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

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Traveling Circus Stays Home for Southwhatever

What would any good traveling circus do when Taylor Hicks comes close to home? Head out of town, stay home to listen to the cellcert or show up with the rest of clowns? The clowns won, I have to tell you! Not intending to be disrespectful of the Mississippi bedroom community of Memphis, Tennessee, several members of this circus troupe had trouble remembering the correct name for this state line town, so we kept referring to Southaven as Southwhatever.

Snowden Grove Park began building its state of the art amphitheater in late spring, installing the seats only a few short weeks ago. The amphitheater has all the qualities to make this area very proud – room seats, food courts, spacious dining hall for the musical groups, ample parking, and restroom facilities. Well, for now, a couple of line of port-a-potties for the time being. But when the construction is finally completed, this will be a great place for outdoor concerts. And Taylor Hicks was the third or fourth entertainer to perform here since construction started! Even Taylor commented about how nice the amphitheater is!

The weather was perfect for an outdoor concert. I’ve lived in the area for quite a number of years, and let me tell you, July and August in Memphis can be hotter than your know where with humidity that can curl even the straightest hair! But tonight was perfect! Just enough breezes to think you further north, yet enough warmth to know you were further south. Maybe it was sweet tea that let Taylor know he was truly in the South!

Tonight was a truly wonderful show! Lots of energy from Taylor even though most of the audience sat for the show. Stand up and you were asked to sit down, but from time to time, a few were able to stand without interruption. Try to move to the front in the aisles for a few pictures and security sent you packing back to your seats! A couple of ladies were sent back several times to the point security actually stooped down beside me to keep the aisles clear!

And a longer show than I’ve heard lately – about an hours and a half including the encore! WHOOOO! SOUL PATROL! Oh, and there were lots of shout outs to Memphis, Tennessee! Even a tag or two about being here! Hopefully Taylor won’t wait too long to come back this way again!

Camera policy was being strictly enforced tonight. Nothing more than a small point and shoot type of camera. Fit in your pocket size, so the pictures tonight aren’t much in the way of close-ups, and a few got washed out, but the form in there to let you know what was going on. And really, I was shocked to find out I took over 450 pictures! I let only the best – almost 400 – so try using the slide show to view the pictures quickly!

Showtime! A bit of “Soul Finger” and the band’s opening montage. The intro of TAY-LOR HICKS and out came Taylor Hicks to greet the audience amidst cheers and applause! Black Otis Redding tee shirt and jeans that looked great on Taylor, and the guys were also wearing black shirts and jeans. I love the summer look of the men in black!

Taylor Hicks opened the show with his own original “Soul Thing” which he has said is the closest thing to having his own anthem! And tagged with “East Bound and Down”, it’s really hard to sit still! I was dancing in my seat! Or was that some sort of wiggle!
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s, “Call Me the Breeze” followed, and I think about that time we were actually getting a bit of breeze on a summer night! Another Taylor Hicks’ original, “Heart and Soul” was weaved with “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” and some Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee”, which was a great way to honor the area!

Back to the “Taylor Hicks” CD for “Just to Feel That Way”, the first single from the album. And what about all of those crazy friends we have – Taylor has his own because he wrote “My Friend” for one, and he reminds of what it’s like to have such friends! Me? Nah, I’m not a crazy friend, I’m just plain crazy! And loving every minute of my insanity! Why else would I be the traveling circus!

“Medicate Goo” will keep me up half the night listening to it roll around in my head. That and the three classes of diet coke I had with my burger at Huey’s in Southaven after the show! But who cares – I just have to work in the morning, and probably until early evening at that! I’ll survive! I’ll just relive the concert and remember hearing “Wherever I Lay My Hat” and think about how Taylor was dancing around the stage!

Taylor may like to perform the Beatles, “Don’t Let Me Down”, but he definitely did not let us down with his performance and energy! A couple more Taylor Hicks’ pre-Idol originals, “Hold On to Your Love” and “The Deal” followed. The crowd really seemed to like those originals. I know I do! I’m looking forward to Taylor’s next album when he gets to write more of his own music, because he definitely “feels” what he writes!

The concert finishes with cuts from the post-Idol CD, “Gonna Move”, “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. There were lots of great tags including “Do You Believe in Magic” (yes, I do and it was here tonight!) and “Let’s Get It On” (which gets the women thudding and swooning, not to mention screaming!) OK, Taylor, you definitely have our attention when you add that Marvin Gaye tag!

