For the past quarter-century, Colorado’s Leftover Salmon has established itself as one of the great purveyors of Americana music, digging deep into the well that supplies its influences; rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, Cajun, soul, zydeco, jazz and blues. They are firmly settled in the long lineage of bands that defy simple categorization, instead setting their own musical agenda. They are the direct descendants of bands like Little Feat, New Grass Revival, Grateful Dead and The Band, born of the heart and soul of America itself, playing music that reflects the sounds emanating from the Appalachian hills, the streets of New Orleans, the clubs of Chicago, the plains of Texas, and the mountains of Colorado.
During Leftover Salmon’s twenty-five plus years as a band they have headlined shows and festivals from coast to coast, released nine albums, and maintained a vibrant, relevant and influential voice in the music world. Over that time, Leftover Salmon’s sound has grown and evolved while staying true to the roots and guiding spirit of the band’s founding members - mandolinist/singer Drew Emmitt and guitarist/singer Vince Herman.
The evolution of Leftover Salmon’s music is influenced by Emmitt and Herman’s keen musical instincts, and follows a musical path that adheres to the deep tradition the duo started when they first formed the group along with deceased banjo player Mark Vann. The addition of new band members over the years has nurtured an unmistakable evolution and freshness in Leftover Salmon’s sound, and has added an edge to the long-lasting power of the band’s music. Today, Leftover Salmon endures as a vital and significant presence and holds an unequivocal stature as a truly legendary band.
Now fueled by the rhythm section of drummer Alwyn Robinson, keyboardist Erik Deustch and long time bassist Greg Garrison, the band is currently enjoying a creative renaissance. The front line trio of Emmitt, Herman and prodigious banjo player Andy Thorn are continually challenged and pushed in new directions as the band collectively searches for new spaces and sounds within their extensive catalog of songs.
Leftover Salmon’s greatness cannot simply be measured through album and concert ticket sales. For a band as unique as Leftover Salmon, that measure is found in their impact on the music world as whole. With their unpredictable approach in a live setting, their willingness to take chances by fusing disparate musical styles together and their incorporation of non-traditional bluegrass covers into their repertoire, Leftover Salmon has pushed that progressive bluegrass sound they were originally influenced by to the next level.
Leftover Salmon are considered to be the architects of what has become known as Jamgrass - where bands clearly schooled in the traditional rules of bluegrass break free of those rules through non-traditional instrumentation and an innate ability to push songs in new psychedelic directions live. This has created an altogether new dimension for bands such as The String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters and countless others to inhabit. Leftover Salmon’s willingness to never be boxed in by “normal” music standards has given the bands that have followed in their wake the license to do and try what they want.
The history of Leftover Salmon begins in 1989 when members of Herman’s Salmon Heads could not make a New Year’s Eve gig at the Eldorado Cafe in Crested Butte, Colorado. Herman called on his buddy, fellow Boulder picker Emmitt, to help supply a few players from his band, the Left Hand String Band, to fill out the lineup for the evening. The energy that night was unmistakable and Emmitt immediately realized, “this could be something really cool.” Emmitt and Herman soon shelved their respective bands and focused all their energy into the new one - which they named Leftover Salmon.
About Adam Aijala (Yonder Mountain String Band):
For nearly 18 years, Yonder Mountain String Band has redefined bluegrass music, expanding the traditional acoustic genre beyond its previously established boundaries by steadily pushing the envelope into the realms of rock n' roll and improvisation. YMSB has always played music of their own design, in the process attracting a devout coterie of fans that often resembles a tight knit family on an epic musical journey as Yonder traverses the country with an ever-rigorous tour schedule. Yonder is a quintessential ensemble honing its craft night after night on the road, and the fans are there to experience it in real time. The result is music that doesn't stand still, it's always progressing and breaking unprecedented ground.
With their latest album, Black Sheep (scheduled for national release on their own Frog Pad Records at Telluride Bluegrass Festival on June 16, 2015), Yonder Mountain String Band — Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals), Dave Johnston (banjo, vocals), Ben Kaufmann (bass, vocals), Allie Kral(violin, vocals), and Jacob Jolliff (mandolin, vocals) — begins a new era. The first YMSB release produced by the band itself, Black Sheep is, by any measure, a triumph, perhaps the most mesmeric of their career. The result, says Kaufmann, is that, "This record sounds more like Yonder than any record we've ever done. I'm hoping that when people are finished listening to it, they'll just hit play and listen to it again."
Black Sheep marks the first time in Yonder's history that they're actually utilizing, throughout an entire record, the conventional five-piece instrumental arsenal of bluegrass introduced in the 1940s: guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and bass. With the exception of the album's sole cover tune, "Ever Fallen In Love," originally by the late '70s British punk-rock band the Buzzcocks, each of the album's new tracks were written by the YMSB members during the past couple of years. Three of the new songs — "Annalee," "Landfall" and the title track — have already been road-tested on tour; others will be added to the band's live repertoire following the album's release. The majority of Black Sheep was recorded at Coupe Studios in Boulder, Colorado, with Adam handling much of the engineering at his home studio and while on the road; the first time a band member has taken on that task.
