Tag Archives: vince herman

The Blues Orphans: Rock, polka, punk, bluegrass and just about everything else

By: Tim Newby

Band: The Blues Orphans (Official Webpage)

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Members:  Bob Gabig (guitar/vocals), Andy Gabig (harmonica), Mark Custer (cornet), Ian Gordon (trumpet), Dr. Nelson Harrison (trombone), Dave Yoho (drums), Dave Erny (bass), Hill Jordan (trombone)

Sounds Like:  A drunken parade down main street with all your best friends that is being led by the funniest guy around.

Continue reading The Blues Orphans: Rock, polka, punk, bluegrass and just about everything else

SUWANNEE SUMMER CLUSTERPLUCK ARTIST ADDITIONS!

SUWANNEE SUMMER CLUSTERPLUCK ARTIST ADDITIONS!

Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon),
artist-at-large Rev. Jeff Mosier and Pickled Holler
June 23 & 24, 2017 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL Continue reading SUWANNEE SUMMER CLUSTERPLUCK ARTIST ADDITIONS!

Interview! Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman and Billy Payne

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Words and Images by Tim Newby

 

This New Year’s Eve Leftover Salmon celebrated twenty-five years as a band.  In that time they have established themselves as true-leaders of the jam-grass scene with their influential and unique mix of sounds and styles that has branded them as a truly special one-of-a-kind band that is beyond description.  For many bands entering their 25th year they seem to be on cruise control, coasting towards retirement.  But Leftover Salmon is not one of those bands.  Since their return from a brief three-year hiatus from 2004-2007 following the death of founding member and banjo picker extraordinaire Mark Vann, the band has been anything but coasting.  The addition of Andy Thorn in 2010 on banjo seemed to push the band to new, exciting,  innovative heights.  The release of the 2012 album, Aquatic Hitchhiker, only confirmed this.

 

As the band enters its 25th year it continues to reach brand new heights and never seems to rest on past achievements.  Much like the addition of Thorn  a few years prior, a new band member added in 2014, legendary keyboardist Billy Payne from Little Feat, heralded new musical  peaks for a band that only seems to be getting better with age.  Following the addition of Payne, Leftover Salmon released their eighth album, High Country.

 

Following the release of their newest album Leftover Salmon founder, guitarist and singer Vince Herman, and newest addition Billy Payne checked in with Honest Tune to discuss the band’s twenty-five years, the addition of Payne, their newest album, and what the future holds for Leftover Salmon.

 

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Honest Tune: Thanks for checking in with us, what have you been up to lately?

Vince Herman: Playing music. [laughs} If they weren’t paying us for this I would be out doing it anyway. It has been almost twenty-five years, it will be twenty-five years this New Years. We are just ridiculously and incredibly lucky that we have been doing this for long and we have played with many of the good kind of people. Now we got Bill Payne in the band. He is one of the most recorded keyboardists in rock n roll.

 

HT: How did it come about to have Bill join the band full time?

 VH: He produced a record of ours (2004’s Leftover Salmon) right before we went on hiatus. We had a great relationship with him and we did a bunch of shows with Little Feat. I have been going to Jamaica to the last five or six years to be part of the Little Feat fan fest. We have just played music in a bunch of different situations with Bill and we have good friendship and camaraderie on a number of different levels. He is a great writer and he is a good guy to sit around with on the bus.

DSCN2593editedBill Payne: I worked on a record with them. I produced a record for them that followed the concerts in tribute to Mark Vann. Paul Barrere and I were both part of those gigs. It was a bunch of people. It is a small enough world. Dave Miller was the monitor engineer at those shows and he had worked with Little Feat so there are just a lot of connections that happens with bands.

The guys got in touch with me a few years about playing a gig in Laramie, Wyoming. Andy Hall was playing, Sam Bush, and a couple of other folks and they asked me to play and I said sure I will play. So we kind of hit it off there. From there it just sort of blossomed into a gig about a year ago at Thanksgiving. I played with them in Boulder for two nights and then they asked if I wanted to go to Mexico with them (for Strings & Sol 2013). I said sure. Then I started doing dates regularly around New Years with them.

I just think they are a great band and the way these things work is I know I bring my own stamp in, but it works both ways. Leftover Salmon is a wonderful group of musicians and I love their material. They have three really great singers in Vince, Drew, and Andy. I can sing too. So we are really opening up what we can do. I think Vince recognized the best way to see what we could do would be to just ask me to join the band.

