Jay Starling to Leftover Salmon

Jay Starling – photo by Andrew Wyatt

Venerable jamgrass legends Leftover Salmon have announced the addition of Virginia reso-guitar man and vocalist Jay Starling to the group. He will also play keys and some lap steel with the Salmon

If the name sounds familiar, it should. Jay is the son of John Starling of Seldom Scene fame, and yes, the singing genes definitely passed down from his father. Plus it didn’t hurt growing up surrounded by some of the top artists in bluegrass, nor did studying at the Berklee College of Music.

In recent years Jay has been playing with Love Canon, and doing side work with any number of acts on the jamgrass and alt-bluegrass scene, including the Salmon.

Leftover Salmon co-founder and guitarist/vocalist Vince Herman says that they are all stoked to see Starling come onboard full time.

“Jay comes from a legendary bluegrass family, and we are head over heels excited about having him officially join the band. Keys, dobro, and an incredible voice all in one guy! Welcome to the circus, Jay.”

He joins Herman, Drew Emmitt on mandolin, Andy Thorn on banjo, George Garrison on bass, and Alwyn Robinson on drums.

Starling tells us that he and the band share an intertwined history.

“I first saw them at Wolf Trap at a show that was Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, Seldom Scene, and Leftover Salmon. I went to see the Scene because my friend Chris Eldridge was sitting in that night. It was the most turned out I had seen Wolf Trapp, they really lit the place up.

It’s an honor and slightly surreal to join them all these years later. There’s a connection because both Leftover Salmon and Seldom Scene changed the sound of bluegrass music. Vince and Drew, whether they knew it or not, kind of did the exact same thing as Seldom Scene in a different era.

I first met Vince through a mutual friend, and we hit it off and became friends right away. In the past few years I was sort of a rotating sixth member, along with Bill Payne and Erik Deutsch. I always thought it would be super fun to play with them.

During the pandemic, Vince called to say that Erik took another gig and there would be an opening, but that it would be a year out. Then he called when things opened up and asked me to play some shows with them, and then halfway through a tour he asked me to stay and play some more.

Couldn’t be a better bunch of guys.”

Jay says that he will continue to live in Charlottesville, VA and travel to meet the band. And that he feels sure he has his late father’s blessing.

“I think my dad would be pretty happy to see me doing this. He always said that if someone can put your music firmly into a category, you’re doing something wrong.

Here’s to a second generation of Starlings in bluegrass music, in a first generation jamgrass band.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.