Leftover Salmon at the Stanley 2016
Festival Experience Archive
for The Lot Scene by Parker
Leftover Salmon - Gipsy Moon (Late Night)
So, there we were, back at the historic and haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Lured there by one of the best parties around, die hards flocked from all over the country to this supremely fun and marvelous merry and strange little festival tucked away in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Sitting in a bowl valley with soaring, snow covered peaks all around, the venue is certainly not short on natural beauty or charm making the weekend a coveted one in the musical calendar to be sure. And then there is the magnificent Stanley itself standing proud and a bit eerily above the town of Estes Park welcoming in every possible way and which certainly played the erstwhile and gracious host to our weekend of merriment and mutual madness. The party atmosphere was in full effect from the moment we arrived on the Stanley’s property solidifying the fact that this weekend was going to be wonderful on so very many fronts. And so, with visions of The Shining and Leftover dancing around in our heads we were all ready for things to begin properly…
The welcome reception officially kicked things off for the weekend with Gipsy Moon providing the live entertainment. They were, as always, fantastic. Truly love that band. But, more on those amazing young musicians later. After the reception, we had a bit of time to get to the Concert Hall for the evening’s main event: Leftover Salmon. The reason for the season, Salmon were to play three full shows over the course of the weekend. And, a little bit about the Concert Hall at the Stanley — it is a pristine white professionally designed vintage venue space with rich wood floors and superb acoustics, large, stately windows lining each side. A balcony at the rear of the spacious yet intimate room completes the air of classical concert hall which was to stand immediately juxtaposed to the extremely energetic and madcap musical marvel that is Leftover Salmon, everyone’s favorite polyethnic cajun slamgrass band. And, while the space was full it was never crowded, with a nice balance of people to room. Always makes for a finer experience in my opinion. And what a fine experience this was! So many great people all gathered together in this hall to celebrate music and life and fellowship. And with such incredible music all weekend long! Speaking of which, why don’t we get ourselves to summadat right now?
We decided to head a different route than normal and bring you a video of the first song of Leftover’s Friday night show. That way you could get that initial flavor of the spectacle for yourself. The band opened with “Out in the Woods” and took the opportunity to showcase the friends who had joined them for the night: Jeff Coffin (The Dave Mathews Band) on saxophone and Erik Deutsch on keyboards. Drew Emmitt took the lead on this one, crooning to the audience in his instantly recognizable voice. But, listen to me gabbing on…why not take a quick look and listen yourselves?
Off to a pretty good start, right? I’d say so in the very least. And how about those friends joining in? That Jeff Coffin can wail on the sax, am I right? And he continued to do so all night long, but I am getting ahead of myself. And Erik on those keys? Salmon and keys is always a great combination. And continuing straight on into the fun of the night, “Sing Up to the Moon” was next in line for all of us. One of the perfect examples of their self-professed genre and style, “Sing Up” is an instant crowd pleaser each and every time. And, believe-you-me, this crowd had come to dance and party and rage until the break of dawn. And what an excellent selection for just such activities. Vince sounded album-perfect on the vocals as he led this juggernaut of joy on that Concert Hall stage. Andy rocked out a tight little solo for us banjo a couple of minutes in — smiles all around. This was answered by Erik throwing down on the keys in very fine fashion. And, of course, Jeff on that sax of his. A small aside here: Salmon with saxophone is a pretty righteous experience. Especially with a player as phenomenal as Jeff Coffin. What a ride and only two songs in! Andy Thorn was up to lead the next tune, that magical musical journey otherwise known as “Aquatic Hitchhiker”. The usual lulling of the soft and sweet intro section did its job perfectly setting us all up for the expected madness that was to ensue. And, just as gleefully anticipated, Andy and the band erupted into a cyclone of hard drivin’ fast pickin’. Hurtling along at the speed of sound we were all of us on one giant thrill ride of stupendous string band music. Not to be left behind, Jeff added his horn to the mix with some solo work followed by Erik on the keys. Both of which were wonderful and proof that Salmon were employing the skills of their friends to the utmost that weekend, a trait of the shows we would all come to appreciate so fully by Sunday’s last note. Alwyn Robinson laid down a pretty serious drum solo in this one, too, which is most certainly of note. Love his style of playing so much. And, after a mellow and mysterious center section, they brought things to a huge and magnificent whiz-bang of a close to copious amounts of applause and praise from the audience. This was shaping up to be one helluva show! Drew snagged the mic and took the lead for the next song, “All Night Ride”, another scorching hot, swift-paced adventure through quick pickin’, Salmon-style. Andy Thorn’s banjo set the blistering stride counterpointed by Drew’s mandolin and punctuated by Jeff’s sax. All at breakneck speed thus showcasing and proving this band’s serious musical acumen. And Drew was really going for it on the vocals as well, kicking ass and taking names as only that man can when on the mic. You know, just another face melter from this crazy ass band we all love so much. Then there was that one time at the Stanley when Salmon played some Zappa. Mainly in the form of “Camarillo Brillo”. A bunch of whack ado awesome nut jobs playing the music of another whack ado awesome nut job? Why the hell not? Especially when it was that good. And then it was time for some T. Rex. Yup…you got that right. T. Rex. “Bang A Gong” anyone? Vince laid down the vocals for this one, kicking some ass in the process. Some great interplay between keys and banjo on this one. Not to mention Greg’s ever-present and balanced bass badassery keeping the rest of these maniacs driving forward. Such big sound coming from that stage! And so good, to boot! Whew!
