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

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Traveling Circus Climbs Penn's Peak

After Taylor’s show at the Beacon, we were ready to leave New York City and head to Jim Thorpe, PA for the Saturday night concert. Thank goodness we had a hardy breakfast first. Lunch was going to have to wait. We checked out of the hotel, boarded the SuperShuttle for Newark airport, and off we went. Our planned party of three was now a party of five. We arrived at Newark, went to the car rental office and picked up our car for the drive to Pennsylvania.

By now, I should have learned how to follow simple Yahoo! maps directions. One wrong turn or missed exit, and who knows where we’d end up! Fortunately, our navigator was familiar with the area, so we opted for the more scenic route. Probably more because we missed our exit – all the chatter and cackling going on, I’m sure!

The route we took really was a beautiful drive. Our intentions had been to take the parkway but I guess we missed our exit. We saw lots of rolling hills, farms, horses, cows, barns, houses, and rapid flowing streams. At times the view was breath-taking. Especially when we got between Lehighton and Jim Thorpe – that deep gorge off the side of the road and the raging stream between the mountains!

Our detour added another hour or so to our drive. But it gave us time to chat, relax and have a good time. Well, we did have to stop at a Pennsylvania Highway Patrol station to get directions to Lehighton. And take a potty break! Five women in one car – you can imagine how long that took! Actually we were back on the road after about 15 minutes!

We made our way to the hotel in Lehighton after talking to the hotel manager to find out how to get there. Another wrong turn – I should have crossed the bridge! But we would have missed some gorgeous views if I’d gone right the first time! Finally, we were at our destination, got checked in, decided who would have which room and unloaded the car. We had dinner reservations at Roadies so we needed to freshen up and get on the road.

Now I’d been up some mountains, but I wasn’t prepared to get out and push the car up the mountain! I could only get the car to go 20 miles per hour up the steep mountain. Talk about a climb! Soon we reached the top – Penn’s Peak! Perched atop the mountain was our venue! You could see for miles around! The view – ah the view! So beautiful! You could even see a lake far off in the distance! Had the trees been in full bloom, or the fall colors showing, it would have been absolutely breath-taking, even more beautiful!

The parking lot was below the restaurant and concert hall. We had to climb a long flight of stairs, and then more stairs to get to the restaurant. So we really did have to climb Penn’s Peak!

While we waited for our dinner (I decided to try the ribs!), we could hear a band playing below. It was only 7:00 so we figured it was Taylor Hicks doing a sound check. Wrong! It was the Greyhounds – the opening band came on at 7:00; the main act comes on at the time stated on the ticket! In this case, Taylor would take the stage at 8:00!

At 7:40 our dinner was placed in front of us! Have you ever tried to eat a rack of ribs in under 15 minutes (we needed to potty before the show!)? I hadn’t before now, but somehow I managed to pick those bones pretty clean! All of them! And had some of my sweet potato fries and slaw! We asked for our checks before we even started eating. We didn’t want to miss a second of Taylor Hicks, live in concert!

We made it to our seats with a couple of minutes to spare! The room darkened and the band came out. Brian Less introduced ‘Tay--lor Hicks!’ The crowd was cheering and clapping! Taylor came out waving and doing his greeting and then broke into “Gonna Move”. “Give Me Tonight” and “Wherever I Lay My Hat” were nice follow-ups from Taylor’s self-titled CD, “Taylor Hicks”.

If I had been sleeping, I’d have to “Dream Myself Awake”. This is one of my favorite songs from the CD. Taylor performing live is a plus! By the end of the night, we heard most of his CD live. Still no “Places I’ve Been”. I can’t wait to hear that one live! I’m holding out for the last show of the tour, perhaps in Seattle next month.

More original music of Taylor’s with “The Deal” and “Hell of a Day”. “My Friend”, also an original, is particularly meaningful to me. Taylor has a way of making it sound like he’s singing this just for you! I know better, but who cares!

Lots of tagging and a couple of covers round out the show. Rod Stewart’s, “Young Turks” is one of my favorites that Taylor has performed on the tour. It was nice to hear it again. Some “Medicated Goo” to get us up and moving. OK, so I sat! But I was moving in my head and heart! Seat too!

The show ended with “The Runaround”. Typical ending with Taylor waving and bowing and saluting the band. Then a dark stage. Taylor comes back out to do “Badge” before the show is over.

For me, one of the cutest moments of the entire concert was while Taylor was singing “The Right Place”. Tonight it definitely was! According to inside information, whenever one of the band members catches Taylor in a mistake, the first to announce it gets 25 points. Collect 300 points, and you earn an airplane ticket to your choice of destinations within the continental US. Well, tonight, Taylor got the points himself!

As he sang, we heard “I came from the right place” rather than “you’ve come to the right place”! Taylor turned around quickly and looked at Melanie (the back up singer) and Brian (the sax player) as if to say “I caught myself! I get the points!” It was so cute! And with such lightning speed! I think everyone laughed!

When the show was over, we went by the merchandise table to see what was there. Like I didn’t already have at least one of everything! We talked with the merchandise manager for a bit, wished him well, and decided to go out by the buses. There were several pockets of fans outside waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Finally Taylor came out, signed a few autographs and moved on to another spot. I made it around the trailer in time to see him go back inside. I had to wait for the tractor to back up under the trailer and hook it. Rats! Foiled by the loading of the equipment!

It was getting late and we needed to get up early the next morning to get back to Newark. Those of us flying were catching our return flights from there. Back down the mountain to the hotel. We spent some time looking at pictures and commenting on the concert. The ladies in my room talked until nearly 4:00 am! We had a lot of catching up to do!

The next morning we made our drive back to the airport and turned in the car. We followed the directions from Yahoo! maps to the letter and made it back in just a little less than two hours. Whee! No extra fees for the car! We said our good-byes and parted ways, waiting for the next time we could get together! Soon, baby, soon!

Jim Thorpe Pictures

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Some of My Favorite Pictures