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Vince Herman enjoys the ride with first solo album in three-decade career

Vince Herman smiles for a photo with his band. The Leftover Salmon co-leader is releasing his first-ever solo album on Nov. 18, some three decades into his musical career.
Michael Weintrob
Courtesy of The Arts Campus at Willits
Vince Herman smiles for a photo with his band. The Leftover Salmon co-leader is releasing his first solo album on Friday, three decades into his musical career.

Boulder-based jam band Leftover Salmon started blending bluegrass, rock, country and Cajun/zydeco music more than 30 years ago.

Now, for the first time, group co-leader Vince Herman is releasing a solo record. It comes out Friday, just in time for his performance at The Arts Campus at Willits on Saturday night.

The album, “Enjoy the Ride,” is packed with Americana themes that express Herman’s conception of country music — with some bluegrass and Cajun sounds also in the mix.

“It’s kind of my idea of what country music is, which is maybe perhaps a wider definition than country seems to be having of itself these days,” Herman said.

He wrote the album with friends and collaborators in Nashville, Tenn., after a cross-country road trip in an RV, and the music on the record has influences from all over the place.

“We kind of were kind of given the keys to the city, so to speak, and I thought it would just be crazy for me not to take advantage of that opportunity,” he said.

Herman said Nashville fits him well right now, but he also recognizes that there’s something about Colorado that makes country and bluegrass jams really click with fans in our neck of the woods.

“I think when you're surrounded by the woods and the mountains, the beauty that we get to live in out there, music has a more organic nature,” Herman said. “I think this … kind of fits the scene a bit more — just the tone of acoustic instruments in Colorado just seems to go together to me.”

Herman says this solo venture is different from Leftover Salmon’s usual musical platter, but that doesn’t mean he has left his jam band behind.

“Obviously, that Salmon stuff runs real deep in me, and I love playing that catalog of music for sure with those guys,” he said. “I just get to have all kinds of fun in all kinds of places and situations, and I'm a lucky guy for it.”

In fact, he’ll be playing with Leftover Salmon right here in our valley on Nov. 27, when the whole crew takes the stage at the Belly Up in Aspen. Herman’s solo tour leads right into a string of Leftover Salmon tour performances in Colorado.

“I just can't find the stop button,” he said, laughing. “I love playing music and I love playing in Colorado, so pardon my showing up too often.”

With the legacy of Leftover Salmon to his name as he enters his next act, Herman jokes that “it’s amazing the amount of dignity a gray hair will give you.” He also knows that age might not be a boon in the music industry, but he’s willing to try to have fun with this new venture anyway.

“The music industry has never been an industry devoted to the non-youth element, you know?” Herman said. “Kids are, I guess, the ones to buy the records from us. … It’s a crazy thing to start trying to build a solo career at this age, but I'm enjoying it.”

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.