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

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Traveling Circus Goes to Mardi Gras

Universal Studio Amusement Park – Orlando, FL

I chose to leisurely drive to Orlando. (Actually I wanted to be on line to get tickets for the Seattle concert) I wasn’t planning to go through the Universal Studio Park so there was no need to be in a hurry to get there early. My bad! Big mistake! Since I got checked in around 5:00 pm, there wasn’t a lot of time to freshen up before heading to catch the shuttle. It was around 7:30 when my group (total of 6 fans who’d already met up with each other at earlier shows) arrived at the stage – standing room only!

What has 2500 heads, 5000 legs and 400 wheels and wears lots of beads? The concert watchers at Mardi Gras with Taylor Hicks! Of course, that’s my guesstimate, anyway. Any benches available were taken quite early and used for standing during the concert. And standing on a sidewalk or concrete pad for several hours is not my idea of a picnic, even for Taylor! Sorry man!

I spent the first part of the concert holding up the ladies’ room wall and the last half having a trash can to lean upon. Thank goodness for jumbotron, or I wouldn’t have been able to see a thing! That should have been fine – just to listen to Taylor – but man, I just gotta see him dance and spin! And maybe a little skin and white waistband! We got flashed a couple of times but nothing to prove it to you! No pictures for posterity!

Taylor was in rare form. There was a cool breeze for the audience, but the lights must have been quite hot, because the front of Taylor’s shirt and the back of his jacket was quite wet! That shiny gray jacket and solid gray shirt – what a combination on Taylor! And his New Balance sneakers and trademark jeans!

Taylor didn’t comment a lot, but he did acknowledge Brian Less’ 45th birthday. Poor Brian! To be 29 but accused of being so much older! After the show, I saw Brian with another group of Soul Patrollers, so I stopped to wish him a happy birthday. I got the gift instead – a great big bear hug! Sorry Staci….I know he’s yours!

In spite of the discomfort of standing, the concert lasted a short 90 minutes! Brian announced Taylor and “Taking It to the Streets” lead off his performance. Taylor moved into “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, and “Dream Myself Awake”. With a guitar hung on his frame, Taylor sang an original tune, “Hold On to Your Love”. That was followed by “Can’t Trust Your Neighbor” and another original with Taylor playing guitar, “Hell of a Day”

“Just to Feel That Way” followed. Taylor played guitar for “Heart and Soul”. The guitar was removed and “Wherever I Lay My Hat” began and was followed by “Young Turks”. Taylor finished the set with “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. It was hard to really see, and sometimes even the jumbotron wasn’t clear. I couldn’t tell if the band left the stage or not. But Taylor came back to perform “Badge” for the encore!

The crowd was a mixed group of all ages, young and old. Everyone seemed to be enjoying Taylor’s performance. I know I was! Tonight was all Taylor. No opening act, just pure Taylor! I don’t know how they do it, but it seems that the show improved each night. Maybe it’s because Taylor is feeling better health-wise. Or because he’s becoming more comfortable on the stage. Who really cares as long as Taylor is doing what he enjoys most – performing live, on stage!

Before the show started, I noticed a woman standing under a bright light near the stage. I wish I could have watched her more – she was signing the words to Taylor’s songs! I’m not sure how one would interpret Taylor! But she was tying really hard!
We walked back to the entrance and took an independent van ride back to the hotel. I tried to upload my very dark and bad pictures. I woke up with my head on the keyboard so I decided to wait until I got home to write my recap and just crawled in bed.
I’m normally a light sleeper so if I did actually receive a wake-up call, I didn’t hear it! I quickly showered, dressed and packed so I could drive to Jacksonville to catch my plane home. I needed the drive to clear my head. I think I must have cried the first hour of the drive! I was elated and exhilarated from meeting so many Taylor fans and having a great week-end in Florida.

If someone had told me I’d be driving around the state of Florida in a rental by myself, I would have said that’s crazy. No way! Not in this lifetime! But here I was – I had gone from Jacksonville to Tampa to Coral Springs to Orlando and now back to Jacksonville. It had been one heck of a journey. I want more, and I can’t wait for next week-end when I’m off to Myrtle Beach and Knoxville. For now, I need a couple of days of rest and work (got to pay VISA!). The Traveling Circus will be back on the road next week-end! Catch you on the flip-side!

Pictures (use your imagination!)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Traveling Circus Looks for Coral in Coral Springs

Coral Springs Center for the Performing Arts – Coral Springs, FL

The drive from Tampa to Coral Springs was both beautiful and interesting. Crossing the Tampa Bay was truly an experience for the senses. The water was a beautiful blue-green. To cross the water required going over a very tall and long bridge that had spans reminding me of a sailboat’s sails. Too bad I was driving or I would have taken pictures!

Winning a meet & greet pass to meet Taylor before the show required that I be at the Coral Springs Center for the Performing Arts by 4:30 to pick up the special laminate. I got there with about 20 minutes to spare! And I had been “booking it” down I-75 to get there by then! Thank goodness the highway patrol wasn’t looking!

Several Soul Patrol members, Cydter, TayMate, Shelia and AyleeDiane, put together a great party before the concert. It was a nice way to celebrate coming together in our support of Taylor. Attendees were busy meeting and talking to each other, eating, and taking pictures. It was another opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. We put together a scrapbook with a page from each person that chose to do one. I brought pictures from previous encounters with Taylor and wrote a personal message in the empty spaces. A number of the party goers won meet & greet passes – a special keepsake laminate similar to a hotel “key”.

Soon it was time to go to the courtyard to go to the meet and greet. Taylor was sitting at a table near the back fence. We lined up and made our way to him. He signed pictures, CDs, or whatever we had. A special presentation was given to Taylor during that time – a picture of 2 rescued eagles, WHOOO and Whomp. Taylor seemed genuinely touched by the gesture! This time, yours truly was there, and got to talk to Taylor for a couple of seconds, even getting a laugh from him! I had a carnation in hand, and as I gave it to him commented that ‘his allergies would be good for the carnation!” and then restated it correctly! Something about that man just leaves me tongue-tied!

After the meet and greet we returned to the party for more merriment. We took pictures as a group and then small group shots with friends. Door prizes (poster decorations) were given as well as the table decorations. The ladies went all out to make sure we had a great time! I won a table decoration that had a miniature bottle of Taylor’s favorite beverage, Crown Royal in the blue bag, buttons, DVDs of Taylor’s American Idol days and other items!

