Jeff Austin Band’s extensive tour swung through Portland, Oregon on May 1st to help jamgrass fans celebrate May Day at the Wonder Ballroom. Jay Cobb Anderson and Kellen Asebroek of Fruition opened the show with a short, sweet set. Poor Man’s Whiskey then took the stage and continued to limber up the growing crowd.

Austin and company were in high spirits as they moved through a powerful set of traditional songs, original compositions, covers (Neil Young’s “Down By The River” was a particular standout), and the seemingly obligatory Danny Barnes tune, “Get It While You Can.”

In the employ of the Jeff Austin Band are instrumental aces Ross Martin (guitar), Eric Thorin (bass), and the aforementioned Danny Barnes (banjo). Thorin’s aggressive, driving bass provided a solid platform for the other three members to expand and explore, band members and fans alike taking joy in the improvisational nature of the band.

It’s been about a year since Austin left Yonder Mountain String Band. He recognized folks in the crowd that he’s seen from the stage of the Northwest String Summit since they were little kids. Mentioning that he’s now part of a young band, he said “you never know,” implying that maybe he’ll someday play the long-running Yonder event again. Having released that little elephant from the room, the band dove back into the music, and were still playing an hour after their scheduled ending time.

Check out show photos from Greg Homolka: