Colorado at times can seem like a parade of yearly musical traditions. Denver, being a massive music hub, is a place where many performers pass through around the same time each year. One nascent tradition is the Keller and His Compadres shows in Keystone, Colorado. Last year’s shows originally marked the end of the world according to the Mayan Calendar. Well fortunately for K-Dub the world continued and so do these concerts. It’s a chance for the normally solo performer Keller Williams to grab a few friends and just jam. This year he got a chance to playe with Michael Kang and Michael Travis from String Cheese Incident on Friday and Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon on Saturday. I opted to catch Saturday’s show, which turned out to be a wise decision.
I found out that Friday included a very young crowd and they pushed it to the limit. Saturday was a fairly casual affair with a slightly older audience. The show was completely sold out, meaning more than a few fans were turned away at the door. Unless the gig is billed as one of Keller’s official band projects, the format is always one set solo and one set with the guests. This night was no different. K-Dub’s first set started just after 9 PM. In his true entertainer style he began strumming his guitar backstage before emerging from the darkness. The Warren Station Center For The Arts was a square room with a bar in the back. It was cozy and by the time Keller actually started playing it was most definitely full. Classics from Keller like “Cadillac” and “Freaker By The Speaker” were sprinkled throughout the first set. Perhaps the most oddly satisfying song of the first set was an extended jam into the custom built version of Lorde’s “Royals.” Covers like this again reiterate Keller’s addiction to pop music. He rounded his solo set with a sing-along on “Gate Crashers.”
The main event could have easily been dubbed Keller Salmon or Leftover Williams. The inclusion of Vince and Drew meant there would be no shortage of bluegrass or extended musical interplay. I for one am a fan of Keller’s solo work, but for some reason I find his style so much more rewarding when juxtaposed against other musicians. They opened the set with an instrumental before going into a bouncy “Portpapotty.” Keller was playing the electric bass, with Drew on mandolin and Vince on guitar. We were treated to an incredible Drew-sung version of Dylan’s “Tangled Up And Blue.” The additional strings did a lot to fill out “What The World Needs Now,” before they went into a stellar version of Salmon’s “Troubled Times.” Keller was sure to keep it balanced with the occasional original, insert “Broken Convertible” here. The rendition of “Dixie Chicken” was the highlight of the entire night. It came in reference to their recent performances with Little Feat’s Bill Payne. Again I reiterate the need for Mr. Payne to join Leftover Salmon full time. The moment is now Bill. Vince got a chance to sing his rowdy but timeless “Fuzzy Little Hippie Girl.” The trio went into a bluegrass-tinged duo from Tom Petty with “You Got Lucky” into a set-closing “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” The crowd kind of went off the chain at this point. Keller Williams and his Compadres came out for a quick “Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie” to encore before the lights came on and it was all over.
The show just seemed to speed on by. Keller is many things, but he is always fun. His shows display a vibrancy and passion for music in all its forms. His performances become random drive through his musical consciousness. His concerts with other musicians push back his urge to just unleash whatever comes into his head, which at times gives us the more interesting outcome. Instead in these sets he plays his part, which is interesting to see from a man who built his career on going it alone.
As we left I said to my wife, “Keller Williams must be a huge Tom Petty fan,” to which she replied, “Who isn’t?”
Additional Video by Steve Wilner
Leftover Salmon once again treated the Front Range to a pair of post-Thanksgiving shows. This run has become a yearly tradition from Salmonheads across the country. This time around they delighted their fans with the inclusion of Little Feat’s Bill Payne on keys. This was a wise choice. Throughout their storied career Salmon has played with a number of keyboardists including Pete Sears and Bill McKay. However the addition of Mr. Payne brought something utterly special to the table. McKay supplied a bluesy rowdiness that instantly transformed the group into a bar band on steroids. Payne’s performance throughout both nights was pure class. With his whirling piano solos and delicate keystrokes Payne contributed a versatility and range that raised the bar for all future Salmon shows. I for one would like to start a petition here and now to make Payne a permanent member of the band, but I digress.
Leftover Salmon with Bill Payne – Nov 29, 2013
The cool evening was the perfect backdrop for familiar jaunt to Boulder. The sun was long gone by the time I reached my destination. After a short walk I found myself in front of the historic Boulder Theater. This venue is one of the best the Front Range has to offer and the sound is always top notch. The doors opened promptly at 8:30 PM and the eclectic crowd made their way inside. The band took the stage just after 9:30 PM and it was time. Vince introduced the Little Feat Alumnus and we were quickly underway with a raucous “Voodoo Queen Marie.”
