Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Traveling Circus Goes Cameraless at HOB

House of Blues – Myrtle Beach, SC

Flying to Myrtle Beach Thursday morning proved to be quite trying! Because of a cold front moving across the southeast, Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis were being deluged by rain. The flight from Charlotte to Memphis was delayed 2 hours which meant my fight from Memphis to Charlotte was delayed 2 hours (this was a shuttle between the airports). That resulted in missing two potential connections out of Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. I finally arrived in Myrtle Beach around 5:00 (my original arrival time had I not paid $100 to change my ticket to leave 2 hours earlier so I would get there earlier!)

PaytheDevil and Cydter picked me up at the airport. We needed to make a few detours as we drove to back to North Myrtle where we were staying in a condo at the Avista Resort on Ocean Drive Blvd. What a nice place! Those detours included scouting out several hotels looking for buses. We found the tractor trailer, but the buses eluded us. We gave up and went to dinner. After dinner we went to the condo to unload and catch up with PurpleButterflies, Cheri, RRDobbins, and Laurensilk (screen names are used to protect the innocent and the guilty alike!)

You would have thought we were a bunch of kids getting back together for summer camp or a sorority sisters’ reunion the way we were laughing and hugging and giggling! We had all met last fall in Wilkes-Barre, PA for the final Idol tour show. We’d had such a good time together that we decided Myrtle Beach would be a reunion! What a reunion it was! PaytheDevil gave everyone light sticks and Taylor Treats (a CD collection of Taylor moments). Cydter made canvas bags for everyone. PurpleButterflies updated us possible M&G passes for the next day. But Laurensilk was about to blow us all away!

I recall her saying she used to do a lot of portraits with pencil when we met last fall, but that she had let her art go over the years. You’d never have known it with her gift to us! We each received an iron-on transfer of a drawing of Taylor Hicks. Laurensilk had drawn the very essence of Taylor playing his harp. She then handed each of us a gray wrapped package of note cards (I’m framing mine!) that had 5, count them, 5 different drawings of Taylor! They were gorgeous! She had truly captured this man! But the real gift was what she had for Taylor – a framed set of each of the pictures as well as a set of the note cards.

While different ones needed to make calls home or take showers, several of us, me included, decided to make a late night Wally World run and seek the buses again. Success at Wal-Mart only. No buses! Now where could they be!

Friday morning everyone woke up leisurely with me being the last to get up. Well, if you are last to go to bed, you are probably last to get up! Makes sense to me anyway! We all got dressed and dolled up for breakfast at a local pancake house. We plotted how to spend the day and where to look for buses. We checked out the House of Blues, but only the road crew bus was there. And of course, the tractor-trailer was there. Got to get the stage set up early so they can do the sound check! Since the House of Blues has a get in early pass if you ate dinner in the restaurant or spent $15 in the gift shop, we decided to get our dinner (carryout, that is) and have something to drink.

While PaytheDevil, Cydter and I were on our bus hunt, we were making phone calls and chatting away when PurpleButterflies called Cydter to tell us to get back to the condo pronto so we could get all beautified because we needed to get back to the House of Blues by 4:30! We were going to meet Taylor! Our Wilkes-Barre M&G was very hurried and far from relaxed, so we were excited about this second chance. Purple – you rock! To plug something special, be sure to check out the Support Our Troops CD Drive at which PurpleButterflies promotes.

We made it back to House of Blues (HOB for short) in plenty of time to sit around and wait. Laurensilk was getting nervous about giving Taylor her gifts. Knowing Taylor, he would put her right at ease and she would be fine! PurpleButterflies picked up our passes and gave us each one. Roll call was taken by Taylor’s security and we were lined up to go in. I don’t know why, but M&G are always on the opposite side of the venues, upstairs or downstairs in some obscure out-of-the-way area. This was no different. We were taken to a hall, lined up, and could see Taylor sitting behind a table in the small room at the hall’s end.

Several ladies that weren’t in our group were in and out very quickly. Soon we could see Taylor! As I walked up to the table, Taylor recognized me from last week, and said “Hello dear. Nice to see you again”, only for me to mumble something back (short term memory goes first, they say!). I leaned in across the table and said “we don’t have to kiss and tell, do we!” Taylor laughed and said “no we don’t!”. He signed everything I had which was a picture from Coral Springs, one of the note cards, my ticket and CD. I leaned in for a picture and then my time was up.

By the time Laurensilk was in front of Taylor, he had realized something special was about to happen. We had all had him sign a different note card. He began to refer to us as the “note card group”. He wanted to know who we knew and RRDobbins let him know he was about to meet the artist! Taylor was definitely impressed!

Laurensilk gave him her presents and had him sign her stuff. Then she presented him with the framed set of the note cards. Taylor studied it carefully and then remarked that this was by far the best set of renderings of him that he had seen. Laurensilk was beaming and grinning from ear to ear with pride! And so were we! We had shared a special moment with her and even now, writing my blog, I can’t help but tear up remembering how truly special it was!

