Sounds Good: Leftover Salmon@Liberty Hall, Leon Russell@Knuckleheads, Quixotic@Midland, Cults@Granada, School of Seven Bells@RiotRoom

I know I’ve said it before, but this week’s Sounds Good has something for everyone. 

OK, maybe not the sluts and motorheads. But the jocks, geeks, dweebies and dickheads are all covered. 

First up is a nice happy Thursday night show in Lawrence to get your weekend off right, featuring a storied band that plays what the kids call "Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass."  They’ve been on an extended break since the death of their banjo player and founding member Mark Vann at way too young an age – 39. 

But they’re back and rejuvinated with a youngster, Andy Thorn, filling in admirably and providing some new life to the band…. 

Thursday, April 12th

Leftover Salmon w/ The Infamous Stringdusters at Liberty Hall in Lawrence

Leftover is a longtime heavyweight of the bluegrass scene, and is probably more responsible than any other similar act for the genre’s crossover into the jamband thing that exploded in the 90s.   They formed in 1989 in Boulder, and were one of the first to incorporate drums into the traditional string band setup.

I remember seeing them many times in Colorado in the early ‘00s at the Fillmore in Denver and at the ice rink in Vail, among others.  They often paired with the String Cheese Incident and were a huge draw at that time, luring out the massive dreadlock and beard crowd with their slamgrass mash up of rock and country.   

Their best, and perhaps best-known album is 1999’s The Nashville Sessions.  The record featured big-timers like Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Widespread Panic’s John Bell, Blues Traveler’s John Popper, Earl Scruggs, Waylon Jennings and Lucinda Williams.

And they have a new record coming out soon, their first in about 8 years, entitled Aquatic Hitchhiker.  It’s scheduled to drop on May 22nd and it’s the band’s first ever album of all original material.  Definitely count on hearing a bunch of the new stuff at Liberty Hall on Thursday, along with a ton of their old fan favorites.  Like Yonder Mountain, these guys aren’t afraid to play till their fingers bleed or the beer runs out. 

Friday, April 13th

Leon Russell w/ Trampled Under Foot at Knuckleheads in KC

Behind the long white hair and beard, and underneath the trademark cowboy hat sits Leon Russell, Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famer.  He’s been around the block a time or two (thousand), but at 70 years old, he’s still getting after it.  His most recent album, not counting several “best of” releases, is 2010’s The Union, a collaboration with Elton John that was nominated for a Grammy.

My personal favorite album, though, is the classic Leon Russell & The Shelter People that included some sweet swinging takes on several Dylan tunes as well as the Russell classic Ballad of Mad Dogs and Englishmen.  Come to think of it, I’m going to Spotify that album right now, it’s been awhile.    

Living legend?  Yep.  I know that phrase is thrown out there way too much by us music critic folks, but it’s really apt in this instance.  


Saturday, April 14th

Quixotic Fusion at the Midland in KC

Aerial acrobatics?  Check.  Blistering break beats?  Check.  Seizure inducing lighting?  Check.

Sounds interesting right?  Check out my article about this up and coming KC performance troupe for more info, then get your ass to the Midland on Saturday. 

That is all.  

Cults at the Granada in Lawrence

If Pitchfork likes this NYC indie pop band (and they really, really do) then you have one of two options.  You either jump on the bandwagon of hipster-dom and get those neon pink sunglasses.  Or you up the ante and go uber-hipster on their asses by declaring that Pitchfork is no longer cool and has become the new Rolling Stone.  Leave it to a hipster to tell other hipsters that being a hipster isn’t cool anymore.  That’s soooo hipster.   

So what’ll it be?


Sunday, April 15th

School of Seven Bells at the RiotRoom in KC

Having just released their third full length album entitled Ghostory on Vagrant Records, this duo has set out on a national tour that includes smallish venues, a bit smaller than what I would have expected for a band that’s garnered quite a bit of hype along the way.  I know what you want to know before you even ask: yes, Pitchfork likes these guys.  There, now make your decision.

The group plays an airy-shoe-gazey-ethereal blend of electronic sounds mixed with guitar and floating lyrics, and is apparently bringing along some friends for the road, according to guitarist Benjamin Curtis.  In an interview with Stereogum he said, “Well it’s a little different now, we’ve got drums, bass, and another friend of ours playing keys and singing backup, so it’s a bigger band than we’ve ever had. It’s cool and I’m loving having all the musicians on stage. It’s such a great sound.”

And of the new album he said, “I guess we wanted to have this energy happening, like you see when there is a big, awesomely tight rock band just really rocking. I guess people in different worlds take that sound for granted. We’ve played with so many kinds of bands, including lots of electronic musicians who I love but rarely kind of capture that kind of “big” sound live. I like to see a band interacting and just killing it onstage, rather than going to a show in Brooklyn and seeing a kid stand behind a computer and not really feeling it.”
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5 Responses to Sounds Good: Leftover Salmon@Liberty Hall, Leon Russell@Knuckleheads, Quixotic@Midland, Cults@Granada, School of Seven Bells@RiotRoom

  1. balbonis moleskine says:

    Carnival Time!
    Leftover Salmon is great, I haven’t seen them since the death of the banjo player though. They are one of those bands that was always good for 2 hours of high energy.

    A great album to check out is “Ask the Fish”. If you can find an original CD copy, it comes with a mysterious truth fish (a plastic fish) that you are supposed to ask yes or no questions to in order to determine what actions you should take.

  2. PB says:

    Leftover Salmon
    Agreed on them as a live act. Only saw them once (HORDE Festival @ Sandstone) and knowing absolutely nothing about them at the time, just lucked into catching them at the satellite stage up in the parking lot and was completely blown away by their performance. The speed and precision with their playing was spectacular. Still not all that familiar with their recorded work although I do have the album where they backed up Dave Lowery & Johnny Hickman on bluegrass versions of a bunch of old Cracker hits and that’s pretty good stuff. Didn’t know about their banjo player passing, too bad, that guy was amazing.

  3. salmonface says:

    The new kid is insane
    Andy Thorn is unreal on the banjo, and is pretty much the only reason that Leftover is even a band anymore. He drug them out of their funk after they had tried out a few different banjo players that didn’t work out after Vann’s passing.

  4. Travis says:

    “They’ve been on an extended break since the death of their banjo player and founding member Mark Vann at way too young an age – 39. ”

    They played for a few years after Mark’s passing. Noam Pikelny (now with Chris Thile’s Punch Brothers) was the replacement banjo player. Matt Flinner also filled in as well.

    Ask the Fish is classic.

  5. Smartman says:

    They Ain’t Hayseed Dixie
    You gotta admit, Keepin Your Poop In A Jar is an all time CLASSIC

    5+9=14 unless you are a KCMOSD Scholar then it’s what your mom gets when she bangs her boyfriend and his stepson at the same time

Comments are closed.