 

 

DSCN2611editedHT: I was at those shows in Mexico and it really worked.  I think you are such a natural fit with Salmon.  There are so many similarities that can be drawn between Little Feat and Leftover Salmon. Was there any thought at that time on your part that you might like to join full time?

BP: The thought had crossed all of our minds I’m pretty sure. I kind of held off because I wanted to see how everything would fit. I think I said why don’t we just consider that we are dating and took it in that direction. There is no rush. Little Feat is not doing anything right now. We might be in Jamaica in March. I am hoping Paul Barrere is healthy enough to make it down with us.

 

HT: What does Bill bring to the band that’s different?

VH: It is really cool to see our rhythm section go off on these improvs with Bill and go somewhere that Drew and Andy and I could never lead and Bill can. His vocabulary is so ridiculously large and when he improvises he can go absolutely anywhere. Those improvs are something that I don’t think the band has hit so consistently.

 

HT: Bill, what has it been like for you to join these guys?

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BP: I liken playing with these guys to being in the middle of a lake., and you are on your water-skis and you are going to be pulled out of the water at a moment’s notice by the world’s fastest boat so you better just hang on. That is how it is playing with these cats. They can play just about anything. Alwyn Robinson on drums and Greg Garrison on bass, those two cats as far as their musicianship and being able to take it to a lot of different places whether on a jazz level or other areas makes it a great experience for all us. Drew is phenomenal with his mandolin, guitar, and violin playing. Each and every one of these cats on their own is very strong. It reminds me of Little Feat in that regard because that was the way we were as a band. We were all pretty strong in our respective areas as well. And I think that’s what really makes a great group and enables them to generate a lot of momentum.

 

HT: Vince, it must be great to bring in someone who has such a large musical vocabulary and can speak so many musical languages.

VH: Yeah, you know we think it’s a pretty good fit. {laughs} He has really unique things to add. I just feel lucky as hell that I play with these cats, Drew and Andy, and all the guys that have been in the band over the years. I have a personal philosophy to always be the worst player in your band. It has worked for me.

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BP: [laughs} Vince is a wonderful player. He is just such a diamond in the rough. He is in a very good place to discover who he is. He knows who is, but he is still in that place of not quite believing he can play the guitar. He never comes off like he is shy, but when you play in this band you better be ready to step up. The rhythm section he has is a very good cushion, maybe better than what he had before.   I think that’s what we are doing now. It’s the dichotomy of feeling comfort and going to comfort zones, but still challenging each other. And that’s what keeps bands together for a good length of time. And it’s what keeps bands and their audience on a level where they keep progresses together, and are able to see it grow which makes it exciting for everyone.

 

HT: Is Bill on the new record (High Country, released November 2014)?

 VH: Yeah Bill is on the new record.

 

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HT: Did he contribute any songs?

VH: Just one called “Bluegrass Pines.” He wrote it with Robert Hunter. He has been writing with Robert Hunter lately.

BP: It’s like a lot of stuff I would do with Little Feat. Robert does the lyrics and I do the music and the melody. He is such a wonderful cat to write with.

 

HT: How was the approach to High Country? Any different than what you have done in the past?

VH: On this one we wrote some tunes together, mostly though we each kind of each showed up with tunes. The next album is going to be real New Orleans-centric. I think it will be more of a concept. Whereas High Country there is a thread running through it still has a whole lot of variety of ideas and topics running through it. It is definitely a Salmon record.

 

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HT: And Salmon records are always a party. You guys seem to really be enjoying what you are doing right now and the addition of Bill seems to have invigorated you even more.

 VH: Yeah we are really psyched about the new record, High Country. We might also have a live release coming out soon. And then we are going to go to New Orleans to work on a new record and we are starting to write for that now. Writing with Bill is a really fun process.

 

HT: Will that new album be out this year?

 VH: No, we will try and record it in the fall so it will probably be 2016. I guess I bring it up because we are fired up as we look down the road and we are making these cool plans. We got a trip to Hawaii going on. We are going to Alaska, Strings and Sol in Mexico. Ski tour in the winter. Then we start festival stuff up. It’s pretty exciting to be going into year twenty-five and have so much to do. It is a good place to be.

 

los6475HT: Besides the lineup of the band what do you think has changed for you over the last twenty-five years, Vince?

VH: There have been so many different phases of this band that I have liked. I started playing with Drew when I was just out of college. It was pretty footloose and hippie van when we first started. There was my first marriage and then there was another marriage. You go through all these periods of your life and somehow the band kept going constantly right through them all. It has changed a lot over that time. We used to do a five or six week tour. I can’t imagine doing that now. At one point we were playing like 230-240 shows a year.