Set 1: Voodoo Queen Marie, Gulf of Mexico, Little Liza, Two Highways, Rag Mama Rag, High Country, The Other Side, Home Cookin’, Whispering Waters
Set 2: Fat Man In The Bathtub, Sometimes A River, Midnight Blues, Morning Sun, Mama Boulet> Drums> Mama Boulet, Get ‘Er Rollin’, The Bird Call, Tu Na Pas Aller, Doin’ My Time
Encore: Alflafa’s, Better
Recording on Archive.org – Audio by Gerry Gladu
The first set featured several tracks off of Aquatic Hitchhiker including the Thorn infused title track as well as a stellar Drew-led “Gulf of Mexico.” Drew again got to demonstrate the power of his evocative vocals on “Two Highways.” The jovial atmosphere that Leftover Salmon strives to create with each live performance is absolutely contagious. Old Heads danced with young students as Leftover Salmon threw down the gauntlet. Payne’s keys were again the center of attention on the as he added a Stride piano element to “Rag Mama Rag.” Payne alternated between the ivories and the organ throughout the night. The traditional styling’s on “High Country” was a nice breather before the musical explosion that was “The Other Side.” “Home Cookin” took on a boisterous feel, but the massive set closing “Whispering Waters” was the real highlight. This somewhat rare track stretched well past the 15-minute mark.
“After midnight tonight it’s going to be Greg Garrison’s Birthday… You’ all feel like singing one?” – Vince Herman
Did I forget to mention that Vince had already announced that it was their newest member Alwyn Robinson’s birthday during the first set? In all my years of seeing this band it’s been someone in the groups birthday about 90% of the time. Robinson has now permanently replaced long time drummer Jose Martinez. Martinez is sticking to his roots in Seattle and taking a new direction in his musical journey. What Alwyn lacks in flashy fills he more than makes up for with absolute precision. He adds his jazz experience to the percussion and is quickly becoming a focal point for this talented group.
Set two was quickly underway after a brief break. They opened up with the only Little Feat song of the evening, “Fat Man In The Tub.” We were treated to a pair of crowd-pleasers in the form of “Sometimes A River” (not to be confused with the SCI song of the same name) and a smoking “Midnight Blues.” “Morning Sun” featured a fantastic reggae breakdown with Payne going gonzo on the B3. The “Mama Boulet” sandwich gave us a chance to really see Robinson groove with an extended drum solo. Again he really is gelling nicely with the band and he has a new take on percussion that we haven’t seen with Salmon before now. Leftover Salmon just seems much more content all around. They are going with the flow and not letting things like cross country moves and changes in their lineup slow them down. They persist in writing new material and expanding their catalog while continuing to bring a fresh feel to their classic tracks. “Get ‘Er Rollin’” was all rockabilly while “The Bird Call” saw some ridiculous jamming from the entire band. We got our dose of Zydeco with “Tu Na Pas Aller” before they closed with a beautiful “Doin’ My Time.”
Leftover Salmon encored with their homage to Boulder hippie grocer, “Alfalfas.” This silly song featured the crowd-singing meow to the melody of the song, which can only be blamed on Mr. Herman.
“If I don’t see you at church, I guess I’ll see you at the liquor store.” –Vince
They finished the night with a high-speed jam on “Better.” This was an excellent show, and the addition of Bill Payne was historic. Payne performs with an elegance that is just rare these days. Leftover Salmon is quite simply one of the most enjoyable live experiences touring today. They continue to push the envelope of bluegrass, rock, and improvisation. This band is having fun, and that in turn spills onto the audience. Night one was absolutely solid, but Saturday night at the Boulder Theater would prove to be one for the books. Stay tuned.
Leftover Salmon with Bill Payne – Nov 30, 2013
After a solid night in Boulder the fans returned to the historic venue for one more night of Leftover Salmon. This post-Thanksgiving run had already given fans plenty to be thankful for, and there was still one more show to go. Friday had been a 21+ show meaning the crowd was a bit older. When the doors opened on Saturday again around 8:30 PM the younger fans got their chance to hit the rail. About thirty minutes before show time a large ear of corn made it’s way to the microphone. However it didn’t say anything, prompting some fans to accost the poor vegetable. Finally, at the appointed time the spry corn man sprung to life and introduced the band.
“Let’s hear it for corn.” -Vince
Salmon took the stage again just after 9:30 PM and there was a distinct electricity in the air. The show that would follow is the type of event that makes people lifelong fans. This one was one for the books. They opened with a massive Drew soaked “Down In A Hollow.”
