Yonder Mountain String Band returns to Bend next week to play progressive bluegrass for its horde of fans. I spoke with Adam Aijala and Dave Johnston about the band’s state of mind after two albums of stylistic exploration under the guidance of renowned rock producer Tom Rothrock.
“We feel that we have no — or not as many — boundaries now,” Aijala said last week, “and I think he helped us accomplish that.”
Still, the Yonder fellas aren’t content to rest on their accomplishments. In the same telephone interview, Johnston said the quartet’s compositional skills are strong and eclectic enough to allow the band to stretch whichever direction it chooses, whether bluegrassy or rockin’.
“We just have a lot of different parts about music that we love, and it just has so little to do with musical genres and more to do with what feels right for us,” he said.
And what feels right for one guy often feels right for the others, Aijala said.
“Because we’ve spent so much time together, whether we like it or not our songs tend to work with each other, even if we write them independently,” he said. “We’ll show each other songs and they might even be a totally different mood, but they go together.”
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Feedback this week is about Wednesday night’s Ice Cube show at the Midtown Ballroom, which was, in my mind, a solid success. Cube put on a tight, sturdy, entertaining and thunderous show for a sold out crowd.
With some not-so-gentle coaxing from Cube (“throw ‘em up!”), “Check Yo Self” elicited a sea of iconic, W-shaped “west side” hand gestures bobbing across the Midtown’s floor, connected to folks of all ages, some older than the headliner and some so young they probably think of him as a movie star first.
The second half of the set was anchored by three older hits that highlighted the ever-present influence of slinky, synthy ‘70s funk on both Cube and West Coast rap in general.
“We Be Clubbin’” led to “Bop Gun” which led to the mega-hit “It Was a Good Day,” which predictably drew the loudest reaction of the night. (It seemed to be an especially loud, squealy crowd, too.) Cube closed with “I Rep that West,” a single from his newest album that again sent hundreds of “W” signs into the air.
It was a fun show. I hope you’ll go read my whole review by clicking here.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Dubby dude Kevin Kinsella is at The Annex, bluegrass faves Head for the Hills return to town, and OK Sweetheart does throwback pop at Bo Restobar, plus Bloodlust’s CD-release show, Misner & Smith at portello, The B Foundation at Silver Moon, Jonathan Byrd returns to Sisters and Mia Dyson plays a ranch way out in Kimberly.