Finally it was time to go inside the theatre. Coral Springs is very modern, a stage with curtains and seats on elevated stair-step landings. There was plenty of leg room, but not a lot of extra shoulder room! It didn’t really matter, because I sat on the edge of my seat for the entire show with Taylor!

The Greyhounds, a 3-piece jazz band from Austin, TX, opened the show. The music was pretty much the same as the previous two nights. Typical jazz – only a couple of words repeated over and over! Literally! “Yeah, yeah, yeah….” “Dollar bill, dollar bill, dollar bill…..”

After the stage change, the lights went down and Taylor’s band took their places. With a musical intro, Taylor peeks out from behind the curtain on the left side of the stage and then darts back behind. He does it again! The crowd is wild! The third time’s the charm and Taylor takes the stage! No introduction because none is needed! He opens with “Heart and Soul” which sets the tempo for the show. He will give his performance and us his entire heart and soul!

For a man ‘under the weather’, I don’t know what they are giving him, but I want some of it! Taylor was pure Taylor, singing and dancing, dancing and singing, spotlighting the musicians, singing and dancing. That man has the energy of the Energizer Bunny. No wait, I believe he could out energize that silly rabbit. He just keeps on and on and on!

Taylor moved on through the show with “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “Wherever I Lay My Hat” and “Night Time”, “Hell of a Day” tagged with “Tupelo Honey”, “Hold on to Your Love” tagged with “Night Life”, “Just to Fell That Way”, “Gonna Move”, “The Deal”, Rod Stewart’s cover “Young Turks”, “The Right Place”, and ends the set with “The Runaround”. It was incredible! Just how does his show get better each night! Don’t know if it’s the theatre and lighting that enhances the experience or Taylor is back to being 100% himself! Doesn’t matter! The show was wonderful! Great! Terrific! Heart-stopping! You get the idea! Yeah, I’m one of those middle-aged crazy fans!

A few things happened during the show that was awesome! First, Taylor told how he came to have The Greyhounds open for him. He had heard them in Austin, TX, and asked if they would like to open for him. They were kind of like “duh, who are you, man”. When Taylor took off his cap, they recognized him and were like “sure, yeah!” And here they are!

Second, Taylor talked about not getting used to mike stands and how on American Idol he missed the mike stand on national TV! Seems all the guys from Birmingham tend to have that happen! He told how when he kicked the mike stand during the dress rehearsal that it went into the stands and ‘nearly killed a lady’! I hope she wears that scar as a badge of honor! Taylor said he was singing and telling himself to just be sure to kick the stand over and then he missed it!

Third, a woman on the front row placed a bouquet of roses on the stage. Taylor walked over to take them and leaned down and allowed her to his him on the cheek! Now why didn’t I think of that! Probably because I was on the third row! The crowd loved it!

When his set was over, Taylor left the stage followed by the band. The stage stays darkened. The crowd is screaming for more Taylor! The band returns. Taylor runs across the stage and back! He does “Soul Thing” and “Badge”, not something I was familiar with.

During the encore a handful of ladies’ undies, bras and thongs, were thrown on the left side of the stage. Taylor walked over to look and gave a silly expression. And kept on singing! I guess that might have been a first for him! No, he did not pick them up!

And then he was gone. The house lights came up and it was officially over. Another great night! Another practically full house! Another group of very happy people! And I was satisfied for the evening.

A few of us hung around to see what was going on. I’ve started collecting drum sticks so I was able to one the drummer had used. Has the splinter to show it was officially used! Got to see the ladies’ undies that hit the stage during the encore. Nice mix! Little of everything! One of the roadies wanted to know if I was the guilty party but I had to confess they weren’t my size!

There was an after show meet & greet for a few lucky VIPs. Must have been something the theatre did because I hadn’t seen this happen the last two nights. My little group stood around to see if we could get in or least get some autographs for those who hadn’t had the pleasure previously. No luck!

As usual, I got lost trying to find my hotel. That was ok, because I got to play bullfighter with the road crew bus! It became a stand off…..the dodge caravan bullfighter verses the blue bus bull! The bus yielded and made its turn and parked and I could then move on to the check in! As I checked into the hotel, I commented about their important guests for the night. 'Some group of musicians' was all the desk clerks (both males) would tell me. I told them who the musicians were, and the desk clerks without cracking smiles said they didn’t know who Taylor was! It figures! They were typical guys! But once I explained that Taylor was the gray-haired American Idol winner, that seemed to trigger some memory. Still not smiles! I just went to my room to upload pictures & write my recap!

The adventure continues……….


Friday, February 23, 2007

The Traveling Circus of Fans Go to Tampa

The Tampa Theatre – Tampa, FL

The caravan (Dodge, that is) left Jacksonville bound for Tampa. I expected to make the approximate 200 mile drive alone but instead took along two passengers for the ride. And what a ride! We thought we made a wrong turn and had to turn around, only to discover we had been driving the right way the first time. I joke that I can get lost in the bathroom, so this was no surprise to me! We laughed and talked the entire ride, exchanging our favorite Taylor stories!

Once in Tampa, we found the hotel with the help of the hotel operator. She stayed on the phone with us until we turned into the parking lot. If you ever need a place to stay in downtown Tampa, the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel (formerly Ashley Plaza Hotel) is the place to stay. After the show they helped guide me back after circling downtown for 30 minutes or so!

Dinner was at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Interesting area. It was a historic district that had its roots in the South American tobacco and cigar trade. The restaurant was very Spanish in design and décor. The food was interesting and tasty. But enough about that.

Parking in the area of the Tampa Theatre was almost non-existent. After circling the block twice, I found a meter spot and parked. I couldn’t seem to find the hotel after dinner, so street parking for the show was the only sensible option.

The Tampa Theatre was brightly and proudly displaying Taylor’s name on its marques. Check my Photobucket account for pictures. The inside of the theatre looked like an Italian city with tall buildings and statues. Because of the lighting, it was impossible to take a picture for posterity. But it really was beautiful!

The Greyhounds opened again tonight. Their material sounded pretty much the same as last night, and by the time I see them next week-end, I’ll probably know the words to their songs! Taylor had mentioned that when he was in Austin he had heard them in a bar, and asked them if they’d like to open for him. The rest is history. The Greyhounds will open for much of the Southern leg of the tour.

