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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Traveling Circus Takes Blue Ribbon at Bloomsburg

To make sure I plenty of time to drive from Philadelphia to Bloomsburg, I flew into Philly on Thursday night. I could sleep in a bit, get up and then make the drive. I considered going by way of Hershey or driving into downtown Philly to see a few of the historic sights.

Downtown Philly won! And what a winning time I had! Narrow streets, impatient drivers, and lots of one way streets! But I made it, and was able to drive around the historic district for a bit before heading on for the fair in Bloomsburg. The historic district is really very nice, and if I had more time, I would have parked and taken a carriage ride. The architecture is absolutely beautiful! I must go back again just to see the historic area in more depth before too long.

The drive to Bloomsburg was beautiful. Breath-taking is probably more descriptive! The trees were just starting to take on the fall hues of reds, yellows, and oranges. Not a lot, but enough to make me happy! The mountain views were equally as enjoyable. Then there was the high mountain that I didn’t see how the highway was going to go around it, over it, or anything. Next thing I know I’m going down a slope and into a tunnel, right under and through the mountain.

As I continued my drive, I recognized areas I’d been to before! Jim Thorpe and Wilkes-Barre to name a couple of previous trips for Taylor Hicks concerts. Seemed a bit like coming home, the northeastern home, that is!

Once in Bloomsburg, I checked into my hotel and got settled in. It was getting cooler and rain clouds were in the sky. I’d driven in and out of rain the last fifty miles of the trip, but the rain was more like quick showers or sprinkles. Either way I was going prepared so I grabbed my “Taylor Hicks” sweatshirt just in case.

I checked with the registration desk to get directions to the fair. Taking the shortest route was my choice, good or bad. I had no idea just how big this fair would be. It was huge! The exit ramp near the fair also served as the parking entrance, which surprised me! I wound up parking almost near the main highway, which was quite a way back from the fair entrance. Thank goodness they had trams to take you to the entrance!

Finally inside the fair, I headed for the venue. I literally had to go through the entire fair to get there. Past all the wonderful smelling fair food – corn, French fries, bar-be-que, candied apples – everything you could imagine that would tantalize and satisfy the taste buds of even the most stubborn critic! But fair food and I don’t mix so I had to settle for the passing smells and sniffs of all the powerful aromas.

Since I was meeting up with several friends from the Pennsylvania area I wanted to get on over to the concert area. Another long walk and I was finally there. I found an entrance, gave them my ticket, met my friends and found my seat. Great seat, too! As we waited for the concert to start, I couldn’t help but notice the darkening clouds. Was that nightfall or rain clouds we were seeing? It turned out they were rain clouds because the rain would come just as Taylor Hicks was to take the stage and last about half way through his performance. But where I was sitting was under the stage canopy, so I was nice and dry!

Finally it was time for the show to start. Out came the band, the usual suspects: Al, Josh, Brian, Loren, and Felix. Felix had cut his hair short! I almost didn’t recognize him, but as he pounded those drums, I knew exactly who he was! The band was in good form and obviously rested after a couple of weeks since their last show in Newport News, VA. When the opening montage ended, Taylor Hicks came from behind the band and with a running leap, jumped over the first speaker and landed at the front of the stage in a “ta da” position – arms outstretched, legs apart and leaning forward! What an entrance! Good thing he didn’t fall!

“Gonna Move” was the opening number. With a medium blue jacket over a white knit shirt and jeans, Taylor Hicks was ready to take the blue ribbon for his performance. Moving about the stage in his usual manner with only the microphone in his hand, the other hand was free to direct the band. No guitar, tambourine or cowbell tonight.

“Give Me Tonight” followed. The section where I was sitting definitely wanted to stand and dance, but security had other ideas. They kept telling everyone to sit down! How can you sit and dance? Not that I mind sitting! The two or three young women in front of me decided to get even by shouting back at security and then proceeded to disturb the rest of us with their incessant chatter. Why couldn’t security tell them to be quiet!

