Leftover Salmon :: 12.31.04 :: Fox Theatre :: Boulder, CO

Drew Emmitt & Vince Herman :: 12.31.04 :: By Tony Stack
Like a school of frenzied aquatic vertebrates surging upstream to an ancient rhythm, fans of the now legendary, polyethnic, Cajun slamgrass band Leftover Salmon converged on Boulder's Fox Theatre at the end of 2004 to honor what has been a driving force in the wide and raging river of contemporary roots-based American music for 15 solid years. The dedicated devotees of this fish-themed, string-propelled, high-altitude looniness were present for what was billed as the last official hurrah for Vince, Drew, Noam, Bill, Greg, Jose, Corn Man, Mayor McCheese, Tuxedo Guy, Crazy Hat Woman, a host of staff, the spirit of Mark Vann, and of course, all the Salmon heads. Naturally, the music did not disappoint. With three Fox shows (plus dates in Vail and Steamboat) leading up the big New Year's finale, the group was in prime form for a musically eclectic end of year rave-up.

Leftover Salmon :: 12.31.04 :: By Tony Stack
The setting included a giant salmon suspended over the crowd and a colorful backdrop that featured a huge banjo, which was used to show slides featuring band road shots and classic photos of the late, great Mark Vann. As the Salmon heads filled the Fox -- a cozy venue known well by Front Range music fans and visitors alike -- the air was electric with anticipation. The guys took the stage around 10:15, kicking things off with "Ants In My Pants." They then flew directly into a crowd-amping rendition of John Hartford's "Steampowered Aeroplane." As the night progressed, it was abundantly clear just how consistently good this band has been and still is. The various Leftover shows I'd taken in over the years flowed back from the watery recesses of my memory -- high times in Telluride, festive outings at the Boulder Theater, an energetic performance at RockyGrass, and brilliant shows at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Phew, these guys have been making the rounds since the late '80s and have kept the jamgrass pumping like no one's business. From country, rock, and bluegrass-inflected numbers like "Up on the Hill," "Cash on the Barrelhead," "Railroad Highway," and "Breakin' Through" to the infectious silliness of the "BooBoo" and "Pasta on the Mountain," the band played it hot, varied, and flat-out insane on New Year's Eve. The old memories merged with the present to form the kind of musical magic that still fuels the rolling bus to Never Land that is the festival jam scene. And when funneled through a Salmon-ometer, this stuff smelled like rocket fuel.

Leftover Salmon :: Happy New Year :: By Tony Stack
Between tunes, Vince Herman spoke of the band's early days at the now defunct, though well-remembered, Boulder clubs Tulagi's on the Hill and JJ McCabe's Island Cafe. He reminded us that Leftover is part of the same Colorado roots scene that launched acts including Big Head Todd, The Samples, Acoustic Junction, and at least a couple generations of music-addicted neo hippies -- many of whom actually hold degrees from the University of Colorado (this reviewer included). Highlighting their ties to the Boulder scene and its storied past, the band was joined by Front Range guit-picker extraordinaire Ross Martin (perhaps best known from his days with the Tony Furtado Band). Acoustic Junction member Reed Foehl joined in as well with a soulful version of Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey" accompanied vocally by Herman. Accordion player Joe Jogerst also loaned his chops to the blend. It was Colorado jam music at its best.

Drew Emmitt :: 12.31.04 :: By Tony Stack
Other highlights included a nice, second-set "Catfish John" that had the crowd swaying and singing along and a 3 am crescendo that saw both Vince Herman and his teenage son crowd-surfing while Drew Emmitt played wearing a cardboard box on his head. Did I mention the tons of shredded newspaper -- I mean "pasta," that was dumped on the stage and crowd? And props to Corn Man who danced one hell of a 12 am corn jig to the point where I thought his legs might pop off (think Russian vodka guy gone bad.) Let's just say I hadn't heard "fesssstivaall" yelled so many times and with such conviction since... well, since at least the last time I saw Leftover Salmon play.

The show marked the band's 15th anniversary to the day. The first Leftover outing was held at the Eldorado Cafe (locally known as "The Eldo") in Crested Butte back in 1989. And while the band probably won't be out on the road with the touring intensity of days gone by, chances are you might still be able to catch them at the bigger festivals, where the spirit of "feesssstivaall" lives on. And if Corn Man can still walk, he'll probably be there too.

Set List:

Set I: (10:22 p.m.)
Ants In My Pants (6:30), Steampowered Aeroplane (6:05), Breakdown (4:50), Sharon (9:35), Troubled Times (11:52), Railroad/Highway (15:43), Bend In The River (5:42), Fayetteville County Line (6:05), BooBoo (6:30), *Doin' My Time (23:50)


Countdown to New Year's! Dick Hippie Corn Dance (3:34), Banjo/Beer Bottle Duet (2:32), Quick Speeches (2:50)

Set II: (12:44 a.m.)
Breakin' Through (9:39), Ridin' On The L & N (5:30), Delta Queen (5:11), 44 Blues, Blister In The Sun (6:32), *#@Catfish John (8:17), *Can't Get No Better (9:00), Thanks To The Crew (Johnny speech to the band and crowd), *Highway Song (12:48), *Ask The Fish (13:35), *Whippin' Post (10:12), *Weary Traveler (4:32), Do The Boogie (6:26), %Tupelo Honey (7:53), Down In The Hollow (6:23)

Encore: (2:44 a.m.)
$Pasta On The Mountain (with Free Bird, Third Stone, and Star Spangled Banner ending) (21:27)

*Ross Martin on Guitar
#Chad Stayle on Keyboards
@Mike Wooten on Drums
%Reid Foehl on Guitar and Vocals
$Joe Jogerst on Accordion

Nick Hutchinson
JamBase | Denver
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[Published on: 1/6/05]

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