Set 1: Down In A Hollow, Mountaintop, Steam Powered Aeroplane, Who Put the Pepper In The Vaseline, Breaking Through, Squirrel Heads and Gravy, Last Days of Autumn, Thompipe, Ophelia, Dixie Chicken
Set 2: Rueben’s Train, Here Comes The Night*, Keep Driving*, Walk And Don’t Look Back, Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie, Light Behind The Rain, River’s Rising, Willin’, Don’t Think Hank Done This Way> Walk On The Wild Side> Can’t Always Get What You Want> Don’t Think Hank Done It This Way
Encore: Hotcorn Coldcorn, Rock and Roll
Recording on Archive.org – Audio by Eric Wilkens
“Mountaintop” was a little lull to make sure everyone was inside, before they kicked it into high gear with John Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aeroplane.” Fans were treated to another rare track in the form of the Cajun frolic, “Who Put the Pepper In The Vaseline” which featured a nice breakdown from Robinson on the kit. Drew Emmitt has one of the best voices in bluegrass and to hear him sing is to be impressed. Bill Payne’s Hammond beautifully accented Drew’s vocals on “Breaking Through,” which went well over ten minutes. The traditional “Squirrel Heads and Gravy” became an all out hoedown before the intricately stunning “Last Days of Autumn.” The packed room swelled as the fans danced feverishly. The short “Thompipe” featured some amazing banjo action from Mr. Andy Thorn. They broke into a mind-blowing version of The Band’s “Ophelia” where the band took full advantage of Payne’s piano with multiple extensive solos. They closed the first set with the only Payne-sung lyrics of the night on the first verse of “Dixie Chicken.” Drew took over vocals for the rest of the tune. Vince coaxed the audience to bellow out the well-known melody of the refrain, which they eventually did. The band walked off stage to that sound before the room exploded in applause.
Kyle Hollingsworth had been spotted around the Boulder Theater; so, many fans including myself were expecting a sit in. After the traditional “Rueben’s Train” opener we got just that. Vince invited the long time local to join them onstage. I speculate that Kyle came down simply for the opportunity to play with one of his heroes. Who wouldn’t? It took them a minute to find their groove on “Here Comes The Night,” but with Kyle at the organ and Payne on the keys, they eventually found synchronicity. Hollingsworth stuck around for another go around on “Keep Driving” before he disappeared backstage. The remainder of the set was an absolute “Best Of” run from Leftover Salmon. Vince took the reigns on Peter Tosh’s “Walk and Don’t Look Back” which was a bit like tossing reggae and bluegrass into a centrifuge. “Up On The Hill” featured an incredible solo from Thorn on banjo before he wowed the audience with the brilliantly dramatic “Light Behind The Rain.” With all the recent flooding we’ve had in Colorado, “River’s Rising” took on a new relevance. The Vince sung Little Feat classic “Willin’” was yet another highlight in a show with far too many. The massive set closing “Don’t Think Hank Done It This Way” sandwich took a stellar show and absolutely launched it over the top. Featuring a huge shout out to Lou Reed in the form of “Take A Walk On The Wild Side” as well as a tight rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t Always Get What You Want.” They went back into “Hank” to wrap it all up neatly.
As the band left I literally had to reach down and pick my jaw up off of the floor. They of course returned with a large ear of corn in tow. The punch line came in the form of a “Hotcorn Coldcorn” encore complete with a dancing grain plant. As if that wasn’t enough Salmon finished the night with a rockabilly version of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.” The people filtered out into the Boulder streets with wide smiles and stories to tell. Bill Payne was an absolute delight throughout both of his nights with LoS. Payne’s experience and style meshed incredibly well with the entire band, and it’s time for a keyboardist of his caliber to be touring with them full time. It seems that recently Leftover Salmon has been on fire. They are a new band with a new energy, but above all they are having fun. They aren’t afraid to be inventive and continue to hone their craft instead of stagnating. I for one am thankful for Leftover Salmon.
Leftover Salmon has reestablished themselves at the top of the jamgrass heap. This last minute show demonstrates they are paying attention and willing to play a show strictly for the fans. The show was scheduled to start around 1 AM well after Phish’s last note. It was billed as Leftover Salmon & Friends, and rumors swirled around as who would be sitting in. Because of the Snowy Range Festival where Salmon was playing on Sunday names like Sam Bush and Keller Williams were dropped frequently. This would not be the case in Denver, however Bush did sit in at Snowy Range for what it’s worth.
The drive down was smooth and we arrived just before show time. Although the concert sold out immediately, it honestly wasn’t super packed. The room was definitely full, but manageable. Next-door The Pimps Of Joytime also played for those willing to venture out after Dick’s. Salmon took the stage around 1:30 AM and straight away set the pace with a ripping “Mama Boulet.”
