Leftover Salmon: Celebrating 20 Years Part 3

David Lowery - Cracker

JamBase: Do you remember how you first came into contact with Leftover Salmon?

David Lowery
David Lowery: I can't remember what festival it was, but there were a couple festivals we played one summer where we kept running into them, and I just liked them. I just thought they played well, had good chemistry, there were just a lot of cool things about [their music]. And mainly Vince [Herman, Leftover Salmon], Johnny [Hickman, Cracker] and I just ended up palling around at these festivals. I don't remember exactly but somehow, we ended up onstage together and we played a couple Cracker songs, and it was a blast. And what it led to was that they were coming through town and I played with them again just as a guest musician, and they were going to be coming back through town about three weeks later, and I said, "Hey, why don't you guys just come into my studio when there's a couple days off in your schedule, and we'll just see what we can record?" So as it ended up, the simplest thing to do was for us to record essentially a lot of songs that me and Johnny Hickman had written.

JamBase: The O Cracker, Where Art Thou? album?

David Lowery: Yeah. So basically, over the course of a summer and then a year, we ended up hanging out together a lot and doing some jamming, but the real connection between the bands was when we made this record. And we didn't really have a plan or anything like that; that's why we just did a bunch of Cracker songs in a different vein with them. But the cool thing about it was the whole recording session, once the crew and my engineer at the studio got everything set up, it really just became more like a bacchanalian feast. It became more about drinking, smoking cigars, or whatever else. There was a pretty nice restaurant across the street from my studio that they completely fell in love with, and we were constantly just eating, drinking, smoking, and occasionally playing a song. And there was like 48 hours of this. And then right after the holidays we just kind of roughly mixed it, and that was the record. But it really was just like something you'd do in another country or something, like a two-and-a-half-day party that involved recording and playing music. Not in a bad way, it was like something that musicians have been doing for thousands of years.

JamBase: I think a lot of people sort of imagine that as the rock & roll fantasy lifestyle, like that's what musicians do for every album.

Billy Nershi & Vince Herman - Leftover Salmon
David Lowery: Mmm hmm, but they don't! But that's what those sessions were [like], and [the album] is just a great documentation of that, and I'm very happy with it. And that just sort of bonded the two bands together, and kind of introduced our audiences to each other. You know, they're kind of like "our guys." In some ways, they don't exactly fit. They're a little bit the odd man out in the jam world, because they lean a little more bluegrass, more traditional than most, and Cracker is sort of the odd man out in the alternative world because we do lean towards country and the more jammy stuff. And so we are sort of the odd man out in that world, and so there's a kindred spirit connection there.

JamBase: So, how would you say working with Leftover Salmon has influenced your music, or you personally?

David Lowery: Well, like I said, I never had really recorded a record quite in the way that we recorded that record that we did together. And since that time, it's not like I've ever done any Cracker records that way, but at our studio, with certain artists that I'm involved in recording or producing, I have adopted sort of a much more informal "let's eat, let's drink, let's do this, and we'll record and see what happens," approach on some projects that I have recorded there.

Also, Johnny and I are going to do something with this [Leftover Salmon] 20th anniversary party, too. We will be joining the Leftover Salmon guys on January 2 at the Ogden Theatre. We're playing New Year's Eve in Denver, so we're just going to stay and go to the party and play, which is going to be great. Basically, on their home turf, it'll be fantastic.

JamBase: What about Leftover Salmon's influence on the music world in general?

David Lowery: Well, I believe that they are the guys that brought bluegrass to the jam world, and you see a lot of that now. It's everywhere, and they brought that in; they made that part of it. Before, it was more jazz-based, and now it seems there's more roots-based stuff, and clearly, they were the first ones to really do that. And [they have] just good ensemble playing, with solos but rooted to a pretty traditional song structure. I think it was a really necessary thing to happen in the scene, and they did that well.

David Lowery was interviewed by Cal Roach

Continue reading to download Part 3 of our FREE Leftover Salmon live double album...

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