By Natalie Greene
Who is Joe Taxi? Someone in the band by the name Joe? Maybe a cabbie? Actually, the name Joe Taxi refers to three young energetic men who make up the folk rock acoustic band that has a little funky reggae feel to their music. It all started during their first performance at a hole-in-wall venue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Along with their gear, Christian Lopez, Alex Shanholtzer, and Jesse Kemmerer, piled into a taxi, ready and eager for their first show.
The trio began to really watch the surroundings as the taxi moved through the streets surrounding the venue. They noticed that it probably wasn't the best neighborhood. The taxi driver, Joe, said that the neighborhood was not so bad, but he gave them a word of warning.
Apparently, within a couple hours of being dropped off, they probably were not going find a driver to pick them up. They naturally they took his number for an assured pick up. One of the band members saved the driver's contact information as "Joe Taxi." Without a band name up until that point, they decided that was it: JOE TAXI.
They have performed at numerous open microphone events all over the East Coast. In addition, they have opened for local bands and have been the headliners at countless bars. This in itself is ironic, considering none of them can enjoy an iced cold beer after the show. All of the band's members are all under age.
The young men admit that they are simply in love with the music scene and they are working diligently to make it in the complex music business. They already have a strong following locally, but their eyes are on bigger and better things. They are hopeful that sometime soon they will be on tour expanding their music's impact beyond the quadstate area.
The band is out of Martinsburg, West Virginia, and they love to travel to performances, no matter the distance or size of the show. They consider the Piccadilly Public House and Restaurant in Winchester, Virginia to be one of their primary stomping grounds. However, they mentioned playing at numerous open mic events at The Daily Grind in Martinsburg and The Blue Moon in Shepherdstown. They have even booked upcoming shows at festivals and bars, recently adding The Warped Tour, a bragging right won on account of winning the recent Battle of the Bands at Moonstruck.
"Everything is going so well. We have ambition and confidence to succeed," says vocalist Christian Lopez. Lopez writes most of the music and you may recognize him as a competitor on American Idol, something he accomplished while still in high school. "I write the songs, and then we all put it together with music," he says. Lopez is so connected with his music that his harmonica is an almost constant companion. "You never know when you'll need it," he says with a smile.
Jesse Kemmerer is behind the drums and handles the band's website. He and bass guitarist, Alex Shanholtzer, have been jamming out together for nine years. Alex is a sophomore history major at West Virginia University. He remains committed to making the drive back and forth for gigs. "I can't think of anything else I would be doing. It's worth it," he says.
The young men are so thankful for the support of their family and friends. They have a growing fan base, even referring to their fans as "cabbies." The group perceives their success to be surreal sometimes. They are booked every weekend this summer and are constantly getting calls for more shows. "Doesn't matter where we are playing, as long as we are playing," says. Lopez.
While most of us are gearing up for summer vacations, the band is looking forward to a busy schedule of playing music. "Work, Work, Work" says Shanholtzer, "We can only get better." Their commitment to getting better is exemplified by their constant desire to practice. Even so, they find themselves creating new things at shows, whether it's at an open mic jam session or at a festival.
Each performance is seen as an opportunity to shine, and the band makes no distinction in the size or type of show. A show is a show to them. The audience will be treated with a high energy performance, no matter where they are performing. They love to see people move to their music. These are talented young men who truly love what they do.