Now mind you, for me, any time is Taylor time. The stage was reset for Taylor and his band came out. After a bit of musical intro, Brian Less announced Taylor! “Gonna Move” was the opening number. For a man a bit under the weather, Taylor sure was moving! Taylor had a cup of hot tea that he periodically sipped, mentioning that he had been ‘under the weather’. He also promised that no matter how bad he felt, he’d always perform for us, and always give it his best. That we could always count on! What a trouper! Cheersing Taylor! Have another cup of hot tea!

Tonight’s performance was more from Taylor’s first major CD, self-titled “Taylor Hicks”. “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “Wherever I Lay My Hat”, “Dream Myself Awake”, “Just to Feel That Way”, and the “Right Place” were included in tonight’s performance.

Before launching into “Just to Feel That Way”, Taylor told about the song almost not making the album, and that the song had ‘grown on him’. He said that Clive Davis told him he needed to record the song but Taylor didn’t think it was him, but Mr. Davis said yes it was. In the end Mr. Davis won and Taylor recorded the song. And now it’s his first major single from the album! The audience laughed at Taylor’s story about how the song came to be. He swore it was a true story and not a bunch of bull!

Several times Taylor tagged a couple of songs together. “Hell of a Day” with “Tupelo Honey” and “Wherever I Lay My Hat” with “Night Shift”. Taylor said he liked to tag songs together, something he couldn’t do on American Idol! That got the audience responding with laughter and applause!

“Hold on to Your Love” and “Heart and Soul”, original music by Taylor were included. “Can’t Trust Your Neighbor” plus “Young Turks”, a Rod Stewart cover, filled out the Tampa show. For his final number, Taylor did another signature song, “The Runaround”, written by Loren Gold, the keyboard and music director for the show. Taylor threw in is twirling, bouncing, and corkscrew moves in true Taylor style. The crowd loved it! I was singing to it!

Taylor thanked the audience, and left the stage. The musicians began to breakdown the instruments. The audience was screaming: “ Taylor!” “Taylor!” Clapping and chanting at the same time. Jacksonville spoiled us – we knew an encore was coming! And come it did! Taylor made a comment about sweating and the “suits in LA” and proceeded to take off his jacket! About 15 minutes worth of covers and tagging, and the songs escape me! I was busy trying to watch and photograph this wild young man! (The encore, per GrayCharles, was “Soul Thing” with “Night Life”, “Taking in to the Streets” and “Harlem/Cold Baloney”)

Another incredible night in another beautiful old theatre! Taylor has kept his promises again! What a night!

Pictures can be found here:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Traveling Circus of Fans - Yep, I'm One of Them!

The Florida Theatre - Jacksonville, FL

We’ve been called a lot of names: Soul Patrol, rabid middle-age overweight housewives, and traveling circus of fan. I think I’ll use the first and last tags to describe myself. Since I’m drooling rather than foaming at the mouth, I can’t be rabid. Ok, middle-age, overweight, maybe, but definitely not a housewife!

A group of about 60 or so female fans from the Boogie Board came together to take part in the traveling circus, meeting at the Cedar Grill for a food and drinks before the show. Amid laughter, camera flashes, moving tables and chairs, we greeted each other with the same warmth we shared on the board. I recognized a number of screen names. Ladies I didn’t know recognized me from pictures I’d recently posted from meeting Taylor in New Orleans for the Endymion Mardi Gras week-end just the past week-end (February 16-17). We made new friends and visited with old friends from the American Idol Summer Tour. For several very lucky ladies, a meet-and-greet followed our gathering before the show. No, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, but that’s alright – I’ve met Taylor on several occasions, including the Endymion week-end.

Taylor’s first major solo tour started Wednesday night in Jacksonville, FL at the beautiful Florida Theatre. Its rich gold tones and sculpted ceiling and high stage were perfect for the evening. How appropriate that Taylor acknowledged that Elvis opened his very first solo tour in the same theatre! A bit of déjà vu since Taylor has often been compared to Elvis. Both have their own distinct singing style, dance wildly, and have a female following that only an Arabian sheik could outnumber.

On the third row to the right of stage, there I sat patiently waiting for Taylor to hit the stage. When the opening act, The Greyhounds from Austin, TX, took the stage, the crowd screamed loudly. One of the members said thanks for the acknowledgement but that they were just the opening band. Who cared! The show was starting and Taylor was on his way.

The Greyhounds were surprisingly good. I’d never heard them before, so I really had nothing to base any observations upon. The musicians, playing keyboard, guitar and drums, made a nice jazz group. I have to relearn musical styles since I’ve been out of the scene for a long time, but their sound reminded of jazz. They are old school – sing and play, play and sing – and that made listening so much more enjoyable.

When The Greyhounds finished about 30 minutes later, their equipment was quickly moved and Taylor’s equipment moved into place. The lights dimmed, and Taylor’s name lit up in the back of the stage between the curtains. It was show time!

The band came out first and started to play. Then Brian Less, organist and member of Little Memphis Blues Orchestra, announced Taylor (at least the announcer sounded like Brian!). Taylor took the stage – jeans, famous white shirt, dark gray jacket, and New Balance sneakers – beginning the set with “Soul Thing”.

Taylor promised music from his indie albums, “In Your Time” and “Under the Radar” as well as his post American Idol CD self-titled “Taylor Hicks” as well as a few covers. This man promises and he delivers. As Taylor often says, ‘It’s all good!’ He was right – it truly was all good!

From his self-titled album, Taylor sang “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “Wherever I Lay My Hat”, “Dream Myself Awake”, “Just to Feel That Way”, “The Runaround”, “Gonna Move”, and finally “The Right Place”. “The Runaround” was pretty much what we saw during the holidays with the twirling and turning and rapid dance steps. But “The Right Place” was enough to make a grown man cry! I thought he was going to since “Georgia” but quickly realized it was “The Right Place”. Tears were starting to form, but never flowed. To me, this was the crowning glory in the show. Pure perfection, sung from the heart by a man who sees Ray Charles as his mentor and idol. Pride, that I was there to witness and hear such a beautiful song, pride that I had picked a winner, pride that Taylor was doing what he loved most and was giving it his best.

