Yesterday, Leftover Salmon kicked off their yearly spooky soiree at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The Stanley Hotel is a beautiful, old hotel nestled in the shadows of Rocky Mountain National Park, best known for its haunted halls which inspired Stephen King to write The Shining. For the third year in a row, Leftover has taken this idea and run with it, crafting a glorious multi-day celebration of all things eerie, packing each day with all manner of activities and inviting other artists to join them in the fun. For the inaugural day of this year’s event, two other Colorado bands, The Sweet Lillies and Deadphish Orchestra, helped Leftover kick off the weekend, coming together for a full day of magical and macabre musical moments.
Just getting to Estes Park from the main cities along the front range is a trek, with the multiple-hour drive on the winding mountain roads leading to the remote town setting the mood for guests before ever setting foot on The Stanley Hotel’s grounds. On Friday, The Sweet Lillies were the first performance of the weekend, and before their set at 6 o’clock, attendees milled around the grounds and roamed the hallways, some already zombified or monstrous (and definitely startling the handful of somewhat-horrified regular vacationers who stumbled into the event) after taking advantage of the complimentary face-painting station by the hotel’s front desk.
The Sweet Lillies performance was the perfect way to start the day’s festivities. Those who weren’t dancing or watching the group throw down helped themselves to the free libations provided by Breckenridge Brewery’s beer tasting and the tables of finger food in the back of the ballroom. An incredibly convincing Jack Nicholson impersonator (or potentially Jack Nicholson himself) wandered the outskirts of the room, sparking laughter or debates among the groups who noticed him meandering about.
However, most in the hall were enraptured by The Sweet Lillies, who put on a wonderful performance chock full of upbeat and danceable numbers that built up energy for the rest of the night. The five onstage were reminiscent of an older time, adding an air of authenticity to the weekend as the weekend’s “opening scene,” as the Lillies played a soulful combination of Americana and bluegrass. Toward the middle of their performance, Colin Herman, the son of Leftover’s Vince Herman, joined them on stage and took over the bass for a song before leaving the quintet to it for a slower, heartfelt tune. Their original songs took up the majority of their set, though the group squeezed in a buoyant cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” both of which elicited whoops and hollers from within the McGregor Ballroom.
By the time the Sweet Lillies left the stage, the sun had begun to set and excitement around the rest of the night was rightfully on the rise. People took advantage of the brief break between the Sweet Lillies and Leftover Salmon’s first performance of the weekend, putting on costumes before wandering to the main concert hall where Leftover was performing. Thus, Friday night was all about costumes, with Leftover playing to an audience sprinkled with zombies, witches, and ghouls, and the band members themselves donning costumes, musical and otherwise.
Leftover Salmon’s first set was diverse, with the song choices tied together by the spooky and funky theme of the evening. This set was primarily dedicated to a range of covers, as was only appropriate for the costume ball, though originals “Head Bag” and “Funky Mountain Fogdown” made the cut and were placed squarely in the middle of the set. Harry Belafonte’s “Zombie Jamboree” kicked things off, and the crowd was more than amped for its start and ready to see what Fidel Castro (Vince Herman), Satan (Andy Hall), Ghostface from the Scream movies (Greg Garrison), and three zombies (Drew Emmitt, Eric Deutsch, Alywyn Robinson) had in store.
The first set moved through more obscure covers such as “Hoodoo Bash” and more well-known songs such as The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” with a good ol’ fashioned bluegrass breakdown and set-closing Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe.” A highlight from this set was Al Wilson’s “The Snake,” which marked the start of a build toward a huge close to the set. Sung by Andy Hall and featuring a particularly spooky and synth-y solo by Eric Deutsch, after its climax, “The Snake” settled back into its laid back and steady groove, which helped slowly whisper away for a stripped-down ending.
After the costume contest, which awarded a pair of tickets to Leftover Salmon’s Red Rocks performance this summer to Beetlejuice, the band returned to the stage for their second set celebrating the (Grateful) Dead. They kicked things off with “Alabama Getaway” and then “Scarlet Begonias,” which hinted to the crowd that there just might be a Grateful Dead set. As Drew took the lead on “Cold Rain and Snow,” the Dead set was all but confirmed.
“Pasta,” Leftover Salmon’s take on “Fire On The Mountain,” started out with the traditional pasta-themed lyrics before moving briefly in The Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House” and then into the “Kind Bud” lyrics. This kicked off a nonstop jam segment, which moved through “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” and “Friend of the Devil,” though Leftover still worked in teases of other crowdpleasing tracks like the traditional “Rocky Top” before moving into a final reprise of “Pasta.”
After “Jack A Row,” which Vince Herman affectionately referred to as “Jack Nicholson A Row” at its close, Leftover moved into “Playing In The Band” sung by Greg Garrison. “Playing In The Band” was used as a launching pad for an ambient “Space” jam. Their sound was huge during this segment, with Andy Hall going into full devil mode and using his toy pitchfork as a slide throughout, before the discordant sound beautifully and slowly restructured itself into the close of “Playing In The Band.”
“Ragged But Right” came next, a traditional tune that gave its name to an album by the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, before closing with “New Speedway Boogie.” The audience sang along for this night-closing tune, with the band eventually working the song into an a capella close. The crowd kept singing the chorus as the members of the band silently put down their instruments and walked off stage, leaving people eager for an encore that never came, with eventually the house lights and music coming on to signal Leftover’s night was over.
The late-night music, appropriate to Leftover’s second set, featured Deadphish Orchestra. Playing until late into the morning after Salmon’s end around midnight, Deadphish Orchestra greeted the trickling crowd in the hotel’s main building with classic tunes by The Grateful Dead and Phish. The energy in the room was high and the vibe celebratory, with the dance floor jam packed as the quartet moved through its similarly spooky-themed setlist featuring tracks like “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Mr. Charlie” (which featured Vince Herman appearing to help out on vocals), and “Ghost.” Their performance was a great way to close out a great day, leaving guests eager for the rest of the weekend.
You can check out the setlist from Leftover Salmon’s set below, as well as a gallery provided by photographer Jay Blakesberg below. Stay tuned for our coverage of the next two days of Leftover’s Stanley Hotel run too!
Setlist: Leftover Salmon | The Stanley Hotel | Estes Park, CO | 3/10/2017
Set One: Zombie Jamboree, Funky Bill Jones, Hoodoo Bash, Whipping Post, Head Bag, Funky Mountain Fogdown, Here Comes The Night, The Snake, Demon In Disguise, Hey Joe
Set Two: Alabama Getaway, Scarlet Begonias, Cold Rain And Snow, Pasta > Going Down The Road > Friend Of The Devil > Pasta, Jack A Row, Playing In The Band, Ragged But I’m Right, New Speedway Boogie