15 Phantasmal Moments: Leftover Salmon Stanley Hotel 2018
Leftover Salmon at the Stanley Hotel 2018
Once again we found ourselves at our favorite party of the year: Leftover Salmon at the Stanley Hotel.
This was the fourth year of what has become a favorite tradition for fans of Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass Music. The iconic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park is temporarily taken over for a weekend each March by the greatest group of freaks and fun seekers that you will ever encounter.
As always, the staff and crew of the hotel went out of their way to accommodate us, and we did our best to return the favor. Sure, we get a little loud and weird, but it is all in the spirit of a good time, and this is certainly a place that knows a thing or two about spirits…
From Friday afternoon through Monday morning, the spirits roaming the halls and grounds of this haunted site were treated to a party like none other, and a soundtrack that will ring throughout the Stanley, keeping the ghosts dancing until we return next year!
So, as we always do, let’s countdown the spookiest, strangest, weirdest (mostly just best!) moments of this year’s installment of Leftover Salmon at the Stanley Hotel:
15 Phantasmal Moments: Leftover Salmon at the Stanley Hotel 2018:
1. The Welcome Party
Each year the Leftover Salmon Stanley Hotel party (it’s actually a convention) kicks off with a welcome reception. A true highlight of the year, this is when old friends come together in jubilation to begin the long awaited celebration. The gathering begins in the hotel’s McGregor Ballroom, but really it gets going much earlier in the hotel lobby and, as weather always seems to permit, on the gorgeous front porch overlooking the mountains.
Once everyone had arrived and settled into their accommodations, the festivities kicked off in earnest with beer tastings from Breckenridge Brewery and our first taste of music for the weekend by Gasoline Lollipops. The energy of this Colorado punk-folk band was the perfect way to get things going, and a precursor of things to come.
This was NOT going to be a bluegrass festival!
2. “Horror Night”
Now a new tradition, the first evening of the weekend is dedicated appropriately to “Horror.” This being a Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass Convention, however, “horror” was interpreted loosely and in many different variations!
Free face painting was available, and some chose to get spooky AF – including the members of Leftover Salmon. It is always a thrill when Leftover Salmon takes the stage for their first set of the evening – now even more so as they have begun to truly embrace the “horror” of it all!
Kudos go especially to Axehead Andy and Creepy Care Bear Greg, who always embrace the ridiculousness of the event!
Whether spooky, goofy or velvet (a secondary theme of the evening for some), the Horror Night is a unique and special way to head full-throttle into a weekend of thrills and surprises!
3. Friday Night Throwdown
Everyone was in full-party mode Friday evening and ready for a dance party. As always, Leftover Salmon did not disappoint! What went down was a show for the ages.
We cannot even attempt to describe it, and luckily we don’t have to!
Thanks to the hard work of taper Erik Wilkens, you can relive the magic of this incredible evening. If you weren’t there, trust me that the room was alive and on fire!
4. DJ Logic and Eddie Roberts
Two of the special guests at this year’s Leftover Salmon Stanley Hotel Convention were DJ Logic and Eddie Roberts.
As we stated earlier, this was NOT a bluegrass festival!
Friday evening, as the dust began to settle and we all tried to wrap our heads around the incredible Salmon sets we had just witnessed, Logic and Roberts got to work and didn’t give us a moment’s rest!
If you don’t know Eddie Roberts, he is the incredible shredder from Denver via London who currently melts faces around the world with New Mastersounds. DJ Logic is, well, DJ Logic! One of the best producers and spinners in the business, when Logic is on the tables the dance party is happening!
And what a dance party it was! With Greg Garrison and Alwyn Robinson, Logic and Roberts kept the energy level through the roof well into the morning!
5. Mystery Matinée: Anders Osborne
A special feature of Leftover Salmon’s yearly convention is the Saturday Mystery Matinée. They say “It’ll Freak You Out Who’s Playing” and that consistently has been the case from year to year. Wrap your brain around this one – this festival manages to bring in some of the best talent around to play with Salmon, and on top of that brings in a guest that they manage to keep secret until they are announced onstage!
The concert hall is always a buzz of anticipation and speculation leading up to the announcement of the mystery guest.
When Anders Osborne took the stage it was immediately evident that the mystery was a winner with the crowd!
Anders Osborne treated us to a handful of his songs, filling the room with his powerful voice and acoustic hammering. He then invited all of Leftover Salmon to join him, and the result was an incredibly energetic, skillful and tight band that will live in infamy.
Leftover Osborne, or whatever you want to call them, was a special and beautiful performance that everyone in attendance will forever cherish the memory of.
6. Colonel Bruce Hampton
This past May in Atlanta, Colonel Bruce Hampton passed away suddenly after collapsing onstage during his 70th birthday celebration, sending ripples of shock and sadness throughout the musical community. His effect on the world of music in which we all reside cannot be understated.
Simply, without Bruce Hampton there is no Leftover Salmon.
Photographer Josh Timmermans, Vince Herman and Scramble Campbell were close to the Colonel and were among those in attendance that evening.