Taylor’s, “The Deal”, was included. In case you didn’t already know it (and what die hard fan doesn’t!), Taylor wrote “The Deal” as well as “Soul Thing”. Other songs included “Taking It to the Streets” (without the windup we saw on American Idol), a tag of “Heart and Soul” and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”, and his surprising rendition of Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks”. Now that was another incredible performance!

I don’t know how far back the audience was standing, but the first several rows hardly ever sat down, including me. From time to time I did prop myself up on the folded seat. I watched as much of the show behind the camera as I did without the camera. Being only about 10 feet from the stage, I wanted to capture as much of Taylor as possible. I was very lucky – I took a number of great shots! I’ll post the link for your viewing pleasure. ( and select the album you want to view)

Taylor sang non-stop for at least 75 minutes with some chatting to the audience. I think this might have been done to give him a chance to catch his breath. In a voice blog found on GrayCharles, Taylor said he had been under the weather and after a few injections was about 80% himself. If what I saw tonight was Taylor at 80%, ‘heaven knows’ what he will be like at 100%!!!!

Taylor was nothing short of a swirling dervish with his dancing. The spins, turns, leg gyrations that resemble a funky Charleston minus the hand movements, jumping, bouncing, - WOW! What a boundless bundle of energy! He worked so hard that his shirt was soaked, at least in the front. The jacket had to be hot, but Taylor, this being part of his performance attire, kept it on.

“The Right Place” was the last song in the set. Taylor ended by saying ‘thank you for letting me be myself.’ It was a fitting way to close the show. As Taylor left the stage, the crowd wildly called for Taylor to come back. We weren’t ready for the show to end. The musicians left the stage and the crew moved in to breakdown the equipment.

Suddenly the drums were reset and the musicians returned. Taylor came back for one more song. He closed his first performance of his tour with “Long Train Running”, a Doobie Brothers’ cover. As quickly as he had taken the stage for the encore, Taylor was gone again. The house lights came on and the first show was officially over.

Yes, we had been at ‘the right place’ tonight. And Taylor was amazing, delivering everything he had promised. I can’t imagine how the tour will progress and get any better. I’ll find out Thursday in Tampa at the Tampa Theatre if there is any way to do the show any better.

Until then…..

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kicking Up My Heels at Mardi Gras Endymion Style

Time to write about one of those once in a lifetime opportunities, at least for me – Mardi Gras Endymion Style! Now I’ve never really been much of a partier, but when Taylor Hicks burst on the scene, my Victorian ways just flew out the window. I can hold my diet coke with the best of them, especially if I limit myself to no more than two glasses! Helps cut down on the trips to the ladies’ room (so I don’t miss any fun)!

The Endymion Krewes know how to throw one heck of a party! It’s so big it takes two nights and the New Orleans’ Superdome! Where else could you gather 5,000 partiers for a casual Friday night fling and 14,000 revelers in formal attire on Saturday! The menu is quite simple with a cash bar and red beans and rice on Friday and setups and popcorn on Saturday. The formal gig is bring-your-own-food-and-booze! Image all the party goers in long gowns and tuxedos pulling ice chests and carts of food! Quite a sight, I must say! Guilty – I had my chest with bottled water and chips. Didn’t figure I’d eat much since I was there to see only one group of performers.

You guessed it! None other than American Idol champion, Taylor Hicks, backed by his former band mates, Little Memphis Blues Orchestra! Taylor was chosen, along with Journey, to be the Endymion parade grand marshals. I’d heard of Journey, Styx, and Al Green (who were there to perform), but couldn’t name any of their music. Taylor, on the other hand, I was quite familiar with. Absolutely love this guy, especially when LiMBO is there too!

If I had to compare the Friday night party to Saturday’s, it was a much more laid back event. And much less crowded. There were several local bands performing, and the only name I can remember was “Mixed Nuts”. They were quite good, as were the other bands that performed. Because there was less of a crowd, LiMBO mixed with the crowd, and I got to talk to each of the guys from time to time.

Taylor arrived standing up through the open roof of a limo tossing plastic cups into the crowd. No luck, I didn’t catch one. But that was fine. After being introduced on stage and doing a quick number with Journey, Taylor was squired around the perimeter of the VIP section to greet his adoring fans, one of which was yours truly. Got my picture taken with him. Shook his hand. Autographed my ticket which was hanging from a ribbon around my neck. Even exchanged a few words.

While I was waiting for Taylor, several of the Journey guys came over to where I was standing. I guess they thought because my hair’s white that I would know who they were and would want pictures. I had no clue who was who, and even had to ask what they had sung that I might be familiar with. Such a down cast look the one in front of me was giving! We were all waiting for the much younger gray-haired wonder! Sorry, Journey guys!

The Endymion Krewes had two functions on Saturday to attend. First, the parade, and then the ball. The floats were absolutely beautiful! I had watched an earlier parade as it passed by my hotel, but it didn’t hold a candle to Endymion. No way! The Endymion floats were bigger and more colorful! There were marching bands, ROTC squads, and floats, and a miniature truck (kid’s toy size!) that snaked through downtown New Orleans and then circled inside the Superdome. Taylor was throwing beads and cups this time. Again, no luck in catching anything!

After standing for several hours to watch the parade pass, it was time to go stand near the stage to watch Taylor and LiMBO perform. All the LiMBO guys were there, Jeff Lopez, sax & flute, Brian Lee, keyboard, Mitch Jones, bass, Sam Gunderson, guitar, and Zippy Dieterich, drums. And finally the moment I had waited for – Taylor Hicks took the stage!

Taylor put a lot of energy into his performance, singing and dancing, as only he does best! They sang their older version of “Gonna Move”, “Call Me the Breeze”, “Hell of a Day”, a medley of “Mardi Gras and When the Saints Go Marching In”, and a couple of others that escape me at the moment. Taylor sounded wonderful, and LiMBO was equally as wonderful.

It had been a fun-filled week-end, and I was facing driving and flying time the next day. Taylor and LiMBO had left the party, and so did I. By leaving early, it would be easier to get a ride back to the hotel. Walking to the Superdome for the events was enough for me – don’t know if it was eight or twelve blocks – but who really cares! And I had done it Friday night as well! My legs and feet were quite sore and tired, and ready to have my body put to bed!

Taylor’s performance only welted my need for more Taylor time. Thank goodness his tour starts tomorrow and I have tickets!

