Review by Matt Wickstrom

Photos by Tom Wickstrom


For the second consecutive year, Colorado’s Yonder Mountain String Band found themselves at the beautiful Moonlite Gardens in Cincinnati, OH, to celebrate America’s Independence. Playing a wide variety of songs both old and new, Yonder had patrons all the way up by the balcony railings at the Gardens dancing and grooving to every pluck of a string.

The show started off with bassist Ben Kaufmann leading the band into a performance of “Casualty”, a fast-paced jive that was like a bolt of energy to begin the night with a bang.All the while, fireworks began filling the sky nearby at Coney Island Amusement Park, catching the attention of several people in the crowd, as well as one on stage. Kaufmann was enamoured with the light show, leading him to proclaiming to “Fireworks sure are cool, America” following one of their tunes. After that Yonder paid homage to the Grateful Dead with their own rendition of “Jack A Roe”, who celebrated their 50th anniversary over the Fourth of July weekend with a trio of shows in Chicago.


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“Jack A Roe” led into “Little Lover”, an original Yonder tune sung by banjoist David Johnston. The remainder of the first set included three covers, including “Wheel Hoss” by bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, “I’ve Got A Name” by Jim Croce, and the ever-popular “All Aboard” by the Del McCoury Band. Yonder’s first set was closed out with the song “New Dusty Miller”, a classic bluegrass tune which recently appeared on the band’s new album, Black Sheep. The band first debuted their version of the song on June 17 at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

After a brief set break, the large crowd at Moonlite Gardens was treated to a beautiful rendition of John Hartford’s “Holdin” to open things back up. Following “Holdin” was a cover of The Amazing Rhythm Aces’ 1976 single “The End is Not in Sight”. Next up was “New Deal Train”, a slower -paced Yonder tune that started off with an amazing harmonica serenade by guitarist Adam Aijala.


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Rounding out Yonder’s second set were covers “Travelin Prayer” and “Hey Bulldog”, by Billy Joel and The Beatles, respectively. “Drawing a Melody” and “I’m Lost”, two more tracks from Black Sheep, also made appearances in the set.

After a long night of fabulous music, Yonder Mountain said goodbye as they readied to exit the stage. However, before leaving, Kaufmann had one message to leave for the crowd: “Take care of each other. Be good to each other like I know you will.”


The full setlist from Yonder Mountain String Band’s performance can be found below.

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Set 1

Casualty, Jack a Roe, Little Lover, Night Out, Blue Collar Blues>Wheel Hoss>Blue Collar Blues, I’ve Got a Name, Just the Same, All Aboard>New Dusty Miller>All Aboard


Set 2


Holdin, The End is Not in Sight, New Deal Train, Gilpin Swing, Travelin Prayer, Must’ve Had Your Reasons, Hey Bulldog, Drawing a Melody, Fingerprint>On the Run>Kentucky Mandolin>On the Run


E: I’m Lost, Bound to Ride