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

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Traveling Circus Gambles on the Foxwoods

An early morning flight, a shuttle bus ride and a car rental later, I was in New Haven, CT, ready to go to the Foxwoods Casino to see none other than Taylor Hicks, live, in concert. You might think from that remark, this was my first time to see Taylor on his current tour. Wrong! But each show, each venue, each city brings newness to seeing one Mr. Hicks in person!

I’ve seen a number of shows, my blog posts will attest to that fact! This show was going to be a first for me. Now, I’m no prude (ok, maybe a little, but just a little!), and I’ve been to a casino before. As a matter of fact, I’ve been to several just over the Mississippi border from my Tennessee home. Yes, I’ve played a little black jack (thanks, Mom and the dealer for the lessons) and some slots. And had lots of seafood buffets! But the Foxwoods was going to be different!

First, getting there. Let’s see. Is it Exit 90, Route 27 or Exit 92, Route 2. Off Exit 90, Route 27 you will find Mystic Pizza II, an offshoot from the Julia Roberts and Kathy Baker movie. Interesting place. Too bad I didn’t take a picture; being behind the wheel has its drawbacks. After turning around, and hitting the interstate again, Exit 92, Route 2 led to the casino. Advertising says this is the largest casino in the US. I’ll buy that! It was huge!

We get parked and then hike to Fox Theatre. When I say hike, it was a quite a hike! We parked on the opposite side of the casino from the theatre, so we basically had to walk across the place. We meet up with a number of other Soul Patroller and introduce ourselves. I’ll protect the guilty and the innocent (me, of course!). I must say, though, I was happy to meet the fans I hadn’t met before. You know who you are!

Toby Lightman, a petite young lady, opened the show. I was too busy watching the concert goers at the merchandise table to go in to see her. I could hear her, and it was my loss.

Time to go sit down. I had a row J seat, but I wasn’t prepared for where the row was! I’d forgotten that the theatre has double-letter rows in front and that the single-letter rows were behind them. I was way up high! Way up – I’ve been spoiled by all those great seats I’ve been getting! I shouldn’t complain – I was there to see Taylor Hicks!

The need to explain the situation is scary. First, this is a theatre. Second, it’s inside a casino. Third, the best seats have been given to the “high rollers”. Fourth, there is a “no standing” rule, which means the audience will be seated during the show. Fifth, there were people asking “who is Taylor Hicks”, and these were the people with the better seats! BUT, ALAS, all is not lost! Being just a wee bit over five feet, it meant I was going to be able to see AND enjoy the show! And sit down!

Not that Taylor Hicks needs an introduction, but Brian Less called his name, and out he came to kick the show off with “Soul Thing”! Now the Soul Patrol, being respectful, sat and cheered! I was busy using my camera as binoculars! That 18X lens works wonders in such a place!

Now if Taylor wants to get an audience of women going, just tag “Let’s Get it On” with any song. But Taylor likes to tag it with “The Maze”. And tag it, he did! That set us up for “Run, Baby, Run”. OOOO! That’s one of my favorites. The melody is haunting, and the harmony just sends the chills up my spine. OOOO! OOOO!

Several standards from Taylor’s current CD, “Taylor Hicks” were played. I even heard a few new tags, at least new for me. “Me and Mrs. Jones” was a surprise tag with “Wherever I Lay My Hat”. Something called “Medicated Goo” showed up, and if it wasn’t for the published set list, I wouldn’t know what it was called. I wasn’t familiar with it. But I can tell you this, it’s make it’s way to my favorites list!

But what I do remember was “Hell of a Night”, a Taylor Hicks original from his independent album, “Under the Radar”. But for me the highlight of the show was “Somehow”, another of Taylor Hicks’ original songs. That was one heck of a ballad. No, it was mesmerizing! If I was a fainter, I would have fainted! It was wonderful!

Taylor ended the set with “The Runaround”, a funky little dance tune. It’s hard to stay seated during that song. But I restrained myself. OK, you got me. I sat there and moved with the music. And then Taylor left the stage. Taylor and the band came back for an encore of “Takin’ It to the Streets” with a bit of “Saint’s Go Marching In” harp-teaser.

What a show Taylor put on tonight! Forget about all the high-rollers. They just wanted to get back to the tables and slot machines. Many of the older gamblers (as in age) left early – the cards must have been calling. But the Soul Patrol stayed to the end to enjoy every last drop of Taylor.

The sad part of the evening was that Taylor’s music fell on deaf ears. The deaf ears of the high rollers. Many were there because they had tickets to a free show. Others came out of curiosity. Others came for whatever reason. It showed in their participation in the music. Applause was the most I saw many attempt to do. Before the end of the main set, there were a lot of empty seats in the front section. Such a waste! And many of the Soul Patrol would have given our first born for those seats! Again, it was their loss!

After the show, I watched the merchandise table and the people close by. It thinned out fairly quickly. With some ‘see ya laters’ we decided to try our luck at the slot machines. These machines aren’t called “one armed-bandits” for nothing! We found some nickel slots and I gave up a five dollar bill. All was not lost. I got some change! A couple of dimes to rub together!

Before leaving Foxwoods, we checked out the casinos to see what all was there. We found the tables and walked around like we were looking for our lost father. Entry was supposed to be for players only, so we had a plan ready just in case. We continued to look around a bit more before deciding we needed to get the car and head home. I was forgetting I was in unfamiliar territory and had a ninety minute drive back to reality.

After putting our ticket in the electronic valet, we waited for our car to be delivered. We piled in and made the drive back. As we drove, we relived the night. An evening with Taylor is always memorable, and tonight was no exception!

And now a word for a very special project. Foxwoods was a trial run for the Proud of Our Troops CD Drive. Fliers were passed out and the drive was explained. Buy a CD from the merchandise table and drop one in for the troops. It’s a great way to say thank you to the men and women who defend our freedoms on a daily basis. A CD is a small price to pay for that service. Do yourself, the troops and Taylor a service and favor – buy a CD and donate it to the troops. I thank you, and I’m sure the troops will thank you as well! Support our troop with a Taylor Hicks CD!


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