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

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Traveling Circus Has a Heart Full of Soul

Now the traveling circus is known for her travels around the country to watch Taylor Hicks, the current Soul Man, entertain her, and us, with his music. Heck, the circus loves meeting people as much as Taylor does! So Friday, the traveling circus took a four-hour car ride to prepare mentally for the Kid One Transport charity book reading of “Heart Full of Soul”, the recently published book by none other than the Soul Man himself, Taylor Hicks.

Being charity minded, as well as a bit nuts, a VIP ticket was the only way to go. Forget wanting to be up close and personal for an hour or so, or being able to get great pictures. This was for the kiddies so they could have transportation to medical appointments. Kid One is a great service in the Birmingham area. Now if you are a true Taylor Hicks fan, you probably know all about Kid One, but on the off chance you don’t, let me tell you about them.

Kid One is celebrating ten years of an idea born from a fireman in the Birmingham area. The idea came from personally transporting a child to medical help and then continuing to see that the child had rides to ongoing treatments. He left behind the fireman duties to devote himself full time. For privacy reasons, he remains nameless at Kid One’s website, and for a few moments last night, shared the stage with those responsible for the special event. I’ll respect that too.

Kid One provides rides for pregnant women and children to medical care. I can’t imagine not having a car that I could drive to take my child to doctor’s appointments. It must be heart wrenching for these parents who so desperately needs these services. But you and I can help by donating, any amount, any time, whenever we can, to help Kid One continue with their service. So when you can, visit and donate. Fill a tank or hold a car wash or have a dinner party. You will be rewarded in knowing that you have helped a child and perhaps given that child an opportunity for a long life.

So as I was going to tell you, the book reading was a time to get ‘up close and personal’ with Taylor Hicks. The stage was set in a living room fashion with a zebra striped chair, lamp table, red love seat and potted plants. It looked homey and that red love seat was going to be a great compliment to Taylor’s silver hair!

Before the program, there was time to meet friends, buy tee shirts to commemorate the event, book marks, cook books, and even a couple of extra copies of the book! The cook book, a project of Kid One Patrol of Soul (a fan-based charity) is geared for children, and has a recipe from Taylor Hicks, himself. For a chance to win a beautiful signed poster of Taylor Hicks, I bought another cook book.

This additional cookbook will be donated to Taylor’s Angels, located at another fan-based group that helps fans and charities see Taylor Hicks in concert, get fan club memberships, and their own copies of “Heart Full of Soul”. So while I’m plugging Taylor Hicks’ charities, I need to mention another great effort, “Proud of Our Troops”, affectionately known as the Troop Drive, where Taylor’s music and books are sent to our men and women serving in the military all over the world. Check out these opportunities to donate to great causes and help spread the music of Taylor Hicks.

I wish I could remember every one I met at the event. I remember faces, but names escape me! It was great seeing everyone again. And getting to meet a few names I recognize but faces I hadn’t seen before. One being the head of BluzKat. Visit this week. BluzKat sponsors music for children and also helps support Kid One.

Shortly after the appointed time, Tracy Smith, the director of Kid One, started off the program by talking about Kid One and all that it does. We were introduced to the man who started it all, a couple of ladies from Kid One Patrol of Soul, and door prizes were awarded. A signed guitar and a couple of signed posters were the door prizes, and no, I didn’t win anything. Well, maybe some great photos though!

Janice from Birmingham’s Fox 6 News moderated. Taylor came out on the stage waving to everyone and then sat down on the red love seat. Since there were a number of empty seats in the VIP area, Taylor invited everyone to move closer so we could “get intimate” or something like that. Talk about giggles from the audience of mostly women, probably middle-age, just like the traveling circus!

Janice had a lot of questions, many that I myself had. We started off with how the book came to be written. Did Taylor actually do the writing himself or did he dictate the book? Burning questions for this blogger! The answer: Taylor wrote some, dictated some, and discussed some with the co-writer, making the book a collaborative effort.

Taylor talked about being in “lots of valleys before hitting a peak”. And then about getting his 15 minutes on City Stages, the Birmingham music festival, the year before American Idol. Taylor talked about what he thought during his American Idol run…people seeing him and deciding to hire him for more weddings, local Birmingham events, opportunities to be on Fox 6 news….not even thinking so much about winning. But his book reveals a more serious side. He was in American Idol to win. But winning can take on two meanings. Winning the crown or winning more job opportunities.

We were waiting for juicy tidbits that might have been left out of the book. Let’s see. Taylor Hicks spent a few days in France a few weeks earlier. He wears a size 12 shoes and boxer briefs. And tonight he was wearing shoes! Shoe boots, I guess you would call them. Not the usual black sneakers that he wears during a performance! And Taylor “talks” with his hands, constantly making hand motions! I loved it! I’m a “hand” talker, too!

Now Janice was keeping the interview fun and informative. She asked the audience how many were here from out of state, and as we raised our hands, turned to Taylor to ask what he thought of that! Taylor, in comedic style, just fell over on the love seat! Too quick for a picture, and I understand Fox 6 panned the audience so there’s no proof of him doing this. Take my word, it was cute! Even got some giggles from the mostly female audience!

