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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Traveling Circus Graduates at Millersville

As I was driving to the airport to catch my flight, I wasn’t thinking about the hour of the morning or why I had chosen to fly into Baltimore and then drive to Millersville. I wasn’t even thinking that this was the last show for Taylor Hicks and the current band! I was thinking about seeing beautiful fall colors and meeting friends and adding to the traveling circus once I got to my destination.

What I didn’t think about was the reality that this was the last concert for the current band. Taylor was going to take a break and write some music for his next album. And get some much needed rest before embarking on another tour sometime next year. This was Millersville University’s homecoming week-end. And in some respects, it would be a homecoming celebration for the Soul Patrol as well, at least for those of us circus clowns who have been to a number of performances. It would be time to graduate from Taylor’s freshman album and take a break until his sophomore album was recorded and ready for distribution. It would be a week-end of seeing some of our friends one last time this year.

Since I was going to arrive several hours ahead of my traveling companion, another devoted ringmaster, we decided that I would pick up the rental car, grab some lunch and come back to pick her up. Getting the car was a different kind of experience. We had to catch the bus to the car lot which included every rental place known all under one roof. I reached the ticket counter where I renting our car, signed the contract and made my way to the parking lot to the assigned slot.

Now I ordered a compact to mid-size, so I was expecting small. It turned out to be silver Ford Focus. (Quite a step down from two weeks ago when I was driving a Chrysler 300!) Once I was able to get my seat in a comfortable position, I was ready to leave the lot. At least I thought I had the seat in a good position. I think the last person to drive the car was quite tall or liked to lie down while driving because the driver’s seat back was half way in the back seat!

I drove around a bit to see what was in the area in the way of food, and finally found a MickyD’s. Before I got out of the car, I adjusted the seat some more, and finally the seat was comfortable. The head rest had my back arched in a position that there was no way I would be able to drive for two hours and then be able to get out of the car or stand up!

After a burger & fries, I was back in the car and heading back to the airport. My friend’s plane wouldn’t be in for another hour so I just drove around the airport trying to find someplace to park and wait. I decided on the hourly parking garage since the first half hour was free. I finally found a space, parked, pulled out my book and read a few pages before the half hour was up. The second half hour would be $2 and I didn’t want to pay. I left the garage and started circling the airport because it was about time for her plane to land.

The airport police were out in force, making sure the speed limit was obeyed. A few unsuspecting drivers were caught and pulled over. I did my best to keep my speed down, and fortunately was successful! I tried calling my friend, but didn’t get an answer. By the time I knew her flight had landed (I called to verify it was indeed at the gate), I decided to continue circling just in case her cell phone wasn’t working. I knew from past experience that her service didn’t always work when she was too far away from her home network, and this was one of those times! I finally spotted my co-ringmaster outside looking for me! I blew the horn and found a small space to wedge into. We loaded up the car, and off to Millersville we went!

As we drove we were busy catching up, making plans, and watching the scenery go by. We were both hoping to see lots of fall color but quickly realized we were too far south of where I’d been two week ago, and that the leaves hadn’t yet started to turn in the area. We did see a bridge going over a river that caught our attention. Bad thing I was driving – I wasn’t able to take any pictures. Beside the bridge remained the old supports from an older bridge that had long been removed. Trees had grown on the supports and looked like they were just out in the water until closer inspection showed the old bridge bases.

Once close to Millersville, we took what we thought was the right exit – it said Millersville so we thought we should take the exit. We wound up driving through downtown Lancaster which had many older connecting buildings. In the middle of downtown was a statute of civil war generals (at least that what I think they were) and an old historic fa├žade that was being held up with beams. The architecture was incredible, and I was glad to see the remodeling project was going to preserve it.

A quick call to the hotel and we had directions to get there. Had we not taken the exit we did, we would have been at the hotel maybe thirty minutes earlier, but we would have missed the quaintness of downtown. Or the Amish gentleman hooking his horse and buggy up outside at one of the larger chain stores in a shopping center outside of the downtown area.