 

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HT: As a band you seem to be in a really good place, you can go where you want, when you want, and be the life of the party at every festival you go to. At this point twenty-five years in is there anyone you still look to as an idol or whose career you look to emulate?

 VH: Probably Lorde. {laughs} It’s like wow she’s 17. I guess Tim Obrien comes to mind. He was my inspiration to move from West Virginia to Colorado in the early eighties to see Hot Rize and be part of that bluegrass scene. Tim has always been an inspiration to me. You find your musical niche that you love playing and bluegrass was that niche for me. You don’t make Lady Gaga money in bluegrass but you can have a long career in this music. It’s not like you are burnt out with the audience because of over exposure.

 

 

HT: And bluegrass fans are very faithful.

 VH: They are. And I love what John Hartford said, “If bluegrass music was any more popular I would have to play it to people I don’t even know.”

 

 

Watch Leftover Salmon celebrate 25 years at the Vic Theatre in Chicago 12/13/14

 

 

 

 

Kinfolk Celebration 2014

Kinfolk Celebration 2014   kinfolk2014_4.25x6_NEW_zoo   Our friends in the Yonder Mountain String Band are throwing one hell of a party at Planet Bluegrass in a couple of weeks!  With the bands regular special guests Jake Joliff and the fiery Allie Kral already making mad sparks with Adam, Ben and Dave they’re joined by super stars like John Bell of Widespread Panic, Ronnie McCoury and Jason Carter of the Travelin’ McCourys, Drew Emmitt and even the Patron Saint of Festivals Vince Herman. A once in a life time set of music and mayhem is on it’s way!  With full sets by The Travelin’ McCourys, Head For The Hills and the up and coming Gipsy Moon the fun will run till the wee hours of the night.  Tickets and information available HERE     Kinfolk Poster

Leftover Salmon, 3/26/14

Leftover Salmon
Terrapin Crossroads
San Rafael, California
March 26, 2014

Leftover Salmon took the stage at San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads, and with Little Feat’s Bill Payne joining in, the evening turned out to be one special night. Photographer Susan Weiand was there at Phil Lesh’s venue to catch it all, and you can check out the images below.

Great American Taxi ready ‘Paradise Lost’

Great American Taxi marks its sixth year as one of the best-known headliners on the Americana music scene with a new release, Paradise Lost, produced by critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Todd Snider. The band also enlisted master folk musicians Tim O’Brien, Barry Sless, and Elizabeth Cook to tackle songs about working class, blue-collar issues while maintaining Taxi’s signature upbeat, country-, bluegrass-, rock-infused, Americana-without-borders feel.

Paradise Lost is set for release distribution through Great American Taxi Records (GATRecords), available in soft release at http://www.greatamericantaxi.com and other digital retail outlets on October 11, 2011. Brick and mortar release for the album is February 22, 2012. The first hundred fans to pre-order the album will get a signed copy by the band and all CD pre-orders will get a free Paradise Lost digital download.

Confronting current issues like mountaintop removal, nuclear energy, poor economic conditions, or a soldier returning from war isn’t unfamiliar territory for the band. “I believe in the power of music and songs that can generate the energy to do something,” explains Great American Taxi’s singer/guitarist/mandolinist Vince Herman. “Politics should be in music; everything’s politics, especially music. Songwriting can draw attention to appropriate issues of our times.”

“Taxi’s latest release has shed the jamming and gone for the throat with focused song writing and tight musical arrangements,” adds keyboardists/singer and album executive producer Chad Staehly. “The album combines ‘folky’ elements with straight ahead bluegrass that was propelled by Tim O’Brien playing fiddle, banjo and mandolin on several numbers mixed with equal parts rock ’n’ roll — think early-’70s country-rock Rolling Stones.”
Taxi has been performing many dates over the past couple of years as backup band for folk songster and storyteller Todd Snider so it’s no surprise to see Snider’s name crop up on the production credits. He makes an appearance on lead vocals, harp and some back-up vocals.
With Paradise Lost, Great American Taxi remain inspired by roots rockers like The Band, The Jayhawks, Gram Parsons, and New Riders of the Purple Sage, wearing these influences on their collective sleeve but carving out new territory along the way both lyrically and musically.
The band crafted a batch of 12 songs that follow a script of sorts, focusing on America in the new millennium. The theme started to develop in 2010 when they spent time in Nashville. Later that year, while on tour with Snider in Denver, lightning struck: Snider and the band decided to work together to create Taxi’s third album, which was to explore what “paradise lost” means to all of us, individually and collectively. Paradise Lost takes on issues such as loss of childhood, loss of innocence, lost loved ones — even the loss of the record industry.

