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Find out information about the Improvised Roots Series I'm presenting in conjunction with Dazzle Jazz Club here!!

Featured Performers March 15/16, 2013 are Joel Harrison, Darol Anger, Art Lande, and Jim White!  Check out these videos from Joel, Darol and Art.


the drive

In the midst of one of the prettiest drives in the country- just hitting 199 south of Grants Pass, OR on our way to hwy 101 down to Arcata, CA. Every time I'm in this part of the world I think about how I'll retire here some day. Could be Arcata, Crescent City, who knows. Such a beautiful juxtaposition of sea, woods and mountains. Smith River, redwoods, blue sky day. Humbling for sure.

Big shows in Seattle and Portland the past couple of days. The band is hitting its stride, and we've been finding some interesting spaces in the music. Pretty fascinating to be a part of the process of musical reinvention- the band has had some of these tunes around for 20 years, and it seems like there's been a willingness on this run to let things morph into what they want to be in 2013. Everyone in the group seems to have a strong individual voice now, and there's a lot of musical trust happening on stage which hasn't always been the case. Got some new tunes coming too, which is always refreshing.

Spent almost 2 hours wandering around Powell's Books yesterday in Portland, looking through all of the used music books. Kicking myself for not buying an old paperback book of folk songs with piano realizations by Benjamin Britten, but $25 seemed steep at the time. Maybe it'll be there next time. Think we're going to be back for New Years anyway. There were some nice little pocket scores of Beethoven and Mozart, but most of that stuff is available on imslp as PDF's nowadays. Settled on a collection of the best music criticism of 2010. Just feel a need to read a well reasoned argument for Lady Gaga. Or against. Not sure where I fall on that.

Arcata tonight.


back on the road with Leftover Salmon

Writing from day 3 of our Winter Tour. We're in Seattle on a beautiful, sunny day. New venue for us tonight, called the Neptune Theater- right next to the University of Washington, which has a beautiful campus. Went exploring for awhile this morning when we got here. Now if only there was a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant around here...

Started my vinyl haul at Neptune Records- found Ornette Coleman's "friends and neighbors" and a few other things you can see in the pic.

Day 1 was in Missoula, MT. Visited with an old bass student of mine from my brief tenure at the University of Wyoming- he's now wrapping up his Master's in GIS in Missoula. Had a nice meal at the Catalyst, and some fine single malt at the Rhinoceros. Tried Aardbeg Beist and Lagavullin 12 year, both of which I enjoyed. Aardbeg was woody and mossy, while the Lagavullin had a bit more sweetness- and less peat than their 16 in my opinion.

Yesterday in Spokane seemed really long for some reason. Show was fun, Luther Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars sat in with us- his slide playing is fluid and melodic, and his rhythm playing is chunky and greasy. Jose and I have found the pocket pretty naturally on the tour so far- crazy to think we've played at least 704 shows together at this point.



Places we've been in the past few days- Cincy, Columbus, Urbana, IL and Ames, IA. We're in the final stretch of gigs, and I'm looking forward to getting home.

Minneapolis tonight- First Avenue, which is your classic "rock club" type venue. We played here a long time ago, when we were touring all of the time- just as I remeber it from 10 years ago for sure. We're directly across the street from the Target Center, where Justin Bieber is playing tonight. There are hordes of teenage girls waiting on the street to catch a glimpse of Ol' Biebs. The folks at the Target Center keep getting them all fired up and screaming, which is pretty damn funny to watch. As we were driving around to get to our load in, foks were snapping pictures of our bus and screaming, thinking we were Beiber's bus- I mean, Vince Herman is almost just like Bieber, right?

Urbana was a step back into the past for me, that's where I did my undergraduate college stuff, and quite frankly, learned how to play music! I was kind of "taken in" by the community of local musicians that was around at that time, and I was able to play way over my head with lots of great jazz (Doc Scott, Jeff Helgesen, Tom Wirtel), blues, and rock musicians (Mighty Pranksters, Organic Advisor, Blues Impalas). A drummer friend of mine, Danny Deckard, turned me on to Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Bill Monroe, and Tim O'Brien while I was in school there.