Even on first listen, it becomes instantaneously apparent that Black Sheep is the work of a new Yonder Mountain String Band, one with a strong commitment to re-exhibiting itself and broadening its parameters following the departure of a founding member. While it's immediately recognizable as YMSB music, there's undeniably a raw aesthetic to the studio tracks — a sense of daring is embedded in both the instrumental interaction between these five singular players and in the lyrical content of each song.
Yonder has its roots in the year 1998, when the original quartet came together in Colorado. Through steadfast gigging in all manner of venues from small clubs to massive outdoor festivals, Yonder Mountain String Band quickly built a robust fanbase while continually experimenting to define its sound. Some of the most fervent audiences were at jam band shows and festivals, where fans took readily to YMSB's potent mix of the traditional bluegrass of Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers and Doc Watson and the improvisational sensibilities of the Grateful Dead andPhish. Also deeply ingrained in the band, albeit more subtly, was a fierce love for punk, which provided the members with seminal influences while they were growing up. "We didn't even hear bluegrass until our 20s," says Aijala. "Falling in love with the sound of bluegrass instruments, while also having all of these outside influences that had nothing to do with bluegrass — well, what comes out isn't what we envisioned."
About Dave Watts, Joey Porter & Garrett Sayers (The Motet):
The future of funk is clear on The Motet's new self-released studio album, Totem, which hits streets July 8, 2016. The 12 tracks on Totem, all originals, cover a lot of ground stylistically while never losing sight of the groove. Produced by Lettuce and Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno, Totem was written collectively by the seven members of the band. Each song is steeped in The Motet's signature style that slaps you in the face with sounds that are fresh and unique.
The recent addition of singer Lyle Divinsky, who joined the band in early 2016, fans the flames of this already hot band. His sinfully soulful voice and rich lyrics are powerfully prevalent throughout Totem. "There was a month and a half between the time I joined the band and when we went into the studio," explains Divinsky. "I wound up writing the lyrics and melodies to four songs, and re-wrote the lyrics to two. It gave me and the band an opportunity to really connect musically. We're deeply proud of this album and it's very exciting to have this new material to push out as we begin this next phase of The Motet's journey."
The brilliance of The Motet is that they do not mimic bands of the past, but rather create new, authentic sounds in a language from the past. One might explain the difference like the process of writing a poem in Old English or Aramaic: first, you have to learn the language by digging into the past, then you can express yourself in the present - and say anything you want - using that language.
No matter how you choose to express funk, you can't fake it - and you sure as hell can't play it - if you don't know where to find it.
Just how did The Motet find the funk? Simply put, they dissected it. "We have put together funk-themed Halloween shows for the past fifteen years, where we pay tribute to a particular artist or play a 'Mixtape' set of music culled from a certain year," shares Dave Watts.
Past Halloween cover sets have included tributes to Herbie Hancock, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Parliament-Funkadelic and many others. Recent tribute shows have celebrated a particular year in music, with 'Mixtape' sets from 1975, 1977, and 1980. "Preparing for these shows are intense, and we take it very seriously. Each year it gives us an incredible opportunity to not just learn, but to understand, the art of funk – both as individual players and as a band." These shows, which have become a beloved live music tradition and sell out each year, have also offered a unique (and rowdy) opportunity for the band's fans to join them in their ongoing exploration of creative, live dance music.
The Motet began in 1998 in Denver, Colorado, where the band's then-rotating cast of musicians amassed an enthusiastic and loyal throng of hometown fans. The Motet took their infectious dance parties on the road about three years ago, and their national fan base has been growing exponentially ever since. Today their shows sell out from coast to coast at such venues as Red Rock's Amphitheatre, Brooklyn Bowl, Chicago's Park West, The Independent in San Francisco, Tipitina's in New Orleans, Portland's Crystal Ballroom, and Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. A favorite along the festival circuit, The Motet has performed at Electric Forest, Summer Camp, All Good Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, Bonnoroo, Peach Fest and many others.
The Motet are Dave Watts (drums), Joey Porter (keyboards), Garrett Sayers (bass), Ryan Jalbert (guitar), Gabriel Mervine (trumpet), Lyle Divinsky (vocals), Drew Sayers (saxophone).
THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED feat. DREW EMMITT & ANDY THORN (LEFTOVER SALMON), ADAM AIJALA (YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND) and DAVE WATTS, JOEY PORTER & GARRETT SAYERS (THE MOTET)
Doors: 10:30 pm | Show: 11:30 pm