The release wraps up a trilogy, the band realized while working on Paradise. Their three albums loosely sketch out three periods in American history. People came to this country to carve out their Streets of Gold (GAT’s first release in 2007), got caught up in a bunch of Reckless Habits and have ended up with a sense of Paradise Lost.

The lead track on the album, “Poor House,” came to them in a peculiar way while the band was playing in Oklahoma City. They received a call from their songwriting friend Benny Galloway (Yonder Mountain String Band), who had no idea that GAT was in Oklahoma. By coincidence, he called to say he was driving through Woody Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, OK, knowing that the Taxi boys were big Guthrie fans. Galloway showed up about an hour before the show and ran “Poor House” by them as a potential song they could play together that night. Galloway obliged the band’s desire to include the track and dropped off a demo version weeks later while all were back home in Colorado.

When work began on Paradise Lost, Snider wanted the lyrics first before anything else. All five band-members contributed. Snider helped them edit and whittle down the catalog of songs to about fifteen tunes before they shored up the music and headed for East Nashville in April of 2011. There they arrived at Eric McConnell’s house (where Snider cut his acclaimed release East Nashville Skyline and where Jack White produced Loretta Lynn’s Grammy-award winning release Van Lear Rose).

Staehly recalls, “The house definitely has a certain vibe to it, maybe it’s all the old analog gear or McConnell’s approach, but this new album from Taxi hearkens to the sounds of both of those albums. It’s a bit raw with all kinds of warmth and vibe to it that helps bring home these workingman songs. Paradise Lost has an everyman’s aesthetic to it that evokes a reminder of how things ought to be for those in search of the elusive American Dream.”

Great American Taxi’s sophomore effort, Reckless Habits (2010), garnered critical attention on the Americana music scene, topped at #12 on the Americana Music Association’s radio chart; it remained in the top 25 for more than two months. Habits sat atop the Colorado radio chart for more than two months and remained in the top 25 for more than a year. Reckless Habits found the band moving, “confidently between touching base on their first generation influences and building songs with unmistakably individual presence,” noted the Boulder Weekly.

Taxi has spent the last six years touring America non-stop, and their astute observations on the American condition resound with a truth and values ethos that all can relate to. After all, these guys have seen a lot, having played more than 750 shows in their short history together and traveling close to 500,000 miles in that time, spreading a brand of music that they affectionately refer to as “Americana without borders.”

The 12 tracks on Paradise Lost include a couple of reflective ballads, a sing-along or two, and some rockers that will make you want to get up and shake your money-maker. Great American Taxi, along with their friend and producer Todd Snider, deliver a collection of what Staehly calls “electric folk music for our times.” Paradise Lost is an ode to the American Dream, often times forsaken but always there to be rediscovered.

TRACK LISTING
Great American Taxi – Paradise Lost:
01 Poor House
02 A.M. Radio
03 Blair Mountain
04 Angel Dust
05 Olden Days
06 Maud Only Knows
07 Penny Arcade
08 Silver Fiddle
09 Radiation Blues
10 Gonna Make A Record
11 Swamp Song
12 Easy Listening
GREAT AMERICAN TAXI ON TOUR:
Wed., Oct. 5  ST. LOUIS, MO 2720 Cherokee
Thur., Oct. 6  INDIANAPOLIS, IN  Birdy’s
Fri., Oct. 7  HUNTINGTON, WV  Club V
Sat., Oct. 8  GLOUSTER, OH  Family Roots Fall Fest
Sun., Oct. 9  DISNEY, OK  Mountain Mama’s Amphitheater
Sun., Oct. 9  LEXINGTON, KY  The Green Lantern Bar
Tues., Oct. 11  LOUISVILLE, KY  Gerstle’s Place
Wed., Oct. 12  CARBONDALE, IL  Hangar 9
Thurs., Oct. 13  OZARK, AR  Harvest Fest-Mulberry Mountain with Todd Snider
Fri., Oct. 14  OZARK, AR  Harvest Fest – Mulberry Mountain
Sat., Oct. 15  NASHVILLE, TN  The Rutledge – * AMERICANA MUSIC FESTIVAL *
Thurs., Oct. 27  ROLLINSVILLE, CO  Stage Stop
Fri., Oct. 28  DENVER, CO  Cervante’s Masterpiece Ballroom
Sat., Oct. 29  PORT ANGELES, WA  Vern Burton Community Center
Wed., Nov. 2  AMARILLO, TX  Golden Light Cantina
Thurs., Nov. 3  AUSTIN, TX  La Zona Rosa
Fri., Nov. 4  DALLAS, TX  Granada Theater
Sat., Nov. 5  HOUSTON, TX  Fitzgerald’s
Thurs., Nov. 10  SAN FRANCISCO, CA  Brick and Mortar
Fri., Nov. 11  AUBURN, CA  Auburn Events Center
Sat., Nov. 12  GUERNEVILLE, CA  River Theater
Sun., Nov. 13  UKIAH, CA  Nelson Family Vineyards with David Nelson Band and Boris Garcia
Mon., Nov. 14  ARCATA, CA  Humboldt Brewery
Thurs., Nov. 17  BEND, OR  Moon Brewing Co.
Sat., Nov. 19  PORTLAND, OR  Mt. Tabor Theater
Sun., Nov. 20  SEATTLE, WA  Tractor Tavern

