John-Ryan Lockman

The band Leftover Salmon is often credited with inventing the genre of jamgrass – a melding of up-tempo roots music combined with improvised, often unpredictable explorations. And their frenzied live shows over the last three decades have made them an institution in Americana music. They return to Flagstaff this weekend to headline the Pickin’ in the Pines festival, which took a hiatus last year amid the pandemic. In the latest installment of KNAU’s series Eats and Beats, we caught up with Drew Emmitt, one of the founders of the Colorado-based band and a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He talked about Leftover Salmon’s newest album, “Brand New Good Old Days,” which opens with a surprising version of a Soundgarden classic.



Greenhouse Productions

Live entertainment and music venues across the country are now receiving long-awaited funds from a federal COVID-19 relief program. Several promoters in northern Arizona are among the recipients of the grants seen as a lifeline to the struggling industry. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

A group of independent live entertainment venues in Arizona has announced they’ll require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results for entry. It comes as an increasing number of theaters, clubs and festivals nationwide are putting similar mandates in place. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.


Like many musicians, Dom Flemons was nervous about returning to the stage after more than a year away from performing. Though he spent the shutdown working on several projects with high-profile collaborators, Flemons still wondered if his live shows would be the same as before the pandemic, and whether audiences would respond like they had in the past. But Flemons, a Grammy Award-winning, Arizona-born singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, had little to fear. Audiences have embraced his signature high-energy live shows with a reinvigorated enthusiasm. In the latest installment of KNAU’s series Eats and Beats, Flemons talks about why the live music experience matters.

Orpheum Theater

For more than a year now, the live entertainment industry has struggled to hang on as the COVID-19 pandemic brought gigs and revenue to a grinding halt. A federal grant program called the Save Our Stages Act, part of the American Rescue Plan, was supposed to help. But to date, none of the more than $16 billion has made it to local venues. That’s because the system crashed shortly after the program launched last month when thousands of eager people tried to apply online. The Small Business Administration says it’s back up and grants should start going out at the end of the month, good news for many in the music, theater and film industries. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius spoke with Susan Walter, general manager of the Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff, about the pressures she’s faced this last year trying to stay afloat and hopeful.


Independent live music venues in the U.S. were among the first businesses to close at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll also be some of the last to open, and that’s put thousands of clubs and theaters on the cusp of going under, and has left scores of employees and touring bands without income. A bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate aims to throw the industry a lifeline by providing $10 billion in federal grants to pay rent, mortgage, payroll and other expenses venues have accumulated as nearly all their income has dried up. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is a co-sponsor of the Save Our Stages Act and spoke with KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius.


Three decades ago the Verde Valley School established its Native American Scholarship fund. For many years, the annual fundraiser for the scholarship was organized by legendary singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. He became enchanted with the landscape and people of northern Arizona on a road trip many years ago. Now, in the COVID-19 era, Browne has revived the benefit concert as a virtual event with performers including Michael Franti, Shawn Colvin, Bruce Cockburn, Calexico and Sihasin. In the latest installment of KNAU’s series Eats and Beats, Browne recounts his lifelong love for the region made famous by a song he co-wrote with the Eagles’ Glen Frey.




Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis/

Larry Mullen, Jr., the drummer for the Irish rock band U2, has donated $100,000 to the Navajo-Hopi relief fund. It follows a surge of donations from Ireland for tribal assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Orpheum Theater

The live music industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. With virtually all shows and tours cancelled revenue has come to a halt for thousands of promoters across the country. One of northern Arizona’s biggest music venues, the Orpheum Theater, was having a banner year with sold out shows and packed calendar. But the economic shutdown forced managers to layoff dozens of full and part-time employees. The Orpheum has now joined other independent venues across the country to advocate for their industry. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius spoke with Orpheum owner Charles Smith and GM Susan Walter about how they’re planning for the future of live music.

Dawn Kish

Northern Arizona musician Klee Benally has a new acoustic album out called The Unsustainable Sessions. It’s a departure from the music he’s perhaps best known for, the all-sibling Navajo punk trio Blackfire. But it’s equally powerful in its messages of environmental and social justice. In the latest installment of KNAU’s series Eats and Beats: Stories about Food and Music on the Colorado Plateau, Benally talks about the new album and punk rock as a tool for social change. He’ll perform at an album release party Fri, Dec. 20 at the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff as part of A Winter Solstice Indigenous Acoustic Revue