The 15th Annual NedFest starts today in Nederland, Colorado. Often called the most family fun festival in Colorado, the event has evolved into an event in support of music education for mountain children. The Colorado Daily’s Ashley Dean wrote a nice article to preview this year’s event. Another nice write up by the Mountain Ear can be found here.
Watch the Daily Camera home page and this blog for some short video interviews and views from the festival or better yet… head up the mountain for a really good time. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, for more information and this year’s lineup, click here. Check out this video by Daily Camera photo journalist Jeremy Papasso.
Twenty four years ago Drew Emmitt of The Left Hand String Band sat in with Vince Herman’s Salmon Heads at the Mill site for a gig. That was the beginnings for a now favorite Colorado Band, Leftover Salmon. Next the group played a new year’s show in Crested Butte in 1989, maybe the first official LS show. And then the magic happened at the Telluride Bluegrass festival when an impromptu campground jam session introduced Vince and Drew to banjo player Mark Vann. The rest as they say is history.
Today Leftover Salmon is at the top of the jam grass circuit selling out shows and performing at festivals from coast to coast. Spreading their Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass and redefining the kind of music a string band can perform.
Like all bands with the staying power of 24 years Leftover Salmon has seen many changes. After the passing of Mark Vann in 2002 to cancer, the band went through some tough times and even went on hiatus for a couple of years. Members worked on on their own projects like Vince Herman’s Great American Taxi and Drew’s Emmit/Nershi band teaming up with Billy Nershi of the String Cheese Incident. It was in the Emmit/Nershi band that they discovered Andy Thorn. Thorn, still in his twenties was already an accomplished banjo player that had won the Rockygrass banjo and band contest in 2003 and 2005.
Once Thorn sat in with Leftover Salmon the band found new life. They began hitting the festival circuit and put out their first album in 8 years “Aquatic Hitchhiker.”
Now the Leftover Salmon is back in full swing, again selling out shows and creating new music. The band just got back from Suwanee Springfest and have been in the studio all week recording new songs to release this summer. It is here that Rocky Mountain Jams caught up with Drew Emmitt, Salmon’s mandolin, guitar and fiddle player who was kind enough to offer up an interview.
RMJ: Hi Drew, thank you for talking with us today, is this a good time.
DREW: Yeah, we’re actually in the studio.
RMJ: That’s great news. You’re cutting new tracks that you’re going to release in conjunction with a brewery?
DREW: Yes we’re right now working on six tracks to go with Breckenridge Brewery. And if we have time we’re trying to get a full record out of it. It’s going great. We didn’t think we had anything. All of a sudden we show up at the studios and everyone’s got some great ideas, and we’ve got some really cool songs coming together, it’s exciting.
RMJ: So this is all new songs, previously unrecorded?
DREW: It’s all brand new, YEP! And we’re basically collaborating in the studio, and coming up with all this new material. It’s really fun and exciting.
RMJ: I know in the past you’ve collaborated with other artists on your albums, is there anybody else in the mix?
DREW: Um, not really. I mean not so far. A couple of the tunes I sort of brain stormed with Bill Nershi, so he’s a bit of a part of it but at this point I’d say that it’s all within the band.
RMJ: I heard you got a little soggy this weekend down in Florida at Suwanee Springfest?
DREW: Oh yeah it was great. Yes it was a really fun time. Yes we did get a little soggy. And in fact we did spend most of Saturday in the hotel room; but it was a great festival, it was a lot of fun.
RMJ: Are you thinking about doing a live album anytime soon in Salmon’s future?
DREW: Not really, there’s really no plans to do that. No. We originally planned to do this record and do another one in the fall. As far as things are going this might be our main focus now and just work on getting this out. We’re just going to go with the flow and see what happens at this point. It’s great because we got the creative juices flowing, you know? There’s no telling where it’s going to lead.
RMJ: Is the New Year’s gig in Crested Butte in ’89 considered the first Leftover Salmon show?
DREW: Pretty much, although we did a gig at the mill site with was the Salmon Heads and I went and sat in along with our bass player from Left Hand String Band. So that might have been one of the earlier incarnations. But really where it all started was Telluride. When we were all in the campground and we decided to enter the band contest, and also play a gig at the Roma. So that was probably really the incarnation of LS, what was going on in the Telluride campground.
RMJ: You guys met Mark Vann there in Telluride, right?
DREW: That’s exactly right and that was that year.
RMJ: What would you say is the biggest difference between the Salmon of 20 years ago and the Salmon of today?
