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Winter Park / Live Music: Great American Taxi picks up Pub fare

by Cyndi McCoycmccoy@grandcountynews.comWinter Park, Colorado

Audiences are up for a ride through unmatched guitar licks and vocals that complement a mix of rock, folk, reggae and funky-country as Great American Taxi pulls into the Fraser Valley this week with a new line-up in Colorado for the first time and several new songs.The ensemble, lead by former Leftover Salmon founder and performer Vince Herman, forges a musical path that is distinctly its own, encompassing the sounds of Americana, roots, funk, country and rock what the band calls Americana without borders, and drives in some high-octane tunes. Herman sings vocals and plays guitar and washboard for Taxi and Leftover Salmon, both known for taking detours from the mainstream. With GATs signature improvisational talent and sound songwriting and structure, he is able to freely mix in catchy lyrics and some favorite sounds from Salmon.He has always had music in him. As the youngest of seven kids, he absorbed all he could from listening to the music of his siblings R&B, British invasion, the Eagles, David Peel and Traffic but it was seeing 20 people picking together at Pittsburgh’s Smoky City Folk Festival in 1978 that opened his eyes to traditional music.From that key moment, he said his obsession with bluegrass began to grow, through college in West Virginia, to Colorado where he moved in 1985 and played his first gig with the Lefthand Stringband. The musician went on to play with the Salmon Heads, who eventually merged with the Lefthand boys to form Leftover Salmon in 1990.Those riding shotgun in the Great American Taxi trip, now include founding member Chad Staehly, vocalist and keyboardist from the John McKay Band; Edwin Hurwitz (from such jam bands as Shockra and Skin) keeping the rhythm on bass guitar, Jim Lewin on guitar and vocals, lead guitarist Barry Sless of Phil Lesh & Friends and Moonalice (who will play pedal steel for the new record), and newest member Chris Sheldon (from Phish tribute band Phix) on vocals and drums.Initially, the talented group of Boulder County-based musicians was brought together in 2005 when Herman sought to put together a group of talents for a post-Katrina benefit. The seven-piece bonded so well and so fast that it became a lifeforce to be recognized in a short period of time.Several years later, minus a couple members, the band has traveled across the United States and become a staple on the festival scene. Since then, the band released critically acclaimed debut album Streets of Gold, and they have metered about 130 shows across the country already this year, from the House of Blues in Chicago to The Independent in San Francisco.While on break from Leftover Salmon, Herman’s main focus has been on his new band, although he continues to pick with them for about five shows a year. A new Taxi record is set for the studio in December with Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth producing. The album just might include special guest Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead on drums for a couple of tracks.


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