Music

Two nights of Leftover Salmon

Popular Colorado 'jamgrass' rockers headline benefit for NM watershed

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Like a Boss Productions — the dynamic duo of Grady Jaramillo and Matt Madison — is steadily building a reputation for combining great music with community involvement.

This Friday and Saturday (Aug. 18-19), Like a Boss presents the “Fish Out of Water Festival” at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. The event is a benefit concert weekend, supporting the health and sustainability of the New Mexico watershed. Money will be raised for two organizations committed to protecting our water and land: Amigos Bravos and Rivers and Birds.

The musical lineup features a lively mix of new and well-known acts, headlined on both nights by Leftover Salmon.

Colorado-based Leftover Salmon has been a Taos favorite since its founding in 1989. The band melds rock, folk, bluegrass, Cajun, soul, zydeco, jazz and blues influences into a unique style of progressive Americana. Leftover Salmon is considered a pioneer of “jamgrass” — a genre name adopted by musicians solidly schooled in the rules of bluegrass, who are reinventing those rules with innovative instrumentation and a psychedelic bent.

In its 28-year lifespan, Leftover Salmon has played shows and festivals from coast to coast and released nine albums.

Singer-guitarist Vince Herman, who co-founded the band with singer-mandolinist Drew Emmitt, told Tempo he was looking forward to returning to Taos and gave a personal shoutout to the benefit’s theme: “I love the waters of New Mexico — its hot springs, its cold lakes and its cold beer! Let’s celebrate them all with some music at this festival!”

Taos’ own Last to Know, purveyor of “discofunkgrass,” will be following Leftover Salmon on Friday night, with Taos Mesa Brewing’s multifaceted co-founder, Dan Irion, on mandolin and fiddle.

“This will be the second multiday fest TMB has worked on with Like A Boss,” Irion said. “They have a great feel for creating fun environments for concertgoers to really dive into the experience of the event. With the addition of Hotel Luna Mystica — the vintage Airstream hotel next to the brewery — and the campgrounds, hosting multiday events is more viable than in the past. On a personal note, I first saw Leftover Salmon at a Halloween show in 1997 at the Fox Theater in Boulder. The show remains one of the best shows I’ve ever seen to this day. I had never thought that acoustic instruments playing bluegrass could convey such a depth of musicality, but that show opened my eyes to the possibility of the genre. This show is one that personally I am very passionate about hosting.”

Friday’s other bands include Jack Cloonan and Friends on the patio; Stu Allen & Mars Hotel, playing “music for the Deadhead community” with the motto, “If you come, we will build it” in the amphitheater; and Good Rendition on the patio.

Cloonan and Allen return on Saturday, along with the headlining Leftover Salmon and sets from Pherkad, Magic Beans, Pigment and a march by the Partizani Brass Band.

Pherkad shares its name with a star in Ursa Minor. Drummer “Cheese” told us the band is a “four-piece genre-bending musical project that has been described as fractals for the soul.” He said that the Albuquerque-based musicians have come to see Taos as their second home – and especially the festival’s venue. “Taos Mesa Brewing has given us the opportunity to share the stage with some of our favorite bands and musical heroes. Playing on the same bill with Leftover with the mountains off in the distance is something that I cherish. It all really wouldn’t be a reality if it wasn’t for the TMB.”

“Playing music outdoors, on a great sound system, to fabulous people, on a beautifully crafted stage, at an event working to raise awareness about water issues and protect the natural wonders of our amazing state — now that is pretty sweet. I can’t wait,” said Pherkad’s bassist, Chris Patchett.

Keyboardist Zac Ramsey called playing with Leftover Salmon a “dream come true for all of us.” Guitarist Jason Bowers added, “Being a New Mexico native, water conservation has always been an issue that needs to be addressed more. How perfect to blend it into an awesome music fest.”

Good Rendition is a new combo on the Taos music scene, but local bluegrass fans will recognize musicians Eric Jay and Zephaniah Stringfield from The Noseeums.

“Although it is a new project, the players behind it have been playing music together for years,” said Jay. “We grew together as people and as musicians. Zeph is a strong singer-songwriter, born and raised in the Bay Area. Good Rendition is still a cast of changing characters. There is a lot of talent in Taos, and many of our fellow musicians and friends join us onstage.”

Jay spoke passionately about the water issues facing Taos and other communities worldwide. “A reality should exist where basic human resources are available to everyone. Many people in this world take water for granted. I’m guilty of it. But there are people that don’t have enough water to live. It’s literally the stuff of life. If it weren’t for water on this planet, we would not exist. If there were anything to worship, water is on my list.”

The two organizations being supported by the event share values of conservation and education.

Rivers and Birds was founded in 1999 with the motto, “Teaching the next generation of earth stewards.” Its mission: “Providing experiential education adventures that celebrate the interconnection of all life and inspire individuals as leaders for Earth stewardship and peace.” The organization is committed to conserving our natural environment and promoting local cultural traditions that demonstrate balance with nature. Like Amigos Bravos, it draws on the agricultural experience and nature-honoring wisdom of elders from Taos’ Spanish and Native American cultures. Rivers and Birds serves the community with a variety of educational materials, hikes and river trips, workshops, films and teen leadership programs.

Amigos Bravos was formed in 1988 to protect and restore the waters of New Mexico. The group is dedicated to preserving and restoring the ecological and cultural integrity of New Mexico’s water and the communities that depend on it. A statement on Amigos Bravos’ website outlines the group’s mission: “Our vision is of rivers so clear and clean we can bend to our knees, cup our hands, and drink directly from those waters without fear. This is the vision that was handed to us by Pueblo Indian and Hispanic elders at our first strategic planning session, not long after our inception as an organization. That vision, which was a reality in northern New Mexico only one lifetime ago, requires the wisdom, knowledge, and participation of all New Mexicans in the effort to address social and political pressures poisoning our waters.”

Information on camping passes and ticket purchases can be found at taosmesabrewing.com.

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