Like many bands on the progressive wing of bluegrass, the Yonder Mountaineers like to push things at the same time as adhering to traditions. For the YMSB the latter includes superb picking abilities all around—banjoist Dave Johnston, guitarist Adam Aijala, mandolinist Jeff Austin, bassist Ben Kaufmann—along with fine vocal harmonies and requisite covers of Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley. But the quartet also favors improvisation forays that have put them squarely in jamgrass territory, covering material from such decidedly non-bluegrass outfits as the Minutemen and Talking Heads, sometimes wielding their instruments like rockers, and even dialing up the crunch factor by using drums on their last studio album. All of which helps land them gigs in places like First Avenue. The band also embraces tapeheads' affinity for live performance by regularly issuing live sets, currently up to volume five with this year's installment of Mountain Tracks: one CD of performances culled from 2004-2007, a second capturing a single concert from July 2007. Both feature exhilarating ensemble work. Notorious reprobate and wry songwriter Todd Snider (whose songs turn up in YMSB's repertoire) will open. His new Peace Queer is imminent, but it's uncertain which Snider persona will show up, since his career has ricocheted among folk, hard country, and rock 'n' roll. 18+.
Sun., Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2008