DREW: Well there are a lot of differences. There are some new people in the band. We’re definitely a lot more refined. And we’ve learned a lot. We’ve been doing this for almost 24 years. And the original band was kind of a conglomerate between the Salmon Heads and the Left Hand String Band, and we were trying to find our “sea-legs” and figure out what it was this band was going to be. And there was an accordion player so it was a little more Cajun-ey, and a little less bluegrass and rock-n-roll. And I think now we’re more defined by our originals, as well. Basically back then we were throwing songs together and doing covers; we had a few originals. Now we have a whole lot more originals and I think we’ve defined ourselves a lot more since then.
RMJ: I heard Vince say once that you guys have a repertoire of something like 400 songs you can draw from at any one time.
DREW: mm-hmm. Yeah we’ve got quite a few. And we’ve got some we don’t do real often, only every once in a while. But yeah there’s quite a catalogue to work from.
RMJ: Are you guys gonna be ready to perform one of these new songs this weekend at your gigs at the Bluebird?
DREW: I think so. I think we’re going to be able to bust out with a couple of them. We’ll just see how brave we get. But also we’ve got a special guest coming in today. Sugar Blue from Chicago. Great, great harmonica player. He’s been tracking with us. He’s on the Rolling Stone’s “Some Girls” album. You know that harmonica line to “Miss You,” that’s Sugar Blue. Yeah so we’ll get to feature him the next couple of nights. Yeah we’re really looking forward to this run of shows it should be a blast.
RMJ: Salmon’s got a lot of gigs coming up. What about Emmitt/Nershi? Anything on the calendar?
DREW: Well we’re kind of stepping back from that. There’s really no plans, there’s nothing on the books for Emmitt Nershi Band. I think that Billy and I both felt like it was time to focus on Salmon and String Cheese. And I think Billy also felt like he wanted to be home more. And so we just decided to step back from that. And at this point there’s really no plans to do anything. We’ll see. If some things come up then we’ll entertain the thought. But at this point that band is officially on hiatus, (laughs) until further notice.
RMJ: We were lucky enough to catch you and Andy at the Boulder Theater the other night. That was a very cool performance. Do you think there might be any more of that in the future?
DREW: We’re doing a thing at the Mishawaka, opening for Head For The Hills on May 18. We’re going to do a trio with Andy Hall from String Dusters on DoBro. Yeah, we’re going to kind of fill in here and there. I’m going to get my band going again. Probably more a bluegrass context. But it’s really nice right now to just focus on Salmon. You know the last few years were so busy. Once Salmon got going again you know the Emmitt Nershi Band was tracking too. And I was never home. So it’s nice to focus on Salmon right now. Andy and I, we’ve got a pretty busy year ahead of us.
RMJ: Who picks the songs when you go out to do a show? Is that a collaborative thing?
DREW: As far as set lists? It’s kind of my job, although everybody pitches in a little bit. Usually I’ll go to a quiet place and come up with a set list. And then present them. It’s just kind of something I’ve always done. And I just kind of feel like it’s my forte. I kind of envision the sets and break it up into main events and mix up the styles if possible. Of course once we hit the stage anything can happen. We’re not the kind of band that will stick hard and fast to a set list. In fact it’s kind of a rarity when we actually play the list exactly as it’s written. (laughs)
RMJ: So we did a little research about your history. You started to play guitar when you were 5. Banjo a little bit later and then took Mandolin lessons with Tim O’Brian. Did you come from a musical family?
DREW: Yes, and my parents were writers as well. My dad was a novelist. And my mom was a playwright and a poet. And they were both singers. And my mom played the piano. And my dad played the autoharp a little bit. But he was a really great singer and came from a long line of singers. And my brother played guitar and harmonica. And my older sister writes plays as well. So there’s a lot of writing going on in the family, that’s for sure. There was always a lot of music around.
RMJ: Thank you for talking with us today, we are really looking forward to the shows at the Bluebird.
We spoke with Leftover Salmon’s Drew Emmitt recently and will post the interview soon. We can share that the band has been in the studio and creating a bunch of new tunes. They also have teamed up with Breckenridge Brewery to get the party started right for their Bluebird concerts starting tonight. This is from the band’s website. See you at the shows!
Join Leftover Salmon and Breckenridge Brewery for special pre & post show gatherings all taking place during Leftover Salmon’s intimate 3 night run at the Bluebird Theater in Denver, CO on March 28th-30th.
BRECKENRIDGE BREWERY PRE-LOS HAPPY HOURS 5:30pm – 7:30pm each night
-Thu 03.28: Atomic Cowboy 3237 East Colfax Ave
-Fri 03.29: The Irish Snug 1201 E Colfax Ave.
