Leftover Salmon established itself early on as a purveyor of the bluegrass-based roots sound identified with Colorado, gaining fans through constant touring and big sets at bigger festivals.
The self-described poly-ethnic Cajun slam grassers have long been Durango favorites since their days on stage in the early ’90s at Farquahrts (that’s the Derailed Saloon today, kids).
Leftover Salmon will make a return Saturday night to the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.
The band actually called it quits in 2004 after years of touring but has dabbled with reunion shows here and there in the ensuing years. That’s led to small tours, and with the forthcoming release of a new record, it seems Leftover Salmon may be getting a second, third or even 10th wind.
“We’ve been doing some reunion shows the last couple years – four or five a year,” said singer and guitar player Vince Herman last month from his home in Nederland. “We thought, ‘this is really fun,’ and it was just kind of sitting there staring at us, asking us why we don’t do more of this. And it’s so fun.”
The current lineup behind Herman includes Drew Emmitt on mandolin, guitar, fiddle and vocals, Andy Thorn on banjo, Greg Garrison on bass, Jose Martinez on drums and, when the band is on tour, percussionist Wally Ingram. They have jumped right back into their work.
“We wrote some good new songs that it became obvious it was time to go make a record, and we are putting some energy back into it because it’s fun,” Herman said.
The band’s upcoming record, “Aquatic Hitch-hiker,” is the first Leftover Salmon release in eight years. The record will come out on vinyl to celebrate “Record Store Day” on April 21, with the CD due out a month later.
The lucky bands of any genre seem to develop a relationship with their fans that goes well beyond the act of, say, selling some merchandise after a good show. For bands in the jam circuit, that relationship is solidified by what the musicians put out on stage and what the fans take from it. From a rock-solid performance inside the venue to the extracurricular activities outside, whatever the draw, for a band like Leftover Salmon, it remains a reason to keep doing what it’s doing.
“You get to go in front of people who should be psyched to be there. They willingly came. It’s a blast; there’s a lot of folks who have songs that mean something to them over the years, and they bring that kind of emotional commitment to the event,” Herman said. “We got a bunch of new material, and the energy exchange is something you get addicted to. It’s a powerful human experience. It’s essential to me, to call myself alive.”
Herman’s also ecstatic about the timing of the event and the way the routing of the tour ended up.
“I’m just psyched we’re going to have a Saturday night in Durango,” he said.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.