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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Traveling Circus Takes Blue Ribbon at Bloomsburg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictures from the Bloomsburg Fair

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Traveling Circus Earns Its Degree in Newport News

“I love being in Virginia” as Taylor would say. It’s not that far from where I grew up and spent a good part of my life. A very early morning flight was required to ensure getting to the concert on time. Very early morning flight! Should be illegal to require passengers to fly at that hour – 6:00 am, no less – and that was the flight time without the travel time and security check in time figured in! In the end, it was worth it!

Before the concert I decided to take a short drive to Williamsburg and Jamestown. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see much of the Colonial area because it was all walking and I wanted to save my energy for the Taylor Hicks concert. I drove back to greet some old faces and meet some new faces at The Sandbar. It was nice to have the chance to talk to fans I often see at other venues but never get the chance to really talk to! And what gorgeous children some of them have! All too soon it was time to head off to our designated place.

The Ferguson Center for the Arts at Christopher Newport University was very nice! The exterior design was like walking through a series of door openings. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture, but the night lighting was beautiful. It seemed to have several theatres within the single structure because there were people at both ends of the building attending different shows!

As we entered the doors, we were immediately told that there would be no pictures allowed, per Taylor Hicks’ rider. According to the Ferguson Center’s website, photography was at the discretion of the performer. And since we all know that Taylor doesn’t object to pictures, it seemed more likely it was the house rule than anything else. Even the elevator volunteer said they don’t normally allow photography and seemed surprised that we were able to take pictures at other venues. So I’m afraid there are no pictures, and tonight there were a lot of great pictures opportunities that will forever be ingrained in my memory!

This would be a night with just Taylor Hicks backed by the summer touring band minus Felix. I was surprised to see the older gentlemen take Felix’s place, and I must say he was not quite as good as Felix, especially when it came to performing “The Runaround”. Making those drums sound like a marching band is something Felix had mastered but was lost tonight. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself!

The opening montage started and as it was ending, out came Taylor Hicks in a beautiful blue shirt, a color I would say was more of a peacock blue, jeans, and New Balance shoes, singing “How’s everybody doing this evening” to the tune of “Gonna Move”. With cheers from the crowd, Taylor went right into “Gonna Move”. This was the “new” version, whatever that’s supposed to mean, but you could hear a few different inflections in the melody and how Taylor was Taylorizing it. Now usually when this has been the opening number Taylor comes out with his guitar strapped on, but not tonight. We would later learn that with all the traveling he had to do Saturday, he didn’t have time to pick up his guitar. Hum, did that mean no tambourine, cowbell or harmonica as well?

With shout outs to the Soul Patrol and comments about a being a beautiful theatre, Taylor announced the next song was “Give Me….Tonight”. Kind of like he was trying to remember the name of the song but then quipped he hadn’t forgotten the song because he had performed it just this morning! (The morning performance had been the half-time entertainment at the Auburn-Mississippi State game earlier in the day.) The first part of the song had a different beat, something you had to hear to understand this comment.

Since he had had a few days off, Taylor was glad to be back in Virginia. Someone shouted out to ask if Auburn won, and Taylor, ever the diplomat, said “Virginia is great”. After talking a bit about being back home and performing at the Auburn game earlier in the day, Taylor Hicks started singing his own original music, “Heart and Soul” mixed with “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”. Taylor took the opportunity to say Loren had also had a few days off and was feeling good! Time for a bit of the old ball game and heading for home, Taylor tagged that it wasn’t the Auburn Tigers who won the game! What a hoot! And as Taylor took the bases he went behind the drum stand and up beside Brian as he played the sax.

At some point during the first few songs, Taylor quipped about having on the same shirt, underwear, etc from the morning performance. While the audience laughed, he said, that no, had indeed changed since then. I couldn’t tell for sure, but the shirt sure looked like the one I had seen in a picture from the football game, although Taylor was wearing a light covered blazer over it. Who cares, anyway! We weren’t there for a fashion show or to check for sweat stains – we were there to hear this talented man sing and watch him dance across the stage as he entertained us!

Taylor continued to comment on the intimacy of the theatre, and he felt like he should be taking questions but that there wasn’t enough time to do that. So instead, he sang the first single from his CD, “Just to Feel That Way”. When he finished the song, he made a few remarks about Clive Davis wanting him to do this song, along with a few others and commenting that he, Taylor, did have some control with the CD.

Next was a song Taylor had no control over because it was a Traffic song called “Medicated Goo”. This is a song that usually gets the audience up and moving, and from time to time there were a few people standing up and dancing. For the most part, the section I was in was sitting. But I was dancing on the edge of my seat. What else could I do since I wasn’t able to take any pictures!

Sitting in front of me and to my right were a few people that hadn’t seen Taylor Hicks since his American Idol days. It was interesting watching their reaction to the Taylor Hicks they were seeing right now! Each would later say how much they enjoyed the Taylor Hicks that had just performed! And the lady to my right ending up dancing along with her husband during the encore!

A song that Taylor said he could identify most with from his CD, “Wherever I Lay My Hat” was next, including a melody change and few guitar chords that really stood out. At one point I thought I was hearing violins, but that must have been Loren on the keyboard doing it. With a ‘shhhh’ to the band and a few spoken words that I couldn’t understand, came the tag that just melts the heart, “Thank you for letting me be myself”. That’s when I know Taylor is right where he wants to be. Throw in some “Nightshift” and you have heard quite a song and some high pitch ‘hoooo’s’ from Taylor!

Back to talking about music being in his blood and not able to give up the hat, Taylor wanted to know who had any crazy friends. We couldn’t help but point at the people sitting beside us, especially when we knew they were Soul Patrollers who’d been to several concerts. “My Friend” was written for one of Taylor’s crazy friends, and really is a fun song to listen to. Sort of cajun, blues and honky tonk with lots of saxophone and harmonica! You can’t help but ‘share that smile’ as the song says!

