It will be a feather-shaking night at Taos Plaza Live today (July 13). From 6-8 p.m., local band Chicken Sedan will rock and bop you with its Americana, rockabilly, surf, hot rod twang and good old country music. Dancers of all stripes will enjoy Chicken Sedan – so brush off your best two-step, swing and Lindy hop moves and make it your night. Did I mention the show is free?
Cullen Winter has been a staple of the Taos music scene for quite some time now. He plays guitar and sings for Chicken Sedan with Conrad Cooper on bass and Thomas Ziccarello on drums. The band has evolved out of Winter’s love of rockabilly music, which came from playing lead guitar for Johnny and the Blades, a favorite Taos band in the ‘90s. Winter also played with The Damn Band when it was the house band for Red River’s Motherlode Saloon and developed his passion for surf guitar with the trio Tsunami Squad. Chicken Sedan draws on all of these previous sounds.
One of the appeals of starting a rockabilly band for Winter was the opportunity to sing the music for the first time. As lead guitar player for Johnny and the Blades, he did not sing.
“I discovered it was a natural fit for my voice. I don’t usually sing Caucasian music. Most of my career, I’ve sung blues and R&B,” noted Winter.
Another appealing factor was that it filled a void in the Taos music scene.
“Nobody else plays this [rockabilly] style,” said Winter. “The other style we play that nobody else does is surf.”
Winter said that Cooper was a natural fit for the band as an upright bass player, noting that rockabilly is made for the upright bass. According to Winter, Cooper also had a secret hankering for years – he wanted to be in a rockabilly band. As a singer, Cooper adds to the three-part harmonies of the trio.
“He loves the style we do,” Winter said. “He’s just absolutely the right guy.”
Winter and Ziccarello have played together in a number of other bands and are good friends.
“He’s super solid and fun to play with,” said Winter. “Chemistry is one of those intangible parts of doing music that’s really important. Obviously, Thomas and I have chemistry. When we started playing rockabilly, he immersed himself in that and learned the style.”
Winter said, “I’m super happy I’m playing with these guys. I think that’s mutual.”
When asked what Chicken Sedan has planned for the Taos Plaza Live show, Winter quipped, “We’re just gonna set everything on fire and smash our amps. I really hope you print that.”
Winter continued, “I think that the key to those shows is also the key to what we do. It’s about having fun.”
Regarding the venue, Winter said, “I’m really grateful that Taos Plaza Live has endured. I just think it’s really cool that it’s a Taos tradition that lives on. We’re really grateful to be a part of it.”
“It’s a good life here in Taos,” Winter remarked. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t acknowledge how fortunate we are to be here. I do truly feel that way every day. I wake up and say, ‘Wow, I’m vertical and breathing and in Taos.’ It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Chicken Sedan performs around town at the Taos Inn, the Alley Cantina, Taos Mesa Brewing, Red River’s Motherlode Saloon, Bull of the Woods and others. On July 28, the band will perform at both the Taos Inn and the Alley Cantina. Chicken Sedan is also scheduled to perform Sunday (July 16) at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership.
Taos Plaza Live is produced by the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by local businesses. For more information, visit taoschamber.com/taos-plaza-live-music-schedule. Please note that the next Taos Plaza Live takes place on Thursday (July 27) with Sugar Still playing an early show at 5:30 p.m. and Last to Know taking the stage from 6:30-8 p.m.