We left the M&G to get in line outside for the concert. Since HOB is mostly standing room only, everyone wants to get in front of the stage first. Because I was using a wheelchair (I had hurt my leg last week doing a lot of standing) I was taken upstairs via an elevator to watch the show. I decided to sit in the pews so I could see better. Cydter was allowed to stay with me because only one guest can be with someone in the handicap area. We had a fantastic view of the stage and could sit back and enjoy it without being trampled, pushed, prodded, or stepped on. Being short definitely is a disadvantage when you have to stand to watch a concert!

Again the Greyhounds opened the show. After several times seeing them, I was beginning to like their music. But they are not LiMBO or Taylor. Soon it was time for the real show! HOB has a No Camera policy and it is strictly enforced! And I do mean that – I witnessed a camera being taken away from someone near the front of the stage! Camera phones were used to smuggle a few shots, but only discreetly. Being out front on the balcony, that would prove to be true (I could run maybe, but I couldn’t hide!) Still have the phone, but only a picture or two or three! Sorry, they won’t be posted! Got to protect the innocent and dumb!

Wearing all gray, including what looked like a velvet jacket, Taylor took the stage opening with “Gonna Move”. He moved into “Heaven Knows” and “The Maze” which he tagged with “Let’s Get It On” The crowd was going wild! At some point, Taylor does that hands out and squatting thing he sometimes does. Now that drives me wild!
Taylor announced that this was his first House of Blues performance and that “In Your Time” was being re-released for the first time tonight. I had to make sure I get a copy before I left (fret not; I did, with the help of security since I was still in the wheelchair. The security there may be strict, but it is very nice, too!)

I’m amazed at how Taylor plays his guitar. His hand is stretched out as he strums the strings. It’s like he “palms” the strings. You have to see it to truly understand what I mean. It really amazes me!

“Hell of a Day” was tagged with “Tupelo Honey” with Taylor playing guitar. Off comes the guitar and Taylor sings “Dream Myself Awake”. More chatting with the audience. “It’s the coolest gig he’d ever done” was followed by thank yous for coming and voting. He admitted he’d voted too! Next came “Hold on to Your Love”, another original Taylor tune.

He strums his guitar without a pick. With his ‘trilling’ tongue sounds and machine gun guitar movements, he shouts out that Myrtle Beach has the House of Blues. He jerks back his head mimicking Ray Charles, tagging “My Life” with “Hold on to Your Love”.

Off comes the guitar and Taylor picks up a cowbell and drumstick. He belts out “Compared to What” (a new cover song for the show, possibly an Eddie Harris tune), doing chicken struts, one leg tapping, jumping up and down, and running over to turn on Ray Charles (stilling at a small piano near Brian Less.)

He talked about almost not making his first post-Idol single, “Just to Feel That Way”. He said that Clive Davis thought he did such a great job that this would be the album single! Strapping back on the guitar, Taylor sang his original “Heart and Soul” and tagged it with “Cold Baloney” and “Brown Eyes Handsome Man”. During all of this part of the show, Taylor was dueling guitars with Josh Smith, dancing with the mike stand, spinning and hopping around the stage.

Taylor again reminds us that this is a memorable gig for him, his first HOB! He is so excited! He begins doing “Night Shift” and having the audience sing along. He tells them “ya’ll sound good”. He does the sing along a couple of more time, smiling and beaming like a kid on Christmas morning! He comments on the fact that the floor is so crowded that it’s hard to get drinks to the audience.

Singing “Young Turks”, Taylor points at himself when he reaches ‘don’t let them push you around’. I think there must be some message in that song for Taylor.

Taylor announces he’s going to do a special song for the Myrtle Beach House of Blues. He sticks one hand in his jeans’ pocket, the lights turn green and “The Right Place” is greeted with cheers. Taylor pats his chest several times, his sign of thanks, love and grateful heart to his fans. He quickly moves into “The Runaround” and tags it with “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

At some point during the song, he picks up the tambourine. I marvel at how much he hits, more like beats, his chest with this instrument. I don’t know how he does it or if it bruises his chest! When the song is over, Taylor drops the tambourine like its on fire, salutes the audience and bows to the band. He is off the stage.

At some point during his performance, Taylor actually left the stage and went into a corner behind a stage wall. Those who could see thought he was trying to catch his breath. He can do that on stage anytime, and often does so, letting band members have the spotlight. I think he went back to compose himself. Taylor was so overwhelmed by the crowds’ reaction to his performance. Of all the shows I have seen to date, including Knoxville, this was by far, his best performance! By far!

His encore, “Taking It to the Streets” is a blow out – a real big ending – dropping down on one knee as he played the harmonica. Again Taylor points to the audience and salutes them, and slaps hands as he leaves the stage. Tonight was pure magic. It was magical for Taylor as well as for us. Pure magic, I tell you, pure magic!

We gathered our troops and headed back to the condo where we recapped our evening and watched Cydter’s video of Laurensilk with Taylor. We hugged and said our good-byes because several of us would be leaving before daylight. PaytheDevil was driving on to Knoxville, and I was taking an early morning flight. It was a magical week-end. We had rekindled and captured the emotion of Wilkes-Barre. We needed to just bask in the moments of the day. With well wishes, hugs and tears, we went to bed, tired but happy.

Sweet dreams my precious friends. Until we meet again! My love to you all! Peace!

Pictures of our adventure!

Some of My Favorite Pictures