An “I love you too” preceded “The Deal”. The beautiful part of the song tonight was that Taylor threw in lots of harmonica. I don’t ever recall that before, maybe because I was watching through a camera lens or he didn’t do it. It was, however, a beautiful addition to the song, and made it that much more moving.

Now “Soul Thing” was a lot of fun! The usual song plus “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” thrown in for good measure. And then there was the ‘chickin’ pickin’ guitar of Josh Smith, all the while with Taylor Hicks strutting like a chicken. Maybe more like the rooster in a house full of hens! Taylor had the audience laughing with those chicken moves of his! And all the different faces he was making as Josh continued to pick those chickens clean! So many cute expressions, so many lost photo opportunities! Even I had to smile! Before the song ended, we were “Eastbound and Down” and ready to start grooving!

Snapping to the beat, and encouraging the audience to join in the lost art, Taylor Hicks introduced “Heaven Knows” from the album. I think I snapped until my fingers were tired and sore. While the song asks the person to whom it’s directed ‘to cut me some slack’, Taylor was cutting us no slack! During the musical interlude of the song Taylor was doing his booty dance. He’d stick his butt out and shake it, stop and look over his shoulder at the audience, then do it again, stop and look, and then shake it again! The audience was screaming for more and really enjoying his little dance. Such an instigator Taylor can be!

There were lots of shout of ‘we love you, Taylor’ and a moment of silence from Taylor before starting “The Maze”. You could hear other voices join in the harmony of the song and lots of Loren on the keys. A ‘let’s keep it there’ and call out to Josh to pick his guitar, gave Taylor a moment to rest his voice and savor the music that was being made at the moment. Tags included in the song were “Soldier of Fortune”, “Hymns to the Silence” and “Arthur’s Theme” of getting caught between the moon and New York City with a sax solo by Brian. By the end of the song, we may not have been in a maze, but we sure were amazed by Taylor’s performance!

As I said earlier, the only obvious difference between the drummer tonight and Felix was the ability to make the drums sound like a drum corps in “The Runaround”. I noticed that Loren gave the drummer a signal to step it up and then he seemed to pull out all of the drum stops! Taylor’s voice had some softer yet higher pitch in parts of the song, perhaps something from the arrangement for the Auburn half-time. Taylor seemed to be singing the song smoother than usual, almost like the Holiday performances in December when the album was first released.

By the end of the song, we had earned our degree, yes sir, we had earned our degree! And so had Taylor! A good portion of the audience in the front rows were up dancing! As if more was needed, Taylor began to do a harmonica duel with Josh’s guitar! There was not way to declare a winner of this duel! More shout outs to being in Virginia and harmonica took the song to “Willie Brown Blues” and back to “The Runaround”.

Taylor thanked the audience for coming and having him in Virginia. A few shouts of “Soul Patrol” and Loren’s shouting out “Taylor Hicks” and the concert was over. At least the main set. As we’ve come to expect, there would be an encore!

With the lights out, Bill brought out the stool of soul (or sensitivity, if you prefer). Since Taylor was traveling and didn’t have time to grab his guitar, he borrowed Josh’s black and white and started to pluck a few notes. He said he wrote the song as a kid, and someone shouted out that he still was! And then Taylor responded that we should all still be kids! With that, strumming a borrowed guitar, Taylor Hicks sang his own, “The Fall”. There were again some new inflections in the melody that made it that much more captivating and kept the audience silent during the entire song. Even thinking about it now brings chills and warm smiles! Before the song was over, “Games That People Play” was tagged and then back to the magic of the soulful “The Fall”.

The rest of the band took their places and the final song of the night, “Long Train Running” with lots of “without love, where would you be now”, was performed. Also lots of harp with this number. It was obvious that Taylor Hicks had enjoyed being where he was and giving this performance. Maybe it was having had a week off or perhaps the theatre itself, either way it was an incredible show. It reminded me a lot of Clearwater a few weeks ago but with its own personality. During the final song each musician was given a short solo and shout out from Taylor.

With shouts of ‘thanks for having me’, Taylor waved us good night and exited the stage. The band finished up and the house light came on. As we left the theatre, we greeted old friends and acquaintances and talked about how great the concert was. One by one we made out way outside the auditorium and into the lobby, still chatting away. I stopped back by the merchandise table to say good night, and then I, too, left the venue.

I hummed to myself all the way back to my hotel. I found a parking spot and went up to my room. It was still a bit early so I went back down and across the parking lot to the steak house next door. After eating, I tried to write a bit and see what, if anything, had been posted from the concert. I needed to be up by 3:30 am since I had a 5:30 am flight. I could only nap, because by the time I laid down it was after midnight! Once home, I could catch up on my sleep. As Taylor said after winning American Idol, “when you’re having fun, sleep can wait!” Tonight was no exception!

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Traveling Circus Revisits Woodstock at Bethel

When the original Woodstock happened way back in August of 1969, I had just graduated from high school (yes, that makes me about 56 years old!) and my soon-to-be husband was about to enter the Vietnam-era military. Peace symbols were everywhere, the mini-skirt was in, and free-love was abound along with drugs and alcohol, long haired hippies, and tie-dyed tee shirts. At least that’s how I remember that point in time.

Going to Bethel to see Taylor Hicks open for Earth, Wind & Fire was for me, a walk back in time to see what Woodstock was all about. The venue sat on rolling ground, covering a vast area of gravel, grass, pavement and concrete, not to mention all the wood paneled buildings that house a theatre, restrooms, eating facilities and the huge covered amphitheatre with large screens and a grass sitting area for those who want the cheap seats. What once was a farm, has now become a start-of-the-art arts center, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. And yes, there was even an area with a large number of porta-potties just waiting to be used!

