Leftover Salmon took Denver’s Santa Fe Art District by storm Sunday, May 13, for their Aquatic Hitchhiker free album release party. The 1p.m. event, held between 7th and 8th Ave on Santa Fe Dr. had hundreds lining up at the gate by noon with the gates opening at
1. The band held the free concert to promote the their first album release in 8 years and the only album the band has actually pressed in vinyl in addition to the traditional CD and digital downloads. The official release date for the album Aquatic Hitchhiker is set for May 22.
Once open the event saw as many as 9000 fans making it one of the largest Leftover Salmon shows ever held. Cloud filled skies gave way to sunshine and near perfect afternoon weather. Galleries, shops and restaurants were also filled with participants and many of the second story buildings became box seats for viewing the event.
Leftover Salmon teamed up with the non-profit Conscious Alliance for a fundraiser private party during and after the concert. For a donation of $50 participants were treated to
Pizza, beer, music and a private meet and greet with Denver live performance painter/artist Scramble Campbell and the all of the members of the band.
The concert was the only full two set show the band plans to play in Colorado this summer. Mixed into the nearly 30 songs performed by the band was every song on the new release. At set break several member entered the crowd to celebrate with their fans. The concert ended at 6p.m. and by 8p.m. the stage was in the process of being taken down, all the amps and equipment had been removed and a street sweeper was cleaning up.
This event is one for the record books, the first time the band has released a vinyl album, in a free concert in the streets of Denver attended by a record number of fans. For more information visit www.leftoversalmon.com.
Leftover Salmon’s newest addition, electric banjo player Andy Thorn, has come a long way from his home in North Carolina in more ways than just distance. Thorn’s energy, good nature and fast picking have landed him firmly at the top of his field of banjo players. Not only did he write the title track instrumental to the new Leftover Salmon album, Aquatic Hitchhiker, he also co-wrote and collaborated on a couple additional tracks on the work, due to officially release May 22. This will be Leftover Salmon’s first full-length album release in over eight years. And although the official release is on the 22nd, Leftover Salmon plans an album release free concert this Sunday in the Santa Fe Arts District of Denver. This will be the band’s first block party and the first time a Leftover Salmon album has been pressed in vinyl and CD. They plan to have the both versions at the event, which runs from 1-6 p.m. Sunday, May 13.
Thorn is riding high on the bluegrass scene in many ways. Aside from his Leftover Salmon work, Thorn has been the banjo player for the Emmitt-Nershi Band for over four years now and has played with the likes of Jim Lauderdale, Larry Keel, Frank Wakefield, Tony Rice, Darol Anger, Jeff Austin, Chris Thile, Tony Trishcka, Anders Beck, Travis Book and many more. Thorn also played with the Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band, winning the RockyGrass banjo and band contests in 2003 and 2005.
Leftover Salmon’s co-founder, Vince Herman said by text message that, “Andy Thorn is a really powerful, driving banjo slinger who just happens to be the nicest guy in the world, which makes him a really good guy to have in your band!”
So how does a musician make such strides in the field of bluegrass by the age of 29? The only family picker in Thorn’s past was his great uncle, who also played the banjo and was a song catcher and who spent his time documenting folklore songs. When Thorn was a young boy, his mother played piano and his folks took him to music festivals. “Merlefest was one of the first festivals they took us to, and you see everybody there, a million bands playing in Wilkesboro, N.C., two hours from where I grew up,” said Thorn at Minglewood restaurant on Tuesday.
After that he started to play guitar and at the age of 12, Thorn picked up his first banjo from his next door
neighbor’s garage sale. “I bought it for 50 bucks and my neighbor threw in the Earl Scruggs book too,” said Thorn.
Scoring a newer and better banjo, at age 15, Thorn started his own bluegrass band that he played in all through high school. He also played jazz guitar in the school band which he continued through college at that time only giving a slight preference to the grassy sound. “I was having more fun with my bluegrass band on the side because that is what we wrote songs in and just messed around but the jazz band I loved, too.”
“My Banjo heroes were definitely Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka, I got to go to some workshops with them when I was younger. I listened to Mark Vann a ton with Leftover Salmon. My biggest influence were progressive local guys in N.C. like Rex McGee and Ryan Cavanaugh, who I got to pick with and learn a lot from when I was at UNC,” said Thorn.
It was during college at The University of North Carolina when Thorn first came out to Colorado to ski. While in Durango, he met Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass and Travis Book from The Infamous Stringdusters. They talked Thorn into jamming in Colorado during his summer breaks at UNC.
After college Thorn spent a couple of years on the road with Larry Keel. It was during this time that Thorn put out his album Bolin Creek. “That was really fun, I had this big empty house and we set up a recording studio there. I had so many originals I wanted to record with all of my buddies and it was a lot of fun.”
After getting a little burnt out from touring, Thorn stayed home in North Carolina playing with the Big Fat Gap, his local bluegrass band. “I had a blast doing that, it was in town, hanging out with my friends good gigs, playing stuff around town and sleeping in my own bed.”
Thorn didn’t fully move to Colorado until he started playing with the Emmitt-Nershi Band. Some friends had tipped him off that Chris Pandolfi was due to step down from Emmitt-Nershi to focus on getting the Infamous Stringdusters going. “When I heard that Drew and Billy needed a banjo player I was really into that because I love those guys. There were other gigs that came along that I was not as into,” he said. “It’s good to keep several projects going so you don’t burn anything out.”
