This is part three (b) of three of author Tim Newby’s inside look into the writing of his latest book, Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival and the time he spent with the band on tour. Make sure to check out part one, part two, and part three (a).
The band had a few days off and I headed home to Baltimore before rejoining them at the North Shore Performing Arts Center in Skokie, Illinois, just north of Chicago. The after-party found me on the bus at 1 am signing books for many of Vince’s friends who had come that night.
This is part three of three of author Tim Newby’s inside look into the writing of his latest book, Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival and the time he spent with the band on tour. Read part one and part two here.
In the fall of 2017, Leftover Salmon embarked on a brief acoustic tour at intimate venues on the East Coast, dubbed the Living Room Tour. Each night the band dug deep into their catalog and rediscovered long-forgotten songs not played in years.
This is part two of three of author Tim Newby’s inside look into the writing of his latest book, Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival. Read part one here.
The first thing I’m asked about my book “Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival” is why did I devote a few years of my life to telling Leftover Salmon’s story? Before starting the project, I hadn’t met any members of the band, and had only spoken with Vince Herman and Bill Payne for an article I was writing for Honest Tune Magazine about their High Country album in October of 2014. During that conversation, Vince said something that really struck me. He said, “I started playing with Drew when I was first out of college over 30 years ago. It was pretty footloose and hippie van when we first started, and over the years there have been marriages, breakups, band changes, and all kinds of things, but at the end of the day there was always Drew and Leftover Salmon.”
Words/Images: Jake Cudek
Legend is historically born out of greatness. Rarely is it the other way around. The saga of The High Hawks is one such lore that has only just begun. Whether one believes this yarn spun by Vince Herman about how the vision for this band was seeded (read about it here), what is certainly evident is that with three well-attended, high-energy Colorado shows under their belt, The High Hawks are ready to rev up the second leg of their inaugural tour.
In ancient lore, the fabled High Hawk was the winged messenger of peace. The High Hawk would deliver his message through music, bringing a shining ray of joy and light from above. In modern times, bassist Brian Adams explains that High Hawk took its name from when Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman wandered deep into the mountain forest outside his home looking for some kind of spiritual sign.
“He had rolled a fat doobie to take with him,” says Adams. “When he found what appeared to be a sacred place atop a mountain he pulled the giant hogleg out of his shirt pocket and held it high in the air and closed his eyes before he planned to spark it up. Out of nowhere a hawk swooped in and grasped the enormous jazz cigarette with its talons and gracefully pulled it away from Vince’s fingers. The hawk flew high into the air with the joint until it disappeared from view.”
This is part one in a three-part feature on Leftover Salmon’s 30 years on the road.
Vince Herman’s unrestrained laughter echoed around his house. I had just told him that his good friend and mentor, Bruce Hampton, once said to me, “Leftover Salmon was the only band to make state birds evaporate and get healthier.”
Herman’s laughter was infectious and built every time he thought again about Hampton’s seemingly nonsensical quote. It was a classic Hampton quote, that on the surface may seem to make no sense, but upon deeper thought makes perfect sense. It spoke to the absurdity Leftover Salmon has embraced since first coming together three decades ago when they added drums to bluegrass and turned the staid, traditional style on its head.