Taylor Hicks revealed a story about the first time he sent out his laundry and actually put his real name on the bag! He’s since changed the name he uses to avoid any unwanted loss or extra stuff coming back from the cleaners. Taylor said there were four pairs of underwear in the bag, and each pair must have been washed by different people, ladies presumably, because tucked inside each pair was a lover letter. No, he didn’t reveal what they said, but I think I did notice a blush at that time. Must have been either steamy or embarrassing!

And traveling with four suitcases on his current summer tour, Taylor had amassed a duffle bag full of dirty clothes. There were lots of volunteers from the audience, including a quick laugh from Taylor. But no duffle bag was forth coming, so no washing machines were running last night to help the poor man out!

Now we’ve all probably been to a meal or two where the cook was so bad, you weren’t sure you wanted to sit down and actually eat. Taylor told a couple of stories about his Grandmother Joni and her efforts to feed her family. Like the layer of Campbell’s soup label in a casserole or a missing bread tie in another dish. Her cooking made Taylor appreciate eating out! And if the food needed a bit of spicing up, ketchup was Ms. Joni’s favorite additive, especially for overcooked hamburgers!

A few personal questions were asked, and even the audience had the opportunity to submit questions before the program. A few lucky people got their questions answered as well as another reporter standing off to the side. The usual – girlfriend, dating. Yes, yes, getting to know each other, glowing, and looking over the sofa to see where she was and asking her to come out. No, she stayed quietly sequestered behind the curtains, out of sight.

As Taylor put it, ‘you live for other’ a lot of the time, and somewhere in the process ‘you have to live for yourself’. That’s what he tries to do in his personal life. But with the media, and perhaps the fans, his life has become much more public. Taylor compared it to having a nosey neighbor, except multiply it by 10,000! Now that’s a lot of noses and eyes!

Asked what were some of the best gifts he had received from fans, and Taylor said tee shirts. And he does go through all the gifts on the bus, sorts through the items, keeping a few for the road and boxing everything else up and shipping it to his parents’ house. I believe he said there were so many boxes that the car no longer fit in the garage.

Somewhere about now, Taylor sat on the edge of his seat, one knee bent as usual and the other knee lying on the floor! He quickly realized his position and reseated himself. From time to time, he crossed his legs much like a woman might and other times it was the typical male position! During the discussions, Taylor was animated, pensive, or comical with his hand motions and facial expressions. I was able to capture a few pictures that showed each of the phases – just search through them and have a fun time!

Where did Taylor seeing himself settle down? He residence address is currently his tour bus. No definitive answer, but Taylor likes the northeast and the southeast. Oh, yes, he mentioned his lake property where the fishing is good.

So what does Taylor Hicks think of having an older, mostly female, fan base? Very diplomatic response, I must say. Taylor talked about having fans of all ages and both genders. But the older females knew….he likes us! As he does the rest of his fan base!

For some behind the scenes tour scoop, Taylor likes to take a quick shower after a performance because he’s always soaking wet. I can attest to that! I’ve seen the sweat drip off of him, his arms so wet it looked like he threw on clothes without drying off, or he just showered with his clothes on! Yes, he really gets a workout on the stage – dancing, lights, just performing in generally. He calls his performance, ‘soul aerobics’, non-stop movement while he’s singing and playing during a concert.

Someone wanted to know what he thought were his best and worst characteristics. Taylor felt his best quality was that he was a people person. He liked people. He liked to perform. Now being a rather shy person, I would think that might be difficult. But if being a people person means he likes to entertain and watch how we enjoy it, I’ll go for that! His worst flaw – he gets impatient! Yep, I’d buy that one! Don’t we all!

And then, what about that apartment we had the opportunity to see pictures of? Well, Taylor confessed he didn’t clean under the pillows very often. (I’ll have to go home and check under mine!) His apartment was decorated with hand-me-downs. The bed from an aunt. An entertainment center from another relative. He just made it work. And then there was the picture of Ray Charles over the fireplace. After all, it was his ‘home sweet home’ before American Idol, and now he lives out of suitcases!

I almost forgot! When Taylor was talking about the night he sang “Country Roads” on country night on American Idol, he said he started it off in the wrong key and wasn’t able to recover. But tonight – he was pitch perfect! We had an impromptu concert!

And when he read from the book, someone suggested he just sing it when he said he hadn’t read from the book lately. (It’s also available on CD with Taylor Hicks doing the actual reading!) He sang a few words and then proceeded to read to us about winning his first talent contest!

Now Mr. Chapman, Taylor’s former band teacher, was also there to share a few moments with Taylor. Mr. Chapman, also a harmonica player, had given Taylor advice many years ago that Taylor still uses today. And before the program was over, both Taylor and Mr. Chapman played a little harp to show us what it was like back when Taylor was just learning to play the instrument! What a treat that was! And the harps that were played were provided by one lucky lady in the audience, plus one or two from back stage. Taylor even signed them for her afterwards! Lucky lady!

So when it was all over, and the questions were asked and answered, Taylor gave opportunities for additional pictures and even signed some autographs. Daddy Brad come out to get Taylor after a few minutes, standing back and beaming like the proud papa he his! Yes, he told Taylor he might as well buy a lottery ticket when Taylor told him he was going to try out for American Idol. And yes, Taylor did buy the winning ticket after all. Thanks Southwest Airline!

Boutwell pictures

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