Finally at our hotel, we made our way to our room and were greeted by the rest of our troupe of circus veterans. Plans were made to grab dinner before the show, but since we spent more time catching up and gabbing, we found we only had time for a quick stop at Wendy’s and then make our way to Millersville University campus and find Pucillo Gymnasium where the concert was going to be. We were glad we had stopped at Wendy’s because we were given directions by a table of young ladies wearing the Millersville sweatshirts. We asked if they had tickets for the show and when we found out they didn’t, we gave them our extra tickets!

By the time we found the Pucillo these same girls were crossing the parking lot headed in our direction. They told us where to park and from there we all went out separate ways to the concert. After parking, we ran into a number of other Soul Patrollers milling around outside the venue. Quick hugs and greetings were shared as we passed by to enter the doors to the gym.

As I walked in a lady came up behind me and asked it she could interview me. I said yes, but to give me a second to turn in some tickets at will call for a couple who I was sure was waiting for them to be delivered. The woman was interviewing various fans that had traveled from outside the Millersville area to see Taylor Hicks in concert. After a few minutes she had what she needed from me and was off to talk to others lingering in the lobby.

I wanted to go in to find our seats and leave my sweatshirt, and to see what the venue looked like. The stage was set up in front with all the expected instruments. We knew Loren and Josh were supposed to be there, and maybe Al and Brian. Felix had indicated he wouldn’t be there so the drummer would remain a mystery until the concert started. More friends and acquaintances were greeted as we sat down for a few minutes and surveyed the accommodations for the concert.

This was homecoming week-end for Millersville University, and the night before there had been a Ville Idol contest. We would get to see the top three alumni and top three current students receive their prizes as well as hear the winner sing their winning song. The alumni winner did an old Frank Sinatra number while the current student winner did a Pat Benatar song. The student was much better and definitely had great stage presence. She even mentioned that tonight her imaginary band had instruments!

The gym lights dimmed and “Soul Finger” began to play while some members of the Soul Patrol sang along! The band came out and took their places and began their opening song. As the band finished their opening montage, Taylor Hicks walked out and sort of jumped into place! “Gonna Move” was the first song. I swear I could hear a couple of changes in the melody but I can’t seem to remember what they were. Probably different intonations in the last few words of a verse and at the end.

The front rows were mostly Soul Patrollers, and they were all standing up and dancing along with the music. Some of the rows further back chose to sit and watch. Reserved seating was on the gym floor and the bleachers were for general admission ticket holders. Those sitting in the bleachers were free to sit anywhere they wanted to – close to the stage or further back – as long as they sat in the bleachers!

I looked around to get a feel for the crowd. Most were older tonight. Those not part of the Soul Patrol were mostly alumni or Millersville locals. I did see some students especially in the bleachers. There were only a handful of children, if that. And the gender mix was fairly even. I did notice a little girl on the front row was dancing more than Taylor Hicks! She had moved from her seat to the open area between the front row and the stage. The child was definitely having a great time!

The next song was “Give Me Tonight”. Taylor Hicks was definitely feeling the music down in his bones because his performance was so full of energy and smiling. Talking about making his move, he was giving everyone everything he had!

A Taylor Hicks original, “Heart and Soul”, followed next. Even with a new drummer the band seemed tight and their instruments blended like always. A bit of “Brown-eyed Handsome Man” was tagged, and while the usual baseball part was there, it wasn’t quite the same as I’d come to enjoy. I missed the typical music when the ball is hit out of the park! But Taylor was still playful with the song! Taylor finished the song by going back to “Heart and Soul” and ended the number with the famous Woody Woodpecker call in the ‘Soul’.

The first single from his self-titled album, “Just to Feel That Way”, was next. With hand touching his chest, Taylor seemed lost in the song, as if he were singing a special song to his lady love. I love to watch Taylor doing that – the pictures in the link below will show you what I mean.