I hadn’t originally thought about going to Bethel, but when some friends said they were going, I decided to join in the fun. I knew the name, Earth, Wind & Fire, but their hit songs weren’t really coming to me, I must confess. But if Taylor Hicks was going to open for them, then I needed to go.

So on Friday morning, with bags packed and loaded in my car, I left for work. As a corporate tax accountant and the return filing deadline just days away, I knew I had to make sure everything was covered or completed before I left for the day. The minutes ticked away slowly, and finally the last number came in just a couple of few hours before my flight was to take off. With only minutes to spare, my part was completed and I could leave for New York City.

With a late evening flight, I knew I wouldn’t get to NYC until late and to my hotel even later. Normally when I go to NYC, I stay somewhere in Manhattan and near Times Square. A friend had selected the hotel, so I booked a room there for myself as well. This was an old hotel with very small rooms, and some rooms didn’t even have a private bathroom! My room had two twin beds and a bathroom about half the size of the sleeping area! Long and narrow was the layout. Reminded me of what I thought a youth hostel in Europe might look like, or some maybe even some of the older college dorm rooms!

When I checked in, my room was hot. With the flip of a switch, the air conditioner came on, but it would take at least an hour or more before my room would get cool enough. I considered opening the window until I opened the curtain to see the fire escape right outside! Open window, walk into room; I don’t think so! I decided to suffer the heat and stuffiness until the A/C could take control.

We planned to sleep in late on Saturday which was just fine with me! I’d had some late nights at work, and catching up on my sleep was a good idea. Besides, we didn’t know how late it would be before we returned to the hotel after the Bethel concert.

Early afternoon found us taking a town car to the car rental place to pick up our van. A soccer-mom type of van as our driver called it. How much better we would have all looked if we had rented an Escalade! Price, dear, price! That’s what it all boiled down to! We loaded up the van, set Madge (yes, she was going to tag along on this trip), consulted our print outs from MapQuest and Yahoo! maps, and off we went!

The big debate was the distance – Madge was sure it was over 100 miles while everything else was showing around 70 miles. In case you’re interested, Madge was closer to right!

The drive was beautiful! Lots of rolling hills and mountains, a few lakes and waterways, and even a castle on top of a hill! The castle was just outside the town of Sleepy Hollow. We tried to get some pictures as we drove but it’s hard to focus and shoot when you are traveling in a speeding bullet. Not that our driver was speeding, but like Taylor Hicks has been quoted saying, she was driving the speed limit! Yeah, right! A couple of times I had to say watch out on the right – and thank goodness it went after the vehicle in front of us! Otherwise, we might have missed the concert!

As we got closer to the Bethel, we decided to go check out the venue and then go find some place for dinner. Good move. Parking was going to be fun – there were several parking lots, each of which required some hiking to get to the amphitheatre. Only the handicapped parking area was paved and offered shuttles to the venue gates, unless security took pity on you and gave you a ride.

We drove back to White Lake, which was only a few miles back down the road. The Lighthouse looked like a promising place until we checked out the menu. Pretty prices if you have a high credit card limit! Appetizers started around $12 or $15 for something really simple. Anyway, we left and decided to try Bubba’s BBQ which was a rustic looking place with an outdoor patio overlooking the lake.

Dinner was an exciting story! We were seated first, and then two more large parties were seated. Our orders were taken, first or second, and then we went to fix our salads. Table 3 got their food, then table 2, and we were still sitting there. Small parties came and went. It was getting close to time for the venue doors to open, and still no dinner! We paid for our salads and drinks, explained the situation to the manager (who was less than understanding) and left. I’m not one to do this, but on occasion, leaving is the best thing to do. Our waitress must have been new because she had no clue about what to do.

We drove back to the venue and found a place to park. I could tell by where we parked we were going to have a long hike. Security, fortunately, gave me a lift to the handicapped entrance and I was spared the usual back pain from the walk. After checking out the ladies’ room, I started towards the amphitheatre to find my seat. On the way down to the seating area, I ran into Stephen, the merchandise guy. We exchanged hugs and greetings and I moved on. Had I know this was the next to the last show of the tour, I would have stayed and chatted longer!

After sitting down, I looked back behind the amphitheatre and saw black ominous clouds forming. Before time for Taylor Hicks to take the stage, the skies opened and anyone not under the amphitheatre roof got drenched! The lightning lit up the dark sky as the wind helped drive the rain and cool the air. By 8:00, show time, the rains stopped and the skies cleared. A slight rain delay would take place, but that was fine by me.

Since Taylor Hicks was opening for Earth, Wind & Fire, there was none of the usual opening montage. The band took the stage and Taylor came out with his guitar already strapped on. “Gonna Move” was the opening number. A couple of non-Taylor fans were sitting behind me just talking up a storm. I wanted so bad to tell them to be quiet but I decided to suffer in silence. After all, as a devout Taylor Hicks fan, I wanted to be polite and show them that the Soul Patrol was out in force, and that we were respectful of others. What was I thinking – they were just plain rude until they finally decided to go grab another beer and left their seats.

Taylor quickly moved into “Give Me Tonight” which was followed by “Heart and Soul”. Between shout outs to Bethel and Woodstock, Taylor Hicks sang and danced his way across the stage. He announced the first single from his recent CD and began to sing “Just to Feel That Way”.

The audience, quite a large number, was very mixed age and gender-wise. There weren’t many children that I saw. We had one child in our party, and having her would come in later during the evening. Taylor-bait as we like to call her!

“Let’s get necked” let us know we were going to get “Naked in the Jungle”. A rather appropriate song considering all that went on during the original Woodstock so many years ago! And reminiscent of that event, it rained on us before Taylor Hicks took the stage. A bit of de ja vu, maybe!