Be sure to read the various website threads that other Soul Patrollers have written. There were a number of interesting happenings, little of which should be printed in this blog! But I’ll give you a few hints: someone got their ball ticket signed by Taylor when her hubby met Taylor in the men’s room, another got a bruise on the head from a cup tossed by Taylor, someone else had drink poured on them, someone saw other guests “entertaining” the Krewes, and someone got sprinkled when the guy behind her tinkled! Go check it out – it will be well worth the time!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Biggest American Idol 'Diva'

According to Ms. Jeanette Walls, the infamous gossip columnist for MSNBC, “If an award were given to the person who throws the most hissyfits, temper tantrums, and exhibits the most out-of-control behavior, looks like the prize would go to contestant Taylor Hicks.” She seems to base her remarks on an old STAR article back in May after Taylor was crowned the newest American Idol.

Let’s see. She says Taylor earns the title because:
1. Once Taylor made the Top 24, he became “difficult” and became even more so as the season went on
2. Taylor didn’t make friends with the other male contestants, often seeming “conceited and cold”
3. After making the Top 8, Taylor acted like he didn’t want to be on the show anymore
4. Taylor didn’t want the required bodyguard to accompany him to the restroom and was said to have told one bodyguard to “**** off”.
5. Taylor refused to go to photo shoots
6. Taylor wouldn’t talk to others in the show’s “Green Room”

Let me see if I can separate fact from fiction.

For someone who came on the show believing this was his last chance to “have his voice heard because he had one”, being difficult would not be advisable for anyone. Would Taylor have jeopardized his one chance at recognition? Doubtful.

Taylor, by his own admission, has said he was “an old dog” and “unmoldable”. At nearly 30 years old and having been in the music business for almost 15 years, that seems to be a reasonable statement. Taylor knew himself and what he wanted. It was about the music, the performance, the passion of putting out good music. Simple formula, good logic, no pretense. Translation: difficult and growing more difficult if someone was trying to change Taylor from what he wanted to be to something he wasn’t and wouldn’t be. Kind of like getting rid of the gray!

I’m sure we’ve all met people who are typically loners, shy and/or reserved. Often times this person is hard to engage in conversation without extreme effort. Taylor has repeatedly said he was shy and reserved, and often spent a lot of time by himself. Translation: unfriendly, conceited, cold. Since I’m often shy and reserved, I guess I’m cold and conceited. Sounds like I’m in good company!

But if Taylor wasn’t making friends with the other male contestants, why did Bucky, Elliott, Ace, and Chris show up at the various after parties to sing with Taylor and his old bandmates, Little Memphis Blues Orchestra? Perhaps to unwind, have a few free beers, strain their voices? Me thinks not! They were friends, friends who wanted to go out together and have a good time!

If you were lucky enough to go to any of these after parties or see video of them, you saw Taylor give each one his due. He showed them how to get before an impromptu audience and perform for the sheer fun of it. Taylor was a “silent” teacher, one who shows how by leading, taking time to give each performer a chance to shine. Even gave recognition to the band! Translation: unfriendly, conceited, cold? That’s what Ms. Walls said! Seems like the friendly thing to do – take your buddies out to play good music!

After making it into the Top 8, Taylor now had a shot at winning. He hadn’t been in the bottom three, and never would. Why chunk it all at this point? He had fans, a following, his beloved “Soul Patrol”. Now was not the time to give. Translation: ready to throw in the towel, maybe? If this was the week Taylor sang “Country Roads”, he felt certain he was going home. He was safe!

Having to take a bodyguard to use the bathroom made me laugh! What did they expect? Taylor needed someone to help him? Taylor had been going to the bathroom alone for years. What could go wrong? “Rabid female fans” hiding in the stalls or under the urinals? Post a guard outside the door or lock the door and require a key to be used for entrance. Problem solved!

Telling the bodyguard to “**** off” – I’m surprised that’s all that was said! I would have said a lot more, and I consider myself a lady! (Maybe sometime I’ll tell you the story of the April Fool’s joke played on my department at work – mandatory drug testing with the male HR person in attendance. Not pretty!) Translation: uncooperative and difficult. I don’t blame Taylor! We enjoyed the discussion around this one – females may potty in packs, but guys seem to go it alone! What’s the big deal!

Now the idea that Taylor refused to go to photo shoots seemed quite odd. If that was the case, why was he at the TV Guide photo shoot that the Soul Patrol loved! And in those white almost transparent pants! OK, so Taylor didn’t want to change pants with a camera following him around. Would you? Taylor seemed to have a sense of modesty – he wanted privacy to change. But in front of the camera, he was a natural! And all those great pictures we had of Taylor from the show! Translation: if Taylor didn’t want to go to photo shoots, how did we get the TV Guide video, etc.? Was that Taylor’s alter persona or twin? Nah, that was Taylor, the man whom the camera loves!

And last, the infamous “Green Room”. Just why do they call it the “Green Room”? Is it painted some hideous shade of green? Is it a holding room? Was that where the “Behind the Scenes” and Coke videos were shot? Taylor always seemed to be there! At least in the ones I saw! Translation: didn’t talk to others in the “Green Room” - probably because he was either being interviewed, learning his songs, or resting his voice.

OK. The facts have been separated from the fiction. You be the judge.

Just remember this: Taylor wears that black band to help keep him grounded. He put himself out there for his fans, gave us impromptu photo and autograph opportunities. He gave 110% at every performance, and often showed up as a “special guest” at after parties.

So if this and wanting privacy in the bathroom makes Taylor the biggest American Idol ‘diva’, I say good for you, Taylor! Keep on being the ‘diva’ because we love you just the way you are!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The High Cost of Fame

I’ve often thought about what the cost of fame entails. Of course, there are the usual obvious things that come with fame. Invitations to charity functions, TV spots, awards shows, talk show circuit. Maybe even a chance to play a few rounds of golf with pros and celebrities. That’s all fun and exciting, but what’s the real cost of fame?

I’ve watched a number of interviews with my favorite American Idol, Taylor Hicks. He gets asked all sorts of questions – from advice to this year’s contestants to whether he has someone special in his life. These questions, along with their answers, make great chat room and fan message board fodder. But how does all of this affect Taylor, really affect this guy?

Prior to AI, Taylor was just another musician playing in local clubs and bars, maybe even a dinner session from time to time. Maybe a table of six or several tables giving him a larger audience. Perhaps no one was really listening. The crowds were probably small, but it didn’t matter. He’d play his heart out to whoever was there to listen. Taylor was in his element. The stage was his world. Here he could open up and give everything he had. Afterwards, he could walk down the street and maybe get a friendly wave or smile.

