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

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Traveling Circus Ferries to Staten Island

After two weeks of not seeing a Taylor Hicks concert and just barely recovered from my Southern mini-tour of casinos (including four Taylor shows!), I am ready to head to Staten Island to see Taylor perform on the stage of the St. George Theatre. I’ve been warned that I may have to take the ferry from the airport to Staten Island, so I put some motion sickness patches in my purse earlier in the week just to be safe. Certain shades of “green” just don’t look good on me, and being on water does terrible things to my stomach and equilibrium! On the plus side, I was going to leave 103 degree weather behind for the brisk 75 degrees of New York. The downside – I left my sweater at home and I would later wish I had it with me! It was cold there!

Since I’m meeting a friend for the concert, flying into Newark was going to be best. Actually, I like flying into Newark – it’s smaller and very efficient! SuperShuttle picks up from that airport and will deliver you anywhere in the area, but for a price! So we decided I would save the shuttle fees and be picked up in a little red VW beetle instead! Wait! I traded a bumpy riding shuttle for a red bug? Good one!

After I’m safely tucked into the little red bug, we take off for our hotel. My friend got directions from MapQuest, so we were golden – right! Two toll booths and $6.65 later, not to mention time and miles, we found our hotel! What an adventure we just thought we had but were really about to begin!

As we got settled in, I checked email and the boards to see what was going on. We decided it might be a good idea to go find the theatre before we actually went to the show, and maybe grab some food. Good idea! Right! Remember the little red bug? Luckily it didn’t get squashed, but only because God watches over fools and little children, and people in those little bugs! All jokes aside, this little car was great – the ride was smooth, seats were comfy, and my chauffer was a very good driver!

We get in the car and take off. With our maps in hand, my friend driving and me navigating (big mistake! Me navigating, that is!), we take off for the big metropolis of Staten Island. Actually it was more like trying to navigate the streets of San Francisco with the hills and narrow car paths and one-way streets. A city block could be one house or 4 houses wide with a light on every corner!

Everything was going fine until we realized we didn’t have a clue as to where we were and that reading street signs was going to be complicated! As I read the signs, I noticed a car stopped at the light and thought that was odd….until I realized we had just run the light! Oops! Thank goodness the only witness was the other driver and me!

I kept trying to read the map and directions, and we were wondering where on earth we were going. Another light, oops, we did it again! Keep in mind there was almost a light at every corner, and some corners were around a curve where you couldn’t see it until you were under it and it was too late!

By now we’re getting closer to the venue but we’re in the wrong lane. Never fear, the red bug is here! We just cut across the lanes and make our turn! A couple more of these maneuvers and we would be in front of the theatre! By the time we got there, we saw a few familiar faces and the crew bus and trailer. Not seeing a lot of places to park, we circle the block to see what was available and then left to find an ATM machine.

That’s another whole story! We had to drive quite a few blocks before we even found a bank! I spot the ATM machine and we park. I grab my card, hop out of the car and open the door between me and the machine. Only the door is locked. There was a strange slot next to the door – like you put in a key card – but not being from the area, I wasn’t going to chance it. That slot gave new meaning to using a credit card to open a door! I got back in the car and we took off to look for another ATM.

A couple more blocks and there it was. We had to figure out how to get in the bank parking lot and then get close to the door. As I got to the door, I could see people inside the vestibule in front of the machines but the door was locked! While I read the writing on the wall, someone opened the door to leave, and I just walked right on in! The machine was much easier to use! I got my cash and left!

Now I usually get money before I ever leave home. Like MasterCard, I never leave home without it. This whole trip was poorly planned – I didn’t even get a ticket for Toms River the next night or for the show the night before! I generally try to do two shows at least, but not this particular trip. Where was my mind when I did this! While walking to my gate to catch my flight to Newark, I realized I hadn’t stopped by the bank on Friday afternoon or on my way to the airport! Not a smart move since I only had small change in my wallet!