In addition to touring and recording with Leftover Salmon, Thorn has a number of Emmitt-Nershi shows on the books including DelFest, Wakarusa and RockyGrass. “We are doing Sunday afternoon at RockyGrass, which is my favorite festival. I love it. It’s all bluegrass, really good bluegrass,” said Thorn. “They get the best of the best at (the festival) every year.”
While working hard with both Leftover Salmon and Emmitt-Nershi, Thorn lives on bluegrass time. “It’s pretty
crazy but I still don’t need a calendar because Drew keeps track and we are usually doing the same thing,” said Thorn. “They don’t even ask me if I can do a gig anymore because they know I will do anything. They just ask Drew, ‘Can you do it?’ and if he can do it, I can do it too, so I really don’t have to be in the loop. I literally don’t have a calendar.”
When not touring Thorn can mostly be found outdoors, “I love to be outside skiing, biking, camping and pickin’, that’s how I recharge the battery and stay sane after all the time on the road.” For more information on this Sunday’s free concert visit www.leftoversalmon.com.
If You Go: Who: Leftover Salmon When: 1-6 p.m., Sunday, May 13 Where: 700 block of Santa Fe Dr., Denver Admission: Free
“I can’t wait to get back home to Colorful Colorado” summed up a great evening of music when Ft. Collins’s Good Gravy brought their high energy sound to Boulder’s Fox Theatre on March 8. This line from one of the five-piece band’s many original songs echoed what most of the enthusiastic crowd knows: Colorado’s jamgrass music scene is the best in America, and this band is one not to be missed.
After a hot jam-trance opening set by The Mahli Llama & Stan Sutton, Sutton joined Good Gravy to start their long single electric set with tight guitar solos and extended jams, which blended well with the percussion-heavy tunes that hang onto the “grass” sound through Ross Montgomery’s furious mandolin picking. After Sutton stepped aside, the band kept the crowd dancing with a high-energy setlist with a few covers – including a Devo tune! The group has released its music on a self-titled, debut studio album and on a live recording featuring recent live performances. Another studio effort is on the way in 2012.
Good Gravy plays tonight at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins. For more information visit www.goodgravygrass.com.
Former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh has some friends he plans to play with here in Colorado. Some very impressive friends I might add. Phil Lesh and Friends is the simple name Lesh uses when picking a group of musicians to play with either in a small set of shows or on tour. The list of Lesh’s past friends include Warren Haynes, Merle Saunders, Donna Jean Godchaux, Pete Sears, Bill Kreutzmann, Kyle Hollingsworth, Michael Kang, Billy Nershi, Jeff Mattson, Bill Payne, Steve Kimmock, Derek Trucks, Jimmy Herring and the list goes on.
This year I am happy to report that Phil’s friends are an amazing group of artists set to play a three night engagement at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield. When the shows were first announced the lineup included musicians John Schofield, Warren Haynes, Jackie Green and Furthur’s drummer Joe Russo. I was very excited. On Tuesday Lesh announced, via his Facebook page, the
addition of Rat Dog and Furthur keyboardist, Jeff Chimenti. These shows are on track to be amazing.
From Lesh’s Facebook page “Jeff Chimenti has been added to the lineup for the Phil Lesh and Friends shows in Broomfield, CO on February 16, 17 and 18! Tickets available at www.tickethorse.com”
Phil Lesh and Friends have not played in Colorado since the creation of the Lesh and Bob Weir band Furthur.
If you want to go and don’t have tickets, you may want to check out Mountain Sun on Pearl St. I went in the other day and got a ticket with a free beer for $50 dodging the service charges that the regular ticket outlets add to the ticket price. Plus February is Stout Month at the brewpub. See you at the shows.
Bloggers note: Special thanks to artist Matt Brown for letting me use his fantastic poster art for this post.
Boulder Theater was host to the 9th Annual Mark Vann Foundation benefit concert, Friday Dec. 16. Many local artists were on hand to help celebrate the life of former Leftover Salmon banjo player Mark Vann who succumbed to cancer in 2002 at the age of 39. The event offered a silent auction, collectables for sale and a showcase of some of the best local musicians on the Jam grass circuit.
Drunken Hearts with Yarmony Grass Founder Andrew McConathy kicked off the event followed by the Bill McKay Band. The whole evening had musicians from various bands joining each other on stage for some great improvised jams.
Next up was a surprise 5 song set from Vince Herman and sons called The Herman Clan (THC) including Sean LeFoil, Colin Huff, Silas Herman, and Sebulon Bowles with Vince Herman and Chris Sheldon of Great
American Taxi. The band had the Boulder Theater jumping. I especially enjoyed when they performed a Jim Page song “Over My Dead Body” that Vince said is being considered for the anthem of the Occupy movement.
Next up The Contribution with Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth, Keith Moseley of String Cheese Incident, Phil Ferlino and Jeff Miller of New Monsoon, Sheryl Renee of Black Swan and Matt Butler of Everyone Orchestra. This band was amazing and kicked the audience energy up a notch to eleven.
Great American Taxi took the stage next with many
different artists joining the band. GAT played a good number of songs off of their latest album “Paradise Lost.”
The venue was full but not packed, which made for a wonderful groove where folks were shaking a leg in most every part of the Boulder Theater.
It should be noted that artist Scramble Campbell was there with brush in hand and in usual fashion created multiple wonderful performance artworks of the bands as the music played.
The evening kicked into overdrive when Matt Butler brought everyone on stage for the Everyone Orchestra. Well over twenty musicians joined in the jam with artists sharing the stage, microphones and instruments for a great jam and a good cause. Everyone was smiling and having a good time. These types of celebrations are a joy to attend.