A couple of originals, “My Friend” and “The Deal” followed. Taylor mentioned that they came from his second album, “Under the Radar”. The drummer gave a quick solo near the end of “My Friend” and then the song ended with the jazzy feel of New Orleans. “The Deal” is one of my favorite originals, and tonight it had the sound and feel of perfection.

The main set ended with more songs from “Taylor Hicks”. Before singing “Wherever I Lay My Hat” someone in the audience yelled out “I love you” and Taylor responded with “I love you too!”. Everyone in front laughed – we’ve come to expect someone to do sometime during a performance. Another favorite of mine, this song always brings a smile to may face while I watch and listen as Taylor sings it. I noticed the guitars or else Loren’s keyboard had a bit more twang and was more pronounced which added an extra element to the song to make it stand out. It was probably one of my favorite versions of the song!

The real treat of the evening came during “Soul Thing”. In past performances Taylor has done a call and response between harmonica and guitar. But tonight, ah, something even more beautiful than can be expressed happened – the call and response was between Taylor and Brian – harmonica and saxophone. It was incredible! And we would be treated to this duet one more time during the night. You need to find some video to see and hear the beauty of the harp and sax together. It truly was incredible.

“Heaven Knows” was next. During the song there was a call and response where Taylor goes “ohhh” and then the audience does the same thing. Only when Taylor goes back to the song, he sings out “thank you” which I don’t think I’ve heard him do before. As Taylor finished the song, Al and Josh were given short spotlight solos.

Next Taylor performed “The Maze”. Taylor played the harp at the end which was nice. And the harp gave it a different feel. I’m always amazed at how he can play that instrument. Years of practice I know, but watching him play always leaves me breathless.

After “The Maze” Taylor wanted to know how many were from Millersville – maybe 30 to 50 responded. When he asked how many were NOT from Millersville, the entire place seemed to erupt. Taylor did a turning swing that lowers his upper body in a move that implied surprise. I don’t think he was all that surprised since the Soul Patrol made up the first five or six rows and good bit of the closer seats in the bleachers! He gave a shout out to a fan from England who had flown all night just to be at the concert! Now that’s dedication!

Often “The Runaround” is the last song of the main set, but not tonight. The substitute drummer did a good job of mimicking a drum corps. I was impressed by his ability to come in and seem like he’d been with the band all along.

What an ending for the first set by doing “The Right Place”. Definitely this was another show being performed in the place. Taylor’s performance, if you closed your eyes and just listened, was like listening to Ray Charles! So beautiful and soulful! There was another call and response between Taylor and Brian what was even better than the call and response in “Soul Thing”. I absolutely loved the harp and sax duet! Breathtakingly beautiful!

We’ve come to expect and know that Taylor does an encore, and Millersville would be no exception. Taylor Hicks came out, picked up Josh’s guitar (he didn’t have one of his own with him) and started turning up for “Hope She’ll Be Happier with Him” which is a beautiful ballad. Before he could start, several fans were making comments, and finally a child yelled out “my mommy loves you”. Now Taylor had been tuning the guitar with his eyes closed, and at that moment he opened a single eye and raised his eyebrow at the same time to see who had just yelled that out.

The little girl said something else that I didn’t understand. Taylor said he had a funny comment but wasn’t going to make it. Someone else hollered out for his to go ahead and tell us. He gave an emphatic “NO” and began to sing the acoustic number. That was a good performance! One you have to see to enjoy! I’m sure you’ve probably found some video by now!

