American bluegrass musician Jeff Austin, who co-founded the Yonder Mountain String Band, died over the weekend at a Seattle hospital — just one day after canceling a series of tour dates due to an unspecified “medical emergency.”
The 45-year-old mandolinist’s death was confirmed Monday on his social media pages. A cause was not given.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of a beloved family member, mandolinist, singer, songwriter and founder of The Jeff Austin Band, and Yonder Mountain String Band, Jeff Austin. Austin passed away June 24, 2019 in Seattle, Washington,” a statement said. “He was a dear friend whose music touched the lives of so many, and will be sorely missed.”
Austin, a Chicago native, spent 15 years playing with Yonder — which performed at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 — before leaving the jam band to pursue a solo career in 2014. He was touring with his own group, the Jeff Austin Band, when he suddenly became ill over the weekend.
“My friends… due to a to a medical emergency I am unfortunately unable to play,” Austin wrote on Facebook Saturday. “Thanks for your understanding and continued support.”
The father-of-three was forced to pull out of sets at ROMP music festival, Back Home Appalachian Arts & Music Festival, and Smoky Run Music Festival on Saturday before his apparent hospitalization. Austin would later die at a Seattle hospital.
The musician’s booking manager, Barron Ruth, said he passed Sunday after being put into a medically induced coma.
“We are saddened to report that we have lost our brother Jeff Austin,” read a statement from Yonder on Facebook. “Remembering the incredible times and magical moments puts us at a profound loss for words. While we honor his memory, we will continue to pray for his family and for the journey they now face without him.”
Austin is survived by his wife, Devlyn, and three kids — Lily Rose, Penelope and Jude Patrick — ages 12, 5 and 2.
A bio posted online by Austin’s family describes him as a “prominent figure in the neo-progressive bluegrass of the new millennium.” Numerous musicians, bands and music venues were honoring him Tuesday on social media, along with friends and fans.
“We are deeply saddened that we have lost Jeff Austin,” tweeted the group Umphrey’s McGee. “The UM organization mourns his passing, while celebrating the joy & laughter he brought to so many of us.”
The live online music site, nugs.net, said: “Jeff Austin’s music touched so many and had such a profound influence on the bluegrass and jam communities. You will be dearly missed.”
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