Offering up their Southern-inspired roots, Leftover Salmon and The Lee Boys ignited The Vogue last Thursday evening. Many folks had travelled from miles away to come and partake in this snowy night's festivities, since the Rocky Mountain-born group rarely ventures to the Midwest. Dabbling in hillbilly hi-jinks, the Colorado based Leftover Salmon incessantly jammed, while the Florida founded Lee Boys channeled gospel-funk.
Somehow, I've been fortunate enough to see the Lee Boys perform twice this year in Indianapolis. The first time was their opening set for rock legend Warren Haynes' band, Gov't Mule. I was totally thrilled to see them again, and this time in a more intimate venue. This quintet epitomizes the frenzy that electric-gospel-funk can incite in a crowd. The lead singer pretty much demanded audience participation throughout with rhythmic clapping, as the steel guitarist wailed alongside. The Boys were heavily promoting their album Testify, which by judging from their live performances, must just as strongly exhibit their funkified style. Make no mistake; the Lee Boys are undoubtedly a Christian band. However, they refuse to come off as preachy, and in doing so are extremely accessible to all kinds of listeners. Once they had awakened the Vogue from its post-blizzard hibernation, the Lee Boys handed over the microphone to the fellas of Leftover Salmon.
Scuttling back indoors from their intermission smoke-breaks, the audience crowded in closely around the stage in anticipation. This stop in Indianapolis was a part of Leftover Salmon's New Year's Eve tour. Not only was it a leg of this very special run, but also the performance was one of many in support of their newest album Aquatic Hitchhiker. These so-called "Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass" maestros came prepared to tear the roof of the place. The temperature in the theater steadily rose as their jamtastic evening progressed into bluegrass pickings and vocal twangings. A mandolin, banjo, and fiddle raced each other throughout each song. The instruments sonically threaded the air with audio energy that was practically tangible. The crowd was widely varied ranging from young, enthused professionals to weathered ex-dead head types, and yet the music moved everyone with the same potency. Hardly anyone stood motionless, as the band drew in the listeners and coerced them into any kind of motion from toe-tapping to full blown square dancing. Infecting the audience with their bluegrass jams, Leftover Salmon turned an already eager crowd into a swarm of honky-tonking Neanderthals.
Playing for several hours into the night, the guys of Leftover Salmon brought plenty of warmth and enthusiasm to the Vogue. Providing a night of perfect celebration nestled between Christmas and New Year's Eve, each set continued the festive spirit of the season by serving up merriment and cheer. When the weather gets as chilly as it is, it's certainly wonderful to have a night like that at the Vogue.