News Column

Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore., Explorations column

June 26, 2014

By Laurie Heuston, Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore.

June 26--LEFTOVER SALMON -- fronted by Vince Herman and featuring rock pianist Bill Payne of Little Feat -- will be joined by Northern California band Poor Man's Whiskey and Ashland'sEight Dollar Mountain for a concert of high-octane bluegrass and hootenanny at the Britt Pavilion in Jacksonville.

"We call our music 'polyethnic Cajun slamgrass,' " Herman says during a telephone conversation from Telluride, Colo. The band performed last weekend at the 41st Telluride Bluegrass Festival. "This is kind of where it all began for us," he says.

Leftover Salmon evolved from a gig in 1990, when Herman's Salmon Heads got together for a show with Lefthand String Band.

"It was supposed to be for just one night," Herman says. "But it turned into more than that."

The synergy worked and the result was Leftover Salmon. The lineup has changed over the years, but three members -- Herman (guitar), Drew Emmitt (mandolin, fiddle, electric guitar) and Mark Vann (banjo) -- played together until Vann succumbed to cancer in 2002.

Now, Herman and Emmitt are joined by bassist Greg Garrison, drummer Alwyn Robinson and banjo player Andy Thorn.

The Britt show is at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the pavilion, 350 First St., and Ashland guitarist Jef Fretwell and his band will play West Coast country music from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. in the Britt Performance Garden.

Tickets cost $39 for reserved; $34 for lawn seating; $20 for ages 12 and younger; and $168 for premium blanket seating for four. Tickets can be purchased at; at the box office, 216 W. Main St., Medford; or by calling 800-882-7488 or 541-773-6077.

Keyboard player Payne -- who founded Little Feat with the late, great George Lowell -- is performing with Leftover Salmon this summer.

"He keeps us on our toes," Herman says. "Things can turn on a dime when you're playing with Bill. It's a great combination. We like to start with bluegrass instrumentation and take liberties with Cajun and Calypso. Bill also likes to drift through different styles of music. It's all tied to traditional styles, but we like to rock 'n' roll them up a bit.

"We venerate the old guys -- Dewey Balfa, a fiddler who brought Cajun out of South Louisiana; traditional bluegrass artists Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Dell McCoury; and some contemporaries like Sam Bush, New Grass Revival and Hot Rize. It's energetic music, but thoughtful."

Now based in Williams, Herman produced Eight Dollar Mountain's newest album, "Tied to the Tracks," at Dennis Dragon's recording studio at Pacifica Gardens. Its official release was June 25.

To help fund the album, Eight Dollar Mountain launched a Kickstarter campaign with a video featuring a short, fictitious tale of a mythical creature -- Herman dressed in a Bigfoot costume -- who scares the band members away from their countryside rehearsal session to steal their beer. Sometime during the video shoot, Herman slipped and fell into a pond of icy water.

"I had a great time working on Eight Dollar Mountain's project," Herman says. "That band definitely comes from the bluegrass tradition. It's got that high, lonesome sound going and tight harmonies. They know where the bluegrass sound comes from, and they make it their own by looking toward its roots.

"I just hope they don't make me get in that gorilla suit again," he says.


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Source: Mail Tribune (Medford, OR)

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