Drew Emmit and Vince Herman were driving up the interstate from Atlanta, headed to Knoxville, Tennessee, when we talked on the phone. The two took the road for the first time as a duo playing a batch of intimate performances in Atlanta, Knoxville, and Asheville, NC’s Asheville Music Hall.
The buzz was penetrating the phone waves. The two were enthusiastic about the current shows but reeling with excitement for the first time Leftover Salmon (LOS) perform at Mission ballroom on New Years’. This marks 30 years of NYE performances for the band.
“I would have to say, to begin with, this is probably the most fun version of Leftover Salmon we’ve ever had.” Drew Emmit, mandolin player, vocalist, and founding member of Leftover Salmon says. “It’s just such a fun band these days with all these wonderful bandmates that we have. We’re excited to tear it up, and we’re excited to play this new venue.”
Vince Herman, guitarist, vocalist, washboard, and founding member of Leftover Salmon, adds, “It’s going to be freaking awesome.”
On the bill for this New Year shebang is one of the members of the Rolling Stones, Karl Denson, (also known from Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe), and Lindsey Lou and the Flat Bellies, “Lindsey Lou and the Flat Bellies are making a great impact on the scene now. She’s a badass singer. Love her whole energy. And, we have a special surprise band that is unannounced,” Vince says.
When the group first came together, they combined two bands, the Salmon Heads and the Left Hand String Band. They performed material from both of those bands, and they wanted to play ski areas. “Bluegrass back then was only a summertime thing. You could only play festivals, occasional theaters, and such,” Drew says. “But we were trying to figure out a way we could play one (a ski resort). We did a lot of covers, and we were doing a lot of Zydeco and Cajun stuff. I think over the years; we’ve all written a bunch of songs and become more of a band that plays originals. We’ve carved out our own sound that way, and it definitely evolved quite a lot from the early days.”
Leftover went on to play many ski resorts, and even beyond that, sell out venues across the globe. They have a devoted following mixed with veteran fans and newbies. They are legends in Nederland, in Colorado, and in bluegrass. LOS emerged and created a whole new genre of music by combining many styles.
After 30 years, they finally got it figured out on what they want to put out in the world and who they want to be by their side.
“We added Erik Deutsch three years ago after a Bill Payne left to go to the Doobie Brothers,” Vince says. “Erik was available, and we scooped him up. He’s an old friend from Boulder years and years ago. He’s a great player and brings a lot of different kinds of sounds to the band. Alwyn Robinson on drums has been with us five years. We were really lucky to find him. It’s all cumulative. We are really happy with where we are right now.”
Drew adds, “There is Andy Thorn on the banjo. You know, when Andy came into the fold, we felt like we had a band again. That was the first piece of the puzzle that helped put it all back together. Losing Mark Vann was such a huge loss. Such a gaping hole at our sound and our family and everything. Such a great friend and everything, it took some recovering, some perseverance. Finally, finding Andy, I think, really solidifies the new era for the band and having these other guys, it’s been great.”
Expect to hear some old favorites and some new material from Leftover Salmon. They self-produced and self-recorded an album in October of 2019 (to be released) in Asheville, North Carolina at the Echo Mountain Studio.
The first release of the album is ‘Songs You’ve Left Unsung,’ which is a tribute to Jeff Austin from bassist Greg Garrison who knew Jeff since middle school. Proceeds of the download benefit the family of Austin who survived after his death earlier this year. This download is available on Backline, a resource for mental health & wellness for the music industry.
As it is under the big top, expect wild rides of musical exploration and fun-filled moments of dancing. Clowns. Excitement. Explosions of joy.
“It will be fun, wacky, and wild and wonderful and weird and wasteful,” Vince says.
Full information on shows and ticket links can be found below:
12/27 – Center for the Arts – Crested Butte, CO
12/28 – Center for the Arts – Crested Butte, CO
12/31 – Mission Ballroom – Denver, CO
Read more interviews of Leftover Salmon from Scene, Thirty years of Leftover Salmon stories.