Leftover Salmon, Brushfire Stankgrass to burn up Blue Ridge Jam


Pisgah Brewing is putting on a two-night special, Leftover Salmon's Blue Ridge Jam, starring the jam band pioneers Sept. 22 and 23.

Early on, Leftover Salmon dug deep into the bluegrass and old-timey canon and discovered something interesting - jamming.

Sharing the stage with Leftover Salmon are Town Mountain, New Orleans Suspects, the Bill Evans Band, Brushfire Stankgrass and Snake Oil Medicine Show. Gates on Sept. 22 open at 6 p.m. and at 4 p.m. Sept. 23.

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.  Direct descendants of bands like Little Feat, New Grass Revival, Grateful Dead and The Band, it plays 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 25-plus years, it has headlined shows and festivals and released nine albums. Over 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 with deceased banjo player Mark Vann.  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.  Added to the frontline trio is prodigious banjo player Andy Thorn.


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 nontraditional 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. 


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.


This set the stage for a long career that has relied as much on spontaneous improvisation as it has on practiced skill.  With the combination of the Left Hand String Band’s bluegrass tendencies and the Salmon Heads’ old-timey, Cajun and zydeco-inspired sound, it is easy to step back and see Leftover Salmon as the natural evolution of progressive bluegrass.

Jam band fans

What: Leftover Salmon's Blue Ridge Jam

When: Sept. 22-23

Where: Pisgah Brewing

Cost: $25 advance, $30 gate, $45 two-day pass