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A new summit 

click to enlarge Id smile, too, if I had more plain black T-shirts
  • Id smile, too, if I had more plain black T-shirts

Since the Yonder Mountain String Band came on the scene in 1999, it's been clear this wasn't a bluegrass/acoustic roots music group in any strict, traditional sense of the genre.

Still, as much as the group has always been progressive, mandolin player Jeff Austin says it's only with the newly released, self-titled CD that the band's forward-thinking attitude has truly translated into the music.

"On the first couple of records, we stuck our necks out a little bit, and cracked the window, and [decided] maybe it's a little too hot out there," Austin says. "On this one, we threw the window open with both hands and leaned out."

The Nederland band's bluegrass influence is still hugely evident on Yonder Mountain String Band. But several tracks push musical boundaries in ways both subtle (the blend of pop vocal lines with bluegrass on "Sidewalk Stars") and obvious (the use of drums on the punchy folk rock of "How 'Bout You?").

Fans can expect to hear a number of these new tracks at the band's upcoming performances.

"We're really happy with how it's kind of coming together," Austin says. "[We have] a couple of sneaky tricks we've got up our sleeves that I can't share with you, but the rest of the stuff's been coming off really good especially some of the distortion and textured spaces on the record. It's coming along incredibly well in the live setting."

capsule

Yonder Mountain String Band with Keller Williams (Friday), New Orleans Social Club (Saturday) and Futureman (Sunday)

Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver

Friday, Dec. 29, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 30, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $27.50 for the Friday and Saturday shows, $50 for the Sunday show, or $100 for a three-day pass; visit ticketmaster.com.

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