High Sierra back in fine form

High Sierra Music Festival

Quincy, California

July 5-8, 2007

 

The High Sierra Music Festival has always been about more than just music.

At its best it is about magic. 

In the summer of 2007 that magic that was back in full force.

Thanks to the hard work and cooperative efforts of festival organizers and the city of Quincy, California, the Plumas County Sheriff's Office was not nvited to this year's festivities.  Instead, sympathetic community volunteers walked the festival grounds as a peace keeping force.  This allowed festival goers to freak freely and let the magic flow.

High Sierra was again the gem that all festivals should aspire to being.  By focusing on the hottest mid-level and up-and-coming acts on the circuit, this four day music festival draws true music lovers to revel in sound and each other's company for a long and lovely weekend.

If "the heat" had been held at bay this year, the heat was not.  As the fest opened Thursday temperatures climbed well past 100 degrees as campers settled in and built as many shade structures as they could. 

The weather proved no impediment to the fun, however, as Vince Herman and Great American Taxi  kicked off the music on the main stage, while Los Angeles' Shannon Moore entertained the Shady Grove stage with her hook-laden rock sounds, 

The March Fourth Marching Band combined burlesque and acrobatics with their set, Salvadore Santana (Carlos' son) fused world rhythms, rock and hip hop, Garaj Mahal turned into a quintet with the addition of bassist Kai Eckhardt's extremely talented pre-teen son on drums for their complex fusion jazz, and That One Guy worked his unique instrument of pipes, reeds and loops.

Sol Jibe proved itself one of the hardest working and most delightful new finds at the fest by lending it's world beats and Latin rhythms to two different stages during the course of the day, winning new fans every time it played.  The Waybacks offered their blend of bluegrass, rock and country sounds, Hot Buttered Rum tore it up in an acoustic way, while Zilla offered more electronic grooves.  As Galactic's hard New Orleans funk closed out the main stage the heat had not yet yielded, lending a Southern feel (minus the humidity) to the proceedings.

When the outdoor stages were closed for the night at 11 the heat finally let up.  Things may have eased up on the bodies of all the festival goers, but the music geared up for round two of day one. 

Anders Osborne kept the New Orleans vibe going in the Funk N Jam House with String Cheese Incident's Kyle Hollingsworth on keys and Galactic's Robert Mecurio on bass before Soulive held funky court there. 

String Cheese Incident's Michael Kang brought his electric mandolin to the African funk sounds of Chris Berry and Panjea in the Tulsa Scott Room before Kan'Nal rocked the psychedelic tribal groove there. 

But it was the Yonder Mountain String Band that was still rockin' the Music Hall with it extremely energetic newgrass as the first light of dawn cracked the sky at five A.M.  If there were those that were tempted to leave earlier, that temptation ended when Vince Herman came out and joined the band for "Cuckoo's Nest > Jack London" during the second set, including an extended, improvised romp with lyrics about what a dream High Sierra is.

 

all photos by Susan Weiand 

  

Thursday 

 

 

Read on for Friday

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While it was warm again as day two began, temperatures would not again reach the brutal highs of that first day, providing some relief.  Some festivarians chose to hit the nearby swimming hole, while others opted for cold showers even though hot ones were available.  Many others began cooking bacon, which seems to have become the breakfast of choice for serious festival goers.  The combination of stomach-settling grease, water-retaining salt and  energy-providing protein in a candy-meets-meat form was almost as popular as coffee and Bloody Marys for breakfast in camps throughout the fairgrounds.

This morning was when the magic became palpable.  Start wondering where a friend was and they would appear.  Realize you needed something and it would be offered before you spoke.  Think you even wanted something and it too would manifest.  "Careful what you wish for" became a running joke but the reminder seemed unnecessary because the positive vibe was everywhere.

