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Wednesday, March 21, 2007 02:32 pm

No Drew leftover

Remnant from trailblazing band hits Springfield on Saturday

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Untitled Document In 1990, when Drew Emmitt merged his group the Left Hand String Band with Vince Herman’s Salmon Heads to create Leftover Salmon, no one imagined the impact the group would have on the world of popular music. During the next 15 years the genre-breaking jam band from Boulder, Colo., released several CDs, both independently and on major labels; played the finest festivals; and filled clubs and theaters across the country, including a concert with Little Feat at our very own Sangamon Auditorium in October 2000. The group called their peculiar music blend “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass,” to give you an idea (well, sort of) where they were going and what they were about.
The band never officially disbanded, as far as I can tell; they just didn’t play out after 2005, and members wandered in their own directions. The official Leftover Salmon Web site lists two festival dates this summer, so it appears that the guys are planning at least a few reunion dates. Three or four weeks ago, founding member Vince Herman was in Peoria for a locally promoted club show. Springfield’s Bill Laymon, bass player of the New Riders of the Purple Sage and the David Nelson Band, stopped by to visit Herman and sat in on bass all evening long. Now it’s Emmitt’s turn to bring the vibe of Leftover Salmon back to central Illinois. Emmitt was the first member of the band to make a solo album, releasing Freedom Ride in 2002 with the help of a host of celebrated musicians, including Peter Rowan and Vassar Clements. In Across the Bridge, his 2005 offering, Emmitt again brought together some of the best-known names in modern bluegrass music. Guest artists on the latest Compass Records release include Sam Bush, John Cowan, Del and Ronnie McCoury, Stuart Duncan, and Jim Lauderdale. Anyone familiar with those names understands that the list speaks volumes about the caliber of Emmitt’s musicianship and the respect he has earned in the music world.
Rumor has it that Emmitt, who excels at the guitar along with mandolin and other stringed instruments, is breaking out the electric guitar for this tour, adding a more rocking feel to his standard bluegrass-breakdown sounds of the last few years. As you might imagine, his regular band is stellar and well worth the price of admission. Other components of Emmitt’s talent include his smooth, sincere vocals; fine choice of covers; and knack for penning good tunes. Along with the Drew Emmitt Band performance, concertgoers will hear Luke Turasky’s Bourbon Bluegrass Band, filled with superb local pickers, including father-and-son Dobro-and-mandolin combination Mike and Bryan Steinhauer. The ubiquitous Laymon kicks off the evening with an acoustic set. The Drew Emmitt Band performs at City Nights, in the Capital City Bar & Grill (3149 S. Dirksen Pkwy., 217-529-8580), at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 24, with Luke Turasky’s Bourbon Bluegrass Band and Bill Laymon. Tickets are $15 at the door.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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