“Lord you know I’ve been so many places/At least I know I have a longer view”, sings Leftover Salmon lead singer and mandolin player Drew Emmitt over a rollicking mandolin lick on the title track of his third solo effort, Long Road. “I’ve been on the road since the 80’s – can you believe that? That’s 25 years, a quarter of a century…Long Road is all about where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, where I’ve ended up and I invited all of my friends I met along the way to help me tell the story.”
Revered as one of the most energetic and innovative mandolin players on the jamband/newgrass scene today, Emmitt’s “inestimable talents” (An Honest Tune) don’t end with just the instruments that can be picked. Holding the wheel steady on acoustic and electric slide mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar and mandola, Long Road also showcases Emmitt’s superlative storytelling and versatile vocal abilities. With seven originals, including co-writes with John Cowan (“Long Road”) and Jim Lauderdale (“I’m Alive”), Emmitt saavily chose a few best-of-life-on-the-road songs, such as Supertramps’ “Take the Long Way Home”, Marshall-Tucker Band’s “Take the Highway”, and Van Morrison’s “Gypsy in my Soul”. Co-produced by Emitt and Compass Records co-founder Garry West, “my heaven band”, is how Emmitt describes the special guest musicians on Long Road: Billy Nershi of The String Cheese Incident (dobro), Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters (banjo), Andy Hall of The Infamous Stringdusters (dobro), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Tim O’Brien (harmony vocals), Alison Brown (banjo), Darrell Scott (vocals), Eric Thorin (bass), Jeff Sipe of The Aquarium Rescue Unit (drums), John Cowan (vocals), Reese Wynans (Hammond B3), Steven Sandifer (percussion) and Tyler Grant (guitar). Hallelujah.
Following a decade of success with Leftover Salmon, Emmitt released his first solo effort, Freedom Ride, in 2002 drawing on the talent of peers John Cowan, Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury, Vassar Clements, Stuart Duncan and Randy Scruggs. Critics and fans loved the collaboration and Emmitt relished the chance to record with some of the giants with whom he’d shared festival stages. “It’s amazing,” he said, “it’s like walking in a dream….Standing on stage next to Sam (Bush) is pretty indescribable.” In 2005 he followed up with Across The Bridge, an equally impressive effort showcasing Emmitt’s bluegrass chops and songwriting talents as a straight-ahead bluegrass man. After touring as the Emmitt-Nershi band with Billy Nershi of The String Cheese Incident for the past year and making several reunion appearances with Leftover Salmon, Long Road finds Emmitt rejuvenated and once again taking the contemporary, live gig, fresh everytime approach to bluegrass music.
Drew Emmitt will be on tour throughout the summer and fall of 2008, including appearances with Leftover Salmon at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the 10,000 Lakes Festival and with the Emmitt-Nershi band at the High Sierra Music Festival, the Rothbury Festival and Jam Cruise 7. Drew Emmitt and The Waybacks toured the US in October 2008.