Tempe, AZ | 04.17.02 || Tuscon, AZ | 04.18.02
Being in the desert, pretty far in from California and pretty far away from everywhere else, we often get passed by when bands go on tour. Because of this, when we hear that one of our favorite bands is coming not once - but twice - to Arizona, we have reason to celebrate. And the first night of the 2002 Arizona FESTIVAAAL proved to be more than enough reason to celebrate!
The last time Leftover Salmon was here (02.09.01 at the Cajun House, for those that are counting) they had a different lineup. Due to the unfortunate passing of Mark Vann, the banjo spot is being filled by Matt Flinner, one of the several talented artists taking Mark's place on this tour. Matt made the difficult job of coalescing with the rest of the band seem smooth and effortless.
Thursday's show was the first of Leftover Salmon's Spring Migration Tour, and featured the new members of the band: keyboardist Bill McKay, drummer Jose Martinez and bassist Greg Garrison. What immediately stood out was the versatility of the band with these new additions. An uptempo, kickin' bluegrass tune would be followed by a soulful blues number, highlighting McKay's talent both vocally and musically. Martinez and Garrison are both adept at keeping the beat steady and strong. Alongside Drew Emmitt's superb mandolin skills and Vince's acoustic guitar rhythms, the new lineup already has a striking amount of synergy.
Throughout the night, members of the opening band Sucker joined the boys for several songs, adding their own style to the mix. I thought they did a great job of achieving that balance of both blending in and making a strong contribution. The intensity never let up for a second, as the boys plowed through their setlist with raging energy. The crowd was certainly feeling the vibe, as everyone around me was dancing joyfully to the Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass under the starry sky.
Leftover Salmon is clearly a band is continuously evolving, and if you have a chance to catch them on their Spring Migration Tour, I highly encourage you to do so.
JamBase | Arizona
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