Set break was a much needed bit of down time to recover our strength for the next set soon around the bend. The chilly breeze blowing in through the open windows was so welcome to cool the heated brows of those gathered in homage to some of that sweet, sweet Salmon sound. But we weren’t to rest for too long, since the band came back out blazing both barrels into the night to the delight of us all. “Better” got things instantly going once again with its intensity of motion and feeling and we were all dancing wildly once more to the music of this wonderful band. Nice fat, fantastic keyboard solo from Mr. Deutsch about a minute into it — excellent sound to have alongside Leftover. Loving his addition to the band for the weekend. Coffin took over from there, taking the opportunity to wail out a tasty and lengthy solo blanketing the concert hall in that unique timbre. And, just like that, we were off once again! At this point, Vince announced that they were just going to play the entire Euphoria record. And I’ll be damned if they didn’t do just that! What a treat…damn, son! Of course, he didn’t mention that they were going to go completely ape while they did so. They injected so much energy and merriment and pure, undiluted joy into this set — it was just so much fun to be there and to be a part of it all. And it was just the first night, too. So hard to believe. Alwyn’s steady and steadfast beat launched us all into the next song from the album, “Highway Song”. Drew nailed the vocals down on this one sounding so much like the recorded version it was kinda scary…not to mention his monster electric solo in the middle. An excellent live version of “Highway” which was followed, in turn, by an excellent version of “Baby Hold On”. Another good dance tune, that one, and with lots of lovely keyboard work from Erik. “River’s Rising” was next in line for the evening which brought its welcome form of raucous and rowdy to the table — just a big energy song. Andy Thorn had a pretty stellar solo a couple of minutes into things which Drew answered on electric guitar with some solo work of his own. Interesting juxtaposition of those instruments there. The bad and boisterous breakdown in this one was nothing short of epic. Yeah, I used that word. But, trust me, I know of what I speak. Between Andy losing his mind on banjo and the rest of the band doing the same, what more can I say? Epic. Drew just shredding the hell out of his guitar while everyone else jams away like madmen? Epic. The trippy Erik-led mellow space jam section? Epic. Quite the momentous “River’s Rising” to say the least. But they weren’t done yet… No, to the contrary since there was a bunch of album left to play. Vince brought his brand of insanity to the fore as he took the lead vocals on “Mama Boulet” changing the lyrics to “she’ll turn into Sheryl Crow for you” a couple of times and simply rocking it out for us. Another big time dance number for the crowd. Banjo solo from Thorn in this one was out of this world. What a phenomenal player we have in Andy, no? Jeff Coffin strutted his musical stuff again with a hefty solo of his own. This song really was a perfect place for some sax. Mr. Robinson gave us another of his signature solos while the rest of the band left the stage — always a cool visual. This was a rather lengthy and large solo, too. And one that led us directly into “Funky Mountain Fogdown” by way of an exploratory instrumental segue. But once “Funky” hit properly it hit us all squarely in the face with some extremely fast pickin’. Damn! Drew’s fingers were flying over his mando just as fast as Andy’s were over the banjo. Coffin kept pace with them both on saxophone, blowing out a mean melody of his own. Vince was rocking his own craziness on the guitar the entire time. The expressions on that man’s face…priceless! He clearly loves his job to death. “Muddy Water Home” was up next with Drew taking his familiar lead on the mic. Vince had a particularly nice guitar solo early on which was followed by some more of that awesome horn from Jeff. Great version of this one to be sure. “Cash on the Barrelhead” followed (these two songs being in switched order from the album, why not) and featured Drew on vocals as well. Quite the impressive piano solo from Erik Deutsch during “Cash” — just adore having keys with Salmon! The breakneck tempo of “Ain’t Gonna Work” took things from “Ridiculous Speed” to “Ludicrous Speed” in the blink of an eye. Such wickedly fast quickness, such impossibly speedy playing. So very impressive each and every time I see it. And so many notes from every man on the stage…the wall of sound coming down at us was just staggeringly amazing. Andy, Drew, Erik, Vince…all of them just bringing it to the next level all at once and all incredible. Loved Vince’s guitar solo in this one — full of so much of that unique form of, well, Vince that we’ve all come to love and respect over the years. Erik went a bit out into insane Salmon territory with his solo, too. Good stuff. Finishing up the Euphoria album, “This is the Time” and “Euphoria” rounded out the evening in lovely style. “Euphoria” is a