The Soul Patrol was having a great time. Most of us were sitting to keep from blocking the view of others behind us. Would they continue to sit when the main act came on later?

With “The Maze”, Taylor tagged such songs as “Want Ads”, “Do You Believe”, and Van Morrison’s “Old, Old Woodstock”. What a tribute to the free-love concert of 1969, the original Woodstock Festival! “The Right Place” would take us to the final song of the forty or so minute set.

Before “The Runaround” with “Big Boss Man” and “Willie Brown Blues” was finished, I heard a couple of men exclaim how great Taylor Hicks performance was! And these guys were there to see Earth, Wind & Fire! What a great tribute to Taylor Hicks! When the harp was finished, Taylor waved good-bye, thanked us for coming and supporting him, and also thanked Earth, Wind & Fire for having him open for them! This was such an honor for Taylor, I’m sure!

An intermission followed as Taylor Hicks’ equipment was taken off the stage and moved out of the way. Soon Earth, Wind & Fire brought their big band sound on and gave us one heck of a great show! Everyone in the band was showcased one time or another. The one most fun to watch was Verdine White, a very tall, thin man with long hair that would be the envy of any woman! His constant moves rival Taylor Hicks in terms of style and energy!

When the show was over, we headed to the front to catch up with our party since we weren’t all sitting together. Someone from the band gave a set of drum sticks to our Taylor-bait. As we walked back up the sidewalk to leave, security came running after us with a couple of back stage passes for the bait and her mother! Since there were two more of us in the group, we got to go back as well! We were going to get to meet Earth, Wind & Fire, or at least a couple of them!

The guys that came out mingled amongst the crowd, allowing pictures to be taken with you and signing autographs. Even Verdine would give a quick peck on the lips to a few adoring fans that I’m sure he’d seen countless times over the years! And such a skinny man – a good wind would really blow him away if someone wasn’t right there to grab his legs!

After a bit, we decided to go check out Taylor’s buses, only to find they were already gone. One of the buses for the band looked like Taylor’s, but with Earth, Wind & Fire mounting the steps one by one, we quickly realized it wasn’t Taylor’s bus after all and that his bus had already left the venue!

We hitched a ride with the venue employees back to the handicap staging area and started walking towards our car. I should say hiking because that’s what it was. A nice security guy stopped and offered me a ride, and I didn’t want to be rude and refuse! He delivered me right next to the van and having done his good deed, drove off into the night to help other damsels in distress!

The drive back to NYC seemed shorter, maybe because we took a slightly different route back. Since no one had anything other than the salad bar from the slow-poke diner, we stopped at McDonald’s for a late night meal of burgers to go. We were getting tired, and our navigator was falling asleep. I was forcing my eyes to stay open, and I’m sure our driver was fighting fatigue as well! The most energetic member of the party was our Taylor-bait who was still wide awake and talking constantly – she was trying to keep herself awake as well!

Finally we were back at the hotel just before 3:00 am and we were able to find a parking place on the street. Not bad for free parking in the city that never sleeps. I guess it helped that we were situated on a side street rather than a main street. We said good-night and set our alarms for 7:00 am. We all had flights home in the morning, and a short nap was needed in order to function in a few short hours.

Once back home we soon discovered that Taylor Hicks’ summer tour was drawing to a close and we didn’t even realize it! With several shows remaining, we just assumed the tour was going on until then. But alas, Bethel was the next to last show of the tour. Our regret was not realizing it and making plans to attend the final show at Jones Beach near Wantagh, NY. Or in saying good-bye to the band members and other key people we’d come to recognize during the summer tour.

So if perchance one of you guys is reading this, please know I have enjoyed the summer tour a great deal and wish each of you the very best as you move on to your next gig. And Taylor, enjoy your time off! I’ll take some time to reflect and write some thoughts during the next several weeks. And even attend many of the fall shows wondering if we’ll get to hear the summer band again at those shows as I travel to those locations.

For now, I just look forward to attending the show in Newport Beach next week-end and seeing what comes next for both the Traveling Circus and Taylor Hicks. Until then…..

It really is all about the music – and the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve been, and the memories that will carry me forward until the next tour, and the friends I’ve come to love and cherish, and being part of the Soul Patrol with all of its quirks and personalities and funkiness! WHOOO! SOUL PATROL!

Pictures of Taylor Hicks at Bethel Woods, Bethel, NY

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Traveling Circus Wins 2-for-1 in Orange Beach

Oh where to begin! Maybe a potty break or grabbing some of your favorite beverage should be first before you start reading my recap. It’s going to be long!

The adventure really begins with a phone call from a Boogier with the offer of a condo on the beach. I already had a room at a local Orange Beach hotel but the offer of a condo for the cost of the cleaning fee shared with a group of other Boogiers was just too good to pass up! I called my Orange Beach roomie, asked if she was interested, and called back the hostess and said yes, we’d take it.

Saturday morning came bright and early, and with a flight to catch equally as early, I had to get ready so I could finish packing. Off to the airport I went, bags in tow. When I arrived at the airport, I headed straight for the lower level long-term parking, and found no spaces empty except for where the was some work going on. Out I went rather than wasting time driving around the full lot!

As I was driving to the airport, it crossed my mind that I should just park at the near-by Park It Here, but I passed it by for airport parking. Since there was none to be found where I wanted to park, I headed back that way. I found a space, parked, grabbed my bag and took the shuttle for front door delivery!

Once in Pensacola, I picked up my rental car, set Madge for Perdido Key Drive and headed out for some fun in the sun! Remember the offer of the condo? I was excited driving to my destination, hoping that there would be a balcony with a view of the ocean. I’d traveled with a number of people before, having 6-10 ladies in a room or condo, so the thought of 10 ladies in a beach condo didn’t really phase me. After all, it was place to crash, have some fun, get some sun and save some money!

