Weekender

Yonder Mountain String Band emerges from lineup change with new music

The new Yonder Mountain String Band lineup features, from left, Allie Kral (fiddle), Jake Jolliff (mandolin), Ben Kaufmann (bass), Dave Johnston (banjo) and Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals).
The new Yonder Mountain String Band lineup features, from left, Allie Kral (fiddle), Jake Jolliff (mandolin), Ben Kaufmann (bass), Dave Johnston (banjo) and Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals). Photo provided

It’s been four years since the Yonder Mountain String Band last performed in State College, and a lot has changed since then.

Following the departure of lead singer and mandolin player Jeff Austin last year, the band added fiddle player Allie Kral and mandolin player Jacob Jolliff to its lineup. Local fans can see the new configuration Feb. 3 at the State Theatre.

Guitarist Adam Aijala said the new roster has re-energized the band. They are now making some of the best music of their 20-year career, he said.

“The change has been a really positive thing, and I feel like it’s really translating to our show,” Aijala said. “We really all care about each other, and we’re onto something new and exciting.”

The show’s setlist will consist of mostly new material and cover songs, Aijala said. The band is not performing any of the material on which Austin sang, which leaves a lot of room for new material.

Aijala said the band is performing three of 10 songs from an album that will be released later this year and working up new “jammers” to feature Kral and Jolliff.

“We have a lot of new cover ideas and a lot of new originals … we’re basically back to the number of songs that we had with the old lineup,” Aijala said. “We like to end our sets with stuff that stretches out a bit, so we’re working on making some of the shorter songs into jammers.”

State Theatre Executive Director Greg Ray said Yonder Mountain is one of the venue’s most-requested return acts.

“It truly is back by popular demand,” Ray said. “Both of their past performances sold out, and the response was uniformly positive.”

The Horse Feathers, an indie folk band from Portland, Ore., will open the show. Ray said he is already keeping an eye on them for a potential return to the theater as a headlining act. He added that the State Theatre hopes to book Austin’s solo project, the Jeff Austin Band, for a show in the fall.

“We’re hoping we can complete the State Theatre reunion for the band, even it is at different parts of the year,” Ray said.

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