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Best of 2002

Published: 2003/01/23
by Ben Baity

Leftover Salmon with Rev. Jeff Mosier, Peter Rowan, Paul Barrerre & Billy Payne, Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA, 1/25

" Listen To The Banjo Play"
This was the first Leftover Salmon tour without banjo wizard and founder Mark Vann. Mark was undergoing therapy back home in Colorado. The band and fans were undergoing therapy in San Francisco. With Rev. Jeff Mosier in control of Mark’s spot on stage, and Mark’s custom banjo ever present, this show was about America, life, loss and the most American of instruments, the banjo, and people that play them.
The first set opened with ‘ Euphoria.’ It became evident this was not going to be a somber ceremony, rather a party and a celebration of life.
A Mosier-sung tune, ‘Listen to the Banjo Play,’ weaved throughout this show and others on the tour, with amazing segues between songs and verses. Little Feat mainstays Billy Payne and Paul Barrere jammed with LoS throughout the show. Songs by banjo legend Bill Monroe, JJ Cale, and Little Feat were mixed with Leftover’s own tunes and covers. After a fantastic version of ‘ I Know You Rider,’ with Drew Emmitt and Barrere trading blistering guitar solos and Mosier’s threading ‘Listen’ throughout the jam, the boys were joined by friend Peter Rowan. Rowan’s staple, ‘Rainmaker’ segued into ‘Banjo’ and back. The set ended with another ‘Old’ Bill tune, ‘Can’t You Hear Me Callin’?’>‘Listen’>and Feat staple, ‘Spanish Moon’. Incredible.
During the break I ran into Vince Herman (LoS guitarist and singer) and asked about Mark’s condition. The news was not positive. Vince told me that Mark was in very poor health and soon to pass out of this life, and that the band was to carry on, with Mark’s spirit at every show. ‘Listen To The Banjo Play’ indeed.
The second set opened with the old Zyedeco tune ‘ Carnival Time.’ Bill McKay played keys along side legend Billy Payne. The keyboards, absent in this band for years, have now become a focal point, thanks to McKay. The set continued with LoS unique brand of psychedelic polkas, blistering rock, and great party vibes. Mandolin, guitar, fiddle and flute player Drew Emmitt astounded, trading solos with Barrerre. Emmitt’s voice is unique, with a very traditional bluegrass tenor and is among the best singers in music today. Mosier’s banjo playing was truly inspired, as if he was playing for Mark’s spirit.. Peter Rowan came back out and played a new ‘reggaebilly’ tune ‘Pullin’ The Devil By The Tail’ that was followed by Rowan’s classic ‘Land Of the Navajo.’ Rowan led the band to new heights culminating with a magnificent yodel session as Mosier led the band into and out of ‘Banjo’. Little Feat chestnuts ‘Oh! Atlanta’ and ‘Willin’‘ were dedicated to Mark, and Barrerre played and sang as if his life depended on it. A segue led to another round of ‘Banjo’ and to the old ‘Easy Rider’ song ‘Roll Another One.’ More Bill Monroe tunes closed out the show and sent everyone into the San Francisco night. Delirious.
This show, and subsequent performances in New Orleans, High Sierra and Truckee with different banjo pickers (including a riverboat show that had nothing but songs about rivers and New Orleans), I am convinced that LoS deserves its place among the best bands in America. This band has been completely overhauled in the past two years, and has just found its groove. Leftover Salmon should be considered among the giants of Americana and they are certainly the most fun.

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