The band came back out. The drummer, Andy or Randy or something like that got a drum solo and when it was time for Taylor to play his harmonica, he said “enough of him!” and started blowing his harp. “Take the Long Way Home” was going to close the show. Taylor’s harp was the best I’ve heard yet. I’ve always wanted to see Taylor play the harp off the stage, and tonight that’s how he ended his performance. He continued to play as he walked across the stage, no wave, no good-bye, just walking and playing. As he descended steps behind a curtain, I later heard him say “Thank you, guys. See you later”. The band finished the song, and then the concert was over. When the lights came up, it was obvious the ending tonight had touched a lot of people – quite a few people around me were expressing the emotion with tears, including this ringmaster!

After the show we decided to walk around behind the gym to see where any vehicles carrying the band might have parked. We didn’t have to wait very long before security came out and told us to get behind a table set up next to a long white van. Out came Bill Will to put some things in the van – the band’s mode of transportation for the evening! We had found the “bus”! As we patiently waited for Taylor Hicks to come out, several people kept telling others waiting close to the doors to come behind the table too.

Finally security came back out and told everyone to get behind the table or Taylor wouldn’t come out. Those who didn’t believe us earlier were now believers and joined us behind the table. Only a few seconds later Bill came out followed by Taylor. With a jacket over a dark tee shirt, Taylor greeted us and signed whatever we had, chatted a bit with us, let us take pictures of him, and then he left. Actually, though, I left before he did. I had tried to take a few pictures but because it was so dark, all I could see on my screen was blackness with some blurring light. Since I wasn’t having much luck, I gave up and moved away so someone else could get where I was standing. Actually I pretty squashed up against the van next to the end of the table. I actually got a couple of pictures, but didn’t know it until I downloaded my pictures (more than I realized really).

After a bit of watching the table action and crowd, my little group of circus acrobats were all sharing a room at a hotel in Lancaster so we decided to go back to there rather than go somewhere for dinner. We’d meet in the bar and order pizza and maybe a couple of drinks before going to our room to get some sleep. We must have closed the bar down, and only a few mushrooms pieces and a lone slice of pizza remained from two large thin crust pizzas. We were tired but happy, and ready to retire for the evening.

The next morning we decided to go for breakfast before going our separate ways. Several of us were going to drive to Hershey and see what the town looked like, and maybe catch a quick candy-making tour. The drive over was relaxing, and seeing all of those beautiful farms and red barns was a nice diversion.

Once in Hershey, you knew you were there by the street lamps – huge Hershey kisses! We went to Hershey World and walked around the main exhibition hall and candy store. There was a conveyer belt that you could pretend you were a Hershey employee capturing kisses in a gear-shaped box. Reminded me of an old “I Love Lucy” show where Lucy and Ethel got a job in a candy factory, and as the conveyer belt was speeding up, both ladies were stuffing excess candy in their mouths because they couldn’t sort it or pack it fast enough! No, I’m not going to show you the picture they took of me, or anyone else in the group!

After a little more walking around and taking a riding tour of mini-production facility, it was time to get into our cars and head for our respective airports. I had an hour and a half drive back to Baltimore. Boy, that was hard! It was then that it hit me the magnitude of the entire week-end. We had just had our last homecoming event and graduated. Our diplomas were airline tickets home – home to wait for the next tour sometime next year.

So what happens next for the Traveling Circus, you might wonder. Well, there is a concert in Philadelphia, MS in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be there for the last known show of the season. Then I’m going to take the blog on different journey. I’m going to post some musings about other soul musicians, maybe something on the history of Stax Records (we’ve seen Taylor wear lots of tee shirts with the Stax logo), and perhaps some other musical ramblings. Stick around, check back often. You never know what you might find waiting here for you!

Pictures from Millersville, PA

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Traveling Circus Fairs Well at the Big E

I’ve found the biggest advantage to traveling alone is that I have no timetable to stick to while the biggest disadvantage, aside from being alone, is that I have no one to keep me on track! But this week-end, in addition to catching two Taylor Hicks concerts, was to be a time to just drive, think, ponder and see the scenery. And let me tell you, the scenery was beautiful!

