Agave in Avon hosts Jeff Austin Band on Saturday, Dec. 10 | VailDaily.com

Agave in Avon hosts Jeff Austin Band on Saturday, Dec. 10

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Jeff Austin began playing the mandolin a few years before co-founding progressive bluegrass outfit Yonder Mountain String Band, a group with which he parted ways in 2014. He now fronts the Jeff Austin Band, which will take the stage at Agave in Avon on Saturday, Dec. 10.

AVON — "When I'm writing a song, it's not about the hot licks; it's about the voice and how it can be showcased from song to song," said musician Jeff Austin. "It's the direct communication with the crowd — not just asking them how they're feeling, but bringing something out of them."

For Austin, the act of speaking to people through his art literally means using his voice. The career of the Colorado-based artist has seen him break through jam and bluegrass scenes and play stages from The Fillmore Auditorium in Denver to Red Rocks Amphitheater and outdoor events such as Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, among many others.

But with the launch of his solo career in 2014, Austin is now building on the foundations of previous ventures while honing his own sound and charting new courses.

"I've learned a lot from the people I've played with," said Austin, who has shared stages with Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Earle Scruggs, Jon Fishman and Phil Lesh. "From both the rock side and the bluegrass side, I've learned a lot about song structure, solo ideas, playing with guts and being who you are."

Austin began playing the mandolin a few years before co-founding progressive bluegrass outfit Yonder Mountain String Band, a group with which he parted ways in 2014. And, picking prowess aside, Austin has always considered his voice to be his first instrument.

'The work continues'

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He was attracted to singing from a young age, pursuing musical theater in high school and college, and he readily admits to still loving musicals, being fascinated by Madrigal singers and tuning in to a wide range of vocal powerhouses. He channels all of these influences into his solo career, while also seeking personal innovation.

For his newest project, Austin sought out musicians on the cutting edge of acoustic and jazz music circles, artists proficient in theory and technique, but not afraid to lend themselves to some "far-out arrangements." The result is some of Austin's most structured, yet exciting, compositions to date, with an approach that fits within his own evolving journey and personal motto: "The work continues."

When it comes to dynamics and structure, Austin taps the variety of sounds and styles he's absorbed from theater, jamming, nearly 20 years of performance and his love of experiencing live music as a fan. It's that inner concert enthusiast that binds him to his audience and the exchange between the stage and the crowd.

"I hope they take with them exactly what I hope they leave with us," he said. "And that's inspiration."

If you go …

What: Jeff Austin Band with Sweet Lillies.

When: Saturday, Dec. 10; doors open at 9 p.m., with show at 10 p.m.

Where: Agave, 1060 W. Beaver Creek Blvd., Avon.

Cost: $15.

More information: Call 970-748-8666, or visit http://www.agaveavon.com.