The next bright idea we had was to go back to the hotel and rest. Good idea, you might think. No! We got lost going back. We circled everywhere before we were able to figure out where we were. Nearly an hour later, we found the hotel! And it was only 15-20 minutes away!

With that experience under our belts, we decided to just get our tickets and cameras and go find a place to have dinner. Bright idea, wrong move! But we were good to go, Madge was going to ride shotgun! Only thing is, her master hasn’t gotten the hang of it yet in using her to find restaurants! We knew we had passed Applebee’s and Chili’s on the way to the hotel, so what the heck, we would find them again! Wrong!

We asked Madge for the shortest route to the theatre. Too bad there isn’t a setting out there to say shortest SAFEST distance to get there. Madge had us take the route near the water on the New York City side of the island, and for two women in a bug, probably not the smartest thing we could have done! After a few miles of the trip, we decided we would not go back the same way after the concert.

By the time we found the venue, Taylor’s bus was there. We took off to look for Chili’s but it had moved. We were sure it was near the banks we’d been to earlier, but it wasn’t. We drove around a bit and then decided it would have to be KFC/Taco Bell. Nothing special there – they’re all the same! The best part, though, was laughing about the stop lights and wrong lane turns!

Going back to the venue was much easier. We passed a great curb parking spot and circled the block to try to get it again. Too late – someone else had the same idea! So we drove past a couple more cars and slid in behind one of those big SUVs. Our little red bug is a stick-shift, and since we parked on a declining hill, when the driver tried to back up, the car only inched closer to the big SUV. Forget it, we just stayed there! A few quarters were fed to the meter and we headed to cross the street near the buses.

Since there were a number of familiar faces, we decided to mingle around the buses and put names with those faces. It was nice to finally meet some of the ladies whose names I knew quite well and recognized – you know who you are! Since it was getting close to the time the doors were to open, we went on up to the first lobby and waited.

When the doors opened, the head of security made the most awful announcement – no photography or video of any type was allowed! Now how was I going to capture some great moments for you, gentle readers, to have for the saving? It just wasn’t going to happen tonight. I was going to just have to make the most of the experience and capture the memories in my head and just dance my bootie to the music and clap my hands to the beat. I’d make the sacrifice, but I didn’t like it!

We were shown our seats on opposite ends of the front row! Far corners, in front of the big speakers! We just kept saying to ourselves – front row, front row, front row! Like if you clicked your heels three times, you would awaken to find yourself safely tucked in the center seat of the front row! In the end, these turned out to be good seats because you could stand beside the speakers and watch without blocking anyone behind you!

A local group, Alternate Routes, was the opening band. I think they said this was their first time to do their show acoustically and that they put the show together only a few minutes earlier in their dressing room. Actually, they should perform this way more often, because those four guitars were fabulous, and even blended or harmonized if you know what I mean! Since they write their material, it’s hard to tell you what they sang, but this band was definitely one of the best opening acts Taylor has used!

After a brief intermission, it was show time! The curtains parted to show the band. Not much of an opening montage tonight and when the spot light came on, there was Taylor Hicks in the center, guitar in place, getting right into “Gonna Move”. He was wearing a blue shirt with his jeans and usual sneakers. His hair was a bit longer than usual, and combed into his face. There was a gentle part that had some of the hair going in different direction. At any rate, Taylor looked great and was definitely ready to entertain us!

There were lots of shout outs to Staten Island and the Soul Patrol! Taylor even asked if it was pronounced Staten (stat’en with a short ‘a’) or Staten (stat’ in with a long ‘a’) and that Staten (stat’en with a short ‘a’) won!

“Give Me Tonight” followed. Since I couldn’t take pictures, I stood up and moved to the music, at least until everyone on my side of the theatre sat down. I was on the right side tonight – we were doing a lot of standing and dancing! “Just to Feel That Way” had my side sitting by now. There were a lot of men and children tonight, but the audience appeared to have more women. The ages were varied as well – I saw one couple that was definitely older there and the female of the pair was certainly into the music!

