Yonder Mountain String Band’s Adam Aijala: Interview

It all started back in 1998 for Yonder Mountain String Band. Today, YMSB is one of the most well-known bluegrass acts in the scene today. Guitarist/vocalist, Adam Aijla, was kind enough to take some time to talk about the group and the tight-knit family that has formed through hard work and dedication over the years.


1. You have been pioneers in the bluegrass scene for many years, paving the way for some of the new acts on the scene. Who are your all-time bluegrass favorites? Why?

Thanks for saying so.  I sometimes wonder how much influence we’ve had on other bands, but it’s hard to gauge from my perspective. I didn’t grow up with bluegrass and my first real influence was Old & In The Way via the Grateful Dead so I have to include them in my list of favorites. I was also drawn to bands like the Seldom Scene, Hot Rize, and the Kentucky Colonels.  Nowadays, I love the Del McCoury Band!

2. Who makes the setlist each night? Do you look at how often you played a tune over the years?

Lately, I’ve been doing the setlists, but we mix it up every now and again. I mostly look at what we played the last time we were in the particular city we’re playing in and try not to repeat a song from that last play. The only time that gets hard is when we’re playing Northwest String Summit or Yonder’s Harvest Fest because we play 3 nights of music at each of those festivals.

3. How do you pick the special guests who come on the road with you guys?

We try to mix up the guest musicians as much as possible so it’s fun for us and the crowd, but in the past we generally liked to pick musicians who didn’t play an instrument in Yonder. That would’ve included fiddle and dobro, but also drums, cello, any horns, and piano. Now with Allie and Jake playing with us (fiddle and mandolin), it was fun to have Sam Bush join because he’d play a little mando with Jake and some double fiddle with Allie. Fun stuff! Looking forward to having Jerry Douglas with us!

4. If as a band you could pick one show out of the thousands you have done over the years, what would your favorite show be?

Man, I have no idea what my favorite show was. What year is this? Seriously though, I’ll have to say that this last tour being our first with Jake and Allie was one of the most fun and positive musical experiences of my life. They are both amazing musicians and really great folks. I’m glad you’ll get a chance to see us play together. Come to the Kinfolk Celebration in Lyons, CO (9/18-20) while you’re at it!
Thank you Adam for taking the time out of your day for this interview!

Enjoy this video of Yonder Mountain String Band with very special guests Jake Jolliff (Mandolin) & Allie Kral (Fiddle) performing “Jolene” at The Northwest String Summit 2014.

An “A+” bluegrass version of Ozzy Osbourne’s classic, “Crazy Train”:

Yonder Mountain String Band August 2014 Tour:

8/22     Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live *^!
8/23     Black Mountain, NC – Pisgah Brewery *^!
8/27     Richmond, VA – The National *^#
8/28     Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore *^#
8/29     Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Amphitheater *^
8/30     Norfolk, VA – The NorVa ^%
8/31     Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater *^

Be sure to catch them on The Main Stage from 8-10 PM at The Catskill Chill Festival:

9/6 Catskill Chill Music Festival – Camp Minglewood *^

Special Guests:

* Allie Kral (Fiddle)

^ Jake Jolliff (Mandolin)

! Jerry Douglas (Dobro)


# Henhouse Prowlers

% Eric Lambert


Yonder Mountain String Band:




Dorothy St. Claire (Yonder Mountain String Band Tour Photographer)



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