Leftover Salmon, Assembly of Dust

Leftover Salmon

Looking back over the past 25 years of rootsy, string-based music, the impact of Leftover Salmon is impossible to deny. Formed in Boulder at the end of 1989, the Colorado slamgrass pioneers were one of the first bluegrass bands to add drums and tour rock & roll bars, helping Salmon become a pillar of the jam band scene and unwitting architects of the jam grass genre.

Though the lineup would change through the years, the foundation of Leftover Salmon was built on the relationship between co-founders Drew Emmitt (vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin), Vince Herman (vocals, guitar,washboard) and Mark Vann (electric banjo). Following a decade of constant growth and constant touring, on March 4, 2002, Mark Vann lost his battle with cancer. Vann insisted that the band carry on and Salmon did so for several years leading up to an indefinite hiatus in 2005.

If Leftover Salmon had never played another note after leaving the stage in 2005, the legacy would have been secure; the members' names etched in the books of history. But today, more than two decades after Salmon first took shape, the band has a new album, Aquatic Hitchhiker, due May 22 on LoS Records, a new banjo phenom named Andy Thorn, and a new lease on an old agreement. Leftover Salmon is officially back.

The 29-year-old Thorn grew up a Salmon fan in North Carolina and says the band helped him realize "this is what I want to do with my life." Ironically, it's his presence in the group that has given Leftover Salmon new life. "Andy's a real young guy with a lot of great energy who plays in a way that definitely relates to Mark's [Vann] playing and he's a lot of fun to be around, it's led to a real revival that just clicks on some hard to describe level" says Herman. "We've played with some great banjo players over the past few years, and not to say anything about them being less than great musicians, but there's just something intangible about playing with Andy that kind of makes Drew and I look at each other and grin. This is what we've been missing as far as that feeling between Drew, Mark and I that used to be there."

Produced by Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, Aquatic Hitchhiker is Leftover Salmon's first record in eight years and first ever of all original material. "Steve [Berlin] understood where this album needed to go and how we all needed to work together as a band to make it happen" explains Emmitt. Set for release on May 22, the recording process solidified the new Salmon, cauterizing old wounds and allowing fresh ideas to grow over past scars.

"The time is right for this band to come back on a lot of levels" says Emmitt. "It's taken us a little while, but I think we're finally there."

Today, Leftover Salmon is: Vince Herman (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin); Drew Emmitt (vocals, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, mandola, fiddle); Andy Thorn (vocals, acoustic and electric banjo, National guitar); Greg Garrison (vocals, acoustic and electric bass, acoustic guitar); Jose Martinez (drums, percussion).

Assembly of Dust

Assembly of Dust's 2011 release Found Sound represents a "behind the curtain" look at a band that has garnered critical acclaim both for their studio albums and live performances. AOD's crew secretly recorded the band 2007 New Years Eve performance in order to capture totally inspired, unfiltered versions of their best material. While the album maintains the high standard of song craft and lyrical depth that Genauer and Co. are known for, it separates itself from past efforts with an energetic delivery that showcases improvisational musicianship; music's best kept secret may have just been found.
Assembly of Dust's last album Some Assembly Required, fits nicely between Wilco, My Morning Jacket and Neil Young. It's a star studded and purposefully constructed album featuring the likes of Richie Havens, Bela Fleck and Grace Potter. Genauer calls it the bands piece de resistance. "Found Sound" he explains "came about in almost the complete opposite way"
Genauer explains "Our front-of-house engineer, Jack Trifiro, recorded one of our shows without us knowing," says Genauer of Found Sound. "He managed to sneak a full, multi-tracked recording session past us without us knowing. " The group may have stumbled onto something unique in the music world – a defining moment that the band didn't even know it recorded.
"When he revealed it to me years later it was like looking at a picture of the band taken with a spy cam" says Genauer. "Upon studying it, I found he had framed the shot well. No double chins." He laughs. "The sound quality is fantastic. He captured a diverse collection of songs and a great performance through a crisp lens."
Then there's the guitar! While the entire band provides musical prowess, it's the guitar work that shines through most on Found Sound. Adam Terrell's solos rip through "Zero to the Skin" and "Borrowed Feat" (which one may proclaim "Stevie Ray Vaughn-ish"). "We have fantastic musicians in AOD – I don't think that's been as celebrated as my songwriting or lyrics," says Genauer. "I'd be remiss if I didn't point out Adam's talent. He's a soulful person and it comes out in his playing. I get goose bumps standing next to him on stage."
With eight songs, Found Sound captures AOD's disparate moods and musical moments. It boasts three songs that have yet to make it to an AOD studio album. The unreleased tracks include the extended, almost grandiose "Songbeard," as well as the sunny, 70s country pop of "Long Dead" and the decidedly jaunty "Feline Disguise." The band also deftly steps outside of their catalog with a nod to the Beatles in "Lady Madonna"
Found Sound comes off as a focused portrait (think of the audio version of Ansel Adams) of a band and their landscape . "It's for the diehards" says Genauer. "We proved on our last record that we can write and record well crafted songs – people get that. It was nice to capture and memorialize a rippin' live performance for ourselves and our fans."
Anyone using Found Sound to speculate about the direction of the bands next studio record will be left without a compass. "We'll more than likely take another flip flop approach for the next one," says Genauer, laughing. "I'm hoping to try an acoustic-based record. Or maybe a collection of Tibetan throat songs and vegetarian spoken word… "



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