As I drove from Bloomsburg, PA to Springfield, MA, the miles I covered were through some of the most beautiful mountain ranges I have ever had the privilege of traveling in and around. And I’ve been through a lot! The trees were just starting to change so there wasn’t a lot of fall color to be seen yet. Give it a week or two, and the mountains will be alive in all its brilliance and glory.

Speaking of glory, I couldn’t help but spend some time in prayerful communication with God (or whoever or whatever your higher power and creator may be). I don’t know what He used for His design plan, but when it came to the mountains, His imagination was peaked, no pun intended. From the tree covered ranges to the barren rock mounds, the entire scene left me feeling quite small and insignificant compared to the majesty of earth’s creation. The beauty was, well, beautiful. When you have a day with nothing planned, take a drive through the mountains or even around a lake and drink in the solitude. It leaves one with a sense of awe and peace.

And when I wasn’t in amazement with the mountains, there were the streams with the still waters and sand and rock bars in the center. These streams added to the beauty I was seeing as I drove along the interstate. Somewhere on I-84 on the New York side, there was a pull-off where you could stop and take pictures. Believe me, I stopped and just stared in amazement at what I could see.

So you can imagine what should take about four to five hours of driving time took more like six to seven for me! Between potty breaks and photo breaks, I finally made it to Springfield. And yes, I even managed to get a couple of pictures while I was driving, but it wasn’t too easy, but since I was stuck in traffic at the time, it helped make the time more enjoyable!

Because I took my time getting to Springfield, by the time I finally arrived it was 5:30 and I needed to get to the Big E so I could get to the Comcast Stage to get a reasonably decent seat. I checked into my hotel, freshened up and headed back out for the quick drive to the fairgrounds. Quick drive, about 5 minutes according to the front desk at the hotel. Right!

The quick drive of 5 minutes was more like an hour! Once I got close to the fairground, traffic was bumper to bumper and moving at a snail’s pace. Two cars maybe made the light before traffic stopped again. And then there was the rotary (like a circle with spokes leading off to other streets) that had three or four lanes of traffic trying to get around to the other side or the street leading to fair parking.

I opted for fair parking myself. Once I was able to get into the fair parking area, I paid my fee and drove down the strip to the parking areas. One road led to the back lot while the other led to handicapped parking. I tried the handicapped route to see what else might be closer. Good choice! I found parking about 100 feet from the entrance, not in the handicapped area either. It may have been the exhibiters’ parking lot. Anyway, I parked and headed into the fair.

With verbal directions I headed for the staging area. Once there, I was shocked to see how few people were already sitting down waiting for Taylor Hicks to perform! I found a seat and began chatting with a few others who were waiting for the concert. But I didn’t see any familiar faces which was strange. Needing a visit to the ladies’ room, I decided to try that first and then maybe I’d find more Soul Patrollers lurking about.

No merchandise table was visible, but I figured since the show was still over an hour away, there was no need to worry. I hiked through the exhibit hall behind the stage, watched the Royal Canadian Mounties and found the facilities. Once back at the seat, no more seats had been taken than when I left. Something was definitely wrong with the picture.

Finally I realized that the drum set on stage was some sort of pea green, nothing like what I’d seen Felix play in the past. The stage crew was working so I walked up to find out who was going to be playing. Some band I’d never heard of, so then I understood. I was at the wrong stage! I announced to the kind ladies who saved my seat while I went to the ladies’ room that this was not the right stage and headed off in the direction the stage hand told me. Ok, it was the Comcast stage I wanted – the BIG stage, not the LITTLE stage. Both stages said Comcast so you can hopefully understand the confusion!

Finally about fifteen minutes later I saw the right stage entrance. Oh my word! The area was huge! With seating for about 5,000 I wasn’t sure where I’d wind up! I started toward the chairs, but they were either taken or being held for late-comers or those off to take the last potty trip before the concert. No where was there a close seat for me!

