Interview with Vince Herman from Great American Taxi and Leftover Salmon

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vince herman
Vince Herman

Interview by Scott Preston

To recall, it was here in Colorado, in the early 90s, that Vince Herman combined the talents of banjoist Mark Vann, mandolinist/guitarist Drew Emmit, bassist Tye North and drummer Michael Wooten to form the polyethnic slamgrass band now known as Leftover Salmon. These road-dogs scoured the country juggling over 150 shows a year, for years, and satisfying the peoples need for the perfect festivarian act. They ultimately changed the history of bluegrass culture and its loyal fans forever.

Vince Herman has participated in nearly every major festival this nation has offered over the past 15 years. He has performed at High Sierra Music Festival eight times, Telluride Bluegrass Festival eight times, All Good festival three times as well as a long list of others such as Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Austin City Limits Festival, Jazz Aspen, Beale Street Music Festival and the H.O.R.D.E tour. Throughout his elaborate and impressive tour history, special guests such as Tim O’Brian, Jim Page, Paul Barrare, Sam Bush, Rob Wasserman and Bill Payne top the list of Vince’s’ favorite on-stage friends. (from vinceherman.com)

Vince is currently touring with his band Great American Taxi as well as the occasional Leftover Salmon show.

Cincy Groove: So when are you coming back to hookahville?

Vince Herman: Hopefully soon. We tried to make it work this spring but Great American Taxi will be at Delfest in Cumberland, MD. But I always have a good time there.

Cincy Groove: How many shows did you play with Great American Taxi last year?

Vince Herman: We did about 150 shows.

Cincy Groove: Who are some of your influences?

Vince Herman: I guess some of my earliest influences would be Motown. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, all that STAX records stuff. Theres Junior Walker, Cat Stevens. Then about the 8th grade I got the bluegrass bug. When I saw people who apparently had just met each other standing around in a circle picking tunes, I said “I want to do that”.

Cincy Groove: Are you working on any new projects?

Vince Herman: Great American Taxi has some new material for a cd. Its a matter of figuring out when we will get started. Records are a whole different thing now. People used to buy them. I’m not sure what you do with them now. Somebody said to me the other day the only people that have any use for music today are people that need music for advertisements (laughing). Really its a question whether you can make enough from the record to pay for the recording budget.

Cincy Groove: How did the name Great Amercian Taxi come about?

Vince Herman: It was actually a reference to my skiing style. Somebody said to me “You have that Great American Taxi approach to your skiing.” Large object rolling down the hill, semi out of control (laughing). The band started out as a seven piece group for a one night gig. We then played a few more gigs and the membership of the band seemed to be a little flexible. You never know who is going ot be in the cab at any one time.

Cincy Groove: Do you remember the name of the first band you were ever in?

Vince Herman: Eddie & The Nightriders. It was a country band and I got hired to be the guitar player. We played at Archie’s Gone Country on Route 51 in Pittsburgh.

Cincy Groove: What brought on you moving from Pittsburgh to Colorado?

Vince Herman: Well I went to school in West Virginia where my bluegrass affliction went even deeper. I was looking for a music scene that was a little more progressive and not so traditional. Colorado kind of represented that to me because of the band Hot Rise.

Cincy Groove: When did you end up meeting Drew Emmitt?

Vince Herman: The first place we walked into when we got to town was a Left Hand String Band show. It wasn’t long after that things got going. (Left Hand String Band was Drew Emmitt’s band before Leftover Salmon).

Cincy Groove: I noticed you ran for public office in Nederland, CO. What was the experience like running for office?

Vince Herman: It was a great experience and I really learned a lot. What brought me to it was, I had just moved into town, Nederland itself, I had always been on the outskirts of town. I really just wanted to dig in and find out what the town politics were. The more I got into it I realized how screwed up it was. I was in a couple forums and got my voice out on some issues. The caucus’ here were out of hand, just packed with people. I was glad to see a lot of people participating. I think I have a voice in town now, if the new board should do anything to really piss me off, I think I can get some people together to oppose it. I had a unique campaign, I had exactly zero expenditures.

Cincy Groove: What brought Leftover Salmon out of semi – retirement?

Vince Herman: It was last year at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The promoter realized we were all going to be there with our side projects and he said why don’t you all do a set together? When the word got out we were going to do that we started getting offers to play.

Upcoming Great American Taxi tour dates:
for more shows and complete show details visit greatamericantaxi.net
5/22 Summer Camp – Chilicothe, IL
5/24 1st Annual Delfest Fairgrounds – Cumberland, MD
5/26 River Street Jazz Cafe – Plains, PA
5/27 Club Cafe – Pittsburgh, PA
5/28 Mexicali Blues – Teaneck, NJ
5/29 The Stone Church – Newmarket, NH
5/30 The Fountain House – Newton, NJ
5/31 Iron Horse – Northampton, MA
6/2 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
6/3 The Blue Gator – Athens, OH
6/4 The Mousetrap – Indianapolis, IN
6/5 Sully’s Pub and Cafe – Peoria, IL
6/7 Wakarusa Music Festival – Lawrence, KS
6/12 Sounds of the Southlands – Aurora, CO
6/13 Gold Hill Inn – Gold Hill, CO
6/25 Mountain Village Heritage Plaza – Telluride, CO
6/27 Rock Inn Mountain Tavern – Estes Park, CO
7/3 Half Moon Saloon – Big Sky, MT
7/4 Knotty Pine – Victor, ID
7/17 Grass Valley City Hall – Grass Valley, CA
7/19 Northwest String Summit North Plains, OR
8/1 16th Annual Dunegrass Festival – Empire, MI
8/2 16th Annual Dunegrass Festival – Empire, MI
8/3 16th Annual Dunegrass Festival – Empire, MI
8/7 Snowmass Concert Series – Snowmasss Village, CO
8/23 River City Roots Festival – Missoula, MT
8/24 10th Annual NEDFEST – Nederland, CO
8/29 Rhythm and Roots Festival – Charleston, RI