personal favorite of mine and I am always grateful to hear it even when I’ve been expecting it for an entire set, anticipating and waiting happily for the goodness to come. Vince gave one helluva a performance on the vocals this time around, vaulting this song up to the rafters and back again. And the entire ensemble on stage followed the lead and poured a whole heaping help of fun into this one for us. A perfect way to end the first evening of superb music and enjoyment at the Stanley Hotel with Leftover Salmon and friends. And they played us an entire album, too! What a surprise…what a present! The second installment of “Leftover Stanley” was going swimmingly thus far, so very fabulous on all fronts. Many thanks to the band and their guests for the entire evening of musical adventure!! So looking forward to the rest of the weekend! But there was late night Friday to be had first and foremost…
Gipsy Moon. A superlatively talented and skilled young band. And they played one incredibly good late night rest assured. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know this band over the past couple of years, both musically and personally. Not only are they amazingly good and talented young musicians, they are also amazingly good people. Humble, organic, real. Just the kinds of traits you look for in great musicians. And so late night took place in the main Stanley Hotel building in the McGregor Ballroom, the same location as the welcome session earlier that evening. Alas, we arrived a tad late to the party and so missed the first few songs. We did have the privilege of walking in during the beginning of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon”, a perfect cover for this band. Mackenzie Page’s voice is well suited to this song as is the song itself for the band. A very good choice from a group that makes many, many of those already. The instrumentation of the band really lent itself very well to the mood and feel of “Rhiannon” a song not without a bit of mystery. Made me sad to think we’d missed precious minutes of this show. “Dying of Days” followed and was very bit as marvelous as can be expected. One of my favorites of their originals, the chorus is as haunting as the instrumental lines. Thankfully, you don’t have to listen to my prattle on about how wonderful it is because we recorded a nice video version of it for you here:
Just lovely, wasn’t it? As always with this band, they play really gorgeous music. Not all bands have such beauty inherent to their style of playing. Matt Cantor led the next piece, a familiar jig whose name escapes me, on his rich-timbred bass. The interplay of the melody line between bass and Silas Herman’s mandolin here was simply splendid. A really fun reinvention of a classic fiddle tune. “Right Before the Dawn” was next in line and featured a soulful intro from Andrew Bain Conley on cello. Again, Mackenzie’s unique, sweet, dusky, and lovely singing featured in this piece. How can one not just love her voice? Fantastic ensemble work from all four band members as well. Excellent breakdown at the ending of “Right Before the Dawn”, too. Just magnificent all around. Eli Emmitt, son of Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon), joined them on stage for a number that he wrote, a guitar tune. The “Spawn of Salmon” as Mackenzie called Eli and Silas. A nice reel of a tune, to be sure. Really dug what Eli had written. Lead in came from Andrew on cello which he handed off to Silas on mandolin. In turn, Mackenzie joined in on banjo and eventually Eli himself taking melody on guitar. Such talent all over that stage!! Such good music!! Next up Mackenzie went back to crooning once again for us all with “Lonely Girl at Heart”. Just gorgeous!! Man can that lady sing!! And when she has such stellar instrumental backing as Gipsy Moon, she can truly soar as a vocalist. And I so love the texture of this band as well — having cello makes for a very unique overall sound and one that I truly appreciate fully. A little farther down the set before they closed things out they played a particular favorite of mine: the sad and soulful “Clementine”. Not the way you used to sing it around the campfire, mind you, this one is mournful and dirge-like, but not without the original dark humor of the lyrics. Matt’s low and deep bowing on his bass provided the appropriate foundation for this one. Most certainly a different take on this song and one that is pretty damn amazing. Love it. “Oh my darling…oh my darling Clementine.” Oh my, indeed!! What a late night show — truly I cannot say enough good things about Gipsy Moon in one go. They deliver so much already and have so much promise for the future. This is definitely a band to keep your eye on over the next few years, I know I will be. And it was nice and late in a haunted hotel for a Salmon weekend. What more could you ask for? I know I was happy as all hell and it was only just Friday. Friday I tell you!! Time for some really late night creeping to begin. And then time to do it all over again on Saturday. But that’s a story for another time.
Saturday and Sunday on their way, folks!!