I chatted with a couple of Soul Patrollers that I frequently see at shows, and had a couple of fans stop me that I’d met earlier in the summer. Since nothing in the chair area appeared available, I moved further back to the bleacher area. There off to the left of the stage I found a front row seat and took it. I wasn’t about to climb the bleachers and fall and break my neck. And I don’t do steps very well anyway.

With a planned cellcert for The Official Soul Patrol (TOSP) fan site, I made my phone call to make sure everything was set up and ready. I was lamenting where I had to sit, but it would be fine for what I was going to do. So what if I was too far back to get any pictures. I WAS going to be helping others listen to the show. A lady behind me quizzed me about the cellcert so I explained what I would be doing.

As I finished explaining the concept of a cellcert, someone I had spoken to earlier came running up to me and said she had an extra seat and to come join them. Not one to turn down such a wonderful offer, I left my bleacher seat and followed her. Thank you so much for thinking of me and coming to look for me! I hope you read this blog and will know just how grateful to you I am that you thought of me! If we meet up again, I owe you big time, and I hope I can return the favor for you. After all, that’s what Tay-ing It Forward is all about.

And what a great seat I was given! Fourth row, almost center of the stage! Mama was going to get some pictures with her big boy! Be sure to check out the PhotoBucket link for some great shots from the concert!

We sat and chatted while we waited for the concert to start. Behind the stage were the Midway rides including the usual Ferris wheels and some sort of ride that leaves you upside down on a circular roller coaster. It was fun to watch but not where you’d find me in this life time! No sir! I value my life, and my dinner, thank you very much! What went down was supposed to stay down!

Finally “Soul Finger” starts and the band takes the stage. They do their opening montage before Taylor Hicks takes the stage. Out comes Taylor at first walking in the dark off to the side and then he runs and leaps over a speaker and lands in a position reminiscent of a surf board rider. Hope Taylor has good insurance because he almost crashed landed. He had to catch his balance, but the grin on his face let us quickly know he was just fine! Like a cat that falls and ends up landing on his feet, Taylor had that look of “I planned it that way!”

With shouts of “Big E” and “how’s everyone this evening” amid a screaming myriad of fans, “Give Me Tonight” was the official opening song. Signature moves and clapping himself, the audience was up moving and grooving. Every where I looked people were standing and moving to the beat. Yes, old Rags, herself, was standing up! And tonight would have me sitting very little! That was a change even for this old bird!

“How’s everyone at the Big E! Soul Patrol!” Time for Taylor Hicks’ own original “Heart and Soul”. We are standing up and clapping to the beat. Taylor was looking great in a navy velour or corduroy jacket, white button down shirt and light blue jeans. Before tagging “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” we were hearing more “Soul Patrol” shout outs! During the tag the band decided to play a trick on Taylor. The second time Taylor hit the imaginary ball, the band stopped, Taylor looked at Josh and then the band picked back up! Taylor’s expression was so funny!

Now keep in mind that I’m doing a cellcert for TOSP and attempting to take pictures. But how could I do both at the same time with only two hands, in spite of offers of help! For a while I try holding the phone and using the camera at the same time, but it wasn’t too comfortable. So what else could I do? Just to give you a visual of what I had to do to juggle my camera & cell phone. Picture a cat holding a mouse by its tail where the tail is in the cat's mouth and mouse is hanging down. Now I'm the cat and my cell phone is the mouse. You get the picture! Sorry, but there is no photo to prove the pose! Thank goodness!

Now I can watch, snap pictures and everyone can listen at the same time! What I note is that Taylor is smiling the entire time, stopping only to sing phrases that don’t lend themselves to smiling or to play the harmonica. It certainly wasn’t at the sight of me, contrary to what I might wish to think otherwise! Taylor was feeling the energy of the crowd and giving us everything he had and then some!

