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Media Life: Auburn’s Party in the Park attracts two powerhouse acts

Mumbo Gumbo, Great American Taxi to share bill at June music fest; Hallmark’s “Christmas Card” stars Nevada City locales
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The headliner for Party in the Park is Colorado-based jam band Great American Taxi. And Mumbo Gumbo. It really is a happy dilemma for the annual North Auburn music fest’s biggest booster Scott Holbrook to face – with the Davis-based Mumbo Gumbo a popular local draw and Great American Taxi – one of the most renowned Americana acts in the land – also coming to town for the free show. The event – slated for Friday evening June 17 at the natural concert bowl in North Auburn’s Regional Park – has drawn as many as 4,000 people and Holbrook is giving the 10th anniversary event some extra amperage with two powerhouse acts. Mumbo Gumbo was there at the first Party in the Park and has since appeared several times. The event has moved toward an eclectic mix of bill-toppers in recent years with appearances by country outlaw Billy Joe Shaver, rootsy rockers The Waybacks and the Tosh Meets Marley Tour reggae all-stars. But Mumbo Gumbo, the cajuncentric local favorites for many Party in the Parks, is inked to play one more time and looks to be the – dare-we-say-it – the opening act. Great American Taxi is slated to hit the stage around 8 p.m., typically just as the sun is setting, and will be bringing a mélange of musical styles to Party in the Park. That would see Mumbo Gumbo should start the music off around 6 p.m. Formed five years ago, Great American Taxi has established itself as a headliner on the jam band circuit – a fertile incubator for anything-goes improvisation pioneered by the Grateful Dead and epitomized in more recent years by Phish. Salmon spawn on guitar Perhaps the best-known ingredient in the Great American Taxi musical stew is singer, guitarist and mandolin player Vince Herman. The Pittsburgh, Pa. native was an integral part of Leftover Salmon, a jam band that has achieved near-legendary status for its music from 1989 into 2002 and has since reformed for special events over the last few years. Great American Taxi – named for Herman’s lumbering skiing style – brings together swampy blues, progressive bluegrass, funky New Orleans strut, Southern boogie, honky-tonk country, gospel, reggae, and some straight-ahead rock and roll. Its style has been compared to roots rockers like recent Auburn visitors the New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Byrds and Wilco. And on some nights, Great American Taxi is even willing to take a chance and invite the audience up on stage for impromptu jams and sing-alongs. With Mumbo Gumbo and Great American Taxi onboard, it’s going to be one exciting Party in the Park, as any 10th anniversary celebration should be. A Christmas classic Tune in this holiday season to a locally filmed Christmas flick that’s becoming a holiday tradition for the Hallmark Channel. “The Christmas Card” starring Ed Asner was filmed in Nevada City in 2006 and the production was even blessed with some real Sierra “cement” to work its yuletide theme around. The movie about a soldier who comes to Nevada City after being touched by an anonymous Christmas card became Hallmark Channel’s highest-rated original film ever when it debuted in December 2006. And now it has become a perennial fixture on the channel. This year, viewers can click in at 8 p.m. Christmas Day, 10 a.m. Dec. 26 or at 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. As well as Broad Street, some of the identifiable Nevada City landmarks include the National Hotel, Nevada City United Methodist Church and the Nevada City Classic Café. Among the area residents who found themselves part of “The Christmas Card” was Auburn actor Bob Lochmiller. He’s the burly guy helping Asner out after he gets struck by a passing car.