At the first Wakarusa Music Festival they were invited to, Jeff Austin, mandolin player for Yonder Mountain String Band, says the band was so unknown he was frisked by security because they didn’t believe he was a band.
Now playing the tenth Wakarusa Music Festival, the band is in a very different place.
Speaking to members of the media on Thursday, Austin and fellow band members described their rise in notoriety and the role that festivals like Wakarusa have played in it.
“It’s been cool to see a festival that was so integral in growing our audience in the Midwest,” Austin said. “We’re just kind of in and out quick, got here just in time to enjoy the deluge on the last day of the beginning of our summer.”
The band’s spirits didn’t seem dampened by the rain and mud as they discussed their upcoming Harvest Music Festival, which will also take place on Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, Ark., Oct. 17-19.
“If I made a list of people if I'm at a festival I want to go see, these are those people,” bassist Ben Kaufmann said.
Though Yonder will headline the festival with three performances, other big names include Tedeschi Trucks Band, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, Railroad Earth, Beats Antique and JJ Grey and Mofro, among many, many others. Overall, there are nearly 100 sets of live music over the course of the three-day festival.
Though it’s been four years since the last time Yonder played at Wakarusa, the band said they were excited to be a part of the tenth anniversary and be welcomed back to the festival.
“One of the most unique things about this place is where it's located, and it's a pleasure to work with Bret and be a part of his events—it feels like we're throwing a party with a great friend,” Kaufmann said.
The band credits the Colorado music scene with giving them “a lot of open ears” and “Audiences that could easily fill a coffee shop or bigger venue.”
“It was a rare place where you could grow,” Austin said.
For those who have been wondering when they can expect more music to be released (Yonder has not released anything since 2009), the band had an exciting answer: soon.
Yonder has been in the studio recording while touring this year, and already has four songs that are in final edits and they expect to release on an EP in the near future.
“This recording on tour thing has been really cool,” Austin said. “They’re all original songs; now the craving is to put out music that either one of us has written or we've written collectively.”
Because they are not recording with a big label, the members of Yonder have had to “rethink how to be creative in the studio-- for us things mostly flow on the road,” they said.
“It sounds like us,” Kaufmann said. “There's a sound we've been chasing in the studio and I think we’ve finally got it.”