Taxi Chain - Reviews


"Blues-rock with saxophones aren't especially rare. A blues-rock band that includes both sax and Highlands bagpipes is a different story altogether. Taxi Chain is a Toronto-based quintet founded by onetime Rare Air piper Grier Coppins that has fun defying musical conventions, making the pipes sound right at home amid Memphis-style horns and R&B- influenced vocals, while throwing in just enough worldbeat grooves and country choruses to insure the listeners will never know what's coming next. The group races from tracks like the self-explanatory "James Brown Ate My Bagpipe" to the abstract, sax-led quasi-jig "Zimbobby," stopping in India ("Tandoori Mustache") and Ireland (the title medley), with lots of pulsing rhythms and creative riffs along the way. This is a taxi that's worth flagging down."

-Tom Nelligan
Dirty Linen
August-September, 2004 


"A funkin' sawdust-rockin' bagpipe blues mixed with a country twist. This unique band was founded in 1993 by Grier Coppins. A total of five players make up Taxi Chain, with a whole lot more instruments. Coppins, besides possessing scruffy vocals, plays both guitar and bagpipes. Other instruments include guitars, saxophones, flutes, and, of course, bass and drums. Put them all together and you have a distinct musical groove. Taxi Chain's music has been described as "funkin'" sawdust rockin' bagpipe--bagpipe blues with a little country twist. This suave group of lovers wouldn't dream of being pushy, their kind of romance is a soft sell, all humble promises and beseeching tone, and it teases their loyal followers to an adoring frenzy."

-The John Shelton Ivany Top 21 #176
April 27, 2004 - May 3, 2004 


"Taxi Chain is the brainchild of lead singer, guitarist and bagpiper Grier Coppins. Founded more than ten years ago, the unique rhythm and blues band mixes bagpipe with saxophone to create an innovative worldly sound. Smarten Up is a musical smorgasbord that offers nine tongue-in-cheek tales, featuring smart lyrics and smashingly good songs that make you want to start jumping up and down. The cleverly titled "James Brown Ate My Bagpipe" is a Scottish reel with a funky twist -- the musical equivalent of haggis in Harlem. "Memphis" is a soulful number that opens the disc, paying tribute to this musical Mecca. From jigs and reels to funk-filled blues numbers, Taxi Chain keep the listener guessing as to what to expect. While each song takes you on a suprising new music turn, one can't help but have fun getting lost in the riotous ride that is Taxi Chain."

-David McPherson
April, 2004 


"Smarten Up! is a record tailor made for those
with a sense of adventure, and gets better and better with repeated listens for those will take the musical leap of faith. This reviewer is already reserving a spot for
Smarten Up! on his "best of 2004" list."

-Lou Friedman
March, 2004 

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"Canada's Northern Blues label has been unearthing lots of interesting bands lately, and their latest offering, Taxi Chain, mixes a roadhouse blues feel with some instrumentals that are unabashedly Irish.

Opening with the blues organ and horn-punctuated ode to "
Memphis," the disc then moves into two St. Patty's Day-read instrumentals. The first is a guitar pickin', traditional Irish whistle-driven reel in "Smarten Up!" followed by a funky fusion of Celtic bagpipes and blues in "James Brown Ate My Bagpipe."

Then it's back to sax-punctuated bar band fare with a classic 50's-sounding slow rock 'n' roll tune in "
Cut Me A Key," about a troubled relationship ("I broke free so many times I'm gonna cut me a key").

Smarten Up! offers a well-polished bar band who craft a nice mix of blues, old style R&B and that odd but effective extra flavor of Irish folk."

-John Everson
The Star Newspapers, Illinois
March 18, 2004


"Who said the bagpipes have no soul? Taxi Chain, an innovative Canadian quintet, has found a way to mix blues, funk, rock, R&B and country with the honking sound of founder Grier Coppins' bagpipes.

Sure, this sounds gimmicky, but what pulls it all together is the songwriting talent of Coppins. He can serve up a greasy R&B-laced tribute to "
Memphis" one minute, funk it up with "James Brown Ate My Bagpipe" the next and then spice things up with the Eastern-sounding "Tandoori Mustache."

It would be doing this material a disservice to leave the impression that the sum of all these parts is a "
Sgt. Pepper's"-like artsy-fartsy sound. It's primal, roiling dance music, as urgent as anything coming out of North Mississippi hill country."

