Jeff Austin Band: Oh Snap! Jeff’s Back!
When the Jeff Austin Band took the stage at Cervantes in Denver this Friday night, the energy in the room was inexorable.
Passionate fans who had arrived early in anticipation of the Jeff Austin Band were treated to a couple of tight and lively performances by Acoustic Mining Company and Chain Station. Both opening bands were obviously just as excited about the return of the Jeff Austin Band as the full house of fans was.
When Jeff fired into “Too Late Now” to start the show, one thing was instantly known by the entire room:
Oh, Snap! Jeff’s Back!
It’s not like he’d gone away for very long.
As you all know, the public breakup of Jeff Austin and Yonder Mountain String Band left many fans bewildered, sad, angry and divided.
Just bring up the name “Jeff Austin” at a YMSB event and sit back and watch the debates ensue.
What is not debatable is Jeff’s drive and ambition. Within months of the split, Jeff was back on the road with a new band, then consisting of banjo legend Danny Barnes, Eric Thorin on bass and Ross Martin on guitar.
We were lucky enough to catch that version of the Jeff Austin Band at one of their earlier performances, at Blue Ox Music Festival in 2016. What was most noteable about that show, aside from the enthusiasm of the crowd and all on stage, was the manic applause that Jeff and the band received at the end of their set. The audience demanded that Jeff return to the stage for a bow, and he tearfully did, obviously feeling the love of the fans that he must have at some point questioned if he would ever feel again.
The Cervantes engagement clearly demonstrated just how deep that love still is among Jeff’s fans.
Now playing with Kyle Tuttle on banjo, Max Johnson on bass and Mike Robinson on guitar, this Jeff Austin Band is as tight and well rehearsed as any, and prepared to showcase Jeff’s music for quite a while.
Yes, Jeff’s Music.
In the early stages of Jeff Austin, post YMSB, there were very few Yonder songs making their way into the setlists, and each time it was like catching lightening in a bottle, a glimpse of something remembered but far away.
As time went on and band members came and went, the old songs began to pop up with more frequency.
Now, undeniably, they are alive and back.
For long time fans of YMSB, these songs are a part of the tapestry of our musical lives. They symbolize moments, events, feelings that have touched us through the years. They are old cherished friends, friends that many of us thought we may never encounter again.
Thankfully, like a letter from a long lost love, these songs have jumped back into our lives with more energy and renewed enthusiasm than we had even held in our memories.
The Jeff Austin Band performed two sets of music almost entirely drawn from the Jeff Austin catalog of old, with several newer jams effortlessly interspersed throughout.
The band is bringing these old songs back to life with such a vigor and youthfulness that it is almost like hearing them for the first time.
Max Johnson put a beautiful spin on the intro to “Dawn’s Early Light,” taking the audience on an unexpected journey before the recognizable opening bars of the fan favorite were struck. Kyle Tuttle’s precise and captivating banjo riffs were shining on “Rag Doll” and “Sideshow Blues”, and guitarist Mike Robinson was shredding throughout, melting more than a few faces along the way. Add in a more polished and authentic Jeff Austin than we have seen in years, and the result is an extremely tight and well rehearsed band offering up original takes on vintage jams.
Jeff’s songs are alive and well, and ready to flourish again on stage.
The Jeff Austin Band is back and better than ever.
The best part? They are touring their asses off and giving all the fans a chance to happily pick up where they left off.
It’s a circus out there, so get yourself to a Jeff Austin Band show and dance all night with a hole in your pants!
Jeff Austin Band Winter/Spring Tour 2018
1/27 Aggie Theatre – Ft Collins CO
1/28 4th & Main Downtown Grille – Wray CO
1/30 The Bourbon – Lincoln NE
1/31 The Granada Theater – Lawrence KS
2/2 Old Rock House – St Louis MO
2/3 Venue Shrine – Tulsa OK
2/6 Gabe’s Iowa City – Iowa City IA
2/7 Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant – Minneapolis MN
2/8 The Backroom at Colectivo Coffee – Milwaukee WI
2/9 The Source Public House – Menasha WI
2/23 -2/24 The Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, CO
3/8 – 3rd & Lindsley Nashville – Nashville, TN
3/9 – The Legacy Theatre, Springfield – Springfield, IL
3/10 – HI-FI Indy – Indianapolis, IN
3/11 – The Southgate House Revival – Newport, KY
3/15 – Kenny’s Westside Pub – Peoria, IL
3/16 – Sondheim Theater at Fairfield Arts & Convention Center– Fairfield, IA*
3/17 – Woodlands Tavern – Columbus, OH