4/24- Banjos can elevate the soul to fits of laughter or bring a tear to the hardest Yankee eye. They are the Pinocchio of instruments. In the right hands a banjo can express the full range of human emotions and it would be hard to find more capable hands than those of the Yonder Mountain String Band.
Dave Johnston, the banjo player and creative force behind the band, told CNN in a 2003 interview that he started the group because he didn't want to go to college any more.
“I kind of found bluegrass in college and then moved out to Colorado with Jeff [Austin],” Johnston said.
At the time they met Austin didn't play an instrument but he had a mandolin and Johnston urged him, “play anything, just play fast and loud.”
The two of them picked up band mates Adam Aijala and Ben Kaufman in Colorado, creating a niche for themselves with the style they call jam grass (a cross between bluegrass and a jam band style).
They've come a long way over the years. Their 2008 album “Mountain Songs Volume 5” hit number one on the U.S. Bluegrass charts and this year their Spring Tour 2009 will be coming to Spokane.8 p.m. $17.50 advance/$20 door. The Knitting Factory, 919 W. Spraque Ave.; ticketswest.com