Leftover salmon

As long as we’re talking about Valentine’s Day, I think it’s fair to say that, John Denver aside, Colorado’s longest, strongest infatuation with a musical act might have to be the one the state has had with Leftover Salmon for the last three decades or so. With their unique blend of “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass,” the lads from Nederland just about define Colorado-style Americana music and are as quintessentially Rocky Mountain as any band I can think of.

Having played countless shows in practically every ski town and city in the West, the Salmon can more or less choose whenever and wherever they’d like to perform, so we here in Aspen should consider ourselves honored that they’ve opted to spend their Valentine’s evening at the Wheeler Opera House. They’ll be taking the stage there Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. for their current “Stories From the Living Room” tour.

“It’s a mellower version of Leftover Salmon – no electric guitar, no electric banjo, generally an acoustic piano if it’s available,” said bass player Greg Garrison. “We thought that was a good format to feature the book and allow (founding members) Drew (Emmitt) and Vince (Herman) to reminisce and tell stories as we go through the show.”

The book in question, “Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival” by Tim Newby, hits store shelves today and chronicles the band’s time together, from their early straight bluegrass days to becoming one of the most venerated outfits on the jam-band circuit. It’s a fitting tribute to a group that has stuck together through numerous lineup changes and still plays more than 80 shows a year, and the associated concerts offer a chance for the band’s fans to reconnect with the sounds that might have attracted them back in the day.

“To some people Leftover Salmon is a bluegrass band, so when we do it this way it might fit their profile of what they think the band is,” said Garrison, “versus when we do our big rock ’n’ roll show nowadays, where it can trend a little more toward the jam-band thing.”

After Thursday’s show, in the next month the Stories From the Living Room tour will take the Salmon clear across the country to Georgia and then all the way up to Alaska for three shows at Alyeska Resort. Once that’s done, though, they’ll be coming back home to Colorado for a quintessentially Salmon-y event in Colorado Springs.

“We’re kind of taking over the Broadmoor hotel for a weekend (March 22-24) and throwing a big festival there called ‘Boogie at the Broadmoor,’” said Garrison. “We’re having Lukas Nelson come out and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and some guys from the Infamous Stringdusters and Sam Bush. We’re hoping to get people from all over the state to come out and spend some time with us.”

Given Colorado’s Leftover love affair, it’s a near certainty that the festival will be well attended (including, no doubt, some Roaring Fork Valley folk), but in the meantime you can get all the warm Salmon fuzzies you need Thursday night at the Wheeler.

Todd Hartley is the special sections editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at todd@aspendailynews.com.

Special Sections Editor