Set 1: Mama Boulet, Little Maggie, Ask The Fish*, Two Highways, Head Over Heels Over You**, Bird Call*, Home Cookin’, Morning Sun, High Country, Doing My Time, Dance On Your Head*, Aquatic Hitchhiker#, Midnight Rider**,#
Encore: Pasta On The Mountain#, Wake and Bake**,#
Andy Hall from The Infamous Stringduster’s on Dobro for the entire show
*w/ DJ Logic on Turntables
**Andy Hall on Vocals
#Zeb Bowles on Fiddle
They chose to perform one long set rather that push it to daylight with a setbreak. Andy Hall sat in on dobro for the entire show, and he was a solid addition to the lineup. Musically Salmon is a new band open to new dynamics in their performances. Hence the pair of “& Friends” shows. DJ Logic joined the boys on a spacey and deep “Ask The Fish.” “Two Highways” featured some incredible picking by Drew Emmitt, before Andy Hall took the vocals on “Head Over Heels.” Logic came back on “Bird Call” with more of what I call subtle scratching. I call it that because despite the fact that Logic can rip it up he always seems very low over the PA and at times is inaudible in the mix. Vince gave us a driving rock tune accentuated by Hall’s dobro on “Home Cookin’.” Thorn’s banjo was the focal point on “Morning Sun” before the band went traditional on “High Country.” Logic rejoined the band for Leftover’s now classic “Dance On Your Head.” Zeb Bowles from Coral Creek appeared onstage for the insane instrumental “Aquatic Hitchhiker.” This really felt like a family affair with lots of sit ins and great musical interplay with everyone involved. They all filled a niche in the sound and created a fantastic show for all of the late night fans. Zebulon stayed on for the Hall sung version of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider.” This is a fun cover that I’ve seen executed poorly in the past. This take was spot on and a great close to the almost two hour set.
Leftover Salmon returned with Zeb for a chunky rendition of “Pasta On The Mountain” that went for nearly fifteen minutes. Hall sang on the show closing “Wake and Bake,” which seemed appropriate given the late or early hour depending on your perspective. Leftover Salmon has reemerged from uncertainty to a pinnacle concert experience. Thorn has truly reinvigorated this band, and musical additions like Andy Hall and Zeb Bowles deepen their sound and push their compositions further. As I left the venue and headed back to the campsite at Dick’s I was only left with two questions. Who was that drummer and where is Jose Martinez?
Leftover Salmon is a Colorado tradition. They are the source from which so much jam and bluegrass flows. String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, and so many others would not be what they are today if it wasn’t for the trail blazed by Salmon on a cold night in Crested Butte over twenty years ago. After an incredible set at Summer Camp i figured it was time for an update from the mountain state. Leftover has gone through some transitions through the years. The passing of Mark Vann, the departure of Jeff Sipe and Bill McKay, the search for formidable replacement on banjo that ended with Andy Thorn have all had an effect on the band. They have persevered and their music is as vibrant as ever.
Their show at The Aggie Theater in Fort Collins was completely sold out meaning tight quarters were the order of the night. I staked my spot Vince side on the rail. They took the stage just before 10 PM with a quick “Liza.”
Set I: Liza, Gulf Of Mexico, Voodoo Queen Marie, Aquatic Hitchhiker, Gold Hill Line, Sing Up To The Moon, Morning Sun, Highway Song, BooBoo*, You Can Find Some Other Man, Lonesome Johnny Blues**, Danger Man**
Set II: Gonna Have A Party, Here Comes The Night, Walking Shoes, Bend In The River, Light Behind The Rain, Riding On The L & N, The Other Side, Mr. Wrong**, Come On Baby**, Out In The Woods**, Railroad Blues**, River’s Rising
*W/ Friends on Drums
**W/ Johnny Hickman on Guitar, Harmonica, and Vocals
Big thanks to Rob O’Brien for taping and posting on Archive. http://archive.org/details/los2013-04-13.24bit
This show was a non-stop shredfest that showcased the new era of Leftover Salmon. The setlist is a mix of fresh and classic with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. “Gulf Of Mexico,” which is basically an indictment of BP and the devastation they caused to the costal waters, was a nice touch. Their Zydeco was showing with “Voodoo Queen Marie,” but it was “Aquatic Hitchhiker” that made jaws drop. This instrumental song built so beautifully, relying heavily on Andy Thorn’s banjo. Andy really has revitalized this band in a big way and continues to keep the energy at peak level. “Gold Hill Line” was a quick, but passionate version with Drew on vocals before they invited a few friends to help with percussion on “BooBoo. “You Can Find Some Other Man” kept up their breakneck pace before they called their old friend Johnny Hickman to the stage. Hickman is from the alternative rock group Cracker and he along with David Lowery recorded bluegrass versions of their songs with Leftover Salmon performing as the backing band. The result was an album entitled O Cracker Where Art Thou?. Hickman is an accomplished guitarist with a rowdy, bluesy feel to his style. Much like what Bill McKay brought to the table, Hickman transformed Leftover Salmon into a rocking bar band. They blasted through two Cracker tunes, “Lonesome Johnny Blues” and “Danger Man” before taking a short set break.
