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

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Traveling Circus Finds Charity Begins at Ashburn

The original thought for Sunday was to get up early to make the drive from Glen Allen to Ashburn, check into the hotel and drive over to Washington to do a quick driving tour of the city. OK, my thoughts, perhaps. But after an outdoor concert on a Saturday night with Taylor Hicks, it just wasn’t going to happen! Perhaps the heat – the summer temperatures or being in Taylor’s presence – had gotten to me and I needed a little more sleep and a more leisurely drive!

By the time I was ready to leave, it was check-out time anyway. As we were doing so, the rest of our merry group of travelers was gathering in the lobby. We discussed whether to travel in a caravan of three cars or just go our separate ways (well two cars would definitely be traveling together). I placed Madge in the front seat, gave her plenty of room to look out the window (OK, inside the top of my purse), set the destination address and pulled out of the hotel driveway.

I followed the directions Madge was shouting, but I should have known something was VERY wrong when I had to make a turn of the parking lot across from the hotel street entrance! There was a puzzled look on Madge, perhaps a “?” that I should not have ignored. The car behind me was quicker to figure out what was going on and waited for me to come back. How embarrassing – both cars were waiting for me!

It was right then that the third car figured it had a better chance of making the show on time if they went their own way. Smart move – I should have followed them! But alas, I thought I would put my trust, albeit undeserved at this point, in Madge’s ability to get me there in plenty of time. So off we go…..down some back roads and residential areas that made absolutely no sense.

I requested the shortest route, but where in the world was I going? Then we passed the turn for I-95. The car behind me was getting a bit, no a lot, concerned about the direction we were taking, but the only good thing about the route we were taking was finding a place to potty, gas her car, and get some snacks for the road! After about an hour or so of Madge’s nonsense, the car behind me started giving directions and I was taking that advice!

After passing up the last turn Madge was giving and I was ignoring, she gave up and shouted out – Can NOT compute route! First smart thing she’d said all during the drive! But we were lost. We knew we need to get on VA 7 but couldn’t seem to find it. A tour of the local shopping mall gave us some idea of the direction. I reset Madge, and voila, we were now on the correct route to get to the Lansdowne Resort, our destination for the night!

Now it you happen to be in the Leesburg-DC area, let me tell you, the Lansdowne is the place to be! Huge is the best way to describe it! Several pools, inside and out, golf, restaurants, shopping, you name it! And the rooms, oh my goodness, were divine! The only draw back – only one person in the bathroom at a time, and that means the door must be closed once you get in there! The dressing area had more space! But we were there to sleep, not shower or potty, so it was ok!

For a drive that we thought would take us a couple of hours, we barely had time to freshen up before needing to leave for the concert. Once of us in the group had won a meet & greet with Taylor, so we needed to be at the Belmont Country Club, where the concert was being held, by 3:30, and it was nearly 3:00 when we checked in! Off we went, leaving Madge behind! Bad move! We had to get directions to country club, being told to turn right, which should have been a left, or maybe I have that backwards.

Anyway, we finally got there, found the concert entrance, and drove in. What a shock! Country club, maybe, but the concert stage required driving down a gravel road to a huge field and parking in the grass! It looked more like the “back 40” of someone’s cattle farm! As if the parking was far away enough from the stage, the many port-potties were equally as far once you got inside the gate! And you might know, I’d wind up having to drink a couple of bottles of water because of the heat and dehydration!

Now image the scene when we arrived. The line was already starting to form! We parked at 3:35, walked to the gate, and there were already about 50 or so ladies in line! Only about 4 were there for the meet & greet! It was sunny and hot, and a number of the women had nice lounge chairs and a few well-place umbrellas for shade. There was the occasional breeze, but not enough to avoid being dripping wet before the show started.

