The sound of Colorado’s legendary Leftover Salmon is unmistakable: fluid, loose-limbed, and simultaneously rootsy and daring. Fusing an unrivaled improvisational fervor to a dizzying combination of bluegrass, Cajun, funk, Southern rock, boogie, Caribbean, Latin, and jazz influences, Leftover Salmon has earned a legion of diehard fans, critical accolades, and a reputation as one of the most exciting, engaging concert experiences to ever hit the road.
The origins of Leftover Salmon are as intriguing as their name. The group was born in Boulder, Colorado in 1989, as the result of a merger between Vince Herman (from Cajun/Calypso/jugband The Salmonheads) and Drew Emmitt and Mark Vann (of progressive bluegrass Left Hand String Band.)
Leftover self-released their first album, Bridges to Bert in 1992 and the live Ask the Fish in 1995. They were then signed to Hollywood records, who released Euphoria in 1997 and the widely-heralded Nashville Sessions in 1999. The recording of The Nashville Sessions was a star studded affair that paired Leftover with an A-list of Nashville’s most notable session players, including Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Reese Wynans, John Cowan, and Sally Van Meter. Country legends Earl Scruggs, Waylon Jennings and Lucinda Williams also contributed, as did many of the bands friends from the road, including Blues Traveler’s John Popper, John Bell from Widespread Panic and Big Head Todd’s Todd Park Mohr.
In 2002, Leftover Salmon signed with Compass Records label and released Live (pronounced “liv”), a live album designed in tribute to the late Mark Vann. Vann urged the band to continue after being diagnosed with melanoma, and since his untimely passing in spring of 2002, they continued to tour relentlessly, playing countless clubs, theatres and appearing at every festival known to mankind, wowing their audiences with their crazy antics and powerful musical mélange.
2003 saw the band take part in a critically acclaimed tour with bluegrass giants the Del McCoury Band and released an album with the rock band Cracker titled O’ Cracker Where Art Thou?, release on David Lowey’s Pitch A Tent label. Similarly, the band can play both folk and rock festivals, and they’ve performed in elegant theaters and in grungy rock clubs. Leftover Salmon is the rare band with a broad enough sound and a large enough repertoire to shape its set list to fit any crowd and any venue.
2004 brought a new studio album self titled Leftover Salmon released on Compendia Records. For this album, the band broke its pattern of inviting scores of musical guests to participate. This time, Leftover Salmon decided to focus on their own special ensemble play. The only instrumental guest was the producer Bill Payne of Little Feat, who adds a spicy piano track to “Whispering Waters”. “How could you have Bill Payne in the studio and pass up the chance to get him to play on your record,” Vince Herman points out. Singer K.C. Groves adds harmony on “Woody Guthrie,” but otherwise the band goes it alone.
The end of 2004 also brought an end to Leftover Salmon. A statement was posted to the bands website on 6/15/2004 that read: We are aware of the rumors that have been circulating over the past few weeks and would like to let everyone know what’s going on so there is no confusion. The band is indeed going to take a break at the end of this year. After years of touring everyone is ready for some time off to spend with their families and to pursue solo projects that Salmon’s busy schedule has not permitted. As of right now the future of Leftover Salmon is uncertain but the band is not breaking up, just taking a break. Mark wanted us to continue after he left the band and that’s what we did. We have toured just as hard, rebuilt the band and put out a new record. Now we feel that we can take a break without letting him down. We’re all very proud of our latest release, Leftover Salmon, and after experiencing so many ups and downs, it feels right to step back while on this high. We want to thank the Salmon family, our friends, and especially our fans as this dream would have never come true if it wasn’t for you. We look forward to seeing your faces as we continue to perform in various projects and hope you will all support our decisions and future ventures. This band has created a lifetime of memories for us and that is something that can never go away. The Festivaaal will go on. We will be performing several shows and festivals throughout the summer and play our 3rd annual Halloween celebration at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver on Saturday October 30th this year. After that, the final show will be New Year’s Eve, which marks 15 years to the date of the first Leftover Salmon performance. We are excited to reach such a milestone and hope all who can, will join us this New Year’s. Check our web site for details-to-come.
On the early morning hours of January 1st 2005 the band left the stage at the Fox Theatre in Boulder Colorado leaving behind them the band Leftover Salmon which had been apart of their lives and so many fans for the past 15 years.
2007, 27 months after it’s last performance a press release from the band stated that it would return that summer for a handful of reunion shows. The line up was that same as it was when it ended in 2004 with the exception of Jeff Sipe. Jeff who was the bands long time drummer had left in 2000 to pursue other career options. Jeff rounded out the line up that would perform a few summer festivals and grace the stage of the bands famous home state venue Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The first unofficial performance took place at the Telluride Bluegrass festival on June 24 billed as Drew Emmitt, Vince Herman and Friends.
With downloads available of all the 2007 summer performances and two Colorado holiday dates announced around New Years the bands future is still uncertain, but by no means over. Stay tuned as these musicians will surly be playing music in some format for years to come.