Leftover Salmon takes the stage this weekend
One of Colorado’s favorite, longest running bands can play six show without repeating a song
Legendary “jamgrass” band Leftover Salmon returns to town this Saturday, Jan. 29, taking the stage at Strings Music Festival for a spirited evening.
The band, which was founded over 30 years ago, is now in its longest iteration of current members, and the group finds themselves getting back to their roots with their latest album “Brand New Good Old Days.” Explore Steamboat caught up with founding member and mandolin player Drew Emmitt ahead of this weekend’s show.
Explore Steamboat: Thirty years is a long time for a band to stick around! What’s your secret?
Drew Emmitt: It’s a mystery! The best answer that I can come up with — other than the fact that we have a great time playing together — is that our fans have kept us going and kept coming back to see us and have made it possible for us to keep doing this. We’ve had a very steady and loyal fanbase this whole time and have been able to tour the country to good crowds everywhere. They’re very enthusiastic and energetic; that feeds us to do what we do.
ES: What’s changed over the past three decades?
DE: We’ve become more songwriting oriented and have built up a pretty good original repertoire. We started out more as a cover band — playing more traditional music and applying our sound to that, but over the years, everyone has become more of a songwriter. We’ve honed our sound into something that’s more original, and we’ve branched out in a lot of different ways and haven’t been stagnant. We’ve definitely grown as a band and as musicians and people, and it’s taken us to some really fun places.
ES: Leftover Salmon has been considered a progressive bluegrass band since you started — especially, they say, since you decided to add drums to the mix — but what has kept you progressive over time?
DE: We haven’t really followed a template. We just go with what we have fun playing. The wonderful thing about Leftover Salmon is that we aren’t pigeonholed into any kind of a style — we’re able to play rock ’n’ roll and Calypso and Cajun, as well as bluegrass.
The premise of this band has always been that we play what we want to play, and nothing is off the table as far as style. Because of that we’ve been able to have a wide field of music that we can play.
ES: Tell me about “Brand New Good Old Days.”
DE: We recorded it in 2019 in Asheville, North Carolina, at Echo Mountain Studio. It’s more of an Americana, kind of roots-y album. Everybody in the band pitched in and has tunes on the record.
I feel like it’s a return-to-our-roots record. It’s a bit of a departure, in a way, from our previous records but also getting back to our roots at the same time — if that makes sense? It’s not as produced — we produced it ourselves — and it’s a little more bare-bones than some of our previous records. It was very organic. I do feel like it’s an album that we’re all proud of, and people can put it on the stereo and enjoy it because it goes to some really great places.
ES: What are you most proud of with this band that you co-founded?
DE: Our live shows. We’ve had some real magical times on stage as a band, and it’s never the same. I feel like we’re very spontaneous and we really make an effort to make every show different. We’ve built up quite an extensive repertoire. At one point, we figured out we could play six nights without repeating a song. That kind of variety really makes us who we are.
What: Leftover Salmon
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29
Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road
Info: Tickets start at $40; purchase online at StringsMusicFestival.com
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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It seems like the best celestial events too often happen in the wee hours of the morning, in the cold dead of winter.