I had been told up front that there were four bedrooms. OK, I know how big my house is, and I have four bedrooms, one of which is so small, a futon is all that would fit in there and maybe a table if I moved out my desk. With no plans to cook, I figured who’d care about the size – after all, this trip was to see Taylor Hicks live at the Wharf Amphitheatre anyway. So what if we were tripping each other as we moved about our humble abode!

And the coup de gras was the fact we’d be right next door to the famous Flora-Bama where Taylor Hicks practically cut his musical teeth. What could be better! I was just hoping for a view of the ocean anyway.

As I got nearer my destination, I was in almost constant contact with our gracious hostess. She was only a few yards in front of me, at the rental office, picking up our keys to the condo. I followed her the rest of the way, looking at all the new tall luxury condos and wondering what our place was going to be like.

We pulled into the parking lot and found places to park. I unloaded my car and followed her to the door. In the first door and then the second door, and there waiting for us was an elevator which we quickly boarded. I was given a quick lesson in how to operate the elevator to get to our floor. Special attention was required – point the fob and then push the button for our week-end get-away unit. Unit!

As the elevator door opened I could see the doors in front. Without any lights on outside the door, my first thought was ‘oh, no, this place is still under construction. Our hostess opened the door to the condo and flipped on a few lights. I had just walked into paradise! The condo was huge, and I mean huge! Thirty eight hundred square feet of luxury with all the creature comforts anyone could want, beautifully decorated, and fully loaded!

Being first to arrive had its advantages. My roommate and I would get the master suite, complete with Jacuzzi tub and separate rain shower with separate steam controls. And the view of the beach could be enjoyed from any where in the condo – the balcony completely surrounded the unit! Right there below us, to the right, was the famous Flora-Bama. Did I say, we were being treated to a taste of heaven!

Our hostess gave me the lay of the land, telling me where to find the nearest grocery store, how to get to The Wharf, and local trivia. I wasn’t going anywhere! Alright, maybe to dinner later, but for the rest of the afternoon, I wanted to read and nap and soak in my surroundings. Pure bliss! Only the rich get to live this way, and for a week-end, I was going to enjoy their everyday life-style.

Finally another guest arrived, and we decided to go grab some seafood at the nearby Crab Trap (which is on the Florida side of the state line splitting the Flora-Bama). Good choice! By the time we got back to the condo, my roommate arrived, and after some more get-acquainted conversation, back to the same restaurant we went for her to have dinner while we had dessert or appetizers.

By the time we got back to the condo, the music at the Flora-Bama was loud enough for us to enjoy from our balcony. We imagined what it must have been like for Taylor Hicks to have played there. The hot tub was soon discovered, and the decision made to try it out. Me, I wanted to relax in the luxury of the oversized sofas and read until I fell asleep!

The Flora-Bama closed down and it got quiet. The condo pool kept calling the other house guests, and my book was beckoning that I read some more. Finally around 3:30 am, everyone was ready to get some serious sleep. My roomie and I laid awake for a bit longer just marveling at our surroundings and the generosity of our hostess. Sleep soon took over, and the sun rose up over the ocean.

Now across from the condo was a Waffle House, so we quickly dressed and dashed across the street for eggs and coffee. The place was packed so while we waited for our table, we played musical chairs with other guests waiting in line. I was wearing a Taylor Hicks spring tour tee shirt and the woman in front of us began to tell us about meeting Taylor before he went on American Idol.

Now when she found out Taylor was a contestant on American Idol Season Five, she watched faithfully and voted frequently. But she wasn’t going to see the show at the Wharf. Her claim to Taylor Hicks fame was that on a flight to Los Angeles when Taylor was trying to promote his “Under the Radar” CD, the particular Southwest flight needed a smaller woman to sit in the section where Taylor and his friend or manager were sitting. She volunteered for the job. During the flight, the friend let her listen to some of Taylor’s music on his laptop, and she could hear the similarities between Taylor Hicks and Michael McDonald. And she wasn’t going to the Wharf – what a shame!

After breakfast, I made a quick run to see what the Wharf looked like and to see if any better seats might be available. The Wharf is quite a resort, complete with movie theatre, amphitheatre, shops and restaurants. The buses were already parked at the back entrance, and I headed back to the condo to report in. Finally it was time to get ready to head to dinner before the show. Another great seafood restaurant was the place to be tonight!

With premier parking, we found the parking lot and took a space. Taylor and company were in the middle of doing their sound check so we could hear what was going on. It was going to be great by the sounds of what we heard! We walked on down to the restaurant, meeting more Boogiers and their husbands who would be joining us for dinner. By the time we finished our meals, it was time to head to the amphitheatre to find our seats.

As I went looking for my seat, I got a rather pleasant surprise – my row J tickets were one row closer than I thought since there was no row I! Whee! And I was only a few seats in from the aisle! Bring out the big boy camera – mama’s gonna get some good pictures tonight!

A local band, Loose Cannon, was first up. A couple of guys with acoustic guitars, loud speakers, and not too bad of a sound opened. Only problem was they blew the fuses a couple of times and I thought the stage was being blown up! What a loud pops those were!

Time for the band to take the stage as “Soul Finger” played. Brian Less was back for the night on the organ, and it was so nice to see and hear him again! With the announcement of his name, Taylor Hicks joined them and opened the set with “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”. Throw in some “Hey Pocky Way” and you have a great opening number! The crowd was standing up just begging for more!

Speaking of the crowd. It was a mixed group of all ages and plenty of men and dating fellows. Some empty seats in the bleacher section, but the main seats appeared to be pretty much taken. It was hard to tell because so many people came late and sat down while Taylor was singing the opening number.