Thirty minutes later the band and opened up round two with “Gonna Have A Party.” We were treated to a subtly stunning “Here Comes The Night,” before coming back to one of their newer songs, “Walking Shoes.” There seems to be a more tuned in consciousness in their lyrics than some of their early work. There is a maturity that only comes with being on the road for two decades and it is seeping into everything they do. Drew busted out his fiddle for “Bend In The River,” which is always a treat, but the highlight of the show was the Andy Thorn sung “Light Behind The Rain.” They slamgrassed us with “Riding On The L & N,” before Drew’ mandolin took the driver’s seat with the Salmon classic “The Other Side.” They invited Hickman back to the stage for a four-song run of both Cracker and Salmon tunes that left fans happy. The version of “Out In The Woods” was yet another highlight in show filled to the brim with high points. They closed the set with an absolute barnburner rendition of “River’s Rising” that showcased the evocative vocals of Mr. Emmitt. There is something about his voice that stays with you long after the amps have been put away for the night.
Leftover Salmon came back to the stage with a quick “Euphoria” and as quickly as it started it was over. This is the type of show that leaves you all bubbles and sunshine. The rain had begun to drizzle as the capacity crowd filtered out into the night. Exhausted smiles dotted the faces of the people as they wiped the sweat from their brows. It was a good night of Salmon and an energizing way to spend a Saturday evening in Fort Collins. For a band that has been on the road for so long it would be easy for them to become blasé as well. However LoS is always innovating, inviting guests, and generally leaving it all out on every stage they play. This a new dawn for this band and I for one am happy to be witnessing their rebirth.
With the departure of Vince Herman to greener pastures in Oregon, the region has experienced a deficit in the random acts of music he would regularly bestow upon our community. He was a regular fixture in Ned, his former home, and down on The Front Range. It would be difficult not to find Vince Herman playing somewhere on any given weekend in Colorado. Now Vince is a commodity, so I made it point to head down to see Great American Taxi at the Aggie Theater. As fate would have it they were recording the entire run for an upcoming live album.
Up first were Bonnie And The Clydes, a six-piece country and rock outfit lead by Miss Bonnie Sims. They opened with “Dear Departed.”
Set 1: Dear Departed, My Love Will Keep, Lonely Love, Eye To Eye, Storm On Its Way, Rocky Mountain Town, Waltz For The Seasons, LA County, Man In Me, Darkside, Still House, Ophelia, Hold On Me
Relatively new to scene, Bonnie And The Clydes are an interesting addition to the already bountiful music of the Front Range. They are lead by firecracker Bonnie Sims, who belts it out as well as she plays a six string. She is flanked by a full band consisting of her husband Taylor Sims on electric guitar, Nancy Steinberger on fiddle, Michael Schenkleberg on bass, Chris Ramey on pedal steel, and Damon Smith on drums. Their renditions of Dylan’s “Man In Me” and The Band’s “Ophelia were spot on and really got the crowd moving. They had a rowdy tone that was a perfect fit for Great American Taxi.
Great American Taxi is the side project of Leftover Salmon front man Vince Herman. He has assembled an incredible lineup of musicians to fill out his group. In addition to Vince Taxi is Chad Staehly on keys, Jim Lewin on guitar, Brian Adams on bass, and Chris Sheldon on drums. They really seemed to have gelled since I saw them last summer. This show being part of the Snowball Tour it was the first time Vince has made it back since moving out of state. Honestly, it could have gone either way. They opened with their original “Standing All Alone.”
Set 1:Standing All Alone, Appalachian Soul, New Millennium Blues, Linning Track, Penny Arcade, Jack London, Twilight, Swamp Song, Going To Brownsville, Tough Job, Angel Dust, Poor House, Coming Home To You, Travlin’ Man, West L.A. Fadeaway, Little Liza Jane, Dirty Old Town, Instrumental, Reckless Habits, Cold Lonely Town, Great American Taxi, When I Die, Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow
Encore: Good Night To Boogie
For a Taxi fan this show has absolutely everything you could want in a live show. Their mix of bluegrass, Americana, and rock is so approachable it seems impossible not to have fun seeing them live. Songs like “Appalachian Soul” and “Poor House” address real issues in American society like the working conditions in the coal mining industry as well as the plight of the impoverished in this country. Great American Taxi really has evolved and it’s great to see them playing at this level. Their covers included everything from Leadbelly’s “Linning Track” to Ry Cooder’s “Going Down To Brownsville” to the Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway.” It really was a fun and musically eclectic night. They closed the set with their version of the Flatt & Scruggs classic “Aint Gonna Work Tomorrow.” Great American Taxi encored with “Good Night To Boogie.” With the departure of Vince to Portlandia it’s even more important for him to come back to the Front Range with memorable shows. That is exactly what Great American Taxi accomplished on their swing through the Aggie. With the live recording coming out, it will be awesome to get a greatest hits album from such a solid run
As we age in the scene, the generations change and the music evolves. Summer Camp seems to develop by leaps and bounds every year. With a lineup of over 100 musical acts offered they are constantly bringing in new groups and continuing to be an innovator in the festival scene. This year Jay Goldberg is bringing in Phish front man Trey Anastasio along with the regular cast of characters including moe., Umphrey’s McGee and so much more. As we approach the thirteenth Summer Camp it really feels like a whole new ballgame. Younger fans hopping on the bus, different styles of music all getting a chance on the array of stages, and additionally so many incredible events taking place all over the grounds throughout the four days beyond the music. They all combine to make Summer Camp one of the leading festivals in the country. As Summer Camp finds itself on the cusp of a new era, I found myself reflecting on the festival at a local show. On a recent frigid night out in Fort Collins I headed out to see Gipsy Moon.
