Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band on tomorrow night's Fourmile Canyon Benefit

Categories: Interviews

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This Saturday night at 1STBANK Center, four of Colorado's biggest bands -- Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and the String Cheese Incident -- take the stage, along with members of Phish, to raise money for victims of the Fourmile Canyon fire last month. We caught up with Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band who gave us the lowdown on how things got put together and what to expect tomorrow night.

I was under the impression that the idea benefit came out of the YMSB camp, at least partially... What's the story? how did you guys get involved?

Jeff Austin: That is true. A few days after the fire had started, I sent out an email to our crew talking about how we should organize something to raise some cash. At the same time, the folks at KBCO were also talking to our management about putting something together, because they knew we were all home. So, that's how it started.

The next day after we started discussions, the guys from Big Head Todd said they wanted to be involved. The original date was October 7 at the Boulder Theatre with YMSB and Big Head Todd. Then, the very next day, the Cheese guys wanted to get involved, as well as the Salmon camp. The more the merrier, we thought. It seemed like a bigger venue would not only be a good idea, but would allow for more tickets to be sold... therefore raising more cash.

How about getting the guys from phish involved, how did that go?

I spoke to our management company, who also manages Phish, to see if they guys in Phish might be willing to donate some signed items for an auction to raise even more money. Well, that conversation happened in the early afternoon, and by that night, Trey had said he would love to contribute in a bigger way: By actually showing up and playing.

That spiraled into the rest of the guys in Phish wanting to be involved. Suddenly, this Thursday night at the Boulder Theatre had turned into all these bands wanting to play for one cause, and it was amazing. We moved it into the 1STBank Center the night before the Phish run started, because they offered for us to use their gear, seeing as that they were going to be in town and setup by that day, anyway. It's just crazy how it all came together.

I would assume you are among the many of us with friends who had friends up in Four Mile, if so... how are they doing and will this benefit them directly?

The folks I know who were affected by the fire were lucky to have not lost their homes. I do have a few firefighter buddies who saw a lot of time on the line, and there will be a special presentation to them and their firehouses the night of the benefit.

You live up in the foothills, seeing the devastation this fire caused, did it make you re-evaluate anything like material possessions, what is important, etc?

The fire definitely made me make sure I have an emergency bag packed just in case. I also made a mental list of the things that I would grab in case of an evacuation: instruments, paper, paintings, a few other very meaningful items.

You guys have played with Fishman in the past, would it be safe to assume a similar collaboration could occur on Saturday night? What can we expect at the benefit?

All I can say is anything and everything is possible...But, yes, our favorite drummer will more than likely be rejoining us for more than a few tunes.

Anything else you want to add about the benefit or the fire?

I think the turnout and interest of folks says it all. We all - not just the musician side of it - have rallied behind a common cause to make something incredible happen. Imagine if this kind of thing could happen everywhere? A benefit for farmers in trouble in Illinois? A benefit for the homeless or folks battling addiction in Austin, Texas? The possibilities are endless. All it takes is for one voice to call people into action. It does help if you have someone loud doing the talking!

Fourmile Canyon Relief Benefit Show, featuring Yonder Mountain String Band, Big Head Todd, Leftover Salmon, the String Cheese Incident and members of Phish, 6 p.m. Saturday, October 9, 1STBANK Center, Broomfield, Sold Out! (anyone who wants to donate still can visit Commfound.org).


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