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

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Traveling Circus Goes to Rocky Top Tennessee

The Tennessee Theatre – Knoxville, TN

After my flight experience to Myrtle Beach on Thursday, I was determined that I would get to Knoxville with time to spare. Getting up at 4:30 am with just of couple of hours of sleep to get to the airport is something I would only do for Taylor Hicks! Fortunately there was space available and I could fly standby for an additional $25. What the heck was another $25 to my already $725 plus ticket! And with a 4:30 pm appointment for a meet & greet, it was just pennies!

I made Knoxville by 11:00 and went straight to the hotel – the Knoxville Hilton. After arriving at the hotel, I learned that I had made the right decision to go early because Atlanta weather was affecting all airports and delaying flights. Whee! I would make the meet & greet on time! I had all intentions of napping before the M&G, but I spent my time on the internet catching up with all things Taylor! So much for the nap!

It was decided to go to the Tennessee Theatre around 4:00 pm. That was way too early because the sign in the will-call window said passes wouldn’t be given out until 5:00. I was with PaytheDevil so we spent time schmoozing with other M&G attendees. Finally the shade opened and it was time to get the M&G passes. Big problem! I wasn’t on the list! OK, I know I’ve met Taylor before, so I stayed calm. The lady behind the window wanted to see the email. Thank goodness PaytheDevil had her phone with her and could pull up my email account! We found the email and showed it to the lady. A few phone calls and 2 wristbands were produced! I was going in! I don’t know why I had 2 wristbands. Maybe they thought I had a child with me. Maybe some oversight. Who cares – I was meeting Taylor again!

This seemed to be a larger group than usual. We lined up by the gold door and waited to go in. As we gathered inside the entrance, Taylor was taken into the room through another outside door. He was in his bus which was parked across the street from the entrance. We could hear him coming in and being seated. He sat at a table with his back to the hall and a door blocked any access to him. Poohy – no getting back behind the table for pictures – we would have to stretch across the end of the table – not necessarily an easy task for a vertically challenged round lady!

As I walked through the door, Taylor recognized me and said “Hello dear. Nice to see you again”. I muttered something and then said “you’re gonna soon get to the point of saying ‘oh no, not her again!’”. Taylor’s response was “Right!” with an emphasis that let me know he didn’t mind repeat visitors! Alright! When’s my next meet & greet!

A group of us went to the Downtown Brewery and Grille to grab a quick bite before the concert. It was another opportunity to meet Taylor fans and socialize for a bit. We were all excited to be seeing Taylor. It was quickly time to go back to the theatre for the show. The tour merchandise was just inside the front door so I stopped to buy my first ever hoodie! Black with “Taylor Hicks” in turquoise and white. (It would keep me warm the next morning as when I flew back home!)

The Greyhounds from Austin, TX were the opening act. They are quite good, but their set is pretty much the same each night. Everyone remained seating during this part of the show and gave great applause after each song. Now after the show, I would meet them in the hotel lobby, and found them to be very nice chaps! But after all, I was really there to get my Taylor time and fix! After the Greyhounds did their thing, the stage was made ready for Taylor.

The recorded opening song, “Goldfinger”, stated. The band took the stage and after their opening number, Brian Less welcomed Taylor Hicks to the stage! The audience was now standing up and cheering. Taylor opened with “Give Me Tonight”. Tonight was the first time he had performed it on the tour. WOW! That’s all I can say! He moved quickly into “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “Hell of a Day”, and “Dream Myself Awake”. Wait! What! No Taylor playing guitar on “Hell of a Day”!

Taylor thanked the audience for coming and also for voting for him. Said he bet some of us needed to use Neosporin on our fingers after all the voting! Lots of laughs from the audience! Some had voted over 50 times per night, so they must have understood the joke! Several times throughout the evening Taylor thanked the audience for coming.

Taylor didn’t seem to have the energy at tonight’s performance as he did the night before. But he still had an abundance of energy tonight. At the meet & greet I thought he looked tired. Maybe he had just gotten up from a nap on the bus. Maybe the tiredness impacted the show. Maybe the audience wasn’t as energized as the night before. But either way, Taylor was still 110%, giving his performance all he had!

Strapping on his guitar, Taylor did “The Deal”, one of his own original songs. That was followed guitar-less by “Gonna Move”, “Wherever I Lay My Hat” and “Young Turks”. I can’t seem to get enough of Taylor’s version of these last two songs, especially “Young Turks”. And his long drawn out ’home’ in “Wherever I Lay My Hat” just sends me! (Can’t say where, you know!) At some point in the song, Taylor saluted Knoxville with “Rocky Top” tagging with “Night Shift” then back to “Wherever I Lay My Hat”. If they weren’t fans before, they were now. Taylor had just converted the Vols!

With the guitar is back on, Taylor sang “Heart and Soul”, another of his original songs. I enjoy his original music as much as I do what he has out currently. His guitar playing style amazes me! At first I thought the guitar was just a prop until he played a few notes solo! Oh man! That open hand on those strings! Rapid strumming! Up and down the frets. Change the subject (this is entering uncharted territory!)

Taylor closed the show with “Just to Feel That Way”, “The Right Place” and his whirling dervish “The Runaround”. Waving to the audience and quick hand slaps with the front row, Taylor was gone. The stage darkened, the musicians left, and the audience began to chant, “Taylor”, “Taylor”, “Taylor”. The musicians retook their places and Taylor came back to do an encore with “Badge”. Another series of waves and hand slapping and the show was over. The house lights came on and we were ushered out of the theatre.

Another satisfying night with Taylor. Another chapter for the traveling circus was finished. A few more people had been ‘Taylorized’. And I was ready for a late night snack with my new Taylor-friends!

We went back to the hotel to meet and decided we’d go back to the Downtown Brewery and Grille. The music was way too loud for conversation. The alcohol and smoke was freely flowing. I went upstairs with a couple of ladies in our group, Allyn and SSNEVETS. They are such delightful ladies! After a lot sweet tea and appetizers we went back to the hotel. We saw most of the Taylor Hicks Band and the Greyhounds in the lobby chatting with other Taylor fans. It was late and I was tired…too tired to post pictures and write my blog entry. So off to bed for me because I had an early flight home in the morning and a chance to meet my new great nephew during my Charlotte layover.

Keep watching. The traveling circus may be in a town near you soon!

Post script #1: be sure to check for pictures. They will be up later in the week.

Post script #2: As I was checking in for my flight, a man got in line behind me. He looked so familiar! After I boarded the plane for Charlotte (US Air connection) this same man got on and wanted to know if this was the flight to Vegas! He proceeded to remind us that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! He! He! He!
When I sat down in my right seat (I misread my ticket) I found I was one row back and on the opposite side of this man. I had his seat mate tap him on the shoulder, and when he turned to look at me I asked “how is you haven’t aged while I have!” He laughed and said it was the Puerto Rican in him! The thanked me and said it had been 30 years!

When we landed in Charlotte, we had to deplane just outside the terminal. As I was coming down the steps, one lady was getting her picture with him. Another guy with his photo taking cell phone was getting a picture. I asked for one with him and got it! Who was this man you ask! Why, it was my “CHiPS “ idol, Eric Estrada! That man has not aged a bit! Watch out Taylor!

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