Another mountain, another chance to groove
July 21, 2007
Tonight, Colorado jamband Great American Taxi will christen this summer’s concert series at The Canyons with a melting pot of sound.
The group formed after a rain forest benefit at University of Colorado two years ago, according to keyboardist Chad Staehly. The name was chosen after guitarist and lead vocalist Vince Herman (former member of jamgrass band Leftover Salmon) said his friend skied like a "great American taxi." Staehly says the name stuck because it described the group’s essence: a band that enjoys picking up and playing with guest performers on stage and a band with a sound that feels like a "ride through Americana music and all the musical styles this country has created."
The Canyons crowd this weekend can expect music with elements plucked from bluegrass greats like Bill Monroe, early rock from Chuck Berry, and some of the Cajun and Zydeco influences of Leftover Salmon’s self-diagnosed "polyethnic swampgrass."
And then there’s folk. Staehly cites folk legend (and Bob Dylan’s hero) Woody Guthrie, as a big influence on the band — they often cover Guthrie originals, he says.
"We try to keep alive a lot of the old folk music that isn’t heard on the radio anymore," he told The Park Record in a phone interview.
But Great American Taxi also gives a wink to contemporary pop culture once in a while. Last Halloween, the band performed their own version of "My Humps," a hip hop pop song originally cut by the group the Black Eyed Peas and it’s since become part of their repertoire.
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"We all got a kick out of the video and the Fergie phenomenon," explains Staehly. "We like to be hip, current guys."
Indeed, soon after the band formed, in 2005, they played Hurricane Katrina benefits and found themselves in very "hip" company among others, they shared the stage for an improv-jam-freestyle session with rapper Coolio, Staehly recalls.
"I think he said he’d been living in Amsterdam," he remembers. "And he was threatening to record some songs with us."
Great American Taxi leads a pack of danceable, upbeat bands in this year’s Saturday night lineup, bands that will hop a bus or plane from New Jersey, Colorado and California to arrive at The Canyons.
"We book national acts on Saturday nights that’s historical, to my knowledge," said Toby Martin, the executive director of Mountain Town Stages, the organization that books the acts. "None of these bands have ever played in Park City before."
Martin notes the lineup this year is eclectic, with 1980s hit bands like The Smithereens, 8traC’s techno-funk and aclosing beach reggae act called The Expendables. "It’s a really nice collection," he said.
As far as logistics, everything will remain the same, according to Martin, with one exception. This year, The Canyons will enforce a rule that prevents blankets on the lawn before 4 p.m. The rule was created after the Disco Drippers concert July 3, he reports, people had already plastered the ground with picnic spots by 11:30 a.m.
The six concerts booked by Mountain Town Stages will continue through Aug. 25 at The Canyons resort. Refreshments are available at The Forum, but attendees typically pack a picnic. Concerts are held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are free.
For complete listings, and links to artists’ Web sites, visit http://www.mountaintownstages.com .