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February 28, 2003

Argh! There be yuppie [jerks] on Yonder Mountain

Listen: this is what I mean. There is a happy place, this place is warmer than here, but not too hot (or humid at all really). This place is filled with many yuppies in SUVs, hot yuppie girls in North Face coats/vests, hot yuppie girls with clogs on their hot yuppie feet, and lots of semi-dirty yuppie kids who listen to this music. The music? Well it's the Yonder Mountain String Band, and they will take you to this place. Now this place has a name. The name? Nederland, Colorado. A supposed hippy enclave with at least 8,000 yurts perched condescendingly above the yuppie stronghold of Boulder, Colorado inhabited by many yuppies that are dirty and that like Yonder Mountain a lot. Oh yes, they also like Widespread Panic, and String Cheese Incident, and, well, Medeski Martin Wood.

Why then should a cold, not-so-yuppie, Chicago-deep-dish-style college student enjoy the syrupy half-bluegrass tunes of the yuppie loved band Yonder Mountain, and let themselves be swept away to the pachouli-ridden high mountain abode? Well? Well.

Well, it is simple, really. Really! Yonder Mountain is good, they are in fact damn good. Compared to many other popular yuppie bands that play "bluegrass," Yonder Mountain plays BLUEGRASS. They are tight musicians wielding a welding torch of harmonic sounds that produce a smooth edge of seamless content. It makes you happy.

The live album Mountain Tracks: Volume Two, which is the second of two live albums recorded on their Fall 2001 tour, is good. It is not great, but greatness is the sole dominion of Britney Spears' panties, and the Plastic Ono Band. Just shy of greatness is damn good.

This album is damn good. The album opens with "At the End of The Day"-a tune dedicated to all those who want to appreciate smiling at the end of a day. It is typical Yonder Mountain, with a shout out to vocalist Jeff Austin's wicked, getting hella stronger mandolin. The song makes you sing, and slap your thigh out of time with the music. It makes you want to get stoned, and it makes you want to own Birkenstocks.

In this vein Austin's Web page sums up the band's goal: "If we can put out enough energy to sustain a crowd without drums, and show them they can still dance their asses off, well, we've achieved our goal." While this quote seems, and is, one must remember that this guy lives in Nederland, smokes a lot of pot, and actually did cry when Jerry died. While it is easy to fault him for that, and blamed he should be, those of use here in the Midwest must remember two things. One: we (at this school) are cynical assholes. Two: who are we to judge? Ponder long on that one.

The third song is graced with an appearance by Bluegrass "damn good" John Hartford on the cover of his tune "Two Hits and the Joint Turned Brown." You are heading west, stopping short of the continental divide, telling Denver to go fuck itself, and heading north to Nederland. You are not there yet. And you have run out of gas. Now this guy comes up to you and says "If you go no further I will give you all the gas money you need to get back on I-80 and go home." This is a nice proposition to say the least. In the rest of this article I will convince you to get to Nederland (the metaphoric Nederland that is). Ready? Go: this is a live album. There is crowd energy. It rocks. It does not smell like hippy. TRACK FIVE IS "GOOD HEARTED WOMEN," by WILLIE NELSON. Walk on brother, walk the fuck on.

In summation, this album is damn good. Yes, one must get over the stigma of all the yuppie fucks who also like this band. Yonder Mountain is not a jam band. Yonder Mountain knows how to jam. They jam damn good. They cover WILLIE NELSON. You are not a yuppie if you like this record. I am not a yuppie either (debatable). Yuppies suck. I saved the paper!