The front row was busy dancing up a storm off to the side of the stage. Poor choice of words – they must have been doing a rain dance because pretty soon the sky opened and those not under shelter got wet! But since they weren’t blocking anyone’s view they were left alone. “Heart and Soul” was next. Taylor threw in some “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” for good measure. The feel good song, “Just to Feel That Way” followed. The real crowd pleaser, though, was “Medicated Goo”. Now that’s a get up and dance kind of song!

Next was “Wherever I Lay My Hat”. Bloomsburg would be the place tonight to call home. And then the crazy friend song, “My Friend”. At the end, Taylor sang out ‘share that smile, you crazy people!’ And yes, the audience was full of crazy people – from those sitting in the rain to those dancing near the stage to the kids singing along with the music!

Through out his performance, Taylor Hicks was giving shout outs to Bloomsburg and the Soul Patrol. The crowd was a mixed bag of gender and ages. The front sections were pretty much full with one section of the grandstand fairly full. All I could see was a sea of people behind me. Plus the lady who kept screaming in my ear some weird cat call and that it was her birthday. So if you are reading this, hope you had a great birthday!

“The Deal” was pretty much the usual standard. Little, if any, harp tonight with this version. But we were getting harp, just not with each song. “Lowdown” followed. By the time “Soul Thing” with “Eastbound and Down” was over, we’d heard some great ‘chicken pickin’ as Taylor calls it. What I like about the chicken picking is the expressions Taylor makes as Josh strums and plucks those guitar strings! And the dueling sounds of harmonica and guitar that both musicians do so well!

“Heaven Knows” moved right into “The Maze”. Taylor did his usual butt strutting dance which always gets the audience up with applause and screams of thanks! Taylor tagged “Did You Get Healed” and “Moonshadow” into the Maze, which I think were new tags for the song. I really liked “Moonshadow” because by now the rain that had been coming down had stopped and I could see a few stars in the clearing skies.

To me, the blue ribbon performance of the night was “The Right Place”. Just Taylor gripping the microphone and moving in his ‘Ray Charles’ style with such intensity that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. This was a new and different way to perform the song. And it was quite moving to say the least. Between Taylor’s facial expressions and keeping a tight hold on the mike, the performance definitely left the crowd in awe of Taylor’s talent. Definitely, this song and performance earned Taylor Hicks a blue ribbon.

Time to ignore security and stand up and dance! “The Runaround” is definitely the song to do that with! “I’m All Right” and “Big Boss Man” completed the number. With a few waves, salutes to the band and ‘thanks for coming’, Taylor left the stage. But I knew he’d be right back for an encore!

And tonight’s encore was “Take the Long Way Home”. Felix started it off with a drum solo. Taylor Hicks comes out and searches through his harmonica case. Then the wail of the harmonica! We were going to be taken to church tonight! When Taylor performs this song, the harmonica reminds me of the whistle of a train as it rolls down the tracks and fades into the wind. Would Taylor exit the stage doing the same – playing the harmonica as he leaves us for the last time? The answer is yes, but only for a few bars. Then he waves good-bye and is gone until the next show.

With the show over, my group of friends met at the designated spot to walk back through the fair. A couple of the ladies wanted some home-made ice cream before they left. As we got close to the stand, I spotted Loren grabbing a bit of fair food. I’m sure these guys worked up quite an appetite after their performance! As the ladies were waiting their turn at the ice cream counter, we noticed Josh, Al and Felix in front of us. We chatted with them for a few minutes about the show, who would be at the next show and how fair food was so good. Then we left them to finish our walk to the entrance so we could get our cars and head home.

As we neared the entrance, we bade each other good-bye, knowing we’d be back together in two weeks. A couple of the friends were going to spend more time at the fair while a couple of friends had an hour or so drive back home. Me, I was headed back to my hotel to upload my pictures and write my recap. And hopefully get some sleep because I have a long drive to West Springfield in the morning for the Big E, another northeastern fair.

Pictures from the Bloomsburg Fair

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Momma D said...

Rags...I remembering him digging through the harmonica case...that was great. Come to find out, the correct harmonica was in his pocket all along.

I had a great time with you. Glad we could sit together. Great recap, and, of course, great pics!

rjcharris said...

RagsQueen... I love reading your blog. It's like being at every concert. Your photos are awesome. Thanks for sharing.

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