Now I must confess, when Taylor sings “The Right Place”, my heart just skips a few beats. And tonight, my heart just melted with that number! It’s one of my favorite songs, right up there with Taylor’s original “Somehow”, “The Fall” and “West Texas Sky”, written long before American Idol, and maybe even before he turned 20! I’ve had the privilege of hearing live the first two Taylor Hicks’ originals, but I certainly hope “West Texas Sky” will make the set list in the near future! I wonder if I put a $100 in the tip jar that he might sing that one night!?!?! I know there are other fans of that song who would probably help come up with the tip!

Taylor thanked us for coming and having him before he left the stage. The band finished their musical interlude and also left. Of course, I knew about the encore, but a lot of people “bought” the fake-out and left the venue. Out comes the band followed by Taylor. With the microphone on the stand, I was watching for the “stool” but it didn’t appear. Instead, Taylor performed Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown”, which is a song that I’m not familiar with, but certainly liked! The encore ended with Elton John’s “Take Me to the Pilot”. And once again Taylor left the stage!

As he walked off, he grabbed a towel and wiped his face. He then came back to the stage and threw the used towel to a little girl on the front row! What a great guy Taylor is to do special things for children to make the show that much more memorable for them! That’s why the Soul Patrol loves this Southern Soul Man!

Taylor Hicks has a busy week coming up with more book signings, and will be back in Memphis at Davis-Kidd Booksellers on Thursday, July 26. Yours truly will be there with a few more circus acts as we welcome Taylor back to our humble Southern city known for its blues and soul music. Stick around, the circus doesn’t have far to travel this week to capture more Taylor time, and for this ringleader, that feels both weird and great at the same time!

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 http://www.kidone.org/ 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 http://www.taylorsangels.blogspot.com/ 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, http://www.jewelrysprout.com/ 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 http://www.bluzkat.com/ 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

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Traveling Circus Finds Charity Begins at Ashburn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashburn Pictures

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

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Traveling Circus Glows in Glen Allen

Nothing like an early Saturday morning flight! When I booked my flight several months ago, I decided to fly into Washington, DC. I don’t know what possessed me to do that except that Ashburn, VA was close by. I got up early to finish packing and then my darling daughter, who hates early mornings more than I do, took me to the airport to catch my plane. Nothing spectacular there except maybe getting bumped to first class, which is a much better place to nap!

After landing in DC, I picked up my rental car and set Madge up in the front seat. She was all nicely programmed to take me to my hotel in Glen Allen where the concert was to be that night. As I drove out of DC, I was able to see several of the great monuments such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Monument, the Jefferson Monument, the Capitol Building, and the Pentagon. It was quite interesting to see these again – the last time I was in DC was over 35 years ago. Now I want to plan a trip there later in the fall to take my granddaughters there to see all the famous sites!

The traffic from DC to Fredericksburg, VA was bumper-to-bumper for about 30 miles and one hour. Once I was able to get past Fredericksburg, it was smooth sailing all the way to Glen Allen! I stopped a time or two for a bathroom-food-stretch break and then back in the car to keep going. Driving alone, while tiring, is a great way to clear my head and get ready for the night’s events!

I was meeting up with some friends there, none of whom were from Virginia! We were coming from Michigan, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee for the sole purpose of getting our Taylor Hicks fix! After everyone checked into the hotel, we decided we needed to head over to Innsbrook Pavilion for the show.

Since the gates were scheduled to open at 6:00 pm, we thought we’d get there around 5:00. What a mistake that was! The line was at least 150 feet long, with people standing 2 to 4 people across! Bless one terrific Boogier who was ‘holding’ our place in line! I don’t know if I could have stood in the line for an hour, much less try to walk to the end of the line!

Finally the gate was opened and we were allowed in. First, a scan of the ticket, then the stub was torn off, walk down to the golden circle seats and get a wrist band on. The wristband part was almost as bad as the line to get in the place!

The stage was a simple steel outdoor structure with parachute type of roof and a stage height of at least 5 feet! No one was going to be able to jump up onto the stage while Taylor Hicks was performing, that’s for sure! We found seats in the center section of the gold circle, about the fifth or sixth row. Just far enough back to watch the concert without craning the neck and close enough for some terrific pictures (see link below).

Now mind you, Virginia in the summer is hot, and this day was no exception! There was no breeze – just hot, still air! I thought I was going to melt – and I would have if I had been an ice carving! Because of the heat, the men were sweating while the women were glowing!

We took our seats and waited for the opening band to take the stage. I think it was a local group, and really not too bad! They sang for about 30-40 minutes. Once their set was over, their instruments were moved off the stage and the final sound check for Taylor Hicks was completed.

