeff at NedFest – there are a dozen pickers here in town that he can’t touch. He’s just another guy with an ego without Ben and friends. There wasn’t a single song that touched me and we can catch better music & poetry on a Wed night at any of the brew pubs in town. Yonder will be better off in the long run, Jeff will be playing brew-houses and lets face it – he really just wanted it to be the Jeff Austin band after all.

gratefulned420 August 27, 2014, 11:43:58

I hope they’re still gonna sing about weed

Matt August 30, 2014, 19:31:41

Jeff’s a dbag. I met the band a couple of times and they were all cool except him. I saw yonder at pisgah last week and they were great without him. Ben, Adam and Dave were great as usual and that fiddle chick was awsome. Keep on jammin boys!

Fartblossom McCoy September 2, 2014, 13:35:59

Perhaps this is why that idiot Jonathan Schwartz has ONLY played “Complicated” (a Ben song) on JamOn the past six months. Either that, or Schwartz is being his usual unimaginative and lame-ass self.

The talking stove September 18, 2014, 14:54:28

Kind of lamenting over the fact that I never saw them with Jeff, and now I might not over. Saw them twice this summer though (Rochester and Penns Peak) and it still whooped ass. Allie Kral shreds and at Penns Peak Jerry Douglas sat in on dobro. There’s definitely a new energy to the band but the lacking of Two hits and the joint turned brown and legalize it is killing me. Still an amazing band though without him. I’m going to see Jeff Austin group in October so I’ll have so size up how good he actually is without YMSB.

Whatever October 12, 2014, 11:38:58

I have been listening to yonder since 99, started seeing them live in 02. Jeff has always had an attitude problem and I never understood why he was the front man. I liked the band with him in it but Ben is a better song writer and Adam is a better musician. They are going to be fine without him, better off even.

Dooda October 12, 2014, 23:23:39

Why are you people thinking Jeff left?? It’s more like the others pushed him out, people…and no, they won’t recover from their decision. He was 1/4th of the persons but 75% of the energy and magic that Yonder once was….

JB June 29, 2015, 03:20:09

wow. Interesting looking back…. The Jeff Austin Band is definitely an improvement from YMSB. Hopefully, Yonder can gel with Alli and make something fresh.

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