Taylor has talked of being shy and reserved. That I believe. Watch American Idol footage during the auditions and you see a young man sitting alone. Perhaps his choice. Perhaps no one believed he would make it. Here Taylor was just another contestant, waiting and wanting his voice heard. And within just a few weeks, Taylor’s whole world was about change. When he chose Sam Cooke’s, A Change is Gonna Come, I doubt Taylor or anyone else realized just what kind of impact Taylor was about to have. No truer song was sung by anyone during those audition days.

With AI, Taylor was becoming known. When he returned home during the show, he was met by 15,000 fans! Even Taylor, himself, had said he had no idea of his impact, even in Birmingham, the town where he grew up and played his heart out. The high cost of fame was about to become known to him. Taylor was about to find out he could never really go home again. Even going home for Father’s Day and Center Stage required that Taylor stay in an undisclosed hotel. Family and friends would have to come to him.

After the show and obligatory summer tour, Taylor returned to Los Angeles to make his first major album. LA is probably a place a famous person can get lost in. Celebrities are everywhere, so sightings go unnoticed, except for the paparazzi. It’s easy to have more privacy there. Given the photographs that have shown up and the lack of tabloid gossip about Taylor, I’d say LA just might have a new permanent resident.

So back to my original topic – the high cost of fame. It’s not what one might expect. It’s not the celebrity status – it’s the loss of privacy. Everyone wants a piece of you, to know what you are doing, to know who you are with, when you brush your teeth, what you sleep in, when you get a ticket for DUI, that sort of stuff. On The Official Soul Patrol boards we’ve discussed everything from potential girlfriends, “luscious chest hair”, shoe size, boxer or briefs, even trying to determine the brand of underwear that was captured on film during Taylor’s tour performances! Talk about a loss of privacy – nothing was sacred!

Yes, the true high cost of fame is the loss of privacy. Wherever Taylor goes he’s recognized. Hiding under a ball cap won’t last for long. With his height and gray mane, Taylor is easily recognized. It’s not all bad, though. His fame will open doors and get him into places he couldn’t have gotten into a year ago. But when he wants to go home, it just may not be possible. It’s definitely the loss of privacy that one gives up in exchange for celebrity status.

For a guy who’s shy and reserved, will losing his privacy be worth it? As a fan of Taylor’s musical and performance style, I certainly hope so. He’s having fun right now and enjoying every moment (at least he says he is). He’s trying to stay humble and grounded and not “act like a celebrity”. Taylor may just be able to have it all, and remain Taylor, but without the privacy he once had.

So Taylor, if you are reading this, would you mind telling me what brand of soap you shower with?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Idol and the Almost Idol

"Give me a chance, give me a chance, give me a chance”. I feel a bit like Taylor during his audition as I write this entry. This blog is supposed to be about Taylor, American Idol or music in general. I’m about to work in all three topics at once! So please, don’t stop reading when you see what I’m talking about – give me a chance – maybe this will surprise you!

Keep this in mind. I like Chris, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and buy his music or tour tickets. Now Taylor, on the other hand, I’m a fan, big fan, and supporter – just look at how many shows I’m attending!

Personally, I get a bit tired, really tired, when critics and fans compare Taylor Hicks, the Idol, with Chris Daughtry, the Almost Idol. So what am I about to do – the same thing – only with a twist!

Let’s start with the similarities. Both Taylor and Chris have been in the music business for a number of years, having formed their own bands. Both are writers as well as performers, and both are very talented. Both are males – like you haven’t already noticed! And very easy on the eyes and giving the heart a few flutters! Both were in the top 4 on American Idol Season 5. Both have performed the national anthem at a televised sporting event. Both have upcoming tours. Both have earned gold and platinum status. Perhaps that’s were the similarities end.

So how are they different? The obvious first! One has gray hair and the other has none! One’s tall and the other’s average height. One is older than the other, and one may experience weight problems while the other doesn’t. One’s album came out without a single or video. The other has a video and single with his album. So much for the obvious!

The real differences are in their musical styles. Taylor is a bluesy soul singer with dance moves that only a chiropractor would endorse. Chris, on the other hand, is a rocker. Their music will likely be played on different radio stations, based solely on the music genre that station plays. Pure and simple. Taylor and Chris are two very different performers, and thank goodness! Each brings something special to the table that makes their fans stand up and take notice with a willingness to go to bat for their favorite.

But what I find to be the truest form of similarity or difference, depending on your perspective, is this:

Taylor recognizes that Chris has talent, and wishes Chris nothing but the best in his career.

Chris is tired of the apologies for not winning the title. As a matter of fact, he hates hearing it. And he has said he’s doing all right.

So what’s my conclusion? Both guys are very talented musicians with a great following of fans. They are each doing what they want to be doing, and each is finding his own level of success. They are happy with how their careers are going, and so should we!

Let the bickering end!

It's the Curve Balls That Matter

In his recent interview with PBS Kids, It’s My Life, Taylor Hicks shares how he held onto his dreams, even when it didn’t seem possible. His philosophy was simply stated that “life throws many curve balls, and if you don’t swing, you’re never going to hit any.” While a simple statement, I found it rather profound. Perhaps because Taylor said it, or because of what he said in the rest of the interview.

Taylor obviously had a rather difficult childhood. His mother was reportedly an alcoholic. His parents divorced when he was eight. He moved around a lot. And then he attended four different schools when he was in the fourth grade. That’s quite a lot for anyone to go through in just a few years, much less at such a tender age. Taylor says he turned to music to find solace.

It seems Taylor also may have matured much earlier than his peers. He was taller than other boys his age (according pictures of his early youth) and his hair started graying when he was between 12 to 14 year old. Taylor, himself, said he was the victim of bullying. I picture him a tall thin boy who was painfully shy and often picked on by others. He stated in this interview that he used goofiness as means of coping with the stresses of adolescence.

So how does all of this make Taylor what he is today, the soulful humble man that he seems to be? I’m no child psychologist; I’d say he had to have someone close to him who was a strong influence. Perhaps it was Miss Joni, his paternal grandmother. Maybe it was his father, Dr. Brad, with whom Taylor seems to have a close relationship. We all probably had experiences growing up where children around us were unnecessarily mean or cruel – so cruel that emotional scars can still be felt.

