Saturday morning at the Stanley Hotel was as “wake up and rage” as any festival out in a field in the blazing summer heat. Appropriately for the event, happy heads there for Leftover Salmon’s weekend retreat in Estes Park could be seen with Bloody Mary’s wandering the grounds and saying hey to musicians who were doing the same. A crowd gathered on the hotel deck to watch the annual Big Wheel Race in which five teams raced around the historic maze of the hotel. The reigning champs, Stanley Steamers, took first place again and each member earned themselves a limited-edition Chuck Sperry event poster, while second place all got VIP upgrades.
Then folks scooted down the hill to the main concert hall to await the reveal and performance of the weekend’s mystery guest. The first year featured bluegrass legend Sam Bush and last year, The Keels made an appearance, so the excitement for who it could be was building while speculative rumors started flying. Was it The Infamous Stringdusters accompanying artist-at-large Jeremy Garrett? Could it be Jeff Austin, who played in Denver Friday? Or possibly banjo hero and friend of the band’s Danny Barnes? The weekend’s resident Jack Nicholson took to the stage to announce that this years guest was none other than Colorado superstar Todd Park Mohr, of Big Head Todd and the Monsters. The crowd erupted with joy at his appearance, and he proceeded to satiate them with an enchanting solo set of newgrass takes on some of his Monsters’ tunes as well as classic Americana ballads. The multi-instrumentalist told stories of his time on the road since 1982 and what his solo career has provided, as well as quips here and there that only Colorado heads could follow.
The laid-back event had plenty of down time between sets and for a casual Saturday afternoon, there was nothing better before more Salmon than more Salmon. People packed the Billiards room for a viewing of “Years in Your Ears” documenting the first 15 years of Leftover Salmon, a film by Eric Peter Abramson and Micheal Henry. Others posted up on line for the coveted show poster and everyone dawned their fanciest outfits for the formal night ahead. In their gowns and tailcoats, couples stood in the lobby drinking cocktails and getting their portraits taken by Jay Blakesburg before heading back down for the second Leftover Salmon set of the weekend.
They too were in their formal wear and fired up the set with the ever popular “Liza” before “Gold Hill Line.” Then they brought out Jeremy Garrett to sit in on fiddle and vocals and went right into “Sing Up to the Moon,” “Bolin Creek,” and more thrilling originals. For their cover of “Jesus Just Left Chicago” they brought up Todd Park Mohr on guitar and vocals and kept him on for the rest of the set, closing it with a beautiful rendition of “Sweet Virginia.” Second set, Jeremy stayed on and ripped it open with “Wind Cries Mary.” Todd came back up for “Bitter Sweet” and stayed on for the rest of the set, ending it with “Railroad Blues.” Jeremy and the Leftovers encored the night with “Nobody’s Fault But Mine > Wake & Bake” which had the entire festival singing along.
While old stand up comedy footage played in the Billiards Room, Salmon side-project Sockeye made a quick changeover to start their 1 am set in the hotel concert room. Featuring Alwyn on drums, Greg on bass, the newest Salmon, Erik, on keys, and special guest singer and trumpet player Jon Grey, in only their third performance ever, the band rocked funk jams melding with reggae beats and everything mostly opposite of what LoS usually does. It was a nice change up and everyone loved to see what else these players had in them. With the spring ahead, music didn’t end until 4 am and even then, musicians and patrons alike were pickin’ on the porch and jamming until after the sun rose and non-festival hotel guests started to trickle out.
Check out a gallery of Saturday’s festivities below, courtesy of Jay Blakesberg, as well as the setlist from Leftover’s performance!
Setlist: Leftover Salmon | The Stanley Hotel | Estes Park, CO | 3/11/2017
Set One: Liza, Gold Hill Line, Sing Up To The Moon *, Bolin Creek *, Better Day *, Blue Eyed Darling *, Unpromised Land *, Jesus Just Left Chicago *^, Get Er Rollin *^, Come On Baby *^, Sweet Virginia *^
Set Two: Wind Cries Mary *, Better *, Lonesome Pines *, Bitter Sweet *^, Gulf Of Mexico *^, Sitting On Top Of The World *^, Broken Hearted Savior *^, Railroad Blues *^
Encore: Nobody’s Fault But Mine> *, Wake & Bake *
* with Jeremy Garrett on fiddle and vocals
^ with Todd Park Mohr on guitar and vocals
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