House in the picture above is where I used to live, and it looks exactly the same as when I left. Bruce's VW is still in the driveway (I don't know how many times we had to roll that damn thing out of the driveway when it was blocking one of our cars). We shared our house with a bunch of squirrels, who would steal our bread and fruit when we were at class, and they liked to hide buckeyes all over the house. Also had a racoon, a possum, and lots of mice. But it was super cheap ($175/mo), I had a huge room and I was able to practice at all hours of the day and night.



3 am in the middle of the Ozark Nat'l Forest- downed trees in the road!

Sunset over Nashville

New toy- reissue Kay hollowbody from Gruhn's Guitars

Harvest Fest came and went- muddy, rainy, but lots of fun. Had several amplifiers (not mine, thankfully) succumb to the environment, which made for some mid-set scrambling both nights. Had a great dinner cooked for us at the fest on Saturday night- nice to be catered to every now and again in the midst of festival chaos. Got to catch up with friends from Yonder Mtn. String Band, who hosted the event- I've known a couple of those guys for years- even went to jr. high and high school with one of them!

Left the fest in the midst of a torrential downpour after our Saturday set- got a few miles out, and the road was completely blocked by some huge downed trees. This was on an extremely windy nat'l forest 2 lane road- not the easiest place to turn around a 40 ft. bus with a trailer. So, at 3 am, we all got out there with our flashlights and headlamps, and helped guide or driver (Brian) backwards up the road for 2 miles until we could turn around and find an alternate route. Managed to save a little yellow and black salamander from getting crushed by the bus at one point.

Went to Nashville for our days off, which turned out to be great. We ran into our friends from Della Mae again, this time at Cafe Marche, an amazing little place where we had brunch in East Nashville. Strangely enough, they were at Harvest Fest too, and none of us had any idea that the others were headed to Nashville. Small world stuff...

Went to the Station Inn for the Sunday bluegrass jam with Vince, Andy, and singer-songwriter Todd Snider as well as Todd's road manager Elvis, which was a hoot. None of us played, it was a pretty mellow scene- decided our time was better spent eating sushi and listening to Todd's great stories about John Prine across the street. Managed to catch up with good friend, collaborator, and former Salmon banjo player Matt Flinner for lunch yesterday, and then went to Gruhn's guitars.

Played a couple of 70's P's, neither was worth the price- I'll find a good old one for a steal one of these days!! But I did find a cool Kay reissue (see pic above) for a killer price that I couldn't pass up. I'm always on the lookout for an electric that does an okay job of recreating an upright-like tone, I'll test this one out over the next few gigs and see if it's the one for the job. Lots of folks ask me why I don't play upright on the road with Salmon, and the answer is simple- it's too loud, and I hate to play my upright bass in environments where I can't hear or even approximate the acoustic tone of the bass. Hence, my continual search for an electric that allows me to play at the appropriate volume for the gig, but one that has some of it's own cool acousitc properties and idiosyncrasies.

In Covington, KY tonight, back at it for the final stretch run through the Midwest


Asheville to Ozark

Near Ozark, Arkansas today for the first of two days at the Mulberry Mountain Harvest Festival- we play a late night set tonight (12:30 to 2 am!!) and then play the mainstage tomorrow night. The festival goers are working hard here- it's been muddy, rainy, and cold all day- although I've done my fair share of cold, wet camping, I'm happy yo have the comforts of a tour bus and hotel room available!

Played in Birmingham, Alabama last night- show was fun, but we're all feeling the middle of the tour I think...tough to keep the energy up night after night. Nothing a couple of festival sets can't cure! Had some amazing shrimp creole from a local fish market/restaurant in Birmingham, and also had my laundry "fluff and folded"- one of the simple pleasures in life. Pay someone $14.50 and you get a bag of clean, dry, folded laundry back in a few hours. Totally worth it on a long tour- one less thing to worry about.

Night before was Asheville, NC. Best crowd of the tour- around 800 folks on a Wednesday night. Our drummer Jose Martinez found out he had BROKEN HIS FOOT?!!?? the night before while chasing an unnamed bass player up the stairs of the Georgia Theatre (hey, we all gotta act like kids sometimes, right?). He's played the past 2 shows with a broken metatarsel in his right foot. He has to play the kick drum a bit lighter (he did try to play the first set last night "left footed" if you will, which was amazing to see), but it seems like he'll make it through the tour.

Enjoy the video, this was backstage in Asheville, about 30 seconds after Casey Driessen had walked backstage to see Jason Carter. They hadn't even said hello yet.