Whatever the reasons, I can hear it in his music, in the soulful yet insightful lyrics and melodies of the songs he sings. Even his debut single, “Do I Make You Proud” begs for acceptance. The lyrics of “Gonna Move”, both on his first major album and a song he’s performed live with Little Memphis Blues Orchestra, his former band mates, talks of needing to move to grow up and find one’s way in the world. As with, “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”, the wanderer has no real established home, which is much like Taylor is right now, a man without a permanent address – one who lives on the road.

I’ve noticed, and also read others’ accounts, that Taylor appears to have two separate and distinct personalities. This is not a bad thing, really. I’ve found that this often happens with very talented people. In private, he seems to be shy and reserved. Watch Taylor as he signs autographs or poses for pictures – he’s very focused. Sometimes he even seems to tune out what’s around him because he is so focused. I was lucky enough to meet Taylor several times, and each time he was reserved yet focused, with a bit of shyness mixed in.

But put Taylor on a stage with a live band, now that’s a show to behold! Those dance moves are enough to leave a chiropractor rubbing his hands together because he’s thinking about the fees he’s about to collect! The energy and passion exude from all of his pores as Taylor belts out song after song, giving each performance 200%. Taylor says it all about the music, and I believe that. The stage is Taylor’s lifeline, his way to express himself, a chance to dream, a chance to make others happy, a chance to control his destiny.

I think that’s what I saw the first time I saw Taylor, that fateful Las Vegas audition for American Idol. Thank goodness Randy and Paula saw the potential. I think Simon saw something too, but it scared him and he didn’t know what to do with Taylor. Here was a young man with a voice that needed to be heard, a voice that deserved to be heard. Taylor was a young man that would melt our hearts and turn us into “a traveling circus of fans”. A man who would be the object of affection for so many fawning, thudding women with no age barriers who would form new friendships with total strangers on the internet fan boards. With Taylor’s audition, the sisterhood and brotherhood of the Soul Patrol was born.

Yes, life really does throw us curve balls. It’s what we do that makes the real difference. Swing that bat, folks, because if we do it often enough, we’re going to hit the ball, whether it's a fly ball or knocked out of the ballpark. As the American Idol Season 5 winner, Taylor definitely knocked it out of the ballpark! I’ve been swinging at the curve balls in my own life, and I’ve hit a few! One such hit was finding this website, The Official Soul Patrol, that I call “home” and all the new friends I’ve made here along with the opportunity of writing this blog!

So the next time life throws you a curve ball, take a swing at it. Taylor did, and look what he has accomplished in the past year. If you do, who knows, you might be the next…..

True Confessions of a Taylor Fan

Hi, my name is Mandy and I’m addicted to Taylor.

There, I said it. It’s now out in the open! I have taken the first step toward acceptance of my insanity. OK, so I’m nuts. But I bet I’m in good company. Actually, I’m probably in great company! And I guess if I weren’t a fan, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

So how did I become a Taylor addict? I was never a big fan of American Idol. Alright, I would watch the last six weeks. But that was my limit! I had watched Ruben and Carrie win. And I definitely wasn’t a voter. Actually, I was a flakey every-other-year watcher. So this wasn’t even my year to watch the show.

It just so happened that I turned on the TV in time to see the Las Vegas auditions. There was this gray-haired guy who wanted his voice heard because he thought he had one. He sang Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” followed by a hip-slapping hand-clapping “Swanee River Boogie”.
There was a sweet shyness about him – he sang with his eyes closed and he moved and jerked with a nervous twitch. Paula was giddy, Randy was wide-eyed, and Simon was shaking his head in disbelief! With a golden ticket in hand, this guy was headed to Hollywood. What had just happened – a change was gonna come!

I didn’t watch the show again until the top 12 were named. But after each Wednesday night, a phone call to my daughter confirmed the gray-haired guy was still there. Now I would be watching the show each week, recording it on Tuesday and watching the live show on Wednesday. Oh yes, and the gray-haired guy now had a name, Taylor Hicks!

On Tuesday nights I had Bible study. When it was over, I’d run by McDonald’s or Wendy’s and take home a sandwich. As I was wolfing down my dinner, I’d turn on the tube and rewind the video. Thank goodness for video! I would fast-forward to Taylor’s performance. With the 2 hour voting clock running, I could speed dial with the best of them, getting in as many as 15-20 votes a night. It’s 1-2-3 – either I had a busy signal or a recording thanking me for voting for Taylor Hicks! I was hooked! Reel me in and filet me!

Now there was a part of me that thought this guy needed to control the goofy jerky dancing. It’s was almost distracting at times. That was my thought until he stood still in front of the mike! Wait, I thought those were jerky moves – what was happening – I was missing them! No Taylor, I started to scold the TV (like he could hear me!). You have to move, shake, twitch, jerk – do something – just don’t stand still!

I watched and voted each week faithfully. I chewed my fingers when Taylor had to pick the safe group when it was down to seven. Each week I voted like my hands were on fire. Busy signal – redial – thanks for voting for me. Taylor was never in the bottom three. I was sitting on the edge of my chair waiting. Safe. Safe. Safe.

Soon it’s down to four. The Idols were going to Graceland! Now I work only a couple of blocks away from there. No, I didn’t go over to see them. I was just a voter, pulling for Taylor, the guy Simon didn’t think would make it to the finals. What kind of fan was I really?

Finally it’s down to the top 2 – Kat and Taylor. Taylor just had to win. This guy had charm, style, voice and moves! After that Tuesday night show, I got in over 30 votes, maybe even 50! Wednesday night as they crowned the winner, I was getting my nails manicured. What! I wasn’t glued to the TV! Nope. I was on the phone just before the end of the show to find out that Taylor had won.

I didn’t need to see the show – I was taping it. What a mistake on my part! With my nails newly polished, I drove home, flipped on the tube, rewound the tape and sat down to watch. What an incredible show I had missed. Then the moment of truth….that 5 second wait until Ryan said the magic words….Taylor Hicks….and the infamous “Soul Patrol”! I was in tears. My idol had won! Yeha!

OK, the talk around the office the next day was about Taylor winning and why he should have (or shouldn’t have). I thought that would be the end. My life would go back to normal. Not so fast. I was about to discover….the fan sites, the boards, TOSP!

