In his preface to a recent Little Feat retrospective compilation, the band's Paul Barrere wrote, "It's almost 33 years ago exactly since Mr. [Lowell] George came to the front door of the Laurel Canyon house I was livin' in, with that beautiful white "p" bass in hand, and asked if I wanted to try out as bass player for his new band. As most who know the story's end can tell you, as a bassist I make an excellent guitarist, and 3 years later-- when I finally began my stint in Little Feat-- I would never have guessed that I would be here writing these liner notes to yet another chapter in the now storied life of a band that has been my life, and a true labor of love."
Truth is, there really is no story's end yet, and Little Feat have indeed led a storied life ever since they formed in 1969. From then on, their unconventional signature of earthy, organic appeal and polished, first-rate musicianship wrapped around eclectic and memorable songs--clearly delivered as an authentic labor of love--has been a lasting fixture on the musical landscape. As American as apple pie--and rock 'n roll itself--Feat's music transcends boundaries, a freewheeling fusion of California rock and Dixie-inflected funk-boogie. In the mix as well are strains of folk, blues, rockabilly, country and jazz, inventing a hybrid sound that is truly Little Feat's own.
That story is about to add a major new chapter - the 2008 release of Join the Band, a very special project in Feat's history. Keyboardist Bill Payne came up with the idea of a CD that included many things, but featured major Little Feat hit songs as played by a band that included Feat and some very special friends. When you have friends like Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Bob Seger, Bela Fleck, Brooks and Dunn, Chris Robinson (Black Crowes), Vince Gill, Mike Gordon (Phish), and Inara George (band founder Lowell's daughter) - you have musical treasure in your hands. Join the Band is going to make some noise.
Rhino/Warner Bros. also saluted Little Feat's accumulated musical history with the comprehensive retrospective Hotcakes & Outtakes: 30 Years of Little Feat, a project initiated and co-produced by Bill Payne and Paul Barrere. Released in 2000, the deluxe 4-CD, 83-track boxed set features hits from all of Little Feat's classic albums as well as fan favorites, alternate takes and hand-picked rarities from the band's eventful past.
Time has loved these musical heroes for more than three decades now, as have legions of fans and countless fellow musicians, many of whom they've played with over the years. Feat's fabled collaborators have included Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Beck, Brian Wilson, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Plant, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Lang, and Leftover Salmon (for whom Bill Payne recently produced an album). With the success of Hot Tomato Records, an endeavor powered by an inspired band of musicians continuing to create exciting new material both individually and as a group, Little Feat will no doubt be sailin' into the future with no end in sight.
Few bands stick around for thirty years. Even fewer bands leave a legacy during that time that marks them as a truly special, once-in-lifetime type band. And no band has done all that and had as much fun as Leftover Salmon. Since their earliest days as a forward thinking, progressive bluegrass band who had the guts to add drums to the mix and who was unafraid to stir in any number of highly combustible styles into their ever evolving sound, to their role as a pioneer of the modern jamband scene, to their current status as elder-statesmen of the scene who cast a huge influential shadow over every festival they play, Leftover Salmon has been a crucial link in keeping alive the traditional music of the past while at the same time pushing that sound forward with their own weirdly, unique style.
As Leftover Salmon nears their 30th year, their inspiring story is set to be told in a brand new book, Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! that will be released February 2019 by Rowman & Littlefield. In this book, critically acclaimed author of Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin’ Sound & It’s Legacy, Tim Newby presents an intimate portrait of Leftover Salmon through the personal recollections of its band members, family, friends, former band-mates, managers, and the countless musicians they have influenced. Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! is a thorough guide covering a thirty-year journey of a truly remarkable band. It is a tale of friendships and losses, musical discoveries and Wild West adventures, and the brethren they surround themselves with who fortify Salmon’s unique voice. Their story is one of tragedy and rebirth, of unimaginable highs and crushing lows, of friendships, of music, but most importantly it is the story of a special band and those that have lived through it all to create, inspire, and have everlasting fun.
Heading into their fourth decade Leftover Salmon is showing no signs of slowing down as they are coming off the release of their most recent album, Something Higher (released in 2018) which has been universally hailed as one of the band’s finest releases. Something Higher shows how even upon preparing to enter their fourth decade Leftover Salmon is proving it possible to recreate themselves without changing who they are. The band now features a line-up that has been together longer than any other in Salmon history and is one of the strongest the legendary band has ever assembled. Built around the core of founding members Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman, the band is now powered by banjo-wiz Andy Thorn, and driven by the steady rhythm section of bassist Greg Garrison, drummer Alwyn Robinson, and keyboardist Erik Deutsch. The new line-up is continuing the long, storied history of Salmon which found them first emerging from the progressive bluegrass world and coming of age as one the original jam bands, before rising to become architects of what has become known as Jamgrass and helping to create a landscape where bands schooled in the traditional rules of bluegrass can break free of those bonds through nontraditional instrumentation and an innate ability to push songs in new psychedelic directions live. Salmon is a band who over their thirty-year career has never stood still; they are constantly changing, evolving, and inspiring. If someone wanted to understand what Americana music is they could do no better than to go to a Leftover Salmon show, where they effortlessly glide from a bluegrass number born on the front porch, to the down-and-dirty Cajun swamps with a stop on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, to the hallowed halls of the Ryman in Nashville, before firing one up in the mountains of Colorado.