Silver Salmon is smoking: Leftover Salmon celebrates 25 years with a new album and a signature pale ale

Leftover Salmon and Front Country jammed Saturday at the Crystal Bay Casino. Photos by Clare Foster

Leftover Salmon and Front Country jammed Saturday at the Crystal Bay Casino.
Photos by Clare Foster

New Year’s is a time for taking stock of the year that has passed, for parsing through the past and planning for the future. It’s also an excellent opportunity to clean out the refrigerator and wipe out those lingering leftovers. For the Lake Tahoe Basin, the first meal of 2016 was Leftover Salmon.

The long-running jamgrass band is holed up at Crystal Bay Casino for the first two nights of the year, playing the Crown Room Jan. 1-2, along with Front Country from the San Francisco Bay Area. Leftover Salmon also had a two-night run in the Crown Room in April.

Leftover Salmon formed in Boulder in 1989, when two separate bands (The Salmon Heads and Left Hand String Band) joined forces. The group rapidly building a national audience, recording a number of live and studio albums and becoming a favorite at bluegrass, folk and jam festivals around America. The group went on hiatus after original bassist Mark Vann passed away in 2002 following a bout with cancer. It reformed after a series of reunion tours in 2007 and 2008.

“It feels pretty good, I got to say man, to still be doing that all these years out,” guitarist Vince Herman said. “I’m incredibly grateful.”

Leftover Salmon is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, releasing a signature ale as well as a new album, “25.” Salmon partnered with Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado to develop and release the band’s Silver Salmon IPA, expected to be on shelves soon.

“Luckily, ’25’ is the same name as Adele’s new chart-topping record, so maybe we’ll get some carryover,” Herman said. “We’re psyched to release the record, and getting it out on beer is a good way to get in new peoples ear.

With 2016 approaching, the guitarist and singer seemed every bit as inclined to look ahead as to reminisce.

“Remember that Mayan thing about the world in 2012? It’s our mindset changing, it’s going to kick in 2016,” he said. “The dumbification of America is going to suddenly reverse itself and we won’t be living in ‘Dumb and Dumber’ anymore. That’s my prediction for the New Year. Evolutionary stuff is ahead.”

Asked about his leanings in the upcoming election, Herman certainly has his mind made up.

“I think we get just political enough; I tend to do that kind of stuff, but maybe more when I’m making up stuff, I’ll get topical about that kind of thing,” he said. “We’ve historically done a little social commentary over the years. There’s some of that bubbling right now.

“Music has a role to play in pointing people in the right direction politically. I think the whole country should be feeling the burn. If you want to talk about that, I think Bernie Sanders would be the best thing this country could pull off right now. We really need some major economic changes.

“With all of the funk going on around the world, impending crises in every corner, thank God there’s music,” he said.

Herman also is looking forward to a new step in his personal life.

“I’m getting married before the shows in Mexico, that’s taking a big bit of my vision right now,” he said.

Salmon also is heading south of the border, playing Strings y Sol, a music festival near Porto Morellos.

“It’s a festival we do with Yonder (Mountain String Band), Greensky (Bluegrass) and Fruitition. Sam Bush is going to be there. It’s a fun festy. We’ve been doing that for a few years,” Herman said.

“I love getting out and playing music with the locals,” he said. “I’ve had some good experience playing mariachi down there.”

Herman also has been playing music with family members, including son Silas, as The Herman Clan, or THC for short. Silas Herman has recently been experiencing musical success with his own act, Gipsy Moon, which appeared at Crystal Bay in November.

“They’ve been together four years now, they’re killing it,” Herman said. “Mackenzie (Page) continues to write just phenomenal songs, and their newest record is really accessible. It’s their own thing, but I daresay some might call it pop music. Not really pop, but it’s that accessible and the tunes are that catchy, it has some of those characteristics.”

Herman has some sage advice for the next generation of musicians, learned over a lifetime on the road.

“I just tell ‘em to keep playing, especially after the bars close and all that stuff,” he said. “Have as many after-parties as possible and try not to sleep too much when you’re on the road.”
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About Josh Sweigert

Josh grew up on the California coast with a deep appreciation for bluegrass and string band music as well as the great outdoors. A guitarist and singer, he plays solo acoustic gigs in South Lake Tahoe.

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