We heard the usual intro of “Soul Finger” and the band and maybe Loren introducing Taylor Hicks. Out Taylor comes waving to the crowd. “Gonna Move” must be the anthem for starting off the show as some sort of promise that we are going to be moved by the music. For most of the show, the mixed crowd of both genders and all ages were up on their feet. Yes, we were being moved!

Taylor Hicks next went into some of his own original music with “Call Me the Breeze”, and “My Friend”. Now when he asked if we had any crazy friends, I couldn’t help but think most of us there, especially the ones of us who travel around a lot to the shows, must be thinking we don’t need any crazy friends because we are crazy ourselves. I know I was!

Next came the first single off “Taylor Hicks”, “Just to Feel That Way”, and a favorite of Clive Davis’. At the end of the song, someone yelled out “Welcome to Virginia” but somehow Taylor must have thought someone was asking for a kiss because he said they needed ‘Soul Control’, or maybe he was talking about himself! Not really sure!

Now if ever a song is going to keep me awake at night because of its beat, “Medicated Goo” is just that song! I went to sleep hearing that song over and over in my head! A couple of tags, “Fire on the Bayou” and “Light Your Fire”, were incorporated with all that “Goo”!

Taylor Hicks is definitely a Beatles fan. He’s added “Don’t Let Me Down” to the summer tour set. That’s a song the crowd always seems to like. Tonight was not exception! And when Taylor tags “Another Brick in the Wall” with “Hell of a Day”, I keep thinking this man is so focused on his music that he knows what song can tag into another and keep the pace of the song going. It’s musical genius in my book!

I know it had to be hot under all those lights and coupled with the night heat, Taylor was definitely sweating. Add some foam soap, and he would have been all lathered up! Even from where I was sitting I could see the sweat beads on his face and arms! Forget the shower; just pass the old boy a dry towel!

Going back to the debut album, Taylor and company performed “The Deal”, “Heaven Knows” and “The Maze”. Even as I write my recap, I can hear the opening musical phrases the “The Maze”. Just how to express that in words just simply escapes me!

As the night’s set is drawing to an end, we get to hear “The Right Place”, and “The Runaround” with lots of tags. Some “Grits Ain’t Groceries, “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Willie Brown Blues”. When the song ended, Taylor thanked us for having him and our coming, waved to us and left the stage. The crowd was chanting for Taylor to come back. We still wanted more despite of the heat!

Taylor Hicks has yet to disappoint us with an encore. The band returned to the stage followed by Taylor. He started the show by “Gonna Move” us, and he was ending the show with “Taking It to the Streets”. After less than ninety minutes of Taylor live and in person the show was over. But before the show was completely over, there was a fray in the audience!

Taylor got the wild hair to throw his harmonica into the audience. It went over my head and back a few more aisles. All those football tosses with the guys was paying off! Next his sweat-drenched towel flew threw the air and like a slow-motion camera shot, it fell to the earth about five feet in front of me. I stepped forward to attempt to catch it but it was caught by two or three women who were intent on playing tug-of-war with the towel or until someone gave up or the towel tore into shreds. Not sure what the outcome of that was! And as if one towel wasn’t enough, here came a second towel that looked like it might land on my head! A couple of ladies behind me made a grab for that towel and more tug-of-war. I gave up! No towel for me tonight, or rather, no bruised or broken finger nails!

People lined up near the buses which were close by hoping to catch one last glimpse of Taylor. It was hot, getting late, and we were hungry and tired. My group of traveling buddies decided to leave the venue and meet up at the hotel so we could go grab some dinner.

At the hotel, we were discussing where we might go for some good nachos, and another hotel guest suggested a Mexican restaurant close by. Off we went looking for some good food. Ok, the service may have been lacking and our orders a bit off, but the guacamole was excellent! Sorry I can’t remember the name! With full stomachs, we went back to the hotel to get some sleep before heading out the next morning to drive to Ashburn for Sunday night’s concert. Catch up with you then!

Glen Allen pictures

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Traveling Circus Finds Men in Black in Charleston

Sometimes the best surprises come when you least expect it! When I returned to my hotel after the Spartanburg show, I noticed one of the bus drivers was checking out so I assumed (you know the drill!) that the buses were going to leave that night. After all, the hotel was booked solid the entire week-end between Red, White & BOOM and the Miss South Carolina and Miss Teen South Carolina pageant at the hotel.

Considering all the young single females in one central place, the Spartanburg Marriott was the best place any single red-blooded young male could be! Might not be the best place for a group of single musicians on a tight schedule! (The mother instincts are showing again!) So as I was checking out of my hotel shortly before noon, I was quite surprised to see Felix leaving the front desk!