Gipsy Moon represents a turning of the page for Americana and Gypsy Bluegrass. I’ve seen Silas Herman, son of famed front man and Summer Camp veteran Vince Herman, perform with Leftover Salmon several times. Gipsy Moon is his current foray into a touring band. Seeing the son of a musician that I admire so much, performing on his own is what got me thinking about the future of music and current state of affairs within the scene.
Gipsy Moon consists of multi-talented, multi-instrumentalists. Silas flanks live painter and singer, Mackenzie Page, who belts it out as well as she handles a paint brush. David Matters is a singer/songwriter who plays banjo as well as the guitar. Finally, Collin Huff holds it all down on bass. We arrived as Gipsy Moon was beginning their set at Avogadro’s Number. Avo’s is a series of three rooms divided by purpose. The first is a bar, the second is a quaint music venue, and the third is a restaurant. Inside the band performed for a small crowd already seated in the middle of the room. We came to find out the show was a bit of a homecoming for Page with many of her family and friends filling out the crowd. They opened up the night with “Ramblin’.”
Set One: Ramblin’, Little Maggie, Seven Seas, Autumn Leaves, The New Thing, Cowboy Vessel, Dark Eyes, Long Time Comin’, Away We Go, Trumpet and the Drum, Nocturnal, Swallow Tail Jig, Sweet Thing, Independence Day, Pensl-tucky, Angeline the Baker / Chinquipin Hunting, House of The Rising Sun, Hunger, Right Before The Dawn
The Gipsy Moon show was a mix of originals and traditional bluegrass style covers. They dub themselves “Gipsygrass” and their entire delivery had a free flowing style that was incredibly inviting. They each took turns at the microphone and mixed up the instrumentation often. Matters had a nice vocal range that harmonized nicely with Page who at times shook the room with her powerful delivery. Silas simply shredded the mandolin throughout the set even though he at times seemed to shy away from the spotlight. Covering everything from Russian and Irish folk songs to a smoking version of “House Of The Rising Sun” Gipsy Moon really demonstrated their range and ability. All in all it was a relaxing night of music with some talented musicians from Nederland. I foresee big things from this band; I hope they continue to venture down from the mountains to play for the masses on the Front Range. As I headed back home I was truly inspired by this new generation of musicians and it got me excited about Summer Camp this year. The art, music, and people will all be off the hook this year. I look forward to yet another amazing time in the heart of Illinois.
I headed down to Bohemian Nights on Sunday around 3 PM for Widow’s Bane. Widow’s Bane is not a Summer Camp band, but maybe they should be. For those that don’t know this self-proclaimed “Zombie-Death-Polka” band performs adorned in face paint and blood. Led by Mortimer Leech who was poisoned by his wife a few hundred years ago, The Widow’s Bane does not shy away form playing to the crowd. They invited a friend to serve cotton candy to the mass as they performed. They were the surprise of the festival, playing up their characters and making for an intriguing blend of rock, folk, and cowpunk.
The rest of my afternoon was filed with a pair of Summer Camp Alumni, Great American Taxi, and Kyle Hollingsworth Band. Both Vince and Kyle have had interesting positions at Summer Camp over the years. Vince Herman played the role of master of ceremony in 2006 and Kyle Hollingsworth lead a discussion on home brewing and sat in with Everyone Orchestra in 2011. I took my time heading back over to the Old Town Square Stage for Leftover Salmon side project Great American Taxi. It had been two years since GAT had played at Bohemian Nights and they definitely drew in the people. The highlight of their set was a beautiful rendition of “Silver Fiddle.” With Vince Herman at the reigns this band never disappoints.
I went to see a bit of Sunday headliners Gipsy Kings before ending the weekend at Kyle Hollingsworth Band. Kyle of The String Cheese Incident has assembled an all star side project including Garrett Sayers on bass and Dave Watts on kit. They played everything you would want to her from them including an epic set closing “Rosie.” I left the event happy to have covered it, and elated with how well it came off. It’s impossible to live in Fort Collins and not make it down for at least a day or two of Bohemian Nights. Even if you don’t like many of the bands there is always plenty to see and do. I took the opportunity this year to pick my very own 10-show weekend, which is easy to do given the fact that so many bands played the event. It was well run and a great time, now let’s see moe. headline a night next year. Thanks to the Bohemian Foundation and the Downtown Association for all the hard work.