From his debut major album, “Taylor Hicks”, next was “Give Me Tonight”. For Orange Beach, this was like coming home for Taylor. Grandma Joni was there and was acknowledged by the mayor of Orange Beach just before Taylor’s band took the stage. The mayor also acknowledged Taylor as the city’s native son! Taylor didn’t need to ask us to give him tonight in Orange Beach, but he sure gave it to us!

Taylor Hicks’ originals are always crowd pleasers, and “Heart and Soul” was just the thing to please them tonight. As the song would indicate, Taylor sang his heart out and gave us the very essence of his soul. Salt this tune with the fun of “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” and everyone was ready to scream for more! More! Soul Patrol in Orange Beach!

By the time Taylor was singing “Medicated Goo”, I knew that if I needed any kind of healing, I had just received it in music form. No laying on of hands was necessary. Between taking pictures and watching Taylor dance across the stage I was so excited just to be there! Who cared if I was sitting by myself! Tonight, everyone around me was so captivated by Taylor’s performance that being a party of one or a party of ten, it just didn’t matter!

From Taylor Hicks’ independently produced “Under the Radar” was “Hell of a Day”. I would later post on a fan board that love was made for a Hell of a Day, but what I was seeing made for one hell of a night! And the concert at the Wharf was just the beginning, the cake so to speak. More later about the icing on the cake! I love “Another Brick in the Wall”, and it was great to hear it incorporated into “Hell of a Day”.

A couple of more covers, “Lowdown” by Boz Skaggs and “Call Me the Breeze” by Lynrd Skynrd were next followed by more Taylor Hicks’ original music, “The Deal”. If Taylor had made a deal with the devil, I was going to be joining him you know where! Taylor’s was hot and on fire tonight, and we were burning right along with him.

From the “Taylor Hicks” CD, Paul Pena’s, “Gonna Move”, was next. I don’t know if Taylor planned to ‘take us to church’ or not, but “Gonna Move” is definitely the type of song to do it with! It’s enough just to take us to the next life! I believe a little “Feel the Revolution” made into the song. The only uprising at The Wharf was the standing up and dancing at your seats! And with my personal ‘cannon’ in hand, I was ready to aim and shoot (pictures, that is!)

Somewhere in all the singing and dancing and guitar picking and tambourine shaking, Taylor had to change shirts. The gray button down he started out with was soaked to the point that sweat just waved off his back! Well, we were at the beach, and the sweat on the shirt only lacked the white caps of the ocean waves! Taylor left the stage while the band continued to play, and was gone for a minute or two. I kept looking off to the left side of the stage but couldn’t see anything. Finally Taylor returned with a black tee shirt on which must have been a lot cooler!

“Heaven Knows” and “The Maze” were great! But when Taylor Hicks added “My Home’s in Alabama” to the “The Maze”, I was ready to fall down on my knees and cry (ok, not really fall down, but it was enough to make me want to cry!). Sprinkle in “Do You Believe in Magic” and I was well done. Forget the summer heat and ocean breezes – I was ready to just get soaked by the next wave! I was witness to the best performance I’d seen since Taylor Hicks started his solo tour in February. I’ve seen a lot of shows, and right here in Orange Beach, the second Birmingham concert was now taking second place! Oh Taylor, what were you doing to us!

Now we’ve all probably seen video of Taylor Hicks doing his dirty dog wiggle, and tonight it was just the best I’d ever seen. Lots of it – both at Al, Felix and the audience! Lots of wiggling and booty shaking for us. If Taylor had sung “Whole Lot of Shaking Going On”, I don’t think he could have shaken his butt any harder or any more that he did during that performance!

Taylor slowed it down a bit to sing “The Right Place”. Whether he said it or not, Orange Beach was definitely the right place tonight. I’ve said that before about other performances, but tonight, that phrase took on a whole new meaning. And the night was only beginning, but we just didn’t know it at the time!

The first set ended with “The Runaround” and some “Big Boss Man”. When it ended, Taylor left the stage, and later followed by the band. While we waited for the encore, the audience started calling “Taylor, Taylor, Taylor” to let him know we weren’t ready to go home and that we wanted more. We were not going to be disappointed! Plus, Taylor needed time to change tee shirts again, and this time into one that read “ELV1S” (with the number 1 for the “i”) on the front and “Before Elvis there was nothing” on the back.

Out came the stool and two microphones. This bearded dude took the stool with his guitar on his knee and Taylor Hicks stood beside him, and introduced him as Jon Cook. For Soul Patrollers in the know, Jon had played with Taylor off and on during his pre-American Idol years. An old protest song, “Abraham, Martin & John”, was about to be played acoustically with Taylor on the harmonica. I could only shake my head in disbelief as they did this number. I’d heard an old recording of Taylor doing this song, but never did I expect to hear it live. And here I was, Orange Beach, hearing one of the best songs every done by Taylor as an encore!

The encore ended with “Take the Long Way Home” and “Soul Thing”. Either song would have made a fitting encore. The train-like wail of Taylor Hicks on the harmonica as he walks off the stage or the song he calls his personal anthem sum up the essence of any of his performances. But tonight, we got them both. I’m in awe of the song selection for tonight, and only as I write my recap do I fully understand the musical genius that Taylor possesses.

Before he leaves the stage for the last time, Taylor asks if we know what “chicken picking” is, and with that Josh is turned loose on his guitar to give us a sample of what the expression means. According to Taylor, only Alabamans know what it means! And with that, Taylor left us to only marvel at the show we had just witnessed!

