Every genre of music has a list of iconic bands considered pioneers of the craft—bands who took the genre some place it didn’t even know it wanted to go. When it comes to bluegrass music, Boulder, Colorado’s Leftover Salmon is at the top of that list.
It’s been nearly 25 years since the fortuitous New Year’s Eve in 1989 that led members of the Left Hand String Band and the Salmon Heads to come together cheekily as Leftover Salmon. It was supposed to be a one-off gig but ended up being a night that surprised them all.
“That first night, the reaction was just nuts,” explained the band’s leader Vince Herman during a recent interview. “The place was full of rowdy ski bums who just loved our style of aggressive bluegrass.”
That kind of response is a big part of why Leftover Salmon keeps playing their brand of drum-driven bluegrass today.
“The energy from the crowd is essential,” continued Herman. “It works pretty consistently and combining new music with the old is a good boost, too.”
After years of creating countless dance parties and inspiring other bands to follow their lead, Herman said one of the jam band’s greatest sources of satisfaction happened right under his nose.
“My kids are in a band now called Gipsy Moon,” said Herman. “What a treat to hear your kids take your music and make something new out of it. It’s great to see them get out on the road and start doing something I was doing 30 years ago.”
And for Herman, that legacy is about more than just extending the art he loves, it’s rooted in his thesis on humanity.
“I believe that humans have to come together,” explained Herman. “In our culture we have churches, sporting events and music for that. For me, music has always been the best at it. With music, you make people feel good, sad—all kind of things. We feel really lucky to be doing something so essential to the human experience.”
Currently on tour and providing that come-together experience for fans new and old, Leftover Salmon will be swinging through Bend on June 28 in support of their latest album Aquatic Hitchhiker.
6:30pm, Thursday, June 28
Athletic Club of Bend, 61615 Athletic Club Dr.
Tickets $24 at Newport Market