Tony Furtado lends his banjo chops to Leftover Salmon
When Leftover Salmon hits the DeJoria Center stage on Friday, banjoist Andy Thorn, due to a scheduling conflict, won’t perform in the show.
So Tony Furtado, a two-time National Bluegrass Banjo champion and award-winning multiinstrumentalist, has been recruited to play with the jamgrass pioneers.
Furtado is no stranger to Leftover Salmon. He was one of the few banjoists who helped out when the band lost its original banjoist, Andy Thorn, to cancer in 2002.
In addition to playing with Leftover Salmon during Friday’s concert, Furtado and his band, with Luke Price on fiddle and electric guitar, Keith Brush on bass and Tyson Stubelek on drums, will open the show.
Price is a three-time national fiddle champion who graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and plays with his wife as part of the band Dean! which has an upcoming album.
Brush has played with jazz artists such as the Blue Cranes and Stolen Sweets, as well as blues and soul singer Curtis Salgato, according to Furtado.
Stubelek, who regularly tours with the folk duo The Shook Twins, is also known for his work with Americana songwriter Anna Tivel.
Collaborating with artists of such high caliber inspires Furtado to “up his game.”
“You can hear a song in a totally different way when a drummer brings a new groove to it, and it can make you think of the phrasing differently,” he said. “Or when Luke comes and plays with me, just having a fiddle in the band makes me want to play more banjo to get more of that pairing.”
A few years ago, Furtado played with a band he called The American Gypsies with bassist Myron Dove, who previously played with Santana, and drummer Tom Brechtlein, who has worked with Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter.
“That rhythm section was so intense,” Furtado said. “It made me think more rhythmically, because I had to be right there with them.”
The two musicians also pushed Furtado to improve his playing.
“It made me become more explosive with soloing,” he said. “They were doing it, so I thought I had better do that, too.”
Friday’s gig will be Furtado’s first performance with Price, Brush and Stubelek as a group.“I don’t know what will happen, but I’m looking forward to it,” Furtado said.
In the meantime, Furtado is currently writing music for the follow-up to his 2017 live release, “Cider House Sessions.”
“We’ll have to see if what I do becomes a heavily instrumental album or two different albums,” he said.
Until then, Furtado hopes people are enjoying “Cider House Sessions,” which he recorded over a period of six nights at Reverend Nat’s Cidery and Public Taproom in Portland, Oregon.
“I originally had five shows booked, and I wanted to do it there because while they normally don’t showcase music, the vibe of the place is great,” he said.
Furtado made the mistake of wanting to both produce and record the concerts himself.
“I’m not an engineer, so that was a bad idea,” he said with a laugh. “I stressed every night up until showtime, and then I would ask for a pint of cider and began playing.”
Furtado said there weren’t many songs that came from the performances that sounded good enough to put on a live album.
“A month later, I decided I needed to record another show,” he said.
He called his friend Matt Flinner, a Grammy-nominated mandolinist who grew up in Salt Lake City, fiddle player Price and jazz accordion player Rob Burger.
“Rob used to play with Tin Hat Trio, and he has produced Iron & Wine,” Furtado said. “So there were some heavy hitters playing that night.”
In addition, Furtado’s wife, Stephanie Schneiderman, stepped in to sing harmonies.
“I wanted to get a good vibe, so I brought in a rug and some lights from our living room,” he said. “Most importantly, I hired a live sound tech as well as a recording engineer, and that session is where most of the album came from.”
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