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Leftover rumors ain’t true

Stewart Oksenhorn

Contrary to rampant rumors, there will be plenty of leftovers to go around.

The word comes from the top: Vince Herman, singer, guitarist and frontman of the Colorado band Leftover Salmon says that the group is in fine shape after the recent departure of two members.

Bassist Tye North got married and decided to return to his hometown of Portland, Ore.; drummer Jeff “Apt. Q-258” Sipe, is a new father, and left the hard-traveling band to spend more time with his family in Atlanta.

Herman witnessed widespread rumors on the Internet about the demise of his 11-year-old band, but decided to ignore them.

“We didn’t respond to much of it on the Internet – the rumor that there might not be any more Leftover Salmon,” said Herman, a Pittsburgh, Pa., native who moved to Colorado in the ’80s. He formed a Cajun-influenced band, the Salmonheads, before co-founding Leftover Salmon in 1990. “We didn’t want to give any credit to the rumors that we would break up.”

Rather than break up, the remaining members of Leftover – banjoist Mark Vann and mandolinist-vocalist Drew Emmitt, as well as Herman – decided to fortify the band.

They replaced their rhythm section with drummer Jose Martinez, a Seattle session player they met at last year’s High Sierra Festival, and bassist Greg Garrison, a Coloradan who has toured with the Motet and the Matt Flinner Quartet. And they also added keyboardist-vocalist Bill McKay, most recently a member of the Derek Trucks Band, whom Leftover Salmon knew from his days with the now-defunct Boulder group Band du Jour.

Herman said that the band’s sound hasn’t changed its core sound much: “Mark and Drew and I are still doing what we’ve done. That’s a good chunk of Salmon there.” But he did say that the new blood has forced a renewed work ethic into the now six-piece band.

“We’ve been writing and rehearsing, having a real creative resurgence,” said Herman. “That’s a new process, doing this rehearsal thing.”

The new lineup is not exactly road-tested, with only about five gigs under its belt since November. But one of those gigs was a sold-out New Year’s Eve gig at Denver’s Paramount Theatre, which featured not only the three new members, but also the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who jammed the whole night with Leftover Salmon.

The band is also in the midst of a short Colorado tour, one which brings them to Aspen’s Double Diamond for a two-night stand tonight and tomorrow.

Leftover Salmon has long been accustomed to inviting guests onstage for impromptu jams, which has made the change in personnel somewhat smoother. This past summer, the band hosted the first Planet Salmon, a two-day festival in Lyons that featured the likes of Maceo Parker, the Derek Trucks Band, reggae band John Brown’s Body, and Widespread Panic lead singer John Bell.

Leftover took the opportunity to jam with most everyone in sight, not uncommon for a band that got its start by gathering as many people as possible for a farcical set at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival’s band competition a decade ago.

“The musical chairs thing – that comes from the bluegrass tradition, people sitting in and jamming,” said Herman. “And it definitely helped the transition.

“But there’s nothing like sitting in a room for a few days, writing and playing.”

Herman said that the newly configured band plans to record its next album this spring, and will release it on its own label.


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