So today my Summer Camp weekend has started and it’s been a whirlwind of activity. We picked out a great location and are still working to make it our home away from home for the weekend. It is so exciting to see the energy building up and people getting ready. It’s been windy but I am so excited that we are going to have a sunny weekend; after last year’s monsoon I was hoping this year would be bright and warm.
There is so much to look forward to and it’s crazy to think that this weekend will be over as soon as it began. As always, this year’s pre-party is being kicked off with some awesome bands, some of which I will be checking out for the first time but have heard great things about. Trichrome looks like a great collection of sounds that is sure to entertain. The Werks are playing in the barn tonight and I heard they can definitely rock the house.
Of the bands I have seen before I cannot wait to check out Digital Tape Machine and Cornmeal. Both groups always deliver with fresh sets and great jams. I can’t wait to get my hoop out and dance the night away!
Tomorrow is going to be a crazy day; I start it off by announcing moe.‘s first set…can we say nervous? I cannot wait to get back there and meet the band…after so many years of watching them from afar this is going to be the most amazing experience to be right there only feet away. Apart from that insanity I can’t wait to catch some of the amazing shows that will be playing tomorrow. Leftover Salmon is a great band from Colorado who are actually making a movie; check out their website and take a peak – it’s bound to be a great flick for all music lovers. I am dying to Kinetix; they have some awesome tunes and I can’t wait to catch them live. Lastly I have heard great things about Gogol Bordello; it’s supposed to be a crazy show.
I took on a full day of music last Sunday with Leftover Salmon’s Aquatic Hitchhiker Release in Denver and trip back to Mishawaka for The Wood Brothers supported by Paper Bird. This year Leftover Salmon is making their triumphant return to Summer Camp and last year’s fest was my first time enjoying the music of The Wood Brothers. Here is my write up of my experience.
Leftover Salmon on Santa Fe
Over five months in the making, Leftover Salmon threw a massive party in the streets of Denver in honor of the release of Aquatic Hitchhiker. Their first album in eight years is certainly reason to celebrate, and 9,000 or so of their closest friends made the trip down to the 700 block of South Santa Fe to do just that. The setup can only be described excellent. Taking up the entire road with a beer garden and food vendors set up in an adjacent parking lot. I got in early and headed to the photo pit. They opened with a truly appropriate “Ants In My Pants.” Here is the setlist.
SET I: Ants In My Pants, Gold Hill Line, Zombie Jamboree, Stop All Your Worrying, That Was Your Mother, Doin’ My Time, Gone For Long, Aquatic Hitchhiker, Liza, Gulf of Mexico, Kentucky Skies, This Is The Time, Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie
SET II: On The Other Side, Keep Driving, 420 Polka, Light Behind The Rain, Down In The Hollow, Sing Up To The Moon, Bayou Town, Breakin’ Thru, See The Mornin’ Sun, Walking Shoes, Get Me Outta This City, Pasta On The Mountain, Here Comes The Night, Euphoria
ENCORE: I Don’t Know You, River’s Rising
Thanks to Corey at Kind Recordings for posting the recording on Archive, you can listen to it HERE.
The show began with some seriously classic Salmon including “Gold Hill Line” and “Zombie Jamboree.” Through the course of the show they managed to break out the majority of the track list from Aquatic Hitchhiker. I would go so far as to say it was the perfect balance between old and new. They finally got into the tracks from the new album with “Stop All Your Worrying,” and let me tell you the fresh Salmon tastes delicious. They dedicated “That Was Your Mother,” to all the moms in the audience given the fact that it was Mother’s Day.
“I sure do love bluegrass…. Play some of that spacegrass.” – Vince Herman
The next stretch was all new tunes showcasing how hard they worked on the new CD and how far they’ve come in a short 22 years. They closed the first set with a pair of classics including “This Is The Time,” which felt like a true assertion and “Up On the Hill Where They Do The Boogie.” I can’t think of any other band right now that would put on a show like this for their fans free of charge. Phish is not bringing all their followers to Burlington for a show like this. Leftover Salmon absolutely busted their ass to make this happen. They did not do this not to sell albums, which were being sold at the discounted rate of ten bucks. They did it because they are truly happy with where they are right now and they wanted to give back to their base. Leftover Salmon has experienced so much over the past two decades and many other bands in the same position would have fallen by the wayside. However they persevere because of a promise to Mark Vann and also because they truly love performing live. Unfortunately I had to hit the road back to Mishawaka after the first set. However given their presentation during set one I look forward to a new era of Salmon. It is officially Leftover 2.0. It is obvious they are back in a big way and with this amazing performance on Santa Fe, they proved that now is the time.