Taylor Hicks changed the pace of the show by performing some of his own original pre-Idol music. “Heart and Soul” and “My Friend” were next. Talk about that crazy friend – I’ve decided I’m one of those crazy people with all the traveling I do! But it’s all fun, and I’m so glad I’m able to do it!

Time for Taylor to get funky. Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown” was next. Somewhere in the song, Taylor tagged “All skate” and proceeded to act like he was skating! Glad his feet were firmly planted on the stage – he might have skated off with just a few strides! Taylor was having fun on stage and it was showing that he was enjoying what he was doing. Right on down to those Woody Woodpecker cackles!

As “Compared to What” started, it’s was obvious that he was having trouble with his headset. Not missing a beat, he ripped it out the neck of his shirt and laid it in the harmonica case. Chris grabbed it and later put it back in the same place. Taylor picked it up and while the band played an instrumental section, retreated to the side of the stage and put the repaired headset back on.

Taylor Hicks announced that he would do “Don’t Let Me Down” by request. I enjoy Taylor’s version of the song and I’m glad he resurrected from last summer’s AI tour! Time for more Taylor Hicks originals with “The Deal” and “Soul Thing”. There wasn’t a lot of tagging other songs into the set tonight, but “Eastbound and Down” made its way into “Soul Thing”.

The main set was finished up with “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze” and “The Runaround” from the major debut album “Taylor Hicks”. We had been entertained with Taylor’s version of dirty dancing, hip swaying and gyrating, and restless leg movements the entire evening. He hadn’t stopped except to fix his headset earlier in the show. That blue shirt was soaked and the sweat was standing in puddles!

As the set ended, Taylor played with Loren as Loren shouted out “Taylor Hicks” three or four times. Finally Taylor left the stage; the band finished and then left as well. After a couple of long minutes, everyone returned to the stage and the encore, “Take the Long Way Home” began. Lots of great harp! When it ended, Taylor again encouraged Loren to shout out his name several times. Before finally leaving the stage, Taylor made a gesture like he’s about to hit a golf ball! Such a lovable goof on stage! But then, that’s why we love to watch Taylor perform – to see what he will do that sucks us in all over again!

With the show over, my friend and I catch up and head to the merchandise table where we greet more friends and acquaintances. We decided to make a quick trip to the ladies’ room before heading out to stand by the buses. When we get outside, Taylor was already outside signing for those closest to the front. Being short, all I can see is his cap and Bill’s flashlight. Once Taylor was on the bus, we said goodnight to those close by and headed to our car.

Fortunately, the SUV in front us was gone so if the red bug rolled, we wouldn’t be flattened into that SUV! I plugged in Madge and told her to take us to our hotel, this time using the freeways. With that, we were on our way. As we get closer to our hotel, though, we missed our turn, and found instead a Charlie Brown Steakhouse. We decided to grab something to eat – rootbeer floats and shrimp (I had the shrimp) – before actually going back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel, I checked out the boards to see if anything had made the internet about the show. Maybe an hour or so later, we tucked ourselves into bed. Those beds had down comforters and pillow-top mattresses, so good sleeping was going to be had tonight! I think I woke up once during the night, and then not again until we got our 10:30 wake-up call! Before going to sleep, we made a pact that if any noises or moans were heard during the night, it was brought on by the comfy bed rather than dreams of Mr. Taylor Hicks

My friend was going to take me back to the airport before she drove to Toms River. Saying bye to friends isn’t always easy, especially when we’ve had a great time, so we promised to meet again soon and catch another Taylor show together! This friend is my daughter’s age, and so everyone thought she was safe with me! Little do they know! At least I haven’t gotten into any scrapes or skirmishes, or anything like that! But I love to have a good time, and the fun comes so naturally without requiring that I find trouble or that it find me! Come travel with me sometime, and we will have a great time!

Photos: Due to rules of the house, there are no pictures of this event. Don’t blame me; complain to the establishment!

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