If there is ever a time to want to be in many locations at one time it is New Year’s Eve. Forget the dropping of the ball in New York City or the wonderful fireworks in Sydney; we have more than enough fun set for the Denver, Boulder area.
The celebrations kick of tonight at Broomfield’s 1st Bank Center with three nights of Colorado’s own String Cheese Incident.
Starting on Tuesday, Dec. 30th, you have the additional options of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver. Also kicking off tomorrow eve is a very special, first time ever, Denver performance for the newly formed Golden Gate Wingmen at Quixotes True Blue in Denver. The Golden Gate Wingmen consist of former Furthur members John Kadlecik and Jeff Chimenti and joining them on stage are Jay Lane and Reed Mathis. According to Live Music and Reviews, “the GGW formed from musicians available on the first night of a recent John K Solo show at Terrapin Crossroads. “John Kadlecik (Furthur, Phil Lesh and Friends, Dark Star Orchestra, and more) on lead guitar and vocals, Jeff Chimenti (Furthur, Ratdog and more) on keyboards, Jay Lane (an original Furthur member, Primus, Ratdog) on drums and Reed Mathis on bass (Jacob Fred’s Jazz Odyssey and most recently Tea Leaf Green.).”
Both bands plan to culminate their Denver visits with New Year’s Eve shows to celebrate 2015.
And if that weren’t enough to get your booty shaking, New Year’s Eve will find Boulder’s West Water Outlaws headlining the Fox Theatre in Boulder. From the bands website: “West Water Outlaws “Paranoid” New Years Eve at the Fox Theatre will feature 1 original set of material + the ENTIRE ALBUM of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”. The Yawpers and In the Whale join the NYE show as special guests for the evening.”
Boulder’s String Cheese Incident celebrated their 20th anniversary and the album release of “Song In My Head” with a free Incident on the Hill in Boulder, Monday, April 28. Thousands of exuberant fans were on hand for maybe one of the largest crowds to hit the hill in many years. Check out this review from Grateful Web of the new album.
From the stage facing north at the intersection of 13th and College, fans could be seen filling the street for several blocks. Check out these views from the amazing event.
The Daily Camera‘s Jeremy Papasso created this great view of the event.
Joe Cahill, a beloved member of the Boulder music scene and longtime lighting designer for the Fox and Boulder theaters who was killed last week in New Orleans, will be honored Monday during a benefit concert at the Fox Theatre.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Monday for the memorial concert. The event will feature performances by The Motet and members of Leftover Salmon.
Tickets are $15 and are available now. All of the money collected at the event will go to a fund benefiting Cahill’s 16-year-old daughter, Cassidy, according to organizers. A raffle and silent auction also are scheduled. Read More.
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.
Special thanks to Vegan Patty for the words for this post and Chez Rogers & Choti Singh for the images
I am not a fan of jam bands but I guess you could say that I’m “jam”gential. Newgrass and Gypsyrock, both the rage in CO these days, prick my ears and pump my boogie, especially live. Jam bands not so much. I think I am too easily distracted. By the time acts like Panic and Further wander through their masturbatory guitar grooves, dualing rhythms, and space, I’ve long lost interest and begun to focus entirely on self-preservation as I shimmy strategically this way and that to avoid the merry Wookies and their lick induced spasms. This is not my idea of a good time.
“Try Salmon!” say my Jamtastic friends (the ones I keep just in case). “I’m vegan!” I reply. It’s easier then telling them that I did, once, at the Rialto in Tucson, AZ circa 2004. I only lasted about two songs before the crowd and the Southern Rock got the better of me. This is, most certainly, my problem with Panic. As my most steadfast Jamster describes them, “Panic is all Bourbon and Cocaine. What you need, dear Vegan P, is an act that’s more weed and hula hoops!” And harmony, might I add. A banjo wouldn’t hurt either. And, apparently, a box suite.
Turns out my Jamster friend was right. In a moment of weakness after missing a free ticket, by mere seconds, to see YMSB at Boulder Theater this past Saturday, I did the unthinkable. I accepted a ticket to see String Cheese instead. Once I did, the warnings started. “Now, you know, VP, they can get spacey. And their shows can be really inconsistent. Sometimes they are bluegrassy, but other times, they’re not. You just never know what you are going to get when it comes to that but I can promise that there will definitely be some hard core jammin’! You think you can handle it?” I was about to find out.
String Cheese is a good gateway drug. Like all good Jam-attacks, they groove a wall of sound so powerful that I had little energy left to process my critiques. The one I managed to capture is not so much a critique of the band as it is an affect of my own anti-jam proclivities. I’m not a fan of such heavy Hair band guitar solos and so much space. That said, even these were tight and motivating and mild in flavor compared to the Caribbean feel of the evening’s performance. You’re right, Brett, this isn’t what I was expecting. I’m not quite sure I’ve been able to root out what caused this—Kyle Hollingsworth’s Reggae Bubble-based organtrix? Bill Nershi’s staccato guitar fingering that had me searching the stage for a steel drum? The Island echo that dampened each crescendo at just the right moment? The purple, orange, and yellow heavy lights show? Whatever caused it, the night was awash in near tropical warmth, Space Island sound if you will, which struck me as no small feat against the near zero temps that waited for all of us beyond the glass doors of the Center.
I didn’t get my Bluegrass fix until near the end of the first set and it was short lived. For a song with such a
somber name, “Black Cloud” brought nothing but happy harmonies and sunshine. “Portray the Dark” closed the first set of this first show to the sounds of silence as Cheeseheads much my senior looked on, stunned by the band’s decision to come on so heavy so early in their three night year-end gig! The second set was surprisingly kaleidoscopic. Reggae gave way to Anthem rock turned ‘70s cop drama theme song, all part of “Roll Over” if I’ve kept it straight. “On the Road” was all funky business. The rest of the show was a blur of jammy sammys that lost me a little but keep me boppin’, nonetheless, until the last bit of reverb had been dampened and the band had bid us farewell for the night. While the show didn’t have enough Bluegrass for this li’l lady, I can’t feign disappointment. My first SCI experience won’t be my last.
And now for that confession. I cheated. I sat on the sidelines while others played the game. Suite 224 at the First Bank Center is probably no better or worse than those around it, but as far as this “jam”gential girl is concerned, it’s nothing short of paradise! All the free water I could drink, a high price low occupancy cap, and a seat to call my own, not that I was ever in it! That magic box o’mine kept me safe from and amused by the sea of wookies below. When String Cheese took flight in the ways I was warned they were prone to, I occupied myself by tracking the glow of a pack of green horned devils as they ebbed and flowed from song to song. I lost myself in the electrified spinners and hooptresses. I fell into the rhythms of the moment as flames and rainbows jumped from Jumbotrons to micro screens and back again and beams of light crossed each other to raise the roof. And my expectations. SCI, I’m a fan!