-Sat 03.30: Atomic Cowboy 3237 East Colfax Ave
Conscious Alliance FOOD DRIVE:
Donate 25 cans of food for a FREE 3 poster set or 10 cans for 1 poster (The posters are commemorative of each night’s show) www.consciousalliance.org
Late Night Live Jams @ Park House
Free Entrance with Your Bluebird Stub
1515 Madison St. (at the corner of Colfax 1 block from the Bluebird)
The Jams take place each night after the Bluebird shows and will feature local musicians www.parkhousedenver.com
More on Leftover Salmon and Breckenridge Brewery…. -New Music from Leftover Salmon coming this summer!
Leftover Salmon is excited to announce a partnership with Breckenridge Brewery. This summer we will be delivering new songs from Leftover Salmon through download cards you get when buying Breckenridge beer. To launch this LOS is hosting pre and post show parties sponsored by Breckenridge Brewery each night of their 3-night run at the Bluebird Theater in Denver on Thursday- Saturday, March 28-30th.
Breckenridge Brewery is offering free beer to the first 20 LOS ticket holders to arrive at the Happy Hour gatherings each night as well as beer specials. There will be LOS and Breckenridge Brewery giveaways, a Conscious Alliance Food Drive, and you just never know who will show up… The Happy Hours take place from 5:30-7:30pm each night before the Salmon performances at the Bluebird. Also, get in on the action of the late-night Live Jams at the Park House after the Bluebird shows! Park House will be featuring local musicians each night. More information here
We are still processing our photos from this weekend’s Leftover Salmon Thanksgiving shows at the Boulder Theater but we do have a treat to share. Here is a grab from our favorite archivist, Steve. There are some audio issues in a couple of spots. Enjoy this video that is fun to watch listen to and dance around the living room. Check back for more photos soon.
Editor’s note: Continuing our series of sharing photographer Lynn Richter’s NedFest coverage from last year. The 14 Annual NedFest starts today! Enjoy.
“well I’m rollin’ by those fallen mines that grow where the trains used to go I’m flyin’ by those highway signs That good ‘ol place that I know”
“Gold Hill Line” – Leftover Salmon
Leftover Salmon: Left to Right – Drew Emmitt, Vince Herman, Bill McKay, Greg Garrison, Andy Thorn
My apology to the drummer not shown: Jose Martinez (Editor’s note: Drummer Wally Ingram performed with LS for this show)
The last set of Nedfest 2011………..Leftover Salmon closed the festival with a killer set……….a “must have” show for your collection……….there is a link to a free download of the Leftover Salmon set at the bottom of this email. Drew Emmitt, Vince Herman, Billy Nershi and Jeff Austin……….these are the kings of Colorado jam grass and they tore the place up. After the festival, I caught a set of the ZydeCoasters at the Whistler Cafe….too dark for photographs……..went to the Black Forest about 1:00 am to see Magic Gravy………..had a wine and listened to a couple of tunes from the bar and called it a night………to funky for my taste.
Left Nederland for home at 7:00 am mountain time on Monday…….drove 17 hour straight and got to Rochester at 11:00 pm central time……….back to reality at 7:00 am Tuesday morning……….had to work 3 day’s before heading out the next Friday for another adventure at a Incident in Cod Fish Hollow…………more on that story next time.
Drew Emmitt, Vince Herman
Nedfest 2012 is scheduled for August 24, 25 and 26, 2012. Ticket’s are on sale now and the line up is starting to take shape…….the city of Nederland limits ticket sales to 2000………10:30 pm curfew for the festival…..and the festival has not been selling out. Several nice restaurants in the town, four bars with live music for after festival party……….a very cool town. This is a very mellow scene that will not last forever……….someday it will catch on and the scene will change……….it always does……………take my advice and check out Nedfest in 2012……….if you like that Colorado bluegrass \ jam grass kind of music this is the place to go……………..hotel rooms are in short supply……..get your tickets and book your rooms.
Went to Spike’s Night of the Living Blues show at the Wicked Moose last Saturday night………..three great bands………nice sized crowd………good to see a lot of old friends again……….it has been awhile .
Leftover Salmon with Billy Nershi
Leftover Salmon with Billy Nershi and Silas Herman (Vince Herman’s son)
With Special Guests: Billy Nershi (String Cheese Incident), Silas Herman (Salmon Eggs) & Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band)
6:30 pm – Sunday August 28, 2011
Nedfest – Nederland, CO. http://leftoversalmon.com/site/