Sometimes a band’s name is just too good of a metaphor to pass up. So it’s time to climb in the musical journey that is Great American Taxi. This Colorado breed band initially driven by the moonlighting Vince Hermann of Leftover Salmon, has picked up various members along the way while dropping off a few (including founder Hermann), on its way along a dirt road of dive bars through mountain passes in search of the “Motherlode.” It is indeed a musical road show and their third album does more than live up to it’s name of Dr. Feelgood’s Traveling Medicine Show. It transports the band into a force on not just the local, but hopefully the national music scene as well.
The band, which dropped off Hermann in 2014 and then subsequently his replacement, former Spring Creek Bluegrass Band member Taylor Sims, has landed on a five-some of string playing, harmony singing passengers that evoke the Woodstock-era sounds of The Band. In fact, it’s almost like this record of ten new originals is a cab parked right outside on the dirt driveway of Big Pink. From the bluesy sway of “Out Of Town” to the longing of “Home,” GAT has pulled a classic into the crowded garage of great albums conceived in the state of Colorado.
The opener “We Can Run” follows a twangy keyboard piloted groove that will become a live performance jam and sing along. It is followed by “Out of Town.” You better call for a ride after this PBR drenched song of drinking and the trouble it wrought. It’s a sad blues number soaked in a vibrant, near joyful beat, that will conjure shades of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The album finds its engine in the track ‘Sunshiny Days.” This slow drag up the mountains contains a startlingly bridge that I’m sure they will evolve into a long jam in concert. It’s an extra fare you wont mind paying.
From there, the record sways into what another Colorado music legend and occasional GAT contributor Todd Snider calls “Medicine Americana.” You will feel the need for a Q-tip after hearing the dirty banjo work of new member Arthur Lee Land on “All The Angels” while you feel the need to chew on some hay during the longing of “Home.” It’s as if you are along in the Econoline van with the band on tour and the anguish of the road that beats on one but doesn’t defeat. We finally arrive home to “Louie Town” only to find it’s haunting as well where “the darkness will find you.”
The sun does come out though, as things get downright poppy with ‘Everybody” and the carnivalesque title cut, “Dr. Feelgood’s”. It is here and on The Band inspired ‘Like There’s No Yesterday” that producer Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) exerts his most influence. He’s daring yet not indulgent. A few miles over the speed limit while keeping the other foot close enough to the brake. Chad Staehly’s piano work and Jim Lewin’s guitar stay restrained while looking positively to the future. And for this Centennial state band, it looks like a bright one.
I actually found myself missing this record after I turned it off. They way you might long for a friend’s company, days after you just spent hanging with him at a watering hole. This record is not a modern electronic computer generated ‘Uber.’ Nope it’s as old school as a deep seated taxicab and will be a trusty companion whether on the road or sitting along a Colorado river for a long time.