In 2012, Rob borrowed some favorite musicians from two of Austin’s top-shelf acoustic acts at the time — MilkDrive and Wood & Wire — for a one-day, one-off recording session. Eight tracks were captured in a makeshift living-room studio and released as Helium Taxi. Despite being something of a low-stakes, exploratory effort, the project was received warmly:
The eight tracks show not only Lifford’s ability as a tune writer and guitarist, but a flair for the sort of bluegrass-jazz fusion that David Grisman kicked off with his Dawg music style in the mid-1970s. His melodies are catchy, and the arrangements straightforward, making this a project likely to appeal to bluegrass fans with a taste for more modern sounds.
Though the soloing is quite strong on Helium Taxi, the tunes are the real stars, and Lifford deserves credit for putting together contemporary music that is both challenging and well-suited to the bluegrass ensemble.
This reception served to introduce Rob to the wider Austin bluegrass/Americana community in Austin and led to regular performances in various ensembles.