Trail Mix – Leftover Salmon

I first remember hearing the name Leftover Salmon in the mid-nineties after moving to Charlottesville. I can still see the photocopied handbill – printed on a violent shade of purple – stapled on a telephone pole outside a record shop on the Corner. I later caught the band for the first time at the old pavilion there on the Downtown Mall and have been a fan ever since.

For over twenty-five years, these genre-bending godfathers of jam – led by Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt – have been touring the country with their own take on bluegrassy country music, regularly whipping crowds into a frenzy with extended jams and frenetic solos.

Last week, Leftover Salmon released Something Higher, their latest collection of new tunes. Trail Mix is happy to feature “Southern Belle” off the new record this month.

Coinciding with the release of the new record is a partnership with a number of superb adventure gear companies that led to the creation of the Something Higher line of products. The band collaborated with Meier Skis, Winterstick Snowboards, Osprey Backpacks, and EcoVessel to create a collection of gear that exemplifies Leftover Salmon’s status as a true mountain band.

I recently caught up with banjo player – and native North Carolinian – Andy Thorn to chat about the new record, salmon recipes, the Something Higher gear partnerships, and a shared appreciation for handmade American denim.

BRO – I love that Pointer Brand coat you are rocking the latest band pic. Kudos for the strong denim game.

AT – Yeah, we were playing a brewery near Bristol and we got to take the Pointer Brand factory tour. So cool to see an old-school denim factory like that still functioning. They were super generous and gave us a few jackets afterwards, so I rep it any time I can.

BRO – Can you remember the first time you got to tell someone, “I play banjo with Leftover Salmon,” and how it felt?

AT – I can’t really remember the first time telling someone I’m in the band. Really, the coolest part about being in the band is all the good memories I have from seeing them around North Carolina from the time I was fifteen. Saw them through college at UNC, at Merlfest, at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, Ziggy’s, and even a frat party at Duke. Being a part of restarting the band has been super cool and I hope we keep going for a long time.

BRO – I am interested in the partnerships the band entered into with some kick-ass outdoor gear companies. I am a hiker and biker. If you had to recommend one piece of Something Higher gear for me to get my hands on, what would it be?

AT – All the products are really great. The EcoVessel water bottle even has a strainer at the top so you can put loose leaf tea in it. But my favorite are the Meier skis. I got to be there while my skis were made and watching the process go down was amazing. The core is made of beetle kill wood and the glue is so ecofriendly. They are amazing skis.

BRO – You love being in what you call a “mountain band.” Describe the perfect day in the mountains for me.

AT – A perfect day in the mountains is waking up in Telluride, Colorado, on a powder day and getting to ski with your wife, bandmates, and hopefully a local tour guide. Then head to the Floradora for happy hour before we play a show at the Sheridan Opera House. Doesn’t get much better than that. The same pattern can be repeated in any mountain town across America. As long as there’s the outdoors, friends, and pickin’, it’s a great day in the mountains as far as I am concerned.

BRO – Favorite way to prepare salmon?

AT – I love grilling salmon steaks with blackening spice. The steaks have more fat so they’re way tastier than the standard filet. I’m also becoming addicted to smoked salmon belly. So good!

Andy and his mates in Leftover Salmon are in the midst of a run of dates across the Southeast this weekend. Catch the band at the Aiken Bluegrass Festival tonight, the North Carolina Brewers & Music Festival tomorrow, and at the Pour House in Charleson, South Carolina, on Sunday.

For more information on the new record, tour dates, or the Something Higher outdoor gear partnerships, please surf over to the band’s website.

And be sure to check out “Southern Belle,” along with tracks from Sarah Shook, Mat Kearney, Kerri Powers, Luke Winslow-King, and more on this month’s Trail Mix.

Places to Go, Things to See: