Great American Taxi with Whiskey Tango 3.13.14

Hodi’s Half Note
Fort Collins, Colorado

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock

What happens when a side project ceases to be a side project? The departure of Vince Herman for points west and a full commitment to Leftover Salmon created this exact conundrum. Once an outlet for his free time he now has none. After some soul-searching the remaining members of the band decided this train was just not ready to pull into the station. After a short break and the addition of Taylor Sims, who is best known as a member of Spring Creek and most recently Bonnie and the Clydes, Great American Taxi is back in full force. With Conspirator playing down the street the crowd consisted primarily of old fans and others who thought they were seeing Vince. Up first was Whiskey Tango who has been playing up in Northern Colorado a bit more often as of late. They opened with “Tree Hugger.”

Set One: Tree Hugger, Earl, Pulse, Fate Is Fickle, Crystalline Dream> I Know You Rider, Annalisa, We Gotta Move, Two Bucks And A Beaver Shot, Thicker

Whiskey Tango is equal parts twang, rock, and powerful harmonies. Songs like “Annalisa” showcase their ability to shred. Matt Gallagher takes every opportunity to blast off on his electric banjo with a focus on the stringed groove. This quintet, originally formed in 2009, finally seems to be venturing out and expanding their fan base. Northern Colorado could use a regular return of their blend of Americana and Rock and Roll. The “Crystalline Dream” into a whiplash version of the Grateful Dead’s “I Know You Rider” was an obvious highlight. They closed with a strong “Thicker.”

The Taxi took the stage and by now the room was about half full with plenty of space to move around. They established early that this is not a completely new band with the well-established GAT tune, “Straw Man.”

Set One: Straw Man, Shape I'm In, Albuquerque, NM, Hold On Me, Lumpy, Beanpole and Dirt, New Millennium Blues, Natural To Be Gone, Big Sandy River, Swamp Song, Penny Arcade, Tough Job, American Beauty, Clara Belle, Silver Fiddle, West LA Fadeaway, Radiation Blues, Poor House, Victimless Crimes, Get No Better

Encore: We've Been Had

What many (including myself) didn’t know was that this was the first time Taylor Sims was performing live with Great American Taxi. Taxi has been no stranger to lineup changes over the years. The current group, lead by founding keyboardist Chad Staehly, have been the well-oiled machine behind Vince for the better part of the last decade. Now it’s a whole new ballgame. Beyond all of that, Taylor Sims is explosive on the microphone. His vocals commanded attention and his delivery adds a new dynamic to the established GAT sound. They treated us to rendition of The Band’s “Shape I’m In” as well as a smoking version of the Bad Livers’ “Lumpy, Beanpole and Dirt” Reenergized originals percolated through the set adding a real vibrancy to their output. Classic Taxi like the Staehly sung “Penny Arcade” and “Radiation Blues” demonstrated their commitment to the sound this band built.

They are a country band going off the rails into the world of rock, psychedelic jams, and bluegrass. Great American Taxi has something for everyone. The addition of Sims gives this band a real chance to strike out on their own and take a leap beyond Herman’s shadow. Additional highlights included a solid rendition of the Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway” and a set closing “Get No Better.” They encored with “We’ve Been Had.” Great American Taxi is far from done and the new solidified lineup is hungry to prove just that. They have begun mapping out a tour and will again be hitting the road this summer. Great American Taxi has a real chance now to create a different legacy for themselves. So what happens when a side project stops being a side project? Time will tell.

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