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Andy Thorn of Leftover Salmon F*ckin Loves Bowens Island

When I spoke with banjo player Andy Thorn of the legendary Leftover Salmon, he and the band were out in Louisville, Kentucky. It was 4/20, and Leftover Salmon was on their way to play a festival out in the country. Andy didn’t know the name of the festival, but he seemed pretty stoked it play it.

We got to talking about Leftover Salmon’s new album Something Higher, some of his favorite hikes in Colorado, and the band’s connection to Charleston. They’ll be on the main stage at The Pour House this Sunday, May 13th, joined by The Mother Hips. Get tickets to that show here, and read our interview below.

So you just released a video for “Southern Belle” off the new record, which I’m really digging. Which one of y’all wrote that song?

That’s actually the only track on our new album that we didn’t write. That’s a friend of Vince’s in Oregon who wrote that, and it made it on there because Vince didn’t bring enough material. He was like, “Oh what do I have? Well, I’ve been loving this song…” So we put it together and it turned out to be my favorite song on the record.

I’m catching a little bit of R&B on the new record. Who brought that influence to the table?

Well, probably the rhythm section (laughs). I mean there is some R&B though. Drew’s voice can do that soulful thing, and Vince, too. Then you get Alwyn’s drumming and Greg and Eric… I just play Banjo to that and try not to sound too white.

So you live in Colorado, right? I’m headed out to Boulder this summer. Can you recommend any good hikes?

There’s a lot of good hikes just in town. Like Mount Sanitas is great, and the Chautauqua area. My favorite place to go is Brainard Lake, about 45 minutes from Boulder. It’s like Rocky Mountain National Park without the crowd. It’s super cool. There’s tons of moose and elk and all sorts of wildlife.

You can bike out there and stuff?

That’s more of a hike. Any place they call a wilderness area you can’t bike. That one is more of a hiking area because it’s in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. If you want to bike to go Betasso Preserves. That’s the good biking.

Tell me about some of the production on ‘Something Higher’.

Steve Berlin produced it. He’s the horn and keyboard player from Los Lobos, and he arranges all their music. This is the third album he produced for us. Actually, he just knows how to work with us. We’re a little bit hard to wrangle, and he knows how to get us to get the shit done. That can be a little challenging with us, so once we have a working forumula it’s good to stick with it.

When was the last time you guys were in Charleston?

We come there once a year actually. I’ve been playing the Pour House since I was in college, so I love playing there. I love the owners and all the employees. It feels like a little homecoming or a little reuninon, get to see all those guys, Alex and his wife. They’re all super awesome. That’s why we keep coming back to play there. It’s one of the smaller clubs we play all year, but it’s just a good vibe. Always try to go to Bowens Island when I’m out there.

Where else do you like to eat in Charleston?

You know, I’m a tourist, so I like to eat seafood when I’m down there. Have you been to Bowens Island? I love that fuckin place, cuz I’m a tourist. We’ve been to Hank’s, too. Hank’s is good.