Through the pictures of Josh Timmermans, he, Vince and Scramble took us through the journey of that unbelievable event. Josh’s incredibly intimate images were enhanced with stories from the three friends of Bruce, and the gathering of fans in the Stanley Billiards room truly felt the spirit of Colonel Bruce Hampton that afternoon.
Emotions ran high in that room, and we all left feeling a bond that would continue to touch us throughout the remainder of the festival.
What was billed as a slideshow was in reality a journey on which we all embarked together – a journey of tribute and enlightenment that could only have been created by the Colonel.
7. Scamble Campbell & Frenchie
Now a fixture at Leftover Salmon’s Stanley Hotel event, Keith “Scramble” Campbell was this year joined by fellow live artist Frenchie. The two could be found at every performance, capturing the energy of the music and the crowd in ways no camera or video recorder can.
We are truly blessed to be fans of a band such as Leftover Salmon, one capable of bringing together such incredible talent from all over the artistic universe.
When Scramble and Frenchie are at work, they aren’t just painting the performance, they are part of the performance. Just one more way this Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass Convention is special in a way unlike any other.
8. Masquerade Ball
Saturday evening is always formal night at Leftover Salmon’s Stanley Hotel party, but this year a twist was added in the way of a “Masquerade Ball.” This fit in perfectly, as everyone took their formal wear to a new level.
Mardi Gras masks and beads were everywhere, and there was an even greater feeling of celebration, if that is even possible.
9. New Orleans Suspects
One of the special treats from last year’s Leftover Salmon Convention involved members of the New Orleans Suspects sitting in with Leftover on a set. This year was even better, as we got the whole band to come to Estes Park!
If you have yet to experience this amazing group from NOLA, they can be best described as energy, energy, energy!
The dance party the New Orleans Suspects hosted late-night on Saturday was legendary.
To bring the day full circle and continue the journey of Col. Bruce upon which we embarked earlier, Vince Herman joined the Suspects for an amazing rendition of “Fixin’ to Die.” (yeah, the video is bit shaky, but I told you it was a dance party!)
10. Jam in Your Jammies
Sunday traditionally is the Bloody Mary Jazz Brunch with Sockeye, the Leftover Salmon offshoot of Greg Garrison, Alwyn Robinson and Erik Deutsch.
Festy GoNuts has added to the tradition the last few years by hosting a “Jam in Your Jammies” pajama party. After all, it’s Sunday! We might as well be comfortable!
Sockeye was joined this year by legendary jazz musician Don Byron. Together they put together a set of funky jazz and improvisation which we all comfortably enjoyed in our PJs while sipping on Bloodys and snacking on Donuts!
What a way to kick off a Sunday!
11. The Living Room Set
One of the most anticipated moments of the weekend was the Colorado debut of Leftover Salmon’s Living Room set. The Sunday Salmon sets have always been among the best of the weekend, and this year certainly was true to form.
When the traditional Sunday afternoon pineapple made it’s appearance, we knew we were in for a good one!
Relaxed and seated among artifacts that clearly were individually handpicked to make each member of the band feel comfortably at home, LOS delivered an artfully crafted set of bluegrass music.
Incredibly, it took the band and, frankly the fans also, 4 years to stumble upon the idea of playing the Stanley Brothers at the Stanley! It was well worth the wait!
12. Woodshed Red and Bonfire Dub
The final acts of “official” music for the weekend were Bonfire Dub and Woodshed Red.
Bonfire Dub delivered a high-energy performance heavily laden with Doors covers that had everyone on their feet. Woodshed Red created more than a few new fans with their incredibly tight performance, also turning the McGregor Ballroom into a non-stop dance party.
There was more music on Sunday evening this year than we have been treated to in the past, and the choices could not have been better. Both of these acts manage to squeeze every ounce of remaining energy out of us – more than we thought possible after the weekend of getting down!
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13. The Weather!
For the 4th year in a row, we have been treated to unseasonably beautiful Colorado weather in the mountains. The sun is always shining as we kick off the Convention, and other than a random flurry here or there, we could not have asked for a better weekend!
When you are looking as good as we all were, it’s nice to have a little cooperation from Mother Nature to keep us comfortable!
14. Sunday Night Pick
One of the truly special moments that occurs each year when Leftover Salmon takes over the Stanley Hotel is the Sunday Night Pick. This impromptu event brings together the few the musicians and fans with gas still left in the tank to the McGregor Ballroom for one last yee-haw.
Led by Vince Herman, this sing-a-long jam session leaves us all with a feeling of camaraderie. We were all in this together from the beginning, so fitting that we bring it all to a close together.
As the last of the whiskey made its way around, we all joined in to sing to the spirits of the Stanley!
15. The Love
I don’t care how corny it may sound – this was a love fest.
With the spirit of Colonel Bruce Hampton mingling with all of the other residents of the Stanley – spirit and living – there was an overwhelming feeling of love throughout. Love of music, love of life and love of one another.
The journey was real, and realized together.
The hope is that each of us take that feeling from the Stanley and spread it wherever our next adventures may be.
As Vince so pointedly preached, Love IS going to win again! And again. And again….