Leftover Salmon Celebrates 25th Anniversary In Chicago

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Words & Images by: Michael Kaiz

Leftover Salmon Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Keller Williams, Sam Bush & Col. Bruce Hampton :: 12.30.14 :: House of Blues :: Chicago, IL

Read Michael’s recap of the evening after the photo gallery. Head here to share your own memories on the occasion of Leftover Salmon’s 25th Anniversary or read those of other fans.

Leftover Salmon celebrated the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 as well as the band’s 25th Anniversary on December 30 and 31 in Chicago. The action at The Vic started on the 30th with a cover of Alison Krauss’ “Wild Bill Jones.” You could tell from watching the way co-founding member Vince Herman danced around during “Unplug That Telephone” that the band’s spirits were high for a very special pair of shows. Keller Williams’ funk project, More Than A Little, played the late set on opening night with Leftover Salmon joining in to collaborate on a few songs.

The New Year’s Eve pre-party took place at Duffy’s Tavern, about a mile away from The Vic Theater. Keller’s loop-free solo set closed out with “Bob Rule’s” before he mingled with the crowd. Herman, Drew Emmitt and Andy Thorn then took the stage for a three-song acoustic set.

Later at The Vic, while Leftover Salmon was in the middle of “Baby Hold On,” three songs into the first set, musical legends and longtime friends and collaborators of the band Sam Bush and Col. Bruce Hampton were brought in through a side door hidden by a curtain. The band had no idea that Sam and Bruce were in the state, let alone at their show. At the close of the first set, Keller Williams took Vince’s mic and led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to Leftover Salmon, who first formed at a New Year’s Eve show at the El Dorado Cafe in Crested Butte, Colorado 25 years prior. During the third verse, Hampton and Bush came out on stage, each carrying a cake in the shape of the numbers “2” and “5.”

The band was shocked to learn that their “two biggest and scariest influences” were present for this anniversary celebration. A lot of planning went on behind the scenes to make this moment magical for everyone in the building and there was a sense of pure magic that radiated throughout The Vic during these special performances. Leftover Salmon then scrapped the original setlist they had in store for the rest of the evening in order to feature Sam and Bruce. The constant in the new setlist was Bush, as the bluegrass legend played the entire second set, alternating between mandolin and fiddle. Hampton came out for “Space Is The Place,” while Keller joined in for “Franklin’s Tower,” “Spanish Moon” and “Born To Be Wild.” The memorable evening came to a close when Col. Bruce came back out to help on a “Yield Not To Temptation” encore.