Friday also featured many of the acts of day one on different stages at different times, providing opportunities to see bands missed when the inevitable tough choices among High Sierra's four stages and playshop room all operate simultaneously.  Yonder rocked the mainstage just as they did during their evening set.  The Waybacks, Anders Osborne (again with Kyle Hollingworth), Soulive and Kan'Nal all did it again in the broad daylight.

New acts were also showing up to join the fun.  Brett Dennen was joined by members of ALO in an inspired Big Meadow stage set of his thoughtful, tender and utterly catchy songs.  Xavier Rudd proved himself equal parts Ben Harper, Michael Franti, Keller Williams and tribal rocker as he wailed away on electric dobro and three different didgeridoos; if there is one word that characterizes his music it might be "love." 

The Devil Makes Three is an old time string band on steroids, while the Drive-By Truckers rocked the house in a whiskey-soaked set to close out the mainstage in Southern style again.

The annual Camp Happiness cocktail party earlier in the day was set to feature the New Mastersounds at 4:20.  Their drums were still in transit as the party began.  No worries.  Vince Herman, the very spirit of the festival, had stopped by.  He picked up his guitar (after another rollicking set with Great American Taxi on the Shady Grove stage) had a mic taped to a keyboard, and proceeded to hold court with two members of Eddie & The Roughnecks on bass and keys and Sam Johnston (Box Set) on harmonica for over an hour of unalduterated joyuntil the New Mastersounds were able to take over.

After all that sonic goodness, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk still managed to steal the best act of the day award with a blistering set of funk the way funk is supposed to be played — loud and dirty.  Highlights included an Al Green tribute, A Rolling Stones cover, and the theme song from The Sopranos.  Two basses, a kick drum that could be felt more than heard and some serious shredding from the guitar of Ian Neville had folks dancing for hours and talking for days.

Late night again offered something for everyone as SCI drummer Michael Travis' project Zilla and DJ extraordinaire Bassnectar provided electronica,  The Waybacks and Hot Buttered Rum served up the grass, while The Phix's Phish tribute opened for Garaj Mahal's fusion in another room.

 

Friday 

 

Read on for Saturday

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Saturday began with temperatures still high but since they weren't as hot as day one, and people began to adapt, it was becoming more bearable. Some of Austin's finest took over during this day, including Guy Forsyth's Tom Waits inspired madness, Patrice Pike's conscious rock, and perhaps most importantly, Carolyn Wonderland

Wonderland is equal parts Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  She clearly had the single best, most powerful voice at the festival and she can shred on the slide guitar.  All while remaining conscious of what truly matters and humble too.  Why Carolyn Wonderland is not a huge star is and shall remain a mystery.  Her Vaudeville Tent set brought down the house.

Other inspired sets were turned in by ukelele wizard Jake Shimabukuro, the rollicking country of the Mother Truckers,  Nickle Creek's Chris Thile's
solo project How To Grow A Band (featuring Greg Garrison and Noam Pikelny of Leftover Salmon), the African sounds of Asheville, North Carolina's
Toubab Krewe, the jazz of Bobby Previte's Coalition of the Willing, the crazy rock of Les Claypool and the old school bluegrass of Del McCoury.  The Ryan Montbleau Band won many fans for its sweet rock on their first trip to the far west.

Again it was the closing act of the Vaudeville Tent in the midnight hour that stole the show for many, however.  Something happened when JJ Grey & Mofro took the stage that mere talent alone can not account for.  It was that old High Sierra magic that infected that Blackwater swamp rock this night and many jaws were set agape by the Jacksonville, Florida unit's new lineup featuring a horn section.

Before one could fully digest what had transpired, however, the late night fun began indoors.  The funksters headed over to see the Meters inspired sounds of The New Mastersounds (with Papa Mali opening), those seeking heady trancefusion headed over to see the Disco Biscuits, while the largest crowd gathered to see the reunion of Leftover Salmon.

The sold out hall was first treated to Darol Anger's new supergroup, Strings for Industry.  Anger is a true virtuoso on the fiddle, but when he gathered his new Portland, Oregon based unit featuring Tony Furtado on guitar and banjo, Scott Law on electric guitar, Tye North (formerly of Leftover Salmon) on bass and monster drummer Carlton Jackson the magic was flowing again. 

