With their name bearing Alaska’s iconic fish and shows in the Greatland as common as moose sightings, with their jam band style right into the Alaskan motif, one might assume Leftover Salmon were from here.
They are not. They are from Colorado and are celebrating 30 years of touring festivals and concert gigs all over the country, returning to Alaska for shows Thursday through Saturday at the Sitzmark at Alyeska.
“I think any mountain environment likes jam bands — it’s just the lifestyle, the freedom that perfectly translates to that sound,” said banjo player and guitarist Andy Thorn, who’s been with the band the last 10 years. “I know Salmon has been playing (Alaska) since at least the early 2000s and who knows how long before then?”
While on the road this year, Leftover Salmon is cross-promoting a book written about the band and its life on the festival trail. ‘Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival!’ was written by Tim Newby and details the band’s”... story is one of tragedy and rebirth, of unimaginable highs and crushing lows, of friendships, of music, but most importantly it is the story of a special band and those that have lived through it all to create, inspire, and have everlasting fun,” according to the publisher’s press release.
“He’s an old fan; we didn’t ask him to write the book,” Thorn said of Newby. “He wrote another book about bluegrass in Baltimore; it was a really thorough history…. Lately we’ve been doing a more stripped-down thing (on tour). We do a little book tour, sign ‘em and call it our ‘Living Room Tour’; it’s set up like living room tour, more acoustic, a sit-down, which is good for me with a broken leg.”
Thorn said he broke his leg while skiing over the Christmas break, but will be upright and rocking with his bandmates for a fully plugged in set of shows this weekend in Girdwood.
“When we come up to Alyeska, we’re going to bring the full electric jam — more of a big party,” Thorn said.
Thorn said Sitzmark stands apart as one of the band’s favorite destinations.
“It’s one of the coolest venues we’ve ever been to; the black light-painted ceiling; I’ve never seen that at any other venue in the country, with crazy patterns… there’s not pressure at all; it’s just having fun, a great vibe,” he said. “You never know what will happen. One night we were playing there and there was a huge earthquake; something exciting always seems to happen… The lack of pressure leads to a lot of experimentation.”
Leftover Salmon are also promoting a new album with the May 2018 release ‘Something Higher’, an album which Thorn said was somewhat of a departure from the band’s previous 10 efforts.
“It’s definitely a little jazzier,” he said. “We’ve got an experimental new piano player in Eric Deutsch; it was also more of a group effort. Everybody contributed songs.”
Thorn said that through the years the band has gained an eclectic following that gets more diverse with each generation of ‘Salmonheads’ and ‘L.O.S.ers’ who pass through.
“There’s a lot of old regulars all over the map — hippie kids, older folks in their 60s,” Thorn said. “They started in 1989 as one of the first bands to combine electric and bluegrass and jams and just start jamming like that. Now that seems normal, but back then it was pretty groundbreaking. I saw them as a teenager back in North Carolina. I know they influenced me a lot and tons of other people, too.”
Leftover Salmon Live at the Sitzmark at Alyeska Resort Thu-Sat 3/14-16
Daily from 10pm-2am (Doors at 9pm); 21+; $30 each night
Concert packages also available