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

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Traveling Circus Ropes Calves at the Rodeo

I never know where or when good fortune will find me, but find me it did in Austin, TX for the Star of Texas Rodeo.

Last summer when I went to the American Idol show in Houston by myself, I was ‘adopted’ by a wonderful couple who didn’t think a woman alone should be let loose in Houston. They graciously saw to it that I got to dinner, the concert, to the LiMBO after party, and then back to my hotel. And when we learned that Taylor would be playing at Antonne’s in Austin the next night, they allowed me to join them again! What a week-end that was!

So when Taylor’s tour was announced and tickets became available for the rodeo, my friend called and said she had a ticket for me in case I wanted to come. Wanted to come? Heck yeah, I’m there! Or here as the case is!

After arriving at the Austin airport, we drove back to their home to rest a bit, catch up, talk Taylor and get ready for the rodeo. Now I’m getting quite experienced in traveling, even alone, but I’ve never been to a rodeo. So I knew I was going to be in for a treat.

Since we were going solely to see Taylor, we decided that about an hour of the rodeo would be enough. And it was! We did see a few young ladies ride horses around barrels and the clowns engage in a bull fight. Oh, yes, and the need to bring another bull into the ring to get the first bull so they could saunter over to the cows’ barn. I think the announcer may have been full of bull himself! A herd of horses circled the ring to bring to a close the rodeo.

A round rotating stage was set up in the middle of the ring. Finishing touches were added to the stage. The arena darkened and green laser lights started. A truck entered the ring and backed up to the stage. The band climbed out of the back of the truck onto the stage. As the traditional show opening played, the truck reappeared with its new cargo and backed up the stage to unload Taylor Hicks. No introduction was necessary.

Taylor was in Texas, red ball cap, beige boots, gray shirt and jeans. Sans jacket tonight! Did I mention the boots? Yes, Taylor was wearing boots! Boots!
As I mentioned earlier, the stage rotated. Taylor commented about it going clockwise and then backwards! At one point the stage may have tilted when he got too close to the edge. The stage was smaller than some of the theatres Taylor’s played lately, so I think it must have limited his movements. While he did dance a lot, he stayed mostly in place rather than being all over the stage.

Taylor is always Taylor when he’s on a stage. His vocals were some of the best I’ve heard. Even with limited movements and dancing, he still put on his traditional Taylor style show! And thank goodness for jumbo screens so we could really see the show! About half way through his performance he removed not only his guitar, but also the cap! I thought maybe he was having a ‘bad hair day’! The cap is generally so Taylor can go out without being recognized. But a performance is no place for the ball cap! Even if you do look good in it!

The Soul Patrol was there en masse but so were potential new fans. The stage was probably 10 to 20 feet away from the audience, and with little lighting, it would be hard to see us. The audience didn’t seem to have the energy level I’ve seen in other shows either. Taylor seems to feed off the crowds’ energy and if it not there, he has nothing to feed his own level of energy. Still, Taylor gave an awesome performance. Perhaps that’s why there was no encore or maybe it was already planned that way. And it may have resulted from wearing the cap through have the show!

I love to hear Taylor whistle, and tonight we had that treat when he sang the Supertramp song, “Goodbye Stranger”. Another cover Taylor does is “Badge”.
Taylor sang for about an hour, mostly songs from his latest CD. He ‘jammed’ with the guitars and sax. Not as much showcasing the others in the band tonight. Again, I think it was limited because of the tight stage.

With an original tune, “Hold On to Your Love”, Taylor tagged “Can’t Trust Your Neighbors” and couple of “T is for Texas, T is for Tennessee”. There were lots of cheers from the audience, including this Tennessee girl!

He ended with “The Runaround”, a great song to leave the audience with a positive and upbeat feeling. As Taylor finished the song, the truck returned to the stage. Taylor was holding his arms out as if to balance himself or perhaps horsing around. In the end, two guys grabbed him as he came off the stage onto to truck bed because from where I sat, it looked as if he might have missed his step and was about to fall. (No injuries allowed, Mr. Soulman!)

The remaining band members climbed aboard with Taylor. The truck took a turn around the ring with everyone waving and Taylor holding on for ‘dear life’ to the truck roof! You could see the joy in his face – I swear it looked like he was ‘glowing’. He knew he had nailed his performance, and was ready to go have some after show fun!

Aside from the rodeo, South by Southwest, SXSW as it’s known, is also in Austin. This is a music festival for musicians as well as fans, if you can afford the tickets. The fans affording the tickets, that is. I think I found tickets for around $800 for the week’s activities which includes film as well as music and other forms of entertainment. Needless to say, I won’t be there!

I imagine that Taylor is looking forward to jamming with fellow musicians on Friday night (the rodeo performance was Thursday night). In a local radio interview he had mentioned Willie Nelson would be there. As I recall, the line-up was a virtual who’s who in the music industry, at least among the older performers. This is Taylor’s opportunity to rub elbows with his peers and those whom he respects and wants to learn from.

Me thinks this is really a night off for Taylor so that he can recharge and re-energize with other musicians rather than a night to entertain his fans. So Taylor have a lot of fun, enjoy yourself, this Soul Patroller and “rabid fan” won’t be there choosing to give you time for private musical enjoyment.

So in cowboy speak, ‘head ‘em up, move ‘em out’…….

Pictures from the concert

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