Winter Concert Series: Leftover Salmon

IMG_3990-e1333666898978It’s almost as if they come back annually to spawn.

The Sheridan Arts Foundation and Telluride Ski Resort host a night of music featuring one of the pillars of jamgrass, Leftover Salmon. The concert is part of the Winter Music Series. The Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village is the title sponsor.

Leftover Salmon performs Sunday, February 16, 9 p.m.

NPR’s Mountain Stage heralded Colorado’s Leftover Salmon as “one of the most beloved acts on America’s summer-festival circuit” as the group returned in 2012 from an eight- year hiatus touring with a new album, Aquatic Hitchhiker.

In 2013, Leftover Salmon teamed up with  Breckenridge Brewery of Colorado to deliver four new songs, which were pre-released exclusively through Breckenridge Brewery’s 12-pack Sampler Packs. Song download codes were printed on four collector’s item Artist Series coasters packaged within Sampler Packs; the artwork is also available on limited edition screen-printed posters. Fans can pick up the songs on LiveSalmon.com as well as iTunes.

Leftover Salmon was formed in Boulder by a lucky accident in 1989, arising from the flatirons and granite of the Front Range. A local band, the Salmon Heads, asked members of the Left Hand String Band to fill in some blanks in its lineup for a New Year’s Eve show at the Eldorado Cafe in Crested Butte. The end result of the mashup was a quintet that went on to pioneer its own genre: “Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass,” a fluid, loose-limbed blend of bluegrass, Cajun/Zydeco, funk, Southern rock, boogie, Caribbean, Latin and jazz influences that is at once rootsy, fluid, loose-limbed and daring. Looking back over the past 25 years of rootsy, string-based music, the impact of the band is impossible to deny.

Though the lineup would change through the years, the foundation of Leftover Salmon was built on the relationship among co-founders Drew Emmitt (vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin), Vince Herman (vocals, guitar,washboard) and Mark Vann (electric banjo). Following a decade of constant growth and constant touring, on March 4, 2002, Vann lost his battle with cancer, but insisted the band carry on .Salmon did just that for several more years leading up to an indefinite hiatus in 2005.

If Leftover Salmon had decided never played another note, the band’s legacy would have been secure. Today, however, more than two decades later, there’s a new album,  Aquatic Hitchhiker, a new banjo phenom named Andy Thorn, and a new lease on an old agreement. Leftover Salmon is officially back.

The 29-year-old Thorn grew up a Salmon fan in North Carolina. He says the band helped him realize “this is what I want to do with my life.” Ironically, it’s his presence in the group that has given Leftover Salmon a new lease on life.

“Andy’s a real young guy with a lot of great energy. He plays in a way that definitely relates to Mark’s [Vann] style and he’s a lot of fun to be around. His presence has led to a real revival that just clicks on some hard to describe level” says Herman. “We’ve played with some great banjo players over the past few years and not to say anything about them all being less than great musicians, there’s just something intangible about playing with Andy that kind of makes Drew and I look at each other and grin. This is what we’ve been missing: that feeling between Drew, Mark and I that used to be there.”

Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, Aquatic Hitchhiker is Leftover Salmon’s first recording in eight years and first ever of all original material.

“Steve [Berlin] understood where this album needed to go and how we all needed to work together as a band to make it happen” explains Emmitt.

Set for release on May 22, the recording process solidified the new Salmon, cauterizing old wounds and allowing fresh ideas to grow over past scars.

“The time is right for this band to come back on a lot of levels,” says Emmitt. “It’s taken us a little while, but I think we’re finally there.”

Today, Leftover Salmon is: Vince Herman (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin); Drew Emmitt (vocals, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, mandola, fiddle); Andy Thorn (vocals, acoustic and electric banjo, National guitar); Greg Garrison (vocals, acoustic and electric bass, acoustic guitar); Jose Martinez (drums, percussion).

Doors for the concert open at 8 p.m. Show time is  9 p.m. Tickets, $30 general admission and $45* VIP seating (private bar and special seating) are on sale at sheridanoperahouse.com or by calling 970-728-6363 ext. 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Telski is offering up to 20 percent off Ski and Stay packages in conjunction with the Winter Music Series. Visit Tellurideskiresort.com for more information.

For a preview of “Aquatic Hitchhiker,” watch this video.

*nominal ticketing fee applies

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