Bluegrass band takes stage

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The last time Drew Emmitt was in Steamboat Springs, he was on stage breathing a last sigh with his band, Leftover Salmon. Emmitt fronted the popular band for 15 years. It was a wild ride and a learning experience that established Emmitt as one of the heavies of the Colorado music scene.

Emmitt is leveraging his name and his past success to attract audiences to his latest project, the Drew Emmitt Band.

Since that last Leftover Salmon show, the Drew Emmitt Band has been touring full force, visiting the Southeast and stopping in Nashville to record an album. The band's first album is due out in June.

Band members drew on their music connections for the new album, bringing in special guests such as Del McCoury, Sam Bush and Paul Barrere of Little Feat.

With his new band, Emmitt takes the sound back to his early bluegrass roots. The band's banjo- and fiddle-driven song "Freedom Ride" has received a lot of radio airtime.

The Drew Emmitt Band formed a couple of years ago, but it wasn't until Leftover Salmon took its final bow that the group got a chance to focus on what it wanted to become.

"These last couple months have been very different for me," Emmitt said. "It's like a weight's been lifted. Salmon was a great experience, but it needed to stop for a while so we could each get a chance to look at our life in a new light."

The Drew Emmitt band has performed on several festival stages during the years, including Rockygrass and the Four Corners festival, but this fall and winter has been the band's first time touring.

For the past couple of months, Emmitt said he has been inspired to write, usually thinking up lyrics while on long drives from gig to gig.

This afternoon, audience members can expect to hear a few original bluegrass tunes mixed with some traditional tunes by Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Hot Rize and a few songs whose authors have been lost in history.

For fans of Leftover Salmon, Emmitt describes his new band as Leftover without the drums and keyboards. (Leftover's bass player, Greg Garrison, and Matt Flinner, who replaced banjo player Mark Vann after his death, are among the members of the Drew Emmitt Band.)

"It's like my side of Salmon," Emmitt said. "This band is more about bluegrass and songwriting."

The band is propelled by a similar music-business machine as Leftover Salmon was, only smaller.

"It's really grassroots and stripped down," Emmitt said. The group has been playing smaller venues such as local art centers and spaces such as the Telluride Opera House.

"Our shows are more acoustic oriented," he said. "It's definitely different than playing in those large venues with the bright lights. You can actually see your audience."

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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