Taken By Leftover Salmon At Riverbend

  • Monday, June 9, 2003
  • Jay Mouton

Straight out of the high country (and it's way up there, folks) of Colorado came the soulful, bluegrass strains of Leftover Salmon. I was taken, to say the least. I didn't know what to expect as I'm not a fan of bluegrass music as I tend to break out in welts when exposed to more than 5 or 6 minutes of the musical barrage of a 5-string banjo.

Well, I was able to leave the skin lotion at home - Leftover Salmon is not yer Daddies bluegrass band.

I should have figured this was not an "average" bluegrass band when I took stock of the instrument lineup on stage. Yes, the standards were there: acoustic guitar, a banjo and a mandolin. STOP! That's about the only
commonality I noticed. Upon further viewing I spotted a keyboard player (whom I would learn has a kickin' Hammond Organ sound as well), an electric bass (purists seem to allow only acoustic upright bass as per bluegrass bylaws), drums (the devil's work, no doubt), electric guitar - are you following me here? Scary stuff, no doubt.

My fears were laid to rest. Leftover Salmon played bluegrass music like a purest, bluegrass band. Sweet, melodic and, in most cases, pretty darn busy - but it's supposed to be! Not being a fan of the banjo (I told you about my medical condition, right?) I was in mortal fear for a few moments, but the welts didn't break out. I found my foot tapping along with that clipping, up-tempo flow, and best of all the banjo picker played some of the best placed 'triplets' (really fast 3-note phrases) I've heard on any stringed instruments in years - thanks buddy, perhaps you've cured me. The mandolin player could moonlight as a guitarist for Pink Floyd any day of the week - nice job. The rest of the band were just as confident and competent at their various duties and made it all sound like all talented musicians do - natural.

All of the songs played by Leftover Salmon were little gems but my favorite song, and I think the audience agreed with me, was an extended jam (and the most spacey, headlike, groovy, trippy version) on the old, traditional ballad "Wayfaring Stranger." Never, in my years of listening to all kinds of bands and all kinds of music, have I heard a stranger and more compelling version of this song. It was one of those most rare of musical events that occur on any stage - original. Nice job, guys.

What to here something just a little different? Go online, look-up Leftover Salmon, and order one of their CDs and delve into the magic for a while.


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