How about Leftover?
September 2, 2007
SNOWMASS – For the Allman Brothers Band, the road really does seem to go on forever.
For Leftover Salmon, the road looks like it might end today, in Snowmass Village.
The Colorado band, whose “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass” mixed zydeco, bluegrass and rock with a dose of theatricality, returned from a two-year hiatus with a handful of festival appearances this summer. The last of those five comeback gigs is today, as the opening set at the Labor Day Festival. Beyond this, there are no dates scheduled, and no plans to add any.
“It’s fun. It’s nice to get together with those guys. It was good to hit some of those old jams, get the memory working,” Vince Herman, one of the band’s founders, said of the recent reunion. “But no telling right now [about the future]. We’re taking it on a gig-by-gig basis.”
Herman called his Great American Taxi, which appears today on the JAS Village Stage, and tonight at the Cirque as part of the JAS After Dark program in Snowmass Village, “my main boogie-woogie these days.” Drew Emmitt, the other surviving founding member still in Leftover Salmon, has his own new boogie-woogie. Recently, he announced the formation of the Emmitt Nershi Band, co-fronted by former String Cheese Incident singer-guitarist Billy Nershi.
Even if it goes no further, Leftover’s road has been a long and memorable one. The band formed by accident when Herman, a member then of the Salmon Heads, made a shambles of the 1988 Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition, by inviting all comers ” including Emmitt and banjoist Mark Vann, from the Left-Hand String Band ” onstage. The group lost, but a band was born. Leftover Salmon went on to national prominence on the bluegrass and jam-band circuits.
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Vann died of cancer in 2002, sparking much turnover in personnel. In 2005, the band hit the end of its stream. “Too long down the road, supporting the machine and all that kind of stuff that got to be more trouble than it was worth,” explained Herman.
Like Leftover, Great American Taxi was formed without a design. Herman formed the band for a benefit in Boulder. The lineup happened to include a pedal steel guitar, and Herman ran with that sound. “We didn’t intentionally position ourselves as a new-country band,” he said. “But that’s what it ended up being, a new-country or alt-country kind of thing.” The band’s latest CD, “Streets of Gold,” was released earlier this year.
Even the short Leftover reunion was more happenstance than plan. “We realized we would all be in a few of the same festivals,” said Herman. “I don’t think we could have done it if we planned it. Just an unexpected thing. Like most of the good things are.”
Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org