Photo by Sam Crump Photography
(BLAIRSTOWN, NJ) -- Vince Herman is out to have some fun. 33 years after founding Leftover Salmon, Vince released an album of his own and hit the road to play a batch of songs developed in his new Nashville home. It’s a bit of a departure from the “Salmon sound” as he digs into his idea of what country music is. There’s some bluegrass and Cajun influences and honky tonk ballads all piled atop great players taking the tunes for a ride.
Vince formed a hot band consisting of some of Nashville’s finest musicians, all also vocalists, to take on the road! Joining him in the Vince Herman Band for their Fall tour dates are Nathan Graham (upright bass), Dakota Holden (pedal steel), Ian Cory (banjo/fiddle), his son Silas Herman (mandolin/guitar), and Lawrence Nemenz (drums).
The tour brings the Vince Herman Band to Roy's Hall (30 Main Street) in Blairstown, New Jersey on Friday, November 17, 2023 with Airshow opening the night. Doors are at 7:30pm, showtime is 8:00pm. Advance tickets are $42 and available for purchase online. The show is open to all ages.
“With his immersion into Nashville, Herman’s also peeling back the pages of Music City history, harkening back to the early days of country music, where the genre lines were blurred or not yet defined by record labels and marketing teams,” writes Rolling Stone’s Garret K. Woodward.
“I’m gonna try to keep my solo repertoire separate from Leftover Salmon so people can expect something different than they would see at a Salmon show,” says Vince to Relix Magazine’s Mike Greenhaus. “I want them to live in different worlds, but one of the reasons I made this record is that I’m a fan of country music. And I’ve always thought of Salmon as a country band. You can look at the Grateful Dead as a country band—to me, bluegrass, cajun music, ballads and all that stuff is what makes up country music… But, though I’ve always seen Salmon as somewhat of a country band, the country and jamband worlds are absolutely miles apart—not so much musically, but culturally. And at this point, so much of this country needs to come together, with all the walls between the different sides and all the perceived little niches that we’re supposed to stay in, man. We need to come together as a country. And music can play a big role in that. So I guess you can say that I want to bring the hippies to country. I want to say, ‘We’re kind of doing the same thing here, folks. Can we talk?’”
Enjoy The Ride, Vince Herman’s first solo record, was released in November 2022 on LoHi Records. During the height of the pandemic, Vince hit the road in his RV for five months and ended up spending half his time in Nashville where he bumped into old friends—Donnie and Chris Davisson of the Davisson Brothers Band.
“I came to Nashville and ran into the Davisson brothers, old buddies from West Virginia I’ve known for a long time,” Herman says. “I connected with the writer community here in town through the Davissons and just ended up writing more in the last year and a half than I probably have the rest of my life. It's been a really creative boon for me to be in Nashville, so much that I bought a house here, and I’ve got chickens, fruit trees and a garden in my yard. I’m in for the long haul.”
Through the Davissons, Herman met Erv Woolsey, who probably is best known as George Strait’s manager. Woolsey became his manager and publisher, and like the Davissons, helped facilitate writing sessions for him. It wasn’t long before Herman had “a big pile of songs.”
Then he knew it was time. The Davissons introduced Vince to their producer, David Ferguson [Johnny Cash, John Prine], and a couple of month’s later they took to the Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa—the studio made famous by the late Cowboy Jack Clement— to record. They tracked all the songs live over 3 days with a myriad of A-list Nashville musicians assembled by Ferguson.
The studio band features guitarist Pat McLaughlin, multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott (acoustic guitar, 12-string baritone guitar, banjo), bassist Dave Roe, drummer Pete Abbott, keyboardist Mike Rojas, guitarist and pedal steel player Russ Paul, fiddlers Jason Carter and Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, and Herman’s son Silas on mandolin. Tim O’Brien stopped by the studio during that time to add some harmony vocals.
Herman says. “And boy, I’d never made a record like that before. I’ve always had a band that was together, touring, and, you know, developing the material. To go into the studio with a bunch of folks I didn’t know was a big leap of faith for me and a whole new way of making records. It’s been a real eye opener to see how it’s done here in Nashville. I’m really pleased with the results.”
Enjoy the Ride features a dozen memorable songs, eleven of which came out of Herman’s writing sessions in his new hometown. In addition, to the Davisson brothers, Donnie’s son Nick Davisson, Levi Lowrey, Aaron Raitiere, Phillip Lammonds, Ronnie Bowman, Adam Hood, Rob Snyder, Benny “Burle” Galloway, Channing Wilson, William Paul McDonald, and Dave Pahanish are Herman’s co-writers on the album. He also wrote a pair of songs with Ferguson and Pat McLaughlin.
The material is an Americana travelogue that takes the listener from Prine-ish country-folk rock (“Lost Lover’s Eyes”), funky swamp rock (“Rattlesnake”) and jazzy Dixieland polka (“Any Other Way”) to straight-up bluegrass (“Enjoy The Ride”), classic Cajun country (“Coraleen”), and traditional country (“Drinking Alone”).
The one song on the record not cowritten by Herman is the country blues “Flying,” which was penned by Hood, Kyle Tuttle and Roxanne Handley. “That came out of one of the sessions where we had a bunch of guys writing and we’d break into different groups,” Herman explains. “Adam Hood was kind of the main cat behind that one, and I just love that song so much, I had to put it on the record.”
Photo by Nick Negrete
After laying down the initial tracks at the Cowboy Arms, additional overdubbing and mixing took place at the Butcher Shack, Ferguson’s post-production facility in Goodlettsville. The overdubbing included some lead vocals by Herman and vocal harmony parts by Bowman, who is best-known as a member of the Lonesome River Band, and Mike Armistead of the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. Rob McCoury from the Del McCoury Band and Tuttle also overdubbed banjo parts, and George Harper added a trombone part to “Any Other Way.” Additional recording for that song was done in engineer Jake Eckert’s Rhythm Shack Studio in New Orleans, where Tom Fisher and Kevin Louis added clarinet and trumpet respectively.
It may have taken Herman nearly three decades to get around to making his first solo record, but it was certainly worth the wait. “Enjoy the Ride represents what country music is to me,” he says. “Rooted in tradition but wide open and ready for a good ride.”