Life on the road with Leftover Salmon

Arnie Weil has been the Tour Manager for Boulder, CO based band, Leftover Salmon since late 2014. He paused for a brief moment during their hectic touring schedule to answer a few questions about life on the road, working in the music business, and some of the wild things he has seen on the road…

How did you meet the band and come to be the Tour Manager?

I was very fortunate to have managed The Giving Tree Band…day to day managing, booking tours, doing it all for nearly three years and along the road I reached out and very briefly spoke with Leftover Salmon’s manager, John Joy.

I like to tell people I “bothered the right people." I reached out to John and Sean (LoS managers in Denver) and asked if I could meet them and if there was any position open for me. At that point there wasn’t a paid position, but they invited me to come intern for a couple days a week to learn the ropes, get to know them and maybe, just maybe something would open up. I ended up giving up my only paid job in Denver and started to intern in the office 5 days a week. One evening, two weeks into the internship, John and I were working on some logistics and he mentioned the band didn’t have a current TM. My eyes lit up, and he asked if it was something I would be interested in…obviously you know my answer.

At that point, I still had not met the band, so my first time meeting them was at a rehearsal three days before their annual Thanksgiving shows. John and I struck a deal that he would have me Asst. TM to my mentor (Jason Thompson) on the band’s NYE Chicago run, Alaska and Hawaii…what a way to start it! After those two weeks of shadowing Jason on the road, I was given the reins to be the band’s new TM which involved my very first tour which spanned three weeks across Montana, Idaho, Utah and Western Colorado. 

What is the farthest distance you’ve traveled with the band?

So far this year alone (2015), I have traveled to 16 new states and 27 cities, including Alaska and Hawaii. I’ve been coast to coast California to Florida plus some ocean hops...It’s been one hell of a journey so far. 

What are your major responsibilities? What is a typical day in the life of a Tour Manager…

Man, this is a tough one. My biggest responsibilities in a nutshell are 1) Get the band to the show 2) Get the band paid 3) Get the band home. There are so many detailed responsibilities that go within each one of those biggest responsibilities. Before a tour while I’m back in the homestead (Denver) I am prepping all our shows, advancing with the venue, booking logistics (flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.), coordinating merch shipments, etc. I wish there was a daily routine I could share, but that’s just never the case. While on the road my primary responsibilities are making sure the band is happy. Keeping the band, crew, and managers happy is no easy task. Everyone is different and has their quirks, things that make them unhappy and things that make them ecstatic. My job is to make sure everyone is content. 

My biggest challenge is keeping everyone happy. If it were easy it wouldn’t be the main responsibility of the job! Logistics sometimes can get tricky, but I am very fortunate to have such amazing band members that like to chime in and give me their two cents because after all it always involves them! 

Craziest thing you’ve seen on tour?

There are two moments that stand out to me; I will never forget either of them. 

1) We got to play in a cave 333 ft below the earth taping for PBS. That was truly a magical day, as early as we started with lack of sleep it was an amazing day and I will never ever forget that gig. Coolest gig I’ve ever been part of and having Railroad Earth and Greensky Bluegrass (good buddies of ours) to be a part of it made it even better.

2) We played three nights at Phil Lesh’s venue, Terrapin Crossroads. Beautiful venue in Marin County, San Rafael, California. It was especially magical having the band open up and then sit in with Phil himself. He was a really nice guy. A moment I won’t forget was sitting in Phil’s RV backstage with Bill Payne and hearing Phil and Bill talk about Robert Hunter and Bob Dylan. Now THAT was cool! I mean imagine me, merely a 25-year-old kid with Bill Payne (66 years old) and Phil Lesh (75 years old) two pioneers in music history. Witnessing that was a moment I won’t forget.

I can’t say those moments were “crazy” but they were moments not many people get to witness. Of course then there are those gigs where you have 10,000 people yelling the band’s name having a blast. That is what gets my heart racing. It’s truly an incredible feeling being a part of that magic.

Best part of the job…

Working with individuals that love what they do. We get to work in the music business! Music keeps people sane and to keep these musicians happy is the best part of my job. When they are having fun, I am having fun. I got into this because I am a musician myself and I’ve always said to myself, I’d rather be a part of helping other musicians, who are WAY WAY WAY more talented than I am succeed. And that’s what I strive to do. 

Life is Good. I’m learning something new every day whether it’s a good lesson or bad one, I’m always learning and always working to move forward.

Arnie (second from the right) with the Leftover Salmon crew in Hawaii.

Posted on June 2, 2015 .