The gates were scheduled to open at 5:30 with the show starting somewhere around 6:30 or 7:00. No one knew whether there would be an opening act. We did know that we could buy $5 chances in a raffle that would benefit a local toddler with cancer for a chance to meet Taylor Hicks after the concert. Being the charitable person that I have become, I knew I would be supporting the raffle, whether I won or not. Winning the meeting was not important – helping this family was.

Finally the gates opened and we were allowed in. By now I was so overheated and my face (so I was told) was beet red – a good indication that I was having trouble with the heat. Security was great – I had sat down during the last half hour of the wait under the tent selling tickets. A cart was called, and I was given a limo ride down to the gold circle seats! Thank goodness I didn’t have to make that hike in the heat – I don’t think I could have done it!

We found our seats – third row – which were a little off from the center of the stage. These were great! Another round of water bottles was passed and I was looking around to see how far I really had to walk to get to the porta-potties. Too far, but when you have to go, you have to go, and if it’s a hike, well, you wait until you can’t wait much longer! That was NOT an adventure worth talking about – if you’ve used one, you know what I’m talking about.

A local band opened the show, Bob Cramer, I think was the band’s name. Not bad! Not bad! They even had CDs for sale. After their set was over, the stage was made ready for Taylor Hicks and the final sound check was done. It was time for me to make my way to the raffle table to check out what was there.

Let me take a moment to promote this worthy cause. The young toddler, Taylor Love, had just recently turned two, making it home on the eve of her second birthday. She has Stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer which was discovered this past December. This is a type of cancer that attacks the nervous system. She is such a precious child, and we were fortunate to see her during the latter part of Taylor Hicks’ performance.

A local group of ladies had gotten together to make beautiful bracelets to sell to raise money for this beautiful child and her family to help with all of the medical expenses. The bracelets were beautiful, and I was having a hard time trying to decide which one to get. Not being much of a bracelet wearer myself, I chose the all stone one. The rest of my donation went to raffle tickets. Only after I got home did I realize that I really needed to get more of the bracelets, and have since ordered a couple more.

If you are interested in helping out this worthy cause and love bracelets, please visit their website. There are two versions of the ladies’ bracelet, with and without the child’s name, and a mancelet is also available. Taylor himself wore one during his performance in honor of Taylor Love. Please visit the website listed below for more information or contact me.

With raffle tickets and bracelet in hand, I went back to my seat just in time for the concert opening montage. Taylor Hicks was about to take the stage! And take it he did! Taylor came off the top of the stand where Brian Gallagher was playing the saxophone in a move that reminded me of someone on a surf board – arms out, knees bent! What a hoot to see! The opening number was an original, “Soul Thing”. In his book, “Heart Full of Soul”, Taylor refers to “Soul Thing” as the closest song to being his personal anthem. I believe it!

There’s nothing like getting some Jerry Reed, “Eastbound and Down” tagged with “Soul Thing”. This tag was setting the stage for what would become one of the best shows Taylor Hicks has performed this summer, and maybe to date! We were going to go from zero to ninety in less than 60 seconds with the fast pace of the songs Taylor was about to perform, musically speaking.

Now it’s been often said that Taylor gets his energy from the audience. Last night I witnessed that happen for the first time for me. I’ve been to a number of shows (count the blog entries if you’re curious) but I hadn’t paid that much attention to how the energy affects Taylor. But tonight, it was even more obvious, and even I was being transported by the sheer joy of his performance and how much even Taylor was enjoying it! Very high energy level, let me tell you!

Next came “Heart and Soul”, another Taylor Hicks original. Now keep in mind, Taylor’s original music was all written pre-American Idol, and some of it even written when he was in his late teens-early twenties. Those songs are both haunting and brilliant for someone who was yet to be discovered for the talent he really possesses.

An old favorite of Taylor’s from his pre-Idol days, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Call Me the Breeze” was next. Everyone on the front few rows are up and dancing around to the music. Behind me people were sitting, and while I tried to sit from time to time, the sheer energy of the music (not to mention the inability to see) I had to do a lot of standing!

