Jeff Austin, Co-Founder Of Yonder Mountain String Band, Dies

Jeff Austin
Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns/Getty Images
– Jeff Austin
performs at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Oct. 3, 2010.
Renowned mandolinist Jeff Austin, who founded Yonder Mountain String Band and Jeff Austin Band, passed away June 24 at the age of 45.
Concerns about Austin’s health began rising when he announced June 22 that he would have to cancel sets at three music festivals because of a medical emergency. His family made an announcement June 25 that he had died in Seattle and provided a link to a Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund set up to help with expenses.
Originally from Chicago, Austin founded the YMSB with Dave Johnston, Ben Kaufmann and Adam Aijala. The group’s debut album, Elevation, came out in 1999. The band has been a touring powerhouse over the years, playing scores of headline dates and touring with the likes of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones and David Grisman Quintet, and Dark Star Orchestra. 
Austin broke off from Yonder Mountain String Band in 2014 to form Jeff Austin Band. 
Remembrances and tributes to Austin poured in throughout social media after the news of his passing broke.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>We are deeply saddened to hear of Jeff Austin&#39;s passing. He will be missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends. Here’s Jeff pickin’ and grinnin’ at LOCKN’ in 2014 with Keller Williams&#39; Grateful Grass. <br> : <a href=””>@JayBlakesberg</a> <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; LOCKN&#39; (@locknfestival) <a href=””>June 26, 2019</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Hard to believe that my old neighbor <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#JeffAustin</a> is gone. I had some great times pickin’ with him, whether with String Cheese, Yonder, the Travelin McCourys or the JABand. Peace be on you Jeff. Sending your family love from everyone in the SCI camp. – Bill Nershi <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Bill Nershi (@BNershi) <a href=””>June 26, 2019</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Rest in peace, Jeff Austin. Your music graced <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#RedRocksCO</a> over the last two decades, creating fond memories and beloved experiences for all. You will be missed ❤️ <a href=”″></a></p>&mdash; Red Rocks CO (@RedRocksCO) <a href=””>June 25, 2019</a></blockquote>
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Austin spoke to Pollstar in 2011 on the origins of Yonder Mountain String Band, saying: “We never put limits on it. In the beginning we were kind of like, ‘We’ll play bluegrass music and sing in tight harmonies and everything.’ Once we let go of that while still holding on to the tradition and the coolness of the harmonies, songs and the context of the tunes, that’s when we became ourselves and started sounding like Yonder Mountain.”
You can donate to the Jeff Austin Family Fund at Sweet Relief here