And even more surprised when I walked outside to get my car out of hock with the valet parking service to see Taylor Hicks in the driveway with several fans! Don’t get alarmed, you mother types! Bill and Loren were making sure no one made off with Taylor! I stood next to a support post and watched as Taylor was explaining about taking advantage of the opportunities he had been given since winning American Idol.

Bill and Loren, still keeping a watchful eye on Taylor, chatted with me for a few minutes. I related my getting lost stories from past trips and the decision to have Madge travel with me. We couldn’t help but laugh about the idea of someone always knowing where you are at any given moment when a GPS system is being used! Taylor, Loren and Bill started towards the hotel entrance and I asked if I could get a picture of the three of them together because it seemed like no one had ever posted anything like that! Taylor gave me a great smile for the camera as I snapped the picture, and as they turned to enter the hotel, I thanked them for the picture and told them I’d see them in Charleston.

By now my car had arrived and I loaded the back with luggage. As soon as I fastened my seatbelt, I turned on Madge, set the destination address in Charleston and hit the road. It was going to be a four hour drive with just the two of us girls, a cell phone and the radio when I needed more noise than Madge could squawk out! The drive was mostly uneventful except for the two accidents that snarled traffic for over an hour and untold miles, and maybe the highway patrol hidden in the bushes. No comment!

By 4:00 I was safely in Charleston at my hotel and discovered the concert venue was across the street and the hotel offered shuttle service! After checking in and checking messages, I decided to grab a bite before heading over to the theatre for the concert. Great chicken wings and even better bleu cheese dressing! When I finished my snack, it was time to catch the shuttle to the North Charleston Coliseum Complex. It was a nice service, and front door drop-off wasn’t too shabby either!

Once inside the venue, I checked out the new merchandise. A gray men’s tee shirt with Taylor Hicks on the front and a lavender ladies’ tee with butterfly and Taylor Hicks were new. Seeing as to how I’m a female, I bought the lavender shirt. Besides, isn’t Taylor’s favorite color supposed to be purple!

I made my way to my seat, thinking I had a front row seat! Surprise! Double A to Double C were in front of me! But it was an improvement over my other ticket which was another 4 rows back! I’m not complaining! And I was close enough to see Taylor shake off the sweat and accidentally spit on his mike! Now that’s close!

Now I understand why theatres don’t like food and beverages in the actual theatre area! I had to navigate a dropped hot dog and bun and spilled liquid which later seeping into my purse! What a mess that made! But the good news was that the four seats in front of me were going to be empty, at least until a couple of interlopers decided to take them! That was fine except both were much taller than me and wanted to stand and dance. I’m a sitter and a grinner and a clapper, and they were blocking my camera lens from time to time. People behind me were sitting, so I tried to be polite and sit as much as possible, even if it meant not being able to see very well. Oh well!

There was no opening act which meant we were getting an evening with Taylor! Right at 8:00 the opening montage of “Soul Finger” started and the band took the stage. What! Every one of the guys was wearing black tonight! Loren, Brian, Felix, Al and Josh were wearing either a black shirt or tee shirt! They were looking good! Talk about men in black! Don’t get me started!

With the band’s opening montage, Loren leaned into the microphone and yelled “TAY-LOR HICKS”! And lo and behold, Taylor took the stage wearing a black tee shirt, black jeans and black sneakers! A total men in black look! As Taylor would say, “Cool!” The opening number, “Gonna Move”, had the house rocking! Within the front few phrases of the song, Taylor was waving to someone up close and what a thrill that was for the intended person! I don’t know who danced the most during the show – Taylor, Al or the blonde haired guy on the front row! They were all grooving to the music! What a fabulous show this was going to be!

Next came “Heart and Soul” with “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man tagged into it! Even the famous home run and winning music! Taylor actually stopped singing and waited for Loren to play the notes! I’ve seen Taylor stop Loren and I’ve seen him egg Loren on, but the stopping and waiting is my favorite way to do this!

Tonight’s show was quickly becoming one of the best I’ve seen so far this summer! Taylor was so energized, either because of the songs they were going to do or because he was getting a few days off and could actually go somewhere! Who cares, it was going to be a great musical performance!

Taylor introduced the next song as the first single from his new CD and started singing “Just to Feel That Way”. When he hit the glory notes of the song, the crowd was going crazy! There was more crowd acceptance of his music and these people were sitting down for most of the show! The crowd varied in age from young to senior citizen (I ain’ta gonna tell you which one I was!!!!) And they number of men was pretty close to the number of women! OK, the women may have outnumbered them, but there were a lot of men, and children as well!