But it was the Leftover Salmon reunion that drew the crowd.  Playing their first gig as a full band since they went on hiatus at the end of 2004 (a gig two weeks before at Telluride was without keyboardist Bill McKay), it was like they never left the road.  The band was on fire from the first notes and the crowd responded in kind.  Drew Emmitt is a spectacular player and singer, and Vince Herman is a force of nature, but something happens when the two of them are on stage together that is far greater than the sum of the parts. 

As if they could not get enough of playing together, the group kept it up until five thirty in the morning, going past the crack of dawn to dawn itself.  As the last notes of "River's Rising" greeted th new day everyone wondered how Leftover Salmon could possibly top that on Sunday, the final day of the festival.

Vince Herman was later seen playing a morning game of kickball with fans rather than heading to bed.  Your reporter managed to catch only two hours
of sleep after the Salmon set, but that is not the reason the majority of things he saw the last day were on the mainstage.

 

Saturday 

 

Read on for Sunday

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For years now Maria Kelly has handled all the MC duties for the Grandstand Stage, but this year she could not be there. I was among the radio personalities given the honor to announce the acts there on Sunday.  It was an honor and a real joy to do so.  I did manage to catch the first hour of the Gospel Show on the Big Meadow stage while eating breakfast that morning, however, and what a way to start the day.  Carolyn Wonderland, Patrice Pike, Papa Mali, Shannon Moore, Guy Forsyth and others really know how to start a Sunday morning!  Sweet, rootsy, funky gospel goodness replete with prayers for peace is how to do it and they did right, song circle style.  With all that talent on stage there was no way to do it otherwise and, man, did it work.  If church
was always like this I would go every day.

As people started to wake up, however, it became clear that haze obscuring the mountains across the valley wasn't simple fog, it was smoke.  A few scary thoughts crossed everyone's minds until it was learned that the major wild fire creating all that smoke was over 30 miles away, not moving in the direction of the festival, and not being whipped by winds on this still morning.  So the smoke, which had settled into the valley overnight (and mostly dissipated by late afternoon), was an annoyance, not a threat.

Whatever else was going on at the festival (including sets by New Mastersounds, Eddie & The Roughnecks, Ryan Montbleau, Disco Biscuits, Chris Thile, ALO, the Budos Band, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, I was content to be at the mainstage.  After a set by Lynx, a unique young hippie woman whose music combines folk, looping, computer beats and conscious lyrics, Albino, a San Francisco-based Afrobeat band, got people dancing despite the heat and the smoke.  The legendary Mavis Staples was up next, and the gospel theme continued into the afternoon.  An hour and a half break and the evening's festival closing sets were lined up. 

JJ Grey & Mofro were very good, even if they did not quite scale the heights they did the night before.  Phish's Page McConnell (who played a previously unannounced solo piano playshop earlier in the afternoon) brought his new band on and truly rocked the house for two hours of inspired rock.  McConnell may be the best leader to emerge from Phish, and he will certainly prove to be the most consistent unless Trey Anastasio eventually gets his shit together.  I was never much of a Phish fan so it was a great surprise to me just how good this group is.

After some heartfelt thank yous from the festival organizers to the city of Quincy for stepping up to quell the the civil rights violations of the Sheriff's office the last few years and trusting them, and the festivarians, to take care of ourselves, Leftover Salmon took the stage again.  With so little sleep and so much magic happening everywhere, it seemed a little like it was third set of a long Leftover Salmon show with some truly great tweeners as LoS took absolute command of the festival.

If their latenight extravaganza had been great, this was somehow even greater.  It was more focused, tighter and had even more energy, if that is possible. Guests included Darol Anger for most of the set, Chris Thile on mandolin, Page McConnell on keyboards for song, and others, but mostly it was Leftover Salmon proving that they are now and always will be the very spirit of the festival.  The group seems to understand the magic, chaos, joy and energy of the festival and turn it into sound.  It's just that incredible.  I for one hope they never stop playing together, even it is just sporadic summertime festival gigs every year.

Later on I wandered around a bit, tempted by the San Francisco party that ALO and Tea Leaf Green were throwing in one late night hall while Les Claypool or the Everyone Orchestra played in others, but instead went to a party I had been hearing about in Camp Harry in RV area near the Big
Meadow stage. 

What a scene that was as Eddie & the Roughnecks (another UK funk band led by Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds) tore it up as people danced and talked.  Eventually, however, I had to give into being tired and realize that it had really happened.  High Sierra 2007 had gone on for four days — almost around the clock — with virtually no trouble, great amenities (note to all other festival producers: the importance of clean portapotties for the entire weekend can not be underestimated and is worth whatever it costs!), great food and drink and most importantly, great people.

