Few bands stick around for thirty years. Even fewer bands leave a legacy during that time that marks them as a truly special, once-in-a-lifetime type band. And no band has done all that and had as much fun as Leftover Salmon. NPR’s Mountain Stage says, “One of the most fun-loving bands you’ll encounter, Leftover Salmon has built a fervent audience with an insatiable thirst for living, and re-living, its energetic live performances,” while Offbeat calls them, “One of the most spirited, jovial bands of the jam band nation.”
Since their earliest days as a forward thinking, progressive bluegrass band who had the guts to add drums to the mix and who was unafraid to stir in any number of highly combustible styles into their ever evolving sound, to their role as a pioneer of the modern jamband scene, to their current status as elder-statesmen of the scene who cast a huge influential shadow over every festival they play, Leftover Salmon has been a crucial link in keeping alive the traditional music of the past while at the same time pushing that sound forward with their own weirdly, unique style.
Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman says, “A long strange swim it’s been for Salmon. Through many incarnations, losses, joys, festivals, bars, barns, mountains, rivers, oceans, benefits, weddings, and goat yoga sessions; we have kept the big ball rolling with a love of music and each other to keep ourselves plowing ahead the only way we know how. Thank you all for letting us have this much fun for so long.”
The band formed in 1989 when members of two Colorado-based bands that occasionally jammed with one another, Vince Herman’s Salmon Heads joined forces with Drew Emmitt’s Left Hand String Band to play a New Year’s Eve show at the Eldo, a live music venue in Crested Butte. As the story goes, a couple of members of the Salmon Heads couldn’t make the drive from Boulder, so they recruited members of the Left Hand String Band to join in for the festivities.
The Salina Journal writes, “Leftover Salmon wasn’t meant to last more than one night, much less still be cooking 30 years later… [Since then] The band has recorded multiple best selling albums and has been an influence on a younger generation of folk-rock and bluegrass bands.”
As Leftover Salmon nears their 30th year, their inspiring story is told in a new book, Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival!, published February 2019 by Rowman & Littlefield. In this book, the critically acclaimed author of Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin’ Sound & It’s Legacy, Tim Newby presents an intimate portrait of Leftover Salmon through the personal recollections of its band members, family, friends, former band-mates, managers, and the countless musicians they have influenced. Vince says, “History is made by those who write it, not the musicians who can’t remember it, Tim Newby knows our history and now it’s up to him to teach us what happened!”
Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! is a thorough guide covering a thirty-year journey of a truly remarkable band. It is a tale of friendships and losses, musical discoveries and Wild West adventures, and the brethren they surround themselves with who fortify Salmon’s unique voice. Their story is one of tragedy and rebirth, of unimaginable highs and crushing lows, of friendships, of music, but most importantly it is the story of a special band and those that have lived through it all to create, inspire, and have everlasting fun.
Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) says of the book, “Tim Newby has somehow managed to capture the unique combination of personalities that is Leftover Salmon; a feat that I would have thought fairly impossible. As unique as their music, Tim weaves his story through the sensibilities of the individual players which creates a wonderful kaleidoscope resulting in the definitive biography of a band that is still constantly changing and growing.”
Heading into their fourth decade Leftover Salmon is showing no signs of slowing down as they are coming off the release of their most recent album, Something Higher (released in 2018), which has been universally hailed as one of the band’s finest releases. Something Higher shows how even upon preparing to enter their fourth decade Leftover Salmon is proving it possible to recreate themselves without changing who they are. Billboard writes, “By blending so many elements of two-step, rock ‘n’ roll, bluegrass and more, they’re able to repeatedly maintain a fresh sound, no matter how many years pass.”
The band now features a line-up that has been together longer than any other in Salmon history and is one of the strongest the legendary band has ever assembled. Built around the core of founding members Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman, the band is now powered by banjo-wiz Andy Thorn, and driven by the steady rhythm section of bassist Greg Garrison, drummer Alwyn Robinson, and keyboardist Erik Deutsch.
The new line-up is continuing the long, storied history of Salmon which found them first emerging from the progressive bluegrass world and coming of age as one the original jam bands, before rising to become architects of what has become known as Jamgrass and helping to create a landscape where bands schooled in the traditional rules of bluegrass can break free of those bonds through nontraditional instrumentation and an innate ability to push songs in new psychedelic directions live.
Salmon is a band who, over their thirty-year career, has never stood still; they are constantly changing, evolving, and inspiring. If someone wanted to understand what Americana music is they could do no better than to go to a Leftover Salmon show, where they effortlessly glide from a bluegrass number born on the front porch, to the down-and-dirty Cajun swamps with a stop on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, to the hallowed halls of the Ryman in Nashville, before firing one up in the mountains of Colorado.
For more information, tour dates, and other LoS news, please visit www.LeftoverSalmon.com.
Formed in Boulder at the end of 1989, the Colorado slamgrass pioneers took their form of aggressive bluegrass to rock and roll bars at a time when it wasn’t so common, helping Salmon become a pillar of the jam band scene and unwitting architects of the jam grass genre.
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