I love the beat of Taylor’s original tune about a crazy friend, “My Friend” with its Cajun and calypso sound! It seems like it’s going to be a summer standard. And staying with his original music from his earlier CDs, Taylor sang “The Deal” next. To get us up on our feet and moving, well some of us anyway, “Medicated Goo” followed. It was hard to watch Taylor and the blond guy in the front row at the same time! Both were dancing maniacs during this number!

Tonight was definitely my night to be at a concert! And not able to video the next song! Awgh, as Charlie Brown would say! I’d only heard it recently during cell certs or seeing other fans’ videos. And now it was my turn to hear and see “Somehow” performed live! And let me tell you, if you think “The Fall” will silence an audience, you should see the effect of “Somehow”! With his hand across his heart and emphasis on certain phrases of the song, it was as if Taylor was giving us a message perhaps. At least that was my take on it! If ever I was going to cry from hearing Taylor sing a song, this would have been the time to cry to share in the pain and beauty of the song! It was incredible!

To change the pace and pick up the tempo, “Rockin’ Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu” was tagged with “Hey Pocky Way”. The groove was there and the crowd loved it! Even “Don’t Let Me Down” was well appreciated by everyone. I’m sure Taylor was winning over new fans with his ability to do a number of different types of music all in one show! There were a number of people in the audience who were seeing Taylor live in concert for the first time!

Taylor was going to finish out the set with more from his self-titled CD. “Heaven Knows”, the second single from the CD, started off the group of songs. With “The Maze”, we had so many tags it was hard to keep up with them all! Let’s see – “Want Ads”, “Mama Said”, “Family Affair” and the infamous lady-killer, “Let’s Get It On”. The screams and squeals were loud! And yours truly was right in there with them with the “WHOOOO’s”!

This was definitely my show! It was about time I was able to see Taylor perform “The Right Place”! It was like falling in love all over again! With Taylor, or my former mate! Tonight was pure musical magic as far as I was concerned! And it wouldn’t be a Taylor concert if you didn’t get to hear the funky “The Runaround”! My heart was pounding from all of the excitement!

Taylor thanked us for having him and our coming to see him. He waved good-bye, slapped a few hands on the front row, and headed for the back of the stage. The band finished their parts and then left the stage. No house lights! Encore time!

The microphone was placed in the center of the stage, a clear indication Taylor Hicks would be playing guitar. And then the stool of soul was placed in front of the mike! Alright! The only thing left Taylor could sing that would finish me off would be either “The Fall” or “West Texas Sky”. Since Taylor hadn’t performed “West Texas Sky” before on tour, I was guessing he was about to do “The Fall”. Good guess!

Taylor announced that he had written the song a number of years ago and recorded it in his den. Seems kind of funny to think about that, but then, where better to do an initial recording! “The Fall” started off the encore. And it was beautiful! Very heartfelt, and with the spotlight on him, his eyes were closed most of the song, which only adds to the intensity of the performance.

When he finished, he waved the band back to the stage and they performed “Soul Thing”, another song written by Taylor before his American Idol days. Throw in “Eastbound and Down”, and the audience was one their feet feeling the music. And so was I! As the song ended, Taylor waved, thanked us, slapped a few more hands, and disappeared out the back of the theatre. The show was over and the Fourth of July break was beginning.

With a friend I had met in Jacksonville, we walked around back to the buses to see if Taylor was coming out. Security told us he was gone, and that he had left almost as soon as he left the stage because he had a flight to catch. We walked back to the front of the venue chatting away and then I was given a much appreciated ride to my hotel.

Since it was still early, I thought a snack would be in order. I had seen someone earlier with some big fan-tailed shrimp, so I decided I would have that. If you live or are ever in the Charleston area near International Boulevard, stop by the Holiday Inn there and try those shrimp! They were succulent!

I needed to get up early to drive to Savannah to catch my flight home. I had planned to see the show there, but it was cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. I wanted to upload my pictures first and start my recap, but since it was getting late, only the pictures were sorted, turned and uploaded to Photobucket.

The Sunday morning drive to Savannah was slow. I mean slow as in a speed limit of 50! Finally I made to the airport, turned in my rental car, and checked in for my flight. But due to weather conditions in Memphis, the plane was delayed getting to Savannah and I had plenty of time to surf the internet and write my recap.

Let me tell you, I have spent the week-end seeing two of the best shows I’ve seen with Taylor Hicks! If you haven’t seen him live, beg, borrow, whatever, go see him in person! It will be the best evening you will have had in a long time! Next week I’m headed to Virginia for another double header, and the traveling circus will be back with a report when the dust settles!

Pictures from Charleston

Some of My Favorite Pictures