As my plane was landing at the Elmira/Corning airport, I was watching out the window and noticed all the tree-covered mountains. I was amazed at all the greenery and the mountains. I wasn’t expecting the mountains. I could also see towns in the valleys between several ranges of mountains. After all, I was going to Big Flats, NY, so I was expecting level terrain.
After getting off the plane, I retrieved my luggage and picked up my rental car. I was going to head over to Tag’s early to check out the area. What a treat was in store for me by doing so!
I found a parking space in front of the bar/restaurant and started to gather up my stuff for the show. As I was doing so, I noticed the buses were parked on the back side of the stage. And who was out walking about outside the buses! None other than the leader of the Soul Patrol, the star of the night, Mr. Taylor Hicks! Even from the distance, I could tell that he was well-rested from the spring tour and ready to get back on the stage for his opening show of the summer tour!
Since I was already at Tag’s, I decided to make my way around to where a small crowd was gathering. Most of the ladies there had won a meet & greet from Taylor Hicks Headquarters, or THHQ, as the members call it. There were a number of familiar faces that like me, wanted to see the opening show. We stood around and told stories about our spring travels, a few Taylor antidotes, and what we thought about….Taylor in general! Like what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, same way with Big Flats!
Now if there had been a big tent for us to sit under, instead of the traveling circus being revived, it would have been a big tent revival! Taylor was going to take us to church, help us get our groove on, and leave us wanting a lot more. Suffice it to say, the traveling circus has been revived! I’m as happy as Taylor about being back on the road myself!
Dan Mills, a local musician, was the opening act. He started out with “Walking in Memphis”. I felt very special since that’s about my home town! He did a few more numbers, but nothing I was familiar with. I suspect he wrote a number of the songs he did. Some told stories and were cute, like “My Girl’s a Centerfold” or something like that.
The stage was the typical outdoor type of stage with all the lights and mesh and aluminum poles that is very modern and sleek. Terrific acoustics! Tonight was going to rock! We had heard parts of the sound checks and knew the place was going to be good. Too bad no recording devices were allowed! For those that bought seated tickets, the chairs were white plastic patio chairs from several summers ago! Beat having to stand or sit on the ground! And they were available to rent for the general admission ticket holders who forgot to bring their own seats!
There was something unique about Tags. You had to purchase tickets on the way in to buy food and drinks. This way they could move the lines faster without the food handlers having to handle the money as well! Rather efficient in a way. But also a nuisance because you had to get into separate lines at the different outdoor buildings. Still, it was a great experience. Glad Taylor was booked there! Oh, and it’s very rustic looking!
Finally 9:15 arrived and the band took the stage! The same intro as the spring tour – there was nothing new there. It let us know that while the sets may change each night, the intro remains the same! A bit of Taylor being true to his music, maybe. With night fall, the temperature had started to drop, but not enough for Taylor Hicks to don his usual gray shirt and jacket. Instead he wore a black “STAX” tee shirt with jeans and his signature black new balance shoes. He came out ready to perform!
The set started with “Gonna Move”. Yep, we’re gonna move tonight! The crowd of men, women and children were about to have a musical experience. Much of the crowd was up dancing – some even spilled into the walkways and aisles. Security was on the ball – get in the aisles, get sent back to your seat! Ladies, especially, were waving arms, shaking hips, and dancing in front of the seats. I had to stand to take pictures! Ah! Yes, we’re gonna move, alright!
Taylor’s opening tour concert proved to be a delightful mix of his debut self-titled album, “Taylor Hicks”, his pre-Idol independent CDs (“In Your Time” and “Under the Radar”), and several covers, you know, previously recorded songs from well-known artists. And then the infamous tags! Lots of tags!
“Heart and Soul” was next, and then a Taylor-classic, “Hell of a Day”. One of my favorite tags, “Another Brick in the Wall” was incorporated in the song. And for those in need of medical care, “Medicated Goo” would cure anything ailment! Guaranteed! Not a song to get sit and listen to no matter how hard I might try!
Taylor went back to post-Idol CD with “Just to Feel That Way”, his first single from the album. Without missing a beat, Taylor gave us more of his original music, “My Friend”, “The Deal”, and “Hold On to Your Love”. Some great tags, “Jump in the Line”, “Mardi Gras Mambo” and “Banana Boat Song”. Taylor asked the audience if they ‘did the salsa up here’ and proceeded to do his version of the salsa. Those dance moves always drive the ladies wild!
A new song, at least to me, “Blues Break”. I don’t recall hearing it during the spring tour. But Taylor did do a song from the spring tour that I really enjoyed listening to – “Run Baby Run”!
Another Taylor Hicks original, “Soul Thing” was sung, and included tagging “Eastbound and Down”. No way to be down at a Taylor show. Too much energy! Taylor just doesn’t stop moving, jumping, swaying, or anything else!
The show ended with “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “The Right Place” and the ever-funky “The Runaround”. The temperature has cooled enough to allow for lots of dancing for the audience, and most people, especially the ladies, were doing just that! In some cases, the wild dancing was show in itself! (Wonder how they were feeling Saturday morning!)
Just down the road about 100 yards were an amusement park with rides and whatever. During “The Maze”, there was a fireworks display, and Taylor started shouting ‘finale, finale, finale’. It seemed rather appropriate when Taylor stopped singing and told us ‘he had bought those just for us! And even got a discount!’ As the final fireworks were being set off, Taylor actually stopped singing for a moment, stepped toward the edge of the stage and watched the final shower of rockets! I had to chuckle to myself when he did this – he reminded me of a little boy watching the display! (OK, sue me – I’m a grandmother after all, and Taylor is younger than my grown daughter!)
And without seeming to miss a beat, Taylor finished “The Maze” and moved right on into “The Right Place”. From time to time Taylor would shout out ‘Big Flats’. He thanked us for coming tonight, and for the opportunity to open his summer tour in such a nice place. For tonight, Big Flats was definitely the right place.
At the end of “The Runaround”, Taylor waved goodnight and left the stage. Now we all know, Taylor never stops without an encore. And this show was no different. The band left the stage and quickly returned to backup Taylor Hicks as he performed “Badge”, another cover that he does so well. When the song ended, Taylor bade us good-bye and he was gone.
With the show over, and the summer tour officially kicked off, several of us exchanged our thoughts about how great the concert was, and then called it a night. I still had to find my hotel, and not being familiar with the area, left Tag’s. I made it to the hotel without getting lost (ok, so I went west when I should have gone east which meant I had to find an exit to get turned around right). With a good night’s rest I would be ready for the next leg of my trip as the traveling circus boarded a plane bound for Boston and then on to Cohasset and Hyannis!
Pictures from Big Flats
Tags: Taylor Hicks, American Idol, Soul Patrol, RagsQueen, Traveling Circus