Who: Jeff Austin & Friends
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Gold Hill Inn, 401 Main St., Gold Hill
Jeff Austin’s getting ready to hit the road with Yonder Mountain String Band, but the versatile musician’s going to show off his special side project this weekend.
Austin is Yonder Mountain’s talented mandolin player, and he just played two sold-out shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Fox Theatre with his band. The concerts showed off the group’s new CD, The Show, and pumped up the group for its fall tour.
That’s why it’s a good time for Jeff Austin & Friends to play the Mishawaka Amphitheatre tonight and the Gold Hill Inn on Sunday.
“This fall is going to be insane in Yonderland,” Austin said. “There’s going to be a lot of traveling to promote our new CD.
“It was great playing the Fox and Red Rocks a few weeks back. It’s nice that people in Colorado still want to come out and see us play.”
Austin loves performing with Yonder Mountain, but the artist’s side projects give him a chance to show off the other sides of his musical persona.
Local fans may be surprised to find out Austin’s musical origins. The performer got his taste for the stage by performing in high school shows.
“Performing in those shows really taught me how to interpret music and mood,” Austin said. “It helped me find a way to connect with crowds. When you come from that kind of background, you really build a different kind of connection with your audiences.”
Austin makes good use of those skills, as he’s always animated and engaged with the Yonder Mountain fans.
The musician also will be using those talents with Jeff Austin & Friends.
“My own projects keep growing and changing,” Austin said. “The band I’m performing with this weekend is a good excuse to spend time with musicians I really appreciate.
“I’ll be playing with Danny Barnes — he’s about to massively explode on the pop market, and I’ll be playing with top-caliber musician Eric Thorin.”
Austin’s also getting ready to release a rock record with Umphrey McGee’s guitarist/vocalist Brendan Bayliss.
The two musicians forged a solid musical friendship and developed a brand of music that goes beyond the bounds of Yonder Mountain and Umphrey’s.
“I like to make music that’s not always bound by bluegrass, folk and rock,” Austin said. “I like to create a space where I can play a little bit of everything.
“Brendan and I have been working on our rock project for three or four years. It’s a great musical outlet for us and the music has its own sound. We got some help on the record from the North Mississippi Allstars’ Cody Dickinson and ‘etown’s’ Nick Forster.”
Austin and Yonder Mountain also are getting ready to rock out New Year’s Eve in Denver.
Yonder Mountain is slated to play Dec. 30 and 31 at the Fillmore Auditorium. The band’s also playing a Dec. 29 show at the Boulder Theater.
“This may be the last New Year’s we play in Denver for awhile,” Austin said. “There’s some other great places that might be worth exploring.”
MTHDS stands for Music That Heightens Different Senses.
The Colorado band has a knack for fusing different genres into one great musical stew. The group uses cool melodies and beats in its mix, and the act’s opened shows for Asher Roth, 3OH!3 and the Roots.
Tonight, MTHDS headlines the University of Colorado’s Club 156. The band will show off its dance-driven music for the all-ages crowd.
“We all met up in Vail and we started playing in clubs,” MC Don Dillen said. “The band is hip-hop oriented, but we also love reggae, classic rock and funk. Our music is a fusion of all the things we like to listen to.
“So far, it’s been working out good. We’re really gonna break it out at Club 156 with all originals and some stuff off our new album. We’re going to throw in some very interesting covers, too.”