I started out slow enough. Let’s see what’s out there. A few pictures. Some video. A portrait being auctioned on eBay to benefit Kid One Transport. TOSP was the sponsor. Our own Taylorham_5, Jennifer, was the artist. I watched the home page each time I logged in. The portrait was wonderful. I thought about it, considered bidding. After a couple of weeks, I placed my first bid. I was top bidder for a couple of days.

In those last few minutes of the auction I though it was going to be simple! I was about to be the winner hands down. Wait! What the ….. I’ve been outbid! Only a minute to go! I quickly put in a number I thought I could live with. 10-9-8-7-6-5…..the seconds ticked away slowly as I refreshed the screen. One last bid came in - $1,076 – but I was holding with a higher bid – and I won!

This was the beginning of my journey. I would later learn the significance of the price paid for the portrait. Maybe you see it – I didn’t until it was pointed out to me. It’s Taylor’s birthday – 10/7/76! Karma! Yes, I, too, believe in karma. The ride was just beginning.

By the time I won the portrait, I had tickets to see Taylor in the tour show in Greensboro, NC. I took the portrait with me in hopes that I could get Taylor to autograph it. After talking with security and explaining that I had won the portrait to support Taylor’s favorite charity, I was about to meet Taylor. Oh my! He looks so much younger in person! And such a sweetheart! Taylor graciously signed the portrait, and everything else we had (my daughter and granddaughter were with me), and then made pictures with us. What a doll! What a generous man! WOW! (If you want to read the original story about meeting Taylor, here is the link:

I was now officially a fan. A Taylor addict, really. I would soon need another fix. I mean another show. More live Taylor. Houston would follow with a trip to the Engine Room. A spur-of-the-moment trip to Austin and Antonne’s. And let’s not forget the infamous mini-convention of TOSPer’s at the final show in Wilkes-Barre and The Woodlands. Yep, I was hooked. Addicted.

And this spring is no different. I have tickets to so many shows, and more being planned. Stay tuned. Watch my blog. As the tour gets started I’ll keep you updated as to what is going on and how Taylor changes up each show. Wait! That assumes I will be able to remember what happens at each show! Maybe I better take a note pad!

Yep! I’m a Taylor addict. There is no cure, not that I want to be cured. Just keep the tour going. I’ve got 4 weeks of vacation plus 9 remaining holidays to use to get in lots of shows. Be sure the padded cell is ready when the tour ends. I’m sure I’ll need it. Which one of you will be my roommate!

Yes, my name is Mandy, and I’m a Taylor addict!

What a Difference a Year Makes

Last year, mid-January, American Idol Season 5 was just beginning. The first few shows gave us a preview of the talent that would soon dominate the next few months. One such contestant was Taylor Hicks, a gray-haired 29-year old from Birmingham, AL. Simon didn't think he could make the top whatever, Paula was gushing in fangirlie style, and Randy was just Randy.

As the season progressed, this gray-haired young man kept coming back. Soon, Taylor Hicks became a clear favorite among the show's fans, never in the bottom three, and apparently always the top vote-getter. Taylor, the clear favorite, won the title hands down, given the votes he apparently received. He would soon release his first single, "Do I Make You Proud", which would earn him his first gold record.

In just a few short months of winning the coveted title, Taylor would be named People's most eligible bachelor and tour the country with the rest of the top 10 finalists from the season. Taylor would also perform on Jay Leno, Stadium of Fire (a military show), and Spirit of Life Awards to name a few non-Idol appearances.

Just before Christmas, his first major-label CD, self-titled, "Taylor Hicks" was released. J Records/Arista Records pushed this CD out in record time - 6 weeks in the studio on the heels of the AI tour, plus a couple of weeks needed to press and ship the CD. Within 6 weeks of its release, the Recording Industry Association of America has certified the album platinum. That means at least one million copies of the CD had been sold! All without the release of a single! All without any radio airplay! I call that quite a feat! Maybe even a first! Maybe even unheard of!

Fast forward one year later. Taylor would be seen on major shows - Jay Leno, Good Morning America, TNT Christmas Special, Christmas at Rockefeller Center, Martha Stewart - just to name a few. Then throw in a couple of appearances with President Bush for good measure. Add to this a foursome in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic playing with various golf pros along with Alice Cooper and Scott Hamilton.

Now Taylor is getting ready for his first major solo tour. All of his stops are small venue, the type of clubs and places Taylor says he is most comfortable playing. So far the tour has 33 confirmed stops, a number of which are already sold out and another 20 unconfirmed stops, and more are coming. It looks like a grueling schedule, but Taylor, the consummate performer, will give each show 110% of himself.

Taylor seems to have that golden Midas touch. Will that continue with his tour? Will he have the same success of playing before a sell-out crowd? Given where Taylor was this time last year, and what he has accomplished in the year since, my money is on betting he will win another round of honors - sell-out tour, a Grammy or two, and maybe even a golf trophy!

Oh, and yes, Taylor, you do make us, the Soul Patrol, very proud!

All's Fair in Love and War or Is It?

After investing so much time and energy in American Idol Season 5, I swore I wouldn't watch Season 6. I promised myself, and all my family and friends that I wouldn't watch the new season. What can I say. I failed.

On premier night, I watched a couple of minutes. It was just enough time to watch two young ladies get the golden ticket. OK, that was enough and I turned it off. I was satisfied that I was finished.Wrong!

Week 2 finds me in front of the screen again. It wasn't my fault. I was meeting my daughter and granddaughters for a birthday dinner. We were seated in the back corner, right under the flat screen TV. The manager just assumed I wanted to watch Idol, so he turned it on. Now, mind you, I had control of the remote. But, NOOO, I left it. After all, the rest of the dinner party probably wanted to see it. Bad mistake on my part.

I really found the show that night to be appalling, really. Simon was most unkind to several potential contestants. I expected Simon to repeat comments similar to last year that he made to Mandisa. I was rather surprised at his restraint. That was until...

Remarks about the voice, positive or negative, are expected. But to make fun of a person's appearance, particularly when the person can't do anything about it, goes beyond good taste and even what should be acceptable to the television networks. I couldn't believe my ears. Did Simon really say what he just did? My heart ached for the young man.

I have only one thing to say to Simon. OK, only one thing that is printable. Simon, if you were told your accent was probably as fake as your pedigree, would you still be laughing?

Some of My Favorite Pictures