Philosophy suggests that nothing in life is a coincidence. Friends and family are what really matter as we move through every stage of our lives. Fun is an essential elixir in a meaningful life no matter what path we take. These are the main ingredients in the recipe that makes up the Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass band that is Leftover Salmon.
Cindy D’Adamo of Ladylake Music, in Pennsylvania was in touch a few weeks ago about an exciting new project she is working on. “Had I heard of the band, Leftover Salmon?” she asked. At the time I hadn’t.
Word of mouth influence is part of the magic that makes great music better. It’s an integral thread in organic social movements that seemingly spring up out of nowhere and gets people talking, bringing them together in ways mainstream media can never accomplish.
A few hits on Twitter about Leftover Salmon brought acknowledgement from two more good friends — Erin Scholze of Dreamspider Publicity and Events in Asheville, North Carolina; and music photographer, James Martin, of northern California. Shortly thereafter a call came in from Bob Foss of the Colorado-based, Riffactory, the company who produced the high def DVD for Leftover Salmon, titled, Twice in a Blue Moon.
Bob sent a copy of the DVD, which is so rich as a documentary, it’s a trip through the band’s 20-year ride. The net result after two decades, Leftover Salmon is the leading influence of the Slamgrass movement that includes Phish, Yonder Mountain String Band, and String Cheese Incident.
There’s a distinct handmade quality in the fabric that makes Leftover Salmon the grassroots legend it’s become since New Year’s Eve, 1989. Under a blue moon that night in Crested Butte Colorado, the legacy of Leftover Salmon was born when a band called Salmon Head had a few missing players and Lefthand String Band was happy to fill in — a happy accident — and no coincidence.
Twice in a Blue Moon documents live performances by Leftover Salmon from the historic Boulder Theatre. Two nights of incredible music are captured in another phase of the blue moon — exactly 20 years later — commemorating two decades of memories and music, family, and fun.
The music is nothing short of amazing. It is solid, swinging, lyrical content with an unmistakable maverick spirit. The moon shines on the band somewhere between the hills and hollers where bluegrass springs from, down to the bayou, and back to Colorado where wild horses run. Thirteen spectacular tracks make up the musical portion of Twice in a Blue Moon.
The instrumental platform behind the band’s brand consists of mandolin, guitars, banjo, keyboards and drums. Twenty first century lingo would call this a mashup, but in music we call it fusion. It’s a well-aged blend that goes down smooth with traditional roots anyone can dig no matter where you’re from.
Great music has a strong story-telling element that draws the listener in. Like the folk roots where Leftover Salmon draws inspiration, band mates are excellent story tellers in their own right. Combined with well-produced imagery their epic journey comes to life in Twice in a Blue Moon.
Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt take turns sharing stories of their unique history chronicling everything from their brotherhood as a band, the legendary players they’ve shared the stage with, how they traveled spending as many as 250 days a year on the road, to the birth of children, and the death of founding member, Mark Vann. It’s truly been a family affair, and some of the bands’ children are now playing and picking as well or better than their fathers.
Band member cameos, and special guests, Pete Sears and Michelle Shocked, document Leftover Salmon’s influence as pioneers of the jam band. Pete Sears is a former member of Jefferson Airplane, (as well as performing with other legends) and currently appears with jam bands, Moonalice and the David Nelson Band who take their influences from The Grateful Dead. Michelle Shocked states the concept of the “jam band” has not been around as long as most people might think. Leftover Salmon by virtue of their make up from different bands and roots music was an early influence, and pioneer in the movement.
More footage is included from Great American Taxi and The Emmitt Nershi Band, both of whom have direct ties to members of Leftover Salmon. Vince Herman is part of Great American Taxi, an Americana band. The Emmitt Nershi Band falls in the category of New Country Blues, co-founded by Drew Emmitt.
There are many definitions dating back 400 years that lend meaning to once in a blue moon. That Leftover Salmon recognized the blue moon on their first appearance together gives rise to the universal qualities of their music, tradition, folklore, the wax and wane of a shared journey. Twice in a Blue Moon truly adds meaning to coming full circle and what that means to a group of guys who created their own legacy, not overnight, but one day at a time under many moons.