By Jeffrey V. Smith
Grab an ugly sweater, some dancing shoes and prepare to join Vince Herman in a Nederland-style celebration of family, music and community at “A Very Caribou Christmas,” Dec. 17. The former area resident, and leader of Leftover Salmon, is sharing The Caribou Room stage with his talented sons, and a variety of top local musicians. An Ugly Sweater Contest with prizes, a happy hour and a half and vendors selling locally-made crafts are also incorporated into the evening. The Gael open the show.
The evening’s headlining act is “primarily the Herman Clan,” the guitarist explained, since his sons Colin Huff and Gipsy Moon’s Silas Herman will be joining in on stage. “It is just the most fun thing in the world to pick with your kids, especially on a holiday kind of thing,” Herman said. “I live in Oregon now, so coming back here is pretty fun for me.”
To “work that along,” the Hermans have enlisted Dave Johnston of Yonder Mountain String Band on banjo and Jeremy Garrett of The Infamous Stringdusters on fiddle. “I’m not sure at this point how the rest of the band will fill up, but we have lots of local friends up here, who—if they are in town—will be coming up and celebrating with us. A celebration of the mountain music community is what I’m aiming for,” he said.
Because Herman was a fixture in the Nederland scene for so many years, a number of successful local musicians—and even more across the country—view him as a mentor and musical sage. “It’s just a huge honor to have been doing this long enough that we’ve become the old guys on the scene,” he said. “Nederland has so much music created here, and we were lucky enough to be here a bunch of years to celebrate relationships with the people who have been rising up in the music scene. I’ve been lucky enough to know them a long time in our Ned world, and it’s just an honor to get to hang with such great people. It’s also an honor to think we’ve been some sort of influence on folks.”
Friends and family are actually what Herman misses most about living in the area. He’s not as nostalgic about our weather. These days, living at 1,000 feet of elevation “kind of works for me in my older age,” he said. “I like the climate a little better out there, and there is a great music community that I’ve been able to tap into. It’s a source of a lot of joy for me.”
Herman, who is known for transforming ordinary performances into a celebration for audiences large and small, himself has a “blast” and finds it “fun” to get into a “different musical setting” and step away from his main gig with Salmon. He also relishes the energy of a small, Colorado mountain town show. “We love the ski towns, and the energy that’s in those places is very helpful to the energy of a show. People are just willing to put it out there,” he explained.
As much as Herman is excited to perform with his sons and local friends, he’s just as thrilled to be doing it at The Caribou Room. “I can’t wait to see that room in operation,” he said. “I’ve seen the room empty, and it’s an achievement for Ned to have such a world-class facility. It’s really great for the community. I’m really thankful to [owner Peter Fiori] for investing in this thing. It’s so good for the scene.”
The Gael kicks off the evening. The band, founded by Eldora-based dulcimer player Laura Fisher with Debbie Smiley on fiddle and Bill Ikler on guitar, performs Celtic, bluegrass and old-time music. For this performance, the band is joined by special guest Joe Jogerst, Leftover Salmon’s first keyboardist.
In addition to world-class music, vendors will be selling locally-made items for holiday gifts. Dynamic Roots Apothecary will have locally-grown organic teas and tinctures and Randmglassworks is offering locally hand-blown glassware, ornaments and paraphernalia. Essoya is selling locally hand-crafted candles and gifts, while Kathy Bremers will have fine art paintings and cards.
Tickets are $20, plus fees, and are available in advance on the venue’s website or at the door the day of the show.
Originally published in the December 2016 MMAC Monthly