We gathered our troupe to head back to our little piece of heaven on the beach. With the Flora-Bama next door, it was best to leave the cars in the condo parking lot and walk over for night caps and listen to whatever band was going to close the joint for the night. From the outside, the structure is very rustic, and looks like it might fall down in a full gale force hurricane (which it did several years ago when Ivan struck the Gulf coast).

After resting for a bit and transferring my concert pictures to my laptop, I looked out the window to see that Taylor’s personal tour bus was parked in the Flora-Bama parking lot. It was time that I walked over to join the rest of my group at the Flora-Bama. A quick hug from the guys from LiMBO and I was ready to find a bar stool so I could just sit and listen. Sadly, I was informed that Taylor Hicks had already been and gone, playing a couple of tunes with some old friends. Drats, I had missed the opportunity to see Taylor in an old haunt, probably raw and pure understated bliss!

So I found my stool and sat down to people watch. The band inside started to crank up, and I could hear “Gonna Move” being sung. The singer sounded so much like Taylor Hicks that I wondered aloud if it was! A lady that I was talking to walked over to the plastic draped door and peeked inside, turned back all wide-eyed, and motioned for me to come inside! Oh my word! There was Taylor Hicks on stage, black STAX tee shirt and black Gibson guitar cap. I wormed my way over to an empty spot on the rail over looking the main floor. Camera ready to take pictures, I pulled up a bar stool and figured out how to get up on it. The man on the next stool tried to talk to me, but I could only grunt what few answers I could give. The guy wanted to make sure I knew it was Taylor Hicks on the stage, and I couldn’t help but retort I had just come from seeing him at the Wharf!

“When the Saints Go Marching’ In” showed Taylor’s versatility when he sang it with two different beats, including a barroom sing-along and a bit of rap. What was I thinking! If ever I should be video taping, this was the time, and here I sat just absorbing the scene and trying to get a few pictures. It finally dawned on me that I needed to be recording what I was seeing so I stopped taking pictures and started video taping. Somewhere on this page you will find that exclusive footage of “Call Me the Breeze” with Taylor Hicks and the lady who gave him his Flora-Bama break!

There was another song or two and then the clock struck 2:00 am, or what I understood was closing time. The crowd started dispersing and I decided I needed to head back to the condo to get ready to for my 4:00 am drive to Pensacola to catch my flight home. As I sat down on the leather sofa, I could hear the band start back up. What!?!

I opened the balcony door to get a better listen, and realized Taylor Hicks was back on the stage! I decided to forego walking back to the Flora-Bama and just down and listened to beautiful voice. What a visual show I was missing, but the night ocean air was full of Taylor Hicks’ voice and harmonica. I listened as he performed with several members of Spoonful James and LiMBO some “Badge” and “Sneaking Sally Through the Alley”. I just listened and didn’t really try to concentrate on what Taylor was singing so much as just that he was singing. I was trying to imagine what it must have been like before American Idol when Taylor was sing here.

A few more songs were performed, the house lights flickered, some screaming fans, another song or two, and then the piped in music and it was over. The Soul Patrol had seen and heard Taylor Hicks in a 2-for-1 night, first at the Wharf Amphitheatre and then at the famous Flora-Bama (aptly named because it straddled the Florida and Alabama state lines!). Definitely a night for record books. Definitely a night that will be forever ingrained in my memory. Definitely a night, oh what a night…..our cake had just been iced and decorated!

Yes, as Taylor Hicks has written, ‘love was made for a Hell of a Day’, but the 2-for-1 Taylor Hicks performances in Orange Beach made for one hell of a night! Special thanks to our gracious and generous hostess, the owner of that little piece of heaven on the beach, for making this one heck of a wonderful trip! You know who you are! And also to the special ladies sharing that little piece of heaven with me! What a week-end we had! Yes, definitely, what a night…..

Pictures from the Wharf Amphitheatre, Orange Beach, AL

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Traveling Circus Rocks Hard in Orlando

With a couple of ladies in the group having a meet & greet, we decided we would get away early Sunday morning. Not too early, but with sufficient time to leisurely drive to Orlando. As luck would have it, we would ride in and out of rain. I had rubbed my eye the other night, bruising it and leaving it red and swollen. The drive was proving to be more than I could handle so I turned in my rental and rode to Orlando with friends. Thank goodness for friends! They saved my life and vision and their generosity!

Taylor Hicks and crew must have had a similar idea because we saw his bus leaving Pompano Beach for Orlando. Later the bus would pass us while we stopped to refuel our bodies and take a potty break.

The clouds were behind us and the sun was coming out as we neared Orlando. We found our hotel and went inside to check in. What a nice place – the Hyatt Place had just opened in July and was still having the finishing touches put in. Our rooms were very cozy. I even quipped about skipping the show to enjoy the luxury of the rooms! What – miss a show at the Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios? I don’t think so!

We rested for a bit before making our way to Universal Studio’s City Walk. It was going to be a hike from valet parking to the Hard Rock, and the heat only made it seem like it was longer. The meet & greet winners were lining up and we all stood around and chatted for a bit. Since a couple of us didn’t have a meet & greet, we decided to go to the Hard Rock Café and wait for the rest of our group.

Because of the restaurant’s policy of not seating guests until the entire party is there, we decided to split up so we could go ahead and get a table. That turned out to be a wise decision in the end. Our server reminded us of Chris Daughtry but with a much friendlier attitude! He made our time there enjoyable and gave us great service too!

By the time we finished eating, the doors to the venue were open and we could go in and sit down. I had second row seats, near the middle, right where the seats behind us were split into sections. The chairs were hooked together making it impossible to move them out of the way to get to our seats, therefore we had to crawl over other guests to sit down. This little fact – the hooked together chairs – will be important later on!

There were many familiar faces already there so we took some time to chat and catch up. Also, board names I recognized but faces I didn’t were greeted as if we had known each other all along! And then there were people there that were going to experience a live Taylor Hicks concert for the first time!

