Review: Leftover Salmon at the Orange Peel

It was mid-week, and the crisp bite of fall was in the air. About 10 minutes before show time there was 45-minute wait at the ticket window. None of this was going to stop those in line. Everyone knew what was going on here. Leftover Salmon was back.

Leftover Salmon was embarking on its first full tour since taking a hiatus in 2005, promoting Aquatic Hitchhiker, the first studio effort in eight years. A band on a mission, it was as though they were out to prove their live performances, known to be energy-laden, hadn’t lost their luster.

The band had some special guests: Fiddler Jason Carter, of The Travelin’ McCourys and Del McCoury Band, played the entire show, and joining the band on various songs throughout night were fiddler Casey Driessen and Asheville-based musicians Jon Stickley and Jason Flournoy.

The first set opened with the spell-casting “Mama Boulet,” a Cajun-infused number about a voodoo “Haitian queen.” Before moving to the next tune, Vince Herman said, “It’s been a long time, Asheville, we’ve been waiting awhile for this night! We just love that feeling when you know you’ve got a wild night ahead of you. Especially in this wild town!”

By now, smiles and laughs were abundant on stage. It was evident that the band was enjoying this as much as the audience. The set ended largely with new material from Aquatic Hitchhiker, including groove-heavy bluegrass number “Gulf of Mexico,” and coming full circle with the bayou flavored “Liza.” The set ended with wild hoots, hollers and applause from the crowd. There was synergy on stage, and everyone wanted more.

The energy conjured during the first set continued through the roughly 90-minute second set, anchored by a nearly 14-minute “River’s Rising.” The second set was highlighted by cover songs like set opener “Wild Bill Jones,” a traditional old-time tune made popular by the Stanley Brothers. Fittingly, the song is said to have roots originating in Big Laurel, N.C. “Home To Carolina” was an appropriately named, foot-stomping good time that drew cheers all around. The up-tempo, bluegrass cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” was reminiscent of a Jerry Garcia Band version of the same song. The set closed with the quintessential Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post.” Marked by lightning-fast fiddle and and some nasty slide mandolin courtesy of Drew Emmitt, the audience stirred into a delightful frenzy of southern rock and bluegrass.

There was still something up the band’s sleeve. As the musicians returned for an encore, Herman announced a few birthdays, one of which was banjo player and North Carolina native Andy Thorn. Herman also divulged that drummer Jose Martinez was playing with a broken foot. Gently, they began playing the opening notes to what would be Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” This one got everyone in the room singing along, glad they stuck it out on a school night.

Founding member Drew Emmitt summed it up best when Xpress spoke with him from his Colorado home last week: “The band definitely has a new fervor and a new excitement. It feels in a lot of ways like the old Salmon, and yet with a renewed energy.” The jam band, slam-grass pioneers are indeed back.

Leftover Salmon is currently on tour throughout the U.S. —  find dates here.

Set list:
The Orange Peel
Asheville, NC

Set I
Mama Boulet
Here Comes The Night
Ridin’ On The L & N
Troubled Times*
What You Gonna Do*
Gulf Of Mexico*
Tennessee Blues*
Kentucky Skies*
Aquatic Hitchhiker*

-set break-

Set II
Wild Bill Jones
Keep Driving
River’s Rising
Tu N’As Pas Aller
Carolina Song **
Shenandoah Breakdown ***
Tangled Up In Blue ***
Light Behind The Rain
Midnight In Paris (Toujours L’Amour) >
Breakin’ Thru
Walking Shoes >
Whipping Post

E: Sweet Child O’ Mine

Jason Carter on fiddle for the entire show
*w/Casey Driessen
**w/Jon Stickley
***w/Jon Stickley & Jason Flournoy


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