Yonder Mountain String Band to bring alternative bluegrass music to Red Rocks

Randi Mattox

Nederland-based alternative bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band will co-headline Red Rocks Amphitheatre with rock band Drive-By Truckers on Saturday, August 20.


Influenced by popular icons like Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia, Yonder Mountain String Band began in 1998 and has been redefining the traditional bluegrass sound ever since.

“There were a lot of bluegrass jams going on in Colorado,” said Dave Johnston, a founding member of Yonder Mountain String Band. “We would go to them, and they would give us beer and pizza, and we would hang out with the local musicians. That’s where we found out that it was an environment that we thought could come up with something pretty good in.”

Yonder Mountain String Band’s sound is unique in the fact that it encompasses a multitude of genres, which Johnston attributes to the band’s willingness to keep open minds and ears.

“We’ve just always been open to our musical influences and also open to being influenced by what is happening around us on a daily basis, so we’re always paying attention to things that we like,” Johnston said. “We’ve kind of learned to appreciate and follow our hunches. We’ve just kept developing in that way.”

It’s Yonder Mountain String Band’s constant implementation of different sounds and dedication to encompassing a traditional bluegrass element that makes their music so popular. Johnston said that this balance is maintained when they pay attention to new things and are willing to try them out.

“It goes back to listening to our influences and the things that we like,” Johnston said. “I think that it’s really important to make time for the things we want to do and pursue them, whether that be electronic music, rock or even psychedelic stuff. We’re always paying attention to that.”

Aside from their one of a kind sound that sets them apart from other bluegrass bands, Johnston said Yonder Mountain String Band’s showmanship on stage is what makes their shows enjoyable.

“I think that we play really aggressively,” Johnston said. “We play fast and furious. Most other bluegrass bands play really fast too, but there’s just something about the way we do it that’s a little different. I think that we’re a little more rough around the edges.”

Although this is not Yonder Mountain String Band’s first time to headline Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Johnston said they are more excited than ever to get on stage, be surrounded by beautiful scenery and put on a great show.

“We really enjoy playing there,” Johnston said. “People can expect to have a lot of fun. It’s been a great summer. The band sounds really great. And we’re really excited to be there.”


Yonder Mountain String Band’s show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre will take place on August 20 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at redrocksonline.com.

Collegian Arts and Culture Editor Randi Mattox can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @randimattox.