After nearly a decadelong hiatus, Leftover Salmon — the Colorado band known as one of the fathers of the jamgrass genre — is back on the road and heading to Bend.
“It's the definite revival of old-school friends, tunes and repertoire,” said 50-year-old Vince Herman, the band's singer and guitarist, in a telephone interview.
That revival will come to town Thursday, when Leftover Salmon kicks off this year's Peak Summer Nights concert series at the Athletic Club of Bend (see “If you go”).
In May, the band released “Aquatic Hitchhiker,” its first album in eight years, and Herman said the Bend setlist will include not only music from the band's early days, but also new songs showcasing a mix of folk, rock, Cajun, Calypso, bluegrass and more sounds from the Americana well.
“It's a celebration record,” he said. “There's not a lot of big messages or political thoughts. It's 'Friday night, let's dance' kind of music.”
According to its website, Herman co-founded Leftover Salmon with multi-instrumentalist Drew Emmitt and banjo player Mark Vann in Boulder, Colo., in 1989. Since then, members have come and gone, but when Vann died of cancer in 2002, it shook the foundation of the band. In 2005, Leftover Salmon took a break, playing only occasional reunion shows.
When current banjo player Andy Thorn sat in during a 2010 show, however, the band felt a connection that sparked the revival of the group, leading to the new album and a new round of touring.
“When we started the new record it put playing music at a whole other level of enjoyment,” Herman said.
“Aquatic Hitchhiker” is not only the first Leftover Salmon album in eight years, but it's also the band's first with all original compositions, according to the website.
“One of the cool things about being in this band is we've been together about 22 years and can play around 400 to 500 songs together,” Herman said. “What's exciting lately is getting to the stuff on the new record. We're pretty psyched up about the new material.”
Herman said the record's instrumental title track is his favorite song on the new album because it represents the band well.
“It has good energy (and) great composition,” he said. “I love the tones and structure of the tune.”
The name, “Aquatic Hitchhiker,” was inspired by signs the band saw while driving through Montana that read “Beware of Aquatic Hitchhikers,” Herman said. The signs were designed to warn people about invasive species latching onto their boats and transferring into a new watershed.
But the band felt the signs represented its own journey, Herman said.
“(Leftover Salmon) is an aquatic hitchhiker,” he said. “We go from watershed to watershed invading people's spaces.”