Drew Emmitt, the dynamic lead singer and mandolin player with the popular jamband Leftover Salmon, is a true renaissance man on musical instruments. Playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, flute and electric guitar, he's a string man to be reckoned with. He excels in unique energy driven mandolin licks and his influences include a pantheon of musical heroes including Lowell George, Steve Morse, Duane Allman, John Cowan, Bill Monroe, Sam Bush, Hot Rize and New Grass Revival.
"I started playing when I lived in Nashville, TN where everybody played music. Then we moved to Boulder and there were a lot of really influential musicians floating in and out. I started going out to see bands like Hot Rize and really getting into bluegrass."
In 1984, Drew Emmitt founded the progressive bluegrass ensemble, The Left Hand String Band. Six years later, Vince Herman's serendipitous scramble for musicians to fill in a gig with his band, SalmonHeads, yeilded a glorious amalgam: Leftover Salmon. Jambands.com said "Emmitt's mandolin prowess and songwriting gifts are two particular sources of the group's success." Emmitt is an extremely gifted musician and songwriter and one can't help but being swept away by his incredibly pure voice. On his debut solo release, Freedom Ride, Emmitt reveals once again his amazing picking abilities and songwriting talents. He recruited some of the hottest acoustic musicians around to join him; John Cowan and the John Cowan Band (Jeff Autrey, Luke Bulla, Scott Vestal, Pasi Leppikangas), Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury, Vassar Clements, Stuart Duncan, Randy Scruggs, Vince Hermann & Greg Garrison from Leftover Salmon and more. The result is the most exciting newgrass album to come down the pike since the original New Grass Revival.
On Freedom Ride, Emmitt showcases a disc full of newgrass and bluegrass gems like Paving Eisenhower which features a dazzling mandolin duet with Ronnie McCoury and Sam Bush on fiddle. Freedom Ride, the albums lead track, features a hot duet vocal with former New Grass Revival lead singer John Cowan, a long time hero of Emmitt's.
"John Cowan is my all time singing hero, for sure!" he says.
Emmit is joined by bluegrass mainstay Peter Rowan on the Rowan penned Rainmaker with infectious melodies, great singing and masterful playing. The project delivers light-hearted foot-tappers such as the Cajun flavored Emmitt original Bend in the River, and a bluegrassy cover of the Dylan favorite Tangled Up in Blue. Emmitt has composed innumerable tunes, many of which have worked their way into the wild and diverse Leftover Salmon repertoire. His pure voice and heartfelt lyrics have become a signature of the band. He has also pioneered techniques for taking the mandolin into new territory by using combinations of overdrive, slides and foot pedals to emulate the sound of steel drums and electric slide guitar.
Emmitt's dedication and love for music have helped him become one of our nation's top mandolin players. Beyond his own success, Emmitt has remained a fan as well. On joining his biggest influences on stage he said, "It's amazing. It's like walking in a dream. For years I had this dream of standing on stage next to them and having a good time. And it's happened. Standing on stage next to Sam (Bush) is pretty indescribable. And David (Grisman) as well. When Neil Young walked on stage, that was outrageous. I turned around, and there he was standing 6 inches away from me. I looked right at his eyes. Then having him actually sing on a song that I wrote? Pretty amazing."
The Boulder based quintet of Leftover Salmon has been a force in the Colorado music scene for over a decade. With Freedom Ride, Drew Emmitt is becoming a force to be reckoned with himself.