Our tickets were marked “no cameras” so I left my best camera in the room. I should have realized I could take it into the park, but I didn’t want to take it and not be able to use it. Poor choice again! Cameras were everywhere as well as video cameras! There seemed to be no camera Nazis anywhere in the venue. When you see my pictures, you will know what I’m talking about! The lighting was all behind Taylor and shining in the front few rows’ faces so Taylor would look washed out. I kept them anyway to remind myself of the energy and joy Taylor was exuding during the concert. So please forgive the less than stellar photography!

Just before the show started I was ready to cause a mutiny or stampede out of the venue! On the overhead speakers Chris Daughtry was being played! A couple of us even complained jokingly to security but it didn’t stop the music! We suggested that when Chris plays there, Taylor Hicks music should be piped into the auditorium! I won’t know it they did that ‘cause you won’t find me there for that event!

After being at the Pompano Beach show the night before and feeling it wasn’t the high energy show I’d come to expect, I figured the show at Hard Rock Live would be what Taylor Hicks calls a “kick a$$” performance! Every time Taylor performs at a House of Blues, the performance is of the highest energy level imaginable! And since Hard Rock Live is much like House of Blues (except you could sit in Orlando), I had very high expectations, and I was not disappointed!

The opening montage brought the audience to its feet! And it was still standing when Taylor took the stage singing “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” and “Hey Pockey Way”. The energy was high and Taylor was smiling like he just won the lottery! Yes, this was going to be a fantastic show!

With “Give Me Tonight”, the audience decided to sit for a bit, and most did so reluctantly. An older couple sat in front of me and even the female stood as much as possible with the assistance of a crutch! Her husband helped her up when necessary and supported her back when needed. She was really into the music and watching Taylor Hicks move, groove and dance!

Taylor’s original song “Heart and Soul” had some “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” thrown in for good measure! We were back on our feet and moving to the music. By now I realize there is a man sitting behind me that enjoys Taylor as much as I do, and he was really getting into the groove. He was doing as many shout outs to Taylor as Taylor would do for the Soul Patrol! This man was definitely getting Taylor!

With a short introduction as the first single off the album, “Just to Feel That Way” had us swaying and dancing in our seats. It may not have had the radio success we wanted, but performed live, this is one terrific song! It seems I heard a few changes in the melody tonight as Taylor sang this song!

“Anyone have a crazy friend?” generally lets us know “My Friend”, a Taylor Hicks original from “Under the Radar” is about to be sung. Its calypso style beat makes it a fun song. And I can’t help but wonder who the friend was that the song was originally written for!

Time for some Beatles with “Don’t Let Me Down”. I still don’t really remember the Beatles doing this, but whatever; I enjoy Taylor’s version! And if any of the audience was in need of medical attention, “Medicated Goo” would provide just what the doctor would order! It’s one of my favorite covers that Taylor sings on the tour!

“The Deal”, “Gonna Move” and “Heaven Knows” make up the next group of songs. The energy keeps getting more intense and I am constantly shaking my head in amazement! It’s hard to believe when each song gets better each night, but it does! Taylor finishes out the songs from the “Taylor Hicks” album with “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. By now we all know we are in the right place and it we weren’t already hooked, “The Runaround” would finish us off!

With shout outs of “Taylor Hicks” from Loren, Taylor made his way off the stage, and then returned like he didn’t want to leave. He was teasing us with his coming back and leaving again. After a couple of times of this, he was gone. When the band finished the music, they, too, left.

The mike stand was placed in the center of the stage so we knew an encore was about to take place. By now the crowd is doing everything possible to separate the chairs that separated them from the stage. Chairs were turned over until they came undone. My friend sitting with me was almost trampled as people climbed over chairs to get in front of the stage. I had been warned by the young man who showed me to my seat. But I was expecting security to make sure that sort of thing didn’t happen. No such luck! I wasn’t prepared for this type of scene but it happened none the less.

Out came everyone including Taylor. “Take the Long Way Home” was starting the encore. The harmonica in this song is killer and I’ve said it before, I half expect Taylor to leave the stage playing only the harmonica. Maybe waving as he left, maybe not, but just walking off playing the harmonica. The song gives me chills whenever he does it.

The concert was going to end on a very upbeat sound with “Soul Thing”, another pre-Idol song written by Taylor years ago. A woman I had seen during the spring tour had flowers for Taylor. She laid them on the stage. As Taylor bent over to pick them up I thought I saw her grab Taylor’s arm or leg to try to get a kiss or give him a kiss. Taylor got away from her and when he moved back near the drums, put the flowers in his mouth and danced a few steps before leaving the stage. The band finished the song, and then it was officially over.

As we gathered our troupe outside the venue, we talked to one of the guys that worked at the venue. He wasn’t too excited to have to watch Taylor Hicks but after seeing Taylor perform, was really impressed by him! Another one reeled in!

Our group decided to make one last stop at the Hard Rock Café for drinks and dessert before heading back to our car. It was a good way to unwind and recap the show. When we finished our bedtime snacks, we headed for the car and then to the hotel. We said our good-byes before going into our rooms. I was leaving very early in the morning to fly home and go to work. Everyone else had the day off and was going to just get up and leisurely drive home.

With only a few hours of sleep to be had, I went straight to bed but lay there with the concert going through my head. When the wake up call came, I was ready to sleep but had to get up. My cab was picking me up at 4:15 am and I didn’t have time to waste. I made it downstairs on time and got to the airport in plenty of time. The flight took off as scheduled, and I slept the entire flight. I was soon sitting at my desk ready for work, and a wishing I were home in bed to recoup from another great week-end of friends and Taylor Hicks!

Pictures from Orlando

Some of My Favorite Pictures