- Jeff Johnson
Chicago Sun Times
March 7, 2004 


"Impressive, really, that Smarten Up! consists of some of the greatest roots-rock/Americana songs to surface since Mark Olson left the Jayhawks side-by-side with the most progressive culture-clashing menagerie of instrumentation conceivably possible by a 5-piece band."

- Danté Dominick
March, 2004 

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"Pairing a bagpipe and Highland fling with downtown, urban funk creates a sound like no other... Give this album two thumbs up and four stars."

- Jim Santella
All About Jazz
March, 2004 

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"Talk about not fitting the format and getting away with it... The deconstruction of the music business can only benefit crews like this that have bagpipes at the center of their funk n roll. As long as they can get the word out, they will live long and prosper. A thoroughly wild ride that starts sizzling from the opening chords and keeps on delivering a wild, great time that mixes roadhouse with blue lights and a touch of roots. Check it out if you're ready for the good time to roll."

-Chris Spector
Midwest Record Recap
March, 2004 


"The heartbeat of Taxi Chain is just good old-fashioned enthusiasm and originality. Is it a blues band? Definitely not! Will blues fans like the group? You betcha!"

-Richard Bourcier
March, 2004 

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"Poignant country-tinged bagpipe blues brewed in Canada with saxophone and a snare drum."

-John M. James
Anchorage Press
February 26 - March 3 2004 


"Founded by former Rare Air piper, this Toronto quintet puts its North-of-the-border spin on soulful rock, interspersed with tunes that embrace Celtic, bluegrass and even a groove or two. "Memphis" starts off with a smooth, horn-driven Morrisonesque (Van, not Jim) tribute that namechecks everyone from MLK, Elvis, Otis and Jerry Lee to Jeff Buckley. After "Smarten Up!" a Celtic reel that features tin whistle and fiddle, the odd hybrids start to emerge. "James Brown Ate My Bagpipe" gets down, so to speak, with a bit of Canadian funk (Ďnuff said) that starts with horns, moves to pipes and then to electric guitar. There's not much real "funk" about it but it's is a nice and interesting mix of styles and instruments. One of the best moments is a novelty, country-rock-horn track titled "Cut Me a Key" that's strangely reminiscent of Mungo Jerry's classic "In The Summertime." The instrumental "Tandoori Mustache" adds a Middle Eastern flavor. With just nine tracks, the disc clocks in at just under 40 minutes (not a bad thing), with the last cut being a short, instrumental reprise of "Memphis."

-Charleston Daily Mail
February 19, 2004 


"Iíve got to say this CD showcases one of the most interesting ensembles and musical sounds Iíve heard in many, many moons. The bandís name is the perfect label for what they do, denoting a motorized vehicle that links events, objects or actions, while delivering itís passengers from one destination to another. Taxi Chain is truly an original, blending bagpipes, tenor guitar, tin whistle, sax, flutes, blues harp, guitar, mandolin, earthy vocals, bass and drums. The blend is soulful, sexy, bluesy, bawdy, funky and folky all at one time. Once you hear it, Taxi Chain will just keep on rolliní through your mind."

-Ellis Kell
True Blue
March, 2004 


"Zimbobby is a pipe-tune. "Wait, Spike, come back!" It features some precise interplay between pipes and guitar, with a creative bassline, sax harmonies and a driving beat, then it all dissipates into a jazzy coffee bar, and Mickey Spillane walks in with a blonde bombshell at his side. The rain is steady. Wait. The mood reverts. Fascinating stuff. Just a minute, are my feet moving? Am I... dancing? Then the album concludes with Memphis reprise. Life is cyclical, and so too is Taxi Chain. It's been one hell of a ride."

-David Kidney
The Green Man Review
March, 2004 

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"Always a treat"

-The Toronto Star

"I was completely transported by the high energy fusion band as it brought down the house at the festivalís climax. Grier, face painted blue, and Patrick OíGorman in a wizards robe, turned the stone amphitheatre on the shores of Lake Huron into a druid funk-rock ritual in the pouring rain.

Think Highlander meets The Commitments."

-Hugh Bloomfield,

"A funky, soulful, sensuous celebration"

-Ottawa Citizen

"Real songwriting, Real style"

-CBC National Radio

"The forlorn looking Coppins has the scruffy vocals of a man with a terminal case of the blues that has just tanked himself with a couple of six packs."

-NOW Magazine

"This music is beyond age, beyond fashion"

-ID Magazine