The Wood Brothers with Paper Bird
The Wood Brother with Paper Bird at Mishawaka
After the nonstop roller coaster of a weekend, a nice quiet evening at the Mish to close out their opening weekend was just what the doctor ordered. I raced back up from Leftover Salmon in Denver and got there in time to catch Paper Bird. Made up of Sarah Anderson, sisters Guinevere Patterson, and Esme Patterson, with Caleb Summeril, Paul DeHaven, Macon Terry, and Mark Anderson. The three ladies front the band and have a playful banter they toss around between songs. Their acoustic style was both relaxed and delightful. Drifting into elements of indie and bluegrass Paper Bird was a truly unique experience. They played a nice set of music and were a good fit as a Front Range opener for The Wood Brothers.
During setbreak I got a chance to grab some food off the new menu. I have to say that this is just one more of the improvements I’ve seen at Mishawaka over the last two years. The cooking was excellent with some higher-level fare as well as some affordable choices.
The Wood Brothers are quickly becoming a favorite of mine to see live. Their down to earth style is so approachable and intriguing, it’s hard not to be quickly enamored with this group. Combining the talents of brothers Chris and Oliver Wood, at times it feels like you are sitting on the front porch of the Wood home listening to two siblings play for their friends and family.
SET I: Stealin’, When I Was Young, Lovin’ Arms, Mary Anna, Where My Baby Might Be, Stumbled In, Postcards From Hell, Spirit, Shoofly Pie, Angel Band, Liza Jane, Midnight Rider, Chocolate On My Tongue, Luckiest Man, Honey Jar, Glad,
The almost two hour set was a great demonstration of what The Wood Brothers are capable of. Their take on Americana and acoustic instrumentation gives me faith in the quality of new music. Highlights from their show included an awesome “Postcards From Hell” and a tight “Luckiest Man.” Chris Wood known for his intrepid jazz licks in Medeski Martin & Wood is transformed into a folk luminary. Oliver is a fine picker with a twang in his voice that lends a certain authenticity to their sound. After seeing their performance at Summer Camp last year I knew I would be happy to make it up the canyon for this show. The concert ended before 9:30 PM, which is usually the case for Sunday shows at Mishawaka.
With Leftover Salmon making it back to Summer Camp this year I thought it would be good to give their new album a listen. Here is my review. Eight years in the making Leftover Salmon’s Aquatic Hitchhiker finally hit record stores last week. A truly original work of art this album is everything Salmon with absolutely no filler. Comprised of road-tested tracks as well as some new tunes. The impetus for all of can only be the addition of Andy Thorn to the lineup. The last year has seen some changes in Camp Salmon. The departure of Bill McKay and the addition of Thorn have given the band a clearer focus on the “Poly-Ethnic Cajun Slamgrass,” that is their hallmark. The opening tune entitled “Gulf of Mexico” is sung by Drew Emmitt and is reminiscent of his earlier work like “Valley Of The Full Moon.” It refers to the oil spill in the Gulf and shows how Salmon continues to be concerned with bigger issues. Martinez’s drums hit hard like an abandoned alarm clock left to rattle away while Drew’s vocals just soar. Vince gets funky on the road song, “Keep Driving.” You can almost picture him looking out the window of a tour bus with a notepad in hand writing the words down. “Liza” is one of my favorites that has made it into their new rotation; it’s a fun shanty love song that makes crowds bounce. Musically the title track “Aquatic Hitchhiker” is perhaps the most profound on the album, lead by Thorn’s banjo shredding and Drew’s violin. For several years after the passing of Mark Vann and the exodus of Noam Pikelny LoS seemed to be searching for someone to fill the void. I can honestly say that they have found the plug in Andy Thorn. The banjo is so essential to their sound that it is imperative to have a finger-flying shredder at the helm. Andy is just that. “Bayou Town” as it’s name insinuates is a down home zydeco-flavored strum. Greg Garrison’s bass finally finds the spotlight on “Sing Up to the Moon,” with Vince on vocals. In “Light Behind the Rain” Thorn steps up the microphone, it’s a track that he used to perform with Grant Farm. His smooth delivery is the perfect juxtaposition to Vince’s rowdiness and Emmitt’s towering voice. Leftover kicks back into high gear with the extra optimistic “Stop All Your Worrying.” Martinez gets out the brushes to Great American Taxiesque “Walking Shoes.” The Americana that Herman has been focusing on for several years certainly made it into the mix with this song. “Kentucky Skies” is a Scruggs flavored romp into the Salmon’s more traditional sound. “Gone For Long” feels like the days last cigarette while the album closing “Here Comes The Night” gets jazzy and a little lounge.
The mix of Aquatic Hitchhiker is just stellar. Recorded in both Colorado and Portland, it has a solid flow, both in music and texture. I highly recommend grabbing a copy, sitting down with a cold beer, and letting the night come.