Great American Taxi and The Bill Kreutzmann Trio
February 21, 2009
The pairing of Colorado’s Great American Taxi and The Bill Kreutzmann Trio brought a full house to Boulder’s Fox Theater for a night of festive old school picking and jamming.
Taxi kicked off the evening with its upbeat blend of Americana. Opening with a foot-stomping “Red Mountain Wine,” the band followed with a nice version of “Ride,” one of the group’s anthems that includes the fitting lyrics “I don’t know what generation I belong to/I don’t know how I got on this ride tonight/I need a wheel, I need something to hold on to/ just climb aboard and take your little ride.” And plenty of fans were along for the ride, which is never complete without Vince Herman bringing out his teenage son, Silas, to join in the fun. Silas threw down some nice acoustic picking and got a hooting reception.
Other standout moments from the Taxi set included a fun version of the countrified “Tough Job,” with lead guitarist Jim Lewin steering the vocals and the crowd joining in for the choruses “It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it!” Taxi also reeled off a nice bluegrass-inspired “Eliza Jane,” and a good long version of the Vince-led jam springboard “Whiskey.” The set also featured a hot pass through keyboardist and founding member Chad Staehly’s sing-along ballad “American Beauty,” which is featured on the band’s upcoming sophomore disc, Reckless Habits.
After a short break, Bill Kreutzmann, Oteil Burbridge and Scott Murawski took the stage to a warm Boulder welcome. Beginning with an extended jam that served as a good display of the group’s fire power, the trio segued into “Louisiana Sun,” which linked into another intense jam and flowered into the Neville Brothers’ “Yellow Moon.”
Murawski did a passing job on the vocals as the crowd boogied along. The music was loose but steady with Kreutzmann rolling with his signature intuitive drumming style and his jazz roots being very evident. BK is clearly still in fine playing form and this group allows him to explore each groove fully – he smiled broadly on many occasions and it was clear he was truly enjoying himself.
While BK3’s sound leans strongly towards exploration, and might appeal more to fans of fusion than those who prefer to rock along to a good hook, the band also proved itself capable of finding the pocket on Grateful Dead classics including “Mr. Charlie,” “Bertha,” “China Cat Sunflower,” and “The Other One.” At times, the overall sound might have benefitted from another rhythmic component, although the three-piece formation allowed for a fluidity that let everyone in the group stretch out fully.
Burbridge displayed smoking bass improvisations during the course of the evening that might otherwise have been buried in a larger band format. Murawski’s playing was, at times, reminiscent of Trey Anastasio and/or Jimmy Herring in terms of tone and phrasing. One of the evening’s most fun songs was a cover of the old bluegrass/folk standard “Freeborn Man,” which emerged as part of the “Help on the Way”>”Slip Knot” medley. Murawski sang and picked the old standard about rambling in a style that exhibited his rock guitar showmanship and won him some new fans. The show encore was the song "Murderland."