Leftover Salmon returns to celebrate ski season | SteamboatToday.com

Leftover Salmon returns to celebrate ski season

At 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Leftover Salmon will take the Steamboat Stage with its current lineup, including Garrison, on vocals and acoustic and electric base; Vince Herman on vocals, acoustic guitar and washboard; Drew Emmitt on vocals, acoustic and electric mandolin, electric guitar and fiddle; Andy Thorn on vocals and acoustic and electric banjo; Erik Deutsch on keyboards and Alwyn Robinson on drums.

— Leftover Salmon member Greg Garrison got his first taste of bluegrass in 1997, at the 25th annual RockyGrass Festival in Lyons, Colorado.

The Del McCoury Band, Béla Fleck, Tim O'Brien, Hot Rize, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice and Jerry Douglas, all known as pioneers in the bluegrass genre, were among the primary headliners at that festival.

"It left a huge impact on me," Garrison said Monday after Leftover Salmon had finished playing Winter Wondergrass in Tahoe. "I think it was the genuine side of music that bluegrass versus rock music brings. It attracts a different kind of atmosphere that's always a good time; it's, upbeat, happy music."

At 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Leftover Salmon will take the Steamboat Stage with its current lineup, including Garrison, on vocals and acoustic and electric base; Vince Herman on vocals, acoustic guitar and washboard; Drew Emmitt on vocals, acoustic and electric mandolin, electric guitar and fiddle; Andy Thorn on vocals and acoustic and electric banjo; Erik Deutsch on keyboards and Alwyn Robinson on drums.

The band members are no strangers to Steamboat Springs.

They've headlined local shows at the Free Summer Concert Series; older venues, such as Levelz; and a live-recorded show at the Inferno. Their return to Steamboat this weekend will celebrate the 2015-2016 ski season at the final Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert Series.

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Proclaiming their music "polyethnic-Cajun-slamgrass," Garrison said the band’s repertoire includes calypso, reggae, funk, blues, ska polka, country, rock or jam-influenced tunes. Bluegrass, however, remains at Leftover Salmon’s core.

"The common ground where we meet is bluegrass," he said. "Anything else comes from a shared pool of musical influences that resonates strongly with each of us and goes into each show we do."

One Steamboat musician, Randy Kelley, remembers where those bluegrass roots flourished. Kelley recalls a little place in Boulder known as Left Hand Canyon, where the frenetic fireworks of the fiddle and the jangle of the banjo were standard fare.

"Every Sunday, in the summer, little circles of musicians stood around at these picking parties in Left Hand Canyon," Kelley said. "We weren't playing for an audience or even for a party. We were just playing for ourselves. Standing out in the sunshine on a beautiful Colorado afternoon, we would just play music and drift from circle to circle and play with everyone, because we were all in the same place — eager to learn and really, just to play music."

Kelley said this was where he met musicians such as Emmitt — before he started the Lefthand String Band — Tim O'Brien, who went on to form Hot Rize, and Dan Sadowski, who later became "Pastor Mustard," MC of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

"People were taking chances within the music there, because they felt comfortable to do that and try different stuff," Kelley said. "We just had so much fun, and there was this willingness to do goofy things. We could be playing a fairly traditional bluegrass tune, and then a banjo player could start going off in a different direction, and we would all follow him."

This improvisation and willingness to go in various directions based on each member's personal influences and skill is part of what differentiates Leftover Salmon.

"With bluegrass music, because a big part of it is the instrumental solos, it has a lot of room for creativity," Kelley said. "There's something about bluegrass that really lends itself to improvisation. Leftover Salmon is one of those bands that is really able to maximize what the other musicians in the band can do."

The group’s live album, "25," released in November, celebrates 25 years of Leftover Salmon and speaks to the band's looser, more extended improv sections that offer longer jams, Garrison said. But even with the new directions, the band is still guided by the older influences from Emmitt's days in the Lefthand String Band and Herman's stint with Salmon Heads.

"Vince and Drew write with the same themes and key elements with respect to what they want to do with the sound of the band," Garrison said. "We are always growing and doing different things based on the influence of new members, but we go back to that old repertoire often, because it helps everything stay cohesive."

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

If You Go…

What: Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert Series presents Leftover Salmon

When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 10

Where: Steamboat Stage, Gondola Square