Back in 1998 or so, I found myself in the middle of Alice Cooper’s Phoenix bar, marching in a Mardi Gras-style processional to the tribal rhythms of Leftover Salmon. There were elaborate masks and flying beads and super-sized cups of beers and whirling dervishes and too many people for even the most forgiving fire marshal and it was such a scene that, before the show ended, I ended up having to help a claustrophobic friend to calmer confines and a super-sized cup of ice water. On the way home, I remember stepping over at least two different passed out revelers from the show; they were still wearing their beads.
A lot has changed since that night in the desert, but Leftover Salmon continues to do its thing. There’s still Vince Herman on vocals and guitar, and Drew Emmitt on vocals, guitar, fiddle and mandolin—the band’s two surviving original members since 1989—and still throngs of sweaty LOS devotees cramming venues to hear the band’s signature “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass.”
Missoula has a soft spot for venerable jam bands like this one, and the feeling must be mutual. Leftover Salmon, which headlined the River City Roots Festival in 2011, kicks off its 30-date winter tour at the historic Wilma Theatre. There may not be a Mardi Gras-style processional into the theater’s lobby, but the energy from both the stage and the crowd should be similar to … well, how it’s always been for this band. Just watch your step on the way home.
—Skylar BrowningLeftover Salmon plays the Wilma Theatre Wed., Feb. 13, at 9 PM. $21 at ticketweb.com.