Vince Herman from Great American Taxi/Leftover Salmon talks about this weekend's festivities, new albums, zombies and more
Vince Herman is going to be insanely busy this weekend, between playing with Great American Taxi alongside Drew Emmitt Band in support of troubadour Todd Snider at the Gothic tonight, and then doubling it up tomorrow night by playing as both the opening act with Taxi and the headliner with Leftover Salmon. As much as the leader of the Zombie Jamboree has on his plate, two of our esteemed scribes were lucky enough to snag a few minutes with him on separate occasions and asked him completely different questions. Click through to read both interviews.
Westword (Boyd Fletcher): Halloween in Denver has become part of the grand tradition of you guys raising hell in Denver. You guys seem to have a fondness for the Mile High City.
Vince Herman: It kind of started with the Mile High Millennium when we thought it was going to do that whole Y2K thing. After the show, they had the place surrounded and helicopters hovering and began to empty out the hotel. People were on the roof mooning the helicopters that were shining the lights down on the place. People were chanting "slow night in Denver," so, just all kinds of tomfoolery has gone out down there associated with that place. There's rumor that there's going to be a zombie parade this year.
Yeah man, a parade to be led out of the Fillmore after the show and down Colfax. There's rumor, but I wouldn't know where that came from, because you need a permit to do something like that [laughs].
What's your costume this year?
We don't have one.
Really? I always thought your Col. Sanders costume was the best.
[Laughs] No man, we have all kinds of things up our sleeves, of course.
So you're doing the Taxi thing as well as the Salmon thing this year for Halloween. We can all tell you have a great time on stage either way, but does your approach to playing differ from one to the other?
Well, you know Taxi is more of the country-rock kind of thing, I guess. And Salmon is more towards the bluegrass side of things. So, you know, there's a little bit of a stylistic difference. But you know, it is just me up there doing my shtick in both circumstances. But I think Taxi is just as diverse as Salmon -- we have a big crew of songwriters and singers. It's definitely a five-member band. Everyone contributes.
You guys have Todd Snider out with you this go-round. I know you guys have worked together countless times in the past. How are things going?
Good. We've been doing a bunch of stuff with Todd. We just made a record with Don Was producing with a bunch of Jerry Jeff Walker tunes, and we're real fired up about that. And we've got a live album coming out with Todd sometime here in the winter, likely in March. So, you know, when we worked it out to have Taxi and Salmon do this thing, we figured adding Todd would make a bunch of people happy.
I'm one of those people for sure. Todd is great. So what should people be prepared for this Halloween?
Well man, it's a disco zombie theme, and you know zombies are everywhere around the country now. They are taking over.
You guys started a trend, it seems.
[Laughs] Nah man, I don't think we started it. Though we have been playing that "Zombie Jamboree" tune a long time now. But yeah, we are looking to get some of that energy going and we'll be doing a lot of picking together. It should be fun.
Awesome, Vince, thanks again for your time. Anything else you want to add?
Oh yeah, Bob Dylan is going to be playing with us.
Click through for an additional interview by Dutch Seyfarth.
Westword (Dutch Seyfarth): Your Halloween show in Denver will be feature longtime musical friend Todd Snider. How did your band come to meet Todd and what's your favorite song of his?
Vince Herman: I met Todd in Michigan at a festival where we ended up picking for hours in a school bus. That was a couple years ago. Since then Great American Taxi has done around twenty shows as Todd's band and have recently recorded a record with Todd produced by Don Was.
The untimely passing of Mark Vann back in 2002 seemed to play a huge role in your band going on a long term hiatus a few years back. Can you talk about how Mark's passing impacted the band and how you honor his memory going forward?
Mark was the business mind of the band and losing him affected us in more than just musical ways. It was very difficult spiritually to walk around inside the tunes we once traveled with Mark. When Noam Pickelney, Mark's replacement, left to join the John Cowan band, we decided it was time to give it a rest.
We will be doing the annual Mark Vann foundation show at the Boulder Theatre this December, celebrating Mark's memory and doing good things with the funds raised.
After twenty years of being in a band together, what's it like to look back on the journey from the tiny clubs in mountain towns to playing sold out shows at venues like Red Rocks, Boulder Theatre, and the Fillmore?
It certainly has been a long journey in some ways. In other ways it feels like nothing has changed. While we do play big shows with 'Salmon, Drew and I are out there in those small clubs again with our new projects. It's all just playing music!
How much influence did the Grateful Dead have on Leftover Salmon?
The Grateful Dead's spirit of improv and mining of the folk music definitely let us know it was okay to do that as a rock band. We wear our bluegrass influence on our sleeves; I think Jerry did also.
Do any of you ever feel like your cheating or having an affair from Leftover Salmon in your various musical side projects, or is branching out a necessary thing to keep things fresh and fun?
Salmon is the affair these days, as I am practically married to Great American Taxi, having done over 150 shows with them so far this year. Keeping it mixed up is essential to my musical soul, I guess kinda like my marriages...
It's 2010 and Leftover is twenty years into it's career. Where does Leftover Salmon go from here?
I dont see any reason to ever put the Salmon to bed. It's fun and a great catalog of tunes to play. We love getting out there and getting people rowdy at live show. Beyond that, I guess time will tell.
Is being in Leftover Salmon a dream come true as a musician? If so, why?
Leftover is a dream come true for me. It's really my second band ever and its lasted for twenty years! Now that's a dream I never imagined and now that we play just a few shows a year, it's extremely fun at all times, since we are not plowing away as hard as we did back in the day.
Great American Taxi plays tonight with Drew Emmit Band and Todd Snider at the Gothic Theater in Englewood at 9 p.m., and Saturday, the band will be opening with Todd Snider for Leftover Salmon at the Fillmore, show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available for both shows.
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