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Where hoe-down folk instinctively flock

Andrew Harley

It’s a poly-ethnic, Cajun slamgrass extravaganza this weekend as Leftover Salmon plays 8150 Friday and Saturday.

Originally billed at Dobson with the North Mississippi All-Stars, Leftover puts a grass-grooving spin on a lot of different roots music along with their dance-friendly original material.

“It’s hard to pigeonhole what we do because we have so many styles and play so much different roots music,” said Drew Emmitt. “We play the kinds of music we enjoy playing. We all grew up listening to different music, so we decided we’d play all kinds and it makes for a lot of fun and energy.”



Emmitt resides in Crested Butte, and for years the band has called Colorado a home base for tours.

“We’ve had some wonderful memories there (Vail). Years ago, we played at the Jackalope, had a great time there, then Garton’s opened, and now it’s 8150,” said Emmitt. “I can remember one Halloween in particular, I’ll never forget that dance floor going up and down. It was bouncing so hard we had to hold on to the mics so they wouldn’t fall. We’ve also had some fun shows at the Ford Amphitheater – one with Ziggy Marley and another with Joan Osborne. There was also a show we did with Michael Martin Murphey, which had the crowd divided with cowboys on one side, and then a bunch of people came on stage; there were Indians and all kinds of Wild West people.”



The current lineup includes Emmitt – who co-founded the group with Mark Vann and Vince Herman – on mandolin, Herman on guitar, Noam Pikelny on banjo, Bill McKay on keyboards, bassist Greg Garrison and drummer Jose Martinez.

“The new band is working out great. Most of the guys have been with us for three-and-a-half years. Noam (Pikelny) is our newest member, he’s an excellent banjo player. He’s had to fill some big shoes (Vann’s, who died of cancer), and we’re psyched about recording with this lineup,” said Emmitt.

For those who pre-ordered the album, Leftover Salmon’s first studio record since 1999’s “Nashville Sessions” – a self-titled foray into more serious content regarding arrangement and lyrics – will be released on March 23.



Leftover’s current tour, “Mardi Gras Mountain Parade,” is a time-honored definite in contrast to the band’s random endless tour.

“It’s not easy to sustain the passion, especially when you play every night. This tour is some 28 shows long,” said Emmitt. “So, we try and mix it up. we never do the same show twice. In fact, we only repeated one song out of the four shows we played on the Front Range. It keeps us into the music.”

Some of the highlights on Leftover’s horizon include appearances at Bonnaroo (June), the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival (July) and a return to the High Sierra Music Festival (July).

“We haven’t been to Bonnaroo yet because of booking complications and the fact it went on during Telluride Bluegrass Festival its first year,” said Emmitt.

Leftover was excited last week when Tim O’Brien and Casey Driessen sat in during a show in Durango.

“Tim’s a great musician. His solo stuff and the music he made with Hot Rize has been very influential to me,” said Emmitt. “He (O’Brien) was actually my first mandolin teacher, so we had a great time.”

Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext.610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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