The first single off of “Taylor Hicks”, “Just to Feel That Way” followed. And no show is complete without mention of the crazy friend and song, “My Friend”. Rumor has it the song was written for Bill, Taylor’s security and old friend from years back. I can see that – just watch Bill for a few minutes and you’ll know what I mean! Of course, I could pass for crazy as well!

The Traffic song, “Medicated Goo” will have you moving even if you want to sit down because your body is begging you to! I had gone to sleep the night before with the song playing in my head, so I guess I won’t be getting much sleep tonight either! A new tag entered the song, Bill Withers, “Grandma’s Hands”.

From time to time during the American Idol Tour last year, Taylor would sing the Beatles, “Don’t Let Me Down”. I’m glad to see it reprised again for this summer’s tour. It is definitely a number that Taylor needs to consider recording for a future CD. Next was “Hold On to Your Love”, another Taylor Hicks original. And what would we do without “The Deal”, an original which is also on “Taylor Hicks”.

Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” was back on the set list for tonight, and I was a happy little circus clown! It’s another song I would like to see Taylor record. I love the song and the message it has, and Taylor knows just how to work it so we get his message. Keep it up, Taylor; you’re doing everything just right in my book!

The concert ended with more music from “Taylor Hicks”, “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze” and “The Runaround”. Great songs to throw in such tags as “What’d I Say” and “Big Boss Man”. The concert was about to end in a blaze of fast pace fever of dancing and music. From guitar to tambourine to harmonica – we were getting it all. By now, I think the whole crowd was on its collective feet!

At the end of “The Runaround”, I, along with the rest of the crowd, witnessed one of the most generous and spectacular sights! Taylor raised his arm and pointed over to little Taylor Love, who while her family and security had been standing just below the stage in front of the front row. Taylor walked over to the edge of the stage and handed his harp to the bright-eyed child and before he turned around, stopped and blew her a kiss. I had tears in my eyes as I watched this beautiful man do one of the kindest acts of love for another human being. I also knew how lucky I was to be there, and to have two very healthy granddaughters.

Taylor turned to the crowd, waved good-bye and left the stage. As Taylor left the stage, he jumped up off the stand used by Brian Gallagher but this time he clicked his heels in a sideways manner, letting us know that even he was happy with his performance and our energy level. The band finished their music and then followed him. But the crowd was not ready to go.

We wanted, even demanded, an encore. One to please the Soul Patrol and audiences, Taylor came back out and performed “Taking It to the Streets” coupled with “Take Me to the Pilot”. Tonight was ended on a high note, and after witnessing Taylor Hicks with Taylor Love, we needed that. But Taylor was not finished with us! As he was walking of the stage, he doubled back as if in second though, bound up behind Felix on the drums and grabbed a drumstick. In time with the drummer, Taylor clashed the cymbals a couple of times before hurling the drumstick into the unsuspecting crowd. He turned and left us once again and the show was now officially over.

We had to sit down for a while after the show was over to gather our thoughts and rest. Security had to usher us out and we waited until the last possible minute to actually leave. We may have been hot and tired, but we were also hungry and energized! Because it was getting late, and I had an early morning flight, we decided to go back to the hotel and find something to eat. Our little troupe of traveling acrobats gathered in the hotel bar for burgers and appetizers as we wound down from such a high energy show, even though sleep was very much needed.

After eating, we said our good nights and good-byes, knowing some of us were leaving very early (4:00 am, for me) while others were getting to sleep in until later in the morning. Some of us knew we’d meet again in a week or two, others not so sure when we would. For this clown, I would have to wait about two weeks for my next Hicks fix, so I was going to make the most of this week-end.

So now that you have finished reading my recap, take a look at the pictures in the link below. And remember to help Taylor Love by going to the website to purchase your own bracelet of choice.

Ashburn Pictures

Taylor Love Bracelets: http://www.lola-and-rocco.com/taylor.html

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Some of My Favorite Pictures