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

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Traveling Circus Goes 'Home' to the 'Prettiest City in Alabam''

Little sleep is something I’m starting to get accustomed to these days; that and barely making it to the airport to catch my flight to the next stop. I needed to be at the Atlanta airport by 6:00 am. Instead I was just calling for a cab! I had to referee an argument between my cab driver and one with his sign off sitting outside my hotel. Getting through Atlanta airport on a good day is trying enough but when running behind……you know what I mean!

I may have been late for the plane but we made good time and arrived back in Memphis early. For the Birmingham experience, my daughter Beth and granddaughters Maleia & Braelyn were going with me. I had already told Beth I was going to sleep for the drive. And like Taylor, I keep my promises!

Our first stop in Birmingham was the hotel. We had tickets to the open house at Studio by the Tracks but I needed a shower. So we decided to start our adventure at Laser’s Edge, the Homewood, AL record store where so many copies of Taylor’s indie album “Under the Radar” were bought.

Security at Laser’s Edge was tight and well organized. When the lines were long, only 25 people, with wristbands, were allowed in. Bless you my guardian angel, for helping me get our wristbands! Since I only had two, I was going to take Braelyn, my younger granddaughter in with me.

Both granddaughters had gone to Build-A-Bear the day before to make a stuffed dog for Taylor. Dressed like Elvis, the dog was named “Soul Patrol”! After a lot of bickering, Maleia conceded to letting Braelyn give the gift to Taylor. But ‘Nanee’ (what they call me) had other plans. When Braelyn and I got in line, I found a “VIP” lady that I spoke to and explained that I had another granddaughter outside in tears and that the two girls had a gift for Taylor. As quickly as she disappeared, she returned to tell me Maleia was cleared to come in. Now I had two very happy little girls!

Now Taylor was saving his voice for the show, so he doing very little talking. But when the girls gave him “Soul Patrol”, he did chat a bit about the dog as he studied it. As he checked out his gift, Taylor admitted he’d never heard of “Build-A-Bear. It was quickly decided that Soul Patrol would be given a seat on the bus! They got their picture taken together with Taylor and Soul Patrol. Taylor signed my album, Braelyn’s note to Taylor and one Birmingham show ticket. Braelyn had written a note to Taylor, but he signed it and gave it back to her!

I was also getting a t-shirt signed for the artist of the note card group. Taylor graciously signed the shirt and acknowledged meeting the group before! He remembered us from House of Blues! In my excitement, I left the shirt! Thank goodness I remembered it before I left the store! I walked back over to the table and as I explained to security that I left the shirt, Taylor leaned over and placed it on the table for me! Bless you, Taylor! Now my friend would be happy!

Our next stop was Nor Dys Gallery for a pre-concert party and a tour of downtown Birmingham. We spent 30 minutes plus trying to find the gallery, going back to the hotel several times to get our bearings. There’s 3rd Avenue North and 3rd Avenue South – each on the opposite side of the city, across the bridge! Passed ‘the buses’ several times in the process!

Nor Dys Gallery was a time of food, beverage, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones! Even the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra guys plus Erin Mitchell put in appearances! It was a very nice gathering, and the food was excellent! I was so busy eating and chatting that the only art I saw what near the buffet or the wall beside my table. One picture really caught my eye, but I never had time to completely check it out.

After getting lost going to the gallery, we decided we needed the additional time to get to the theatre. Parking is limited so going early meant a better chance to find a space. Luckily we found a parking lot close by. We parked and walked across the street to get in line outside The Alabama Theatre. Taylor was about to play to a sold out crowd! Signs on the door said “SOLD OUT”!

Our seats were not bad but not great either. The box office has just opened up a couple of front row seats which I quickly bought. Front row for Taylor’s homecoming show! What a coup!

Once inside the theatre, we checked out our seating options, deciding to take the better floor seats. Now traveling with kids at a concert can prove trying sometimes. And we had a tired 5 year old with us! She actually fell asleep during the show! She fell asleep during Taylor! She will be taking a nap before the Sunday show for sure (and so will I)!

Security was strong and forceful! I was glad! I had to make sure my flash was off because there was a security guard right in front of me. That was fine – no one would be blocking my view! Thank you sir for your attention to keeping crowd control!

Show time! No opening act! No Greyhounds! Only Taylor! And the 5 year old needed to go potty! No! I was going to miss the opening! OK – a quick trip to the bathroom and we came down the aisle as Taylor took the stage! I missed nothing!

Taylor Hicks was home! He even said it was good to be home! The emotion and energy was high for both Taylor and the audience. Throughout the night, Taylor acknowledged the balconies and his beloved Soul Patrol. He thanked us for voting. He sang his own original music as well as songs from his self-titled album “Taylor Hicks”. Taylor was happy! And so were we! Go Soul Man! Live your dream! You have earned it!!!

Taylor did a couple of new songs, including the first song he learned to play harmonica on, “Take the Long Way Home”! What a treat for his homecoming! It was wonderful! Let me digress a bit. I was at Laser’s Edge, Taylor looked tired, maybe even a bit under the weather or allergies acting up. But on stage – you’d never have known there was anything wrong! Taylor was energized and happy! He was beaming and glowing! He was home! He was …. on fire! Hot!

Tonight’s show was phenomenal! I know, I say that about every show. But tonight was a different kind of phenomenal! It was perfect! Taylor pulled out all the stops. No holds barred!

The encore started with “The Runaround”. What! The Homewood High School Marching Band Percussions Corps came down the aisles during the opening bars drumming the entire time! What a treat! This performance was as close to the recording as possible! A drum corps! Taylor was out front in the middle singing the song! The grinning and joy on his face can not be expressed. But the emotion, the joy, pure Taylor was there! And we, those fortunate enough to be there, were witnessing it! What a wonderful experience!

How could the encore be any more special! Taylor had given such an incredible performance already! His first song for learning harmonica! A drum corps for “The Runaround”! What more could he do!
Only Loren Gold came back out to play the keyboards. A stool was placed in front of the mike stand. And Taylor came out and sat on the stool. He told us how he had heard someone else perform this song, and that he hoped he too, would have the opportunity to perform it as well. “Birmingham”! “The prettiest city in Alabam’”! Oh my! What magic! And what grateful emotion!

I think at one point even Taylor was overwhelmed. He turned away from the mike for a split second. Rumor has it there were a few tears for Taylor. There were for me, so I can only imagine what he must have felt! At points, the audience was singing along! “Birmingham, Birmingham, the prettiest city in Alabam’”

Thank you, Taylor, for wanting your voice heard and auditioning on American Idol! Bless you Bell South for uninterrupted phone service on Tuesday nights! Thank you, Simon, for your negative comments that drove Taylor to do better and concentrate on his performance. Thank you, Clive Davis, for forcing Taylor to record “Just to Feel That Way”. Thank you, Dr. Brad, for having such a wonderful son. Thank you, Ms. Joni, for your support for Taylor. Thank you to anyone and everyone else involved. Tonight was for you, your gift from Taylor. It was Taylor’s gift to the Soul Patrol.

And from me, I love your talent Taylor, and for the passion and gifts just watching you that I get. Until the next time…..

The night didn’t end there. We went to Workplay to listen to Little Memphis Blues Orchestra. There was a small crowd of fans but the place was still packed with no place to sit. LiMBO was great, playing their music and having fun. The crowd loved it! Most of us stayed to close the place down! After getting lost for the umpteenth time that day, we finally made it to the hotel and bed.

What a day!

Pictures from Saturday Night

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