It's amazing what happens when you add percussion, electricity, and a dash of Cajun flavor to Bluegrass. The Triangle, home of the IBMA's, has no shortage of great Bluegrass. I heard a girl comment last night "EVERYONE here plays banjo...". And yet, we were blown away by Leftover Salmon at the Haw River Ballroom.
The openers, Hank, Pattie & The Current, not only kicked off the night, but stepped in later to jam. Salmon's banjo player, Andy Thorn, hails from Durham. And this is the Triangle. SO OF COURSE, they all know each other. That's what makes this wee community of ours so great.
Hank, Pattie & The Current jumped right in with their consistently impressive Bluegrass, both new and old. After being treated to some Motown-Bluegrass ("Mograss") that included some super funky Stevie Wonder, we all squeezed in a little tighter upfront in preparation of the Salmon.
And, boom, we kick it right off with the zesty tune "Liza". Feels like my recent New Orleans vacation is still continuing. Yeah, you right. Of course, they have to cover "Carolina Song" while they're here. And it doesn't disappoint. I can only find a few references to the band playing this and it's always in Carolina, so that's a special treat.
I happen to love "Tu N'as Pas Aller" and when they launched into it, you'd swear you're in a second line and not on the Haw River. The title translates to "you don't need to go there" and I agree. If you can't live in New Orleans, let a little bit of New Orleans live in you. NOLA was alive and well in Saxapahaw this night.
They go into my beloved "Two Highways" and as the line goes, "guess I'll just settle in for the ride...". When we leave for the evening and our drunken vocals float away down the Haw River, I reflect on how lucky we are. It takes music of this level and a venue this beautiful to drag us all out of our cozy enclaves on a school night. But I would gladly schlep out to Saxy any night for this Glory in the Territory.
- Erika Rasmussen
- photos by Jerry Friend