The campers not only enjoyed the music and each other's company, they respected the space they were in.  As the tear down began on Monday morning it was clear that people were bringing their trash and recyclables to the proper spots and leaving very little matter out of place for the Clean Vibes crew (who also did an amazing job) to deal with.

Let the news ring out throughout the land: High Sierra is back and believe it or not, better than ever.  The Best Fest in the West is back!

 

Sunday 

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And now a message from Vince Herman

A message from Vince Herman: 

 

Howdy Folks-

Sending out a message to let everybody know that my new band Great American Taxi is finally ready to release their debut CD entitled 'Streets of Gold'.  The record features 3 new original songs of mine, some more original songs from some of the other guys in the band, namely Jefferson Hamer and Chad Staehly, and a few choice covers that I picked out.  I'm really excited how this record turned out and am looking forward to the Salmon fans getting their ears on it!  The CD is now available for pre-order and will be available for purchase as of May 1st.  The first 50 pre-orders get a signed copy from the band.  Go to this link for song list and to pre-order the CD :

http://www.cdodlive.com/productdetails.aspx?pid=401

You can hear some of the songs at Taxi's website and Myspace, www.GreatAmericanTaxi.net and www.myspace.com/greatamericantaxi.

As some of you may have heard Leftover Salmon will be getting together for three special reunion shows this summer.  You can find updates out about that at www.LeftoverSalmon.com.

Taxi will be out on the road all summer long and things will be getting started next week on the west coast.  There are also two Taxi CD release shows this weekend for any of the Colorado peeps on 4/27/07 at the 15th Annual Microbrews For The Environment at the Boulder Theater ($1 pints all night with proceeds going to various environmental causes) and on 4/28/07 at Quixote's True Blue in Denver, CO.  Keep in touch and make sure to sign up for Taxi's email list on the home page of Taxi's site.  Look forward to seeing a bunch of you out and about this summer!  FESTIVAAAAAAAAL!

Vince Herman

Leftover Salmon ends hiatus, confirms summer festival appearances

Colorado-based Leftover Salmon announces it will return to the stage later this year.  Confirmed by a statement today from band manager John Joy the return will mark the end to the band’s 27-month hiatus.

Following the band’s last live performance on New Year’s Eve 2004 in Boulder, audiences nationwide will once again hear the trademark polyethnic-cajun-slamgrass sound that propelled the group from its humble Rocky Mountain beginnings to international critical acclaim.

The returning lineup for Leftover Salmon features Vince Herman (acoustic guitar, vocals), Drew Emmitt (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Jeff Sipe (drums), Greg Garrison (bass, vocals), Bill McKay (keyboards, vocals), and Noam Pikelny (banjo).

The confirmed performances have the band making festival appearances on opposite coasts including the High Sierra Music Festival in Northern California and the All Good Music Festival in West Virginia’s hills.

Confirmed 2007 Performances:

High Sierra Music Festival – Quincy, CA 
2 performances: Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8

All Good Music Festival – Masontown, WV
Sunday, July 15

 

Leftover Salmon was formed by accident in 1989, when a local band, the Salmon Heads, asked members of the Left Hand String Band to fill some missing spots in its lineup.  The synergy worked and the resulting quintet went on to pioneer its own genre. 

After the independent release of Bridges to Bert in 1993 and the 1995 live follow-up Ask The Fish, Leftover Salmon gained a spot on the H.O.R.D.E. festival tour and a contract with Hollywood Records. Their Hollywood debut and second studio album, Euphoria, continued to define their eclectic sound and introduced many songs that would become classics for the band.

Other releases include The Nashville Sessions (1999) featuring scores of famous Nashville artists and session musicians as collaborators; Live (2002) the first recording with the new rhythm section, O Cracker, Where Art Thou? (2003) featuring Cracker members David Lowery and Johnny Hickman with LS as the backing band, and Leftover Salmon (2004) first studio record since the loss of founding member, banjoist Mark Vann.

Each of the band’s releases cements its contemporary sound with the solid genre-bending fusion of newgrass, folk and blues. Through the course of the initial 15 years of Leftover Salmon has performed music with such contemporaries as Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, David Grisman, Jerry Douglas, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Pete Wernick, Col. Bruce Hampton, Oteil Burbridge, Bill Payne, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Pete Sears, Todd Park Mohr, Tony Furtado, Theresa Andersson, along with members of the The String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band and dozens of additional artists.

The band continues to break new ground with its highly energetic live performances and initiate new fans with each show.

Official Leftover Salmon website: www.leftoversalmon.com