Jeff Austin (born in Arlington Heights, Illinois) is a mandolinist and singer best known for being a part of the Yonder Mountain String Band.
Although Austin was born in Arlington Heights, he grew up in Elk Grove, Illinois and attended Rolling Meadows High School. Austin attended the University of Cincinnati, but soon made his way to Urbana, Illinois, where he met future banjoist Dave Johnston. Receiving a request from Johnston to perform in his band The Bluegrassholes, Austin picked up the mandolin for the first time. After some time, Austin moved to Nederland, Colorado; Johnston, after seeking improvement in his playing ability, also moved to Nederland. While attending a club called the Verve, Austin met Adam Aijala and Ben Kaufmann, with whom he and Johnston would form the Yonder Mountain String Band.
In late 2013, Jeff announced that he would be taking a leave of absence from Yonder due to the pending birth of his child. In a statement, he said the following:
Hello, friends...Jeff Austin here...just taking a minute to write and let you know of a few things coming up.
In late January 2014, my incredible wife and I are going to be welcoming the newest addition to our family into the world...a beautiful baby girl...an experience that we are both as excited about as new parents can be. This event also happens to coincide with the first Yonder Mountain tour of 2014. After much thought and a final decision by all parties involved, I wanted you all to know that I won't be able to be a part of that tour. Nothing in this world is bigger in life than family...and in this case, not even the music I love so dearly.
Joining the band on that tour will be my brothers in life and music, The Travelin' McCourys. I am humbled that some of my mentors will be taking up the reins and making music in my absence with the band I've given so much of my life to. Whereas I will miss feeding off the energy of all you incredible fans each night...getting to hear reports of them adding new life and energy to the music of Yonder Mountain is something I will relish in hearing from afar.
I want you to know that this decision was not something taken lightly. My family and I appreciate not only your understanding, love, and support during this time, but your confidence that this isn't only the right decision to make...it is the only decision to make.
Dance hard, spread love, and give every single bit of your incredible energy to those musicians who will take my place. Show them what you are made of, Kinfolk.
Much love jAustin
As of April 23, 2014, Jeff Austin is no longer a member of Yonder Mountain String Band. Citing creative differences and conflicting career goals, the band announced an amicable parting of ways.
In February 2006, Austin recorded Rex (Live at the Fillmore), a live album under the band name Grateful Grass featuring fellow musicians Keller Williams and Keith Moseley (The String Cheese Incident). Available only for digital download, the album features non-traditional bluegrass versions of songs by the Grateful Dead with 100% of the proceeds going to the Rex Foundation.
In 2010, he partnered with Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey's Mcgee to form a group called 30db. They put out an album called "One Man Show" on May 11, 2010 and played a small 7 show tour in May 2010 to promote the new album. Joining them on tour was Cody Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars, Nick Forster from the bluegrass band Hot Rize, and Boulder based Eric Thorin.