Sunday morning at the Stanley Hotel started off with huge gusts of wind zipping up from the valley in between the old buildings. Perfect morning for a Bloody Brunch if you asked any of the attendees that weekend, and so there they could be found, at the bar with sticks of celery in their spicy drinks. Accompanying them was Jeremy Garrett of The Infamous Stringdusters with his Gospel Grass set, featuring the first appearances of Danny Barnes on banjo and Silas Herman, son of Vince, on mandolin. They covered some Stringdusters and other classic bluegrass tunes, creating the perfect atmosphere to kick off the last hoorah of the weekend.
Photographer Jay Blakesburg, who could be seen bouncing around all weekend, held a special presentation in which he shared great photos and stories from his years first following the band and then establishing himself as a photographer with the Grateful Dead, from his first paid gigs with them (which were not one in the same) and from his more recent history at events like Fare Thee Well and Dead & Company. Then he and the rest of the crowd, enthralled as they were, jetted down to the music hall for Leftover Salmon’s last set of the weekend, an afternoon soiree that started at 3pm.
The outside heaters still in place from the night before rocked back and forth in the gusts as snow swept down from the surrounding mountaintops, but that didn’t stop heated dancers for stepping out for some air. The whole show featured Jeremy Garrett again, a welcome addition on the fiddle and vocals, and together they opened with an equally awesome combination of “Comes a Time > Muddy Water Home” before some scenically reflective tunes like “Mountain Top,” “Down in the Hollow,” and “Bend in the River,” in that order. They closed the set with LoS family favorites “420 Song > Hot Corn, Cold Corn” followed by “High Country.”
Getting right back into it, the band hardly took much of break during their last show of the weekend, and busted right into second set with a Lord’s Day classic “Working on a Building.” A little later in the set, Salmon were joined by The New Orleans Suspects (Willie Green on drums, Jeff Watkins on sax, and CR Gruver on keys), who made a surprise appearance after their Denver show on Saturday. Together they played “Dixie Chicken” (Little Feat) and “Jungle Party” both of which became sing along dance parties. To close it out, they invited Silas Herman and Eli Emmitt up to play The Band’s “Rag Mama Rag” before encoring with a highly appropriate “Way Up On the Hill Where They do the Boogie” and “Rock & Roll.” It was a very special performance to top off an epic weekend with the band and their friends and family, which of course, by the end of the weekend, all of us in attendance had become.
While some people took off back to their homes and jobs, some grabbed dinner in the beautiful Cascades Restaurant at The Stanley and stuck around for the final two sets of the weekend. First up were the band kids, playing adorably as Salmon Eggs. Enough cannot be said about Silas Herman’s mandolin playing: he’s technically proficient and masterfully detailed. He likes to strum it fast and faster, stirring up the hoots and hollers from fans that have watched him grow up. The 4-piece played a variety of originals and covers before their friends Gypsy Moon jumped up for a seamless transition. Herman also plays in this group, a 5-piece similarly featuring a strong, female, multi-instrumentalist lead and, uniquely, a cello. Papa Herman joined the group for a song and jam before the rather rowdy end of their brief set.
But that wasn’t the end of music. It seems like more and more festival attendees these days are wanting in on the playing action, and like the widely-known Spot on Jam Cruise, a few musicians each night got together and led a pick. Throughout the weekend, very late each night (really very early each morning) members of Salmon joined regular, event-attending musicians on the porch or in the hotel ballroom for a stringed jam that has become an essential element of the weekend. Not ones to break tradition, Gypsy Moon led Sunday’s pick ’til the sun rose. It was another flawless year in the books for Leftover Salmon at The Stanley Hotel for an event that all attendees hope continues long into the future.
Setlist: Leftover Salmon | The Stanley Hotel | Estes Park, Colorado | 3/12/17
I: Comes A Time> Muddy Water Home, Mountain Top, Down In The Hollow, Bend In The River, Sun Dog>Fayetteville Line, Lonesome Daves, Highway Song, Weary Heart, 420 song>Hot Corn, Cold Corn, High Country
II: Working On A Building, All Night Ride, Light Behind The Rain, Dixie Chicken, with The New Orleans Suspects *, Jungle Party, with The New Orleans Suspects *, Rag Mama Rag, with Silas Herman and Eli Emmitt
E: Way Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie, with Silas Herman
Rock & Roll, with Silas Herman and Willie Green
*The New Orleans Suspects are Willie Green on drums, Jeff Watkins on saxophone, and CR Gruver on keyboards
-whole show with Jeremy Garrett on fiddle and vocals
Check out the gallery below, courtesy of photographer Jay Blakesberg!