Lots of shout outs to the Big E and the Soul Patrol and acknowledgements of the individual band members. And lots of harp! Oh that sweet harp! Time for the first single off of his post-Idol “Taylor Hicks” album, “Just to Feel That Way”. And we were still up and going strong! We were certainly feeling the song and energy ourselves and giving it back to feed Taylor so he would have more energy to give us! What a trade we were doing!

One of my favorite covers, Traffic’s “Medicated Goo” was next. It’s hard to stand still, even for me, when Taylor tries to cure our ills with this number! And for those of us with crazy friends, even if our crazy friend is ourselves, “My Friend” is a jazzy little calypso number. It’s all about sharing that smile, and we sure were tonight! And so was Taylor – he was so happy that his face was glowing with joy! Or was that perspiration? Who cares – it was obvious the man was very happy and enjoying entertaining us!

Another favorite of mine is Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks”. Those young hearts beating free were what we were feeling and doing! When I surveyed the audience, the breakdown between male and female was fairly even, and all ages were well represented. There were even a few people standing behind that hadn’t seen Taylor Hicks since his American Idol days. And they were being Taylorized as the night wore on! WHOOO! Soul Patrol! Join us other crazy friends!

It’s always nice to hear Taylor Hicks do his own pre-Idol original music, so “The Deal” was a nice addition. I don’t remember if he played harp during it like he did at Newport News, but either way the song was great! “Gonna Move” followed and it had some different phrasing or way to handle the melody. I really liked the changes that I could hear!

With a Felix drum solo, “Soul Thing” led us into Jerry Reid’s, “Eastbound and Down” as Taylor shouted he was going to take us to church. Yes, we went alright, and it wasn’t even Sunday yet! Man, what Felix can do on a set of drums is pure magical! The bad thing about the Big E was this was Felix last night of the tour. We’re going to miss Felix, because no one plays the drums like him when it comes to “The Runaround”. No one!

Back to the album for “Heaven Knows” and “The Maze”. I think someone behind me shouted he wanted to be in the maze as well! Taylor tagged in some “Warm Love”, “Want Ads”, and the ever popular “Let’s Get It On”. Now you can only guess the audience response to that bit of tagging. And yes, Taylor was giving us lots of his booty dance, for lack of a better way to describe it! So much fun, so little time to enjoy and watch! Just a short bit, just enough to make us want a heck of a lot more!

With just a mike stand to hold on to, “The Right Place” tonight would be the Big E in West Springfield, MA. As Taylor begins the song, the audience sings along to Taylor’s amazement and he stops to laugh and then starts again. Yes, this was the right place alright. And the harp! Oh my! The chills just made the cool night cooler! The audience was still standing but much quieter as we savored the moment and song. Too bad it was never released as a single – I think it just might have been a winner. My opinion, that’s all I’m stating, my opinion.

Nearly an hour later the final song of the set, “The Runaround” starts with those drums giving full sound as only Felix can. Even Taylor does several of his spins and as he does his coat tail and shirt tail spins and rises to the point I’m sure we are about to see skin! But the shirt and jacket are a little too long and Taylor’s dignity is safe and protected.

Taylor thanks us for coming and the Big E for having him. We watch as he leaves the stage, shouting Taylor, Taylor, Taylor and knowing he will be back. We don’t have to wait long! He was closing the show with the Doobie Brothers, “Long Train Running”. Taylor wanted to know if we could hear the wail of the train whistle coming down the track. Yes, Taylor, we can!

“Without love where would you be now?” Without having heard Taylor Hicks what would we all be doing now? With that, Taylor said he’d see us later and bade us good night. When the song ended, Taylor asked us to applaud the band, gave us his famous ‘Ray Charles’ pose of head slung to the back and side and then he left the stage. When the band finished the song, the good-bye music started and the show was over.

Several of us turned around to see how the Taylor Hicks’ newbies were doing and they were definitely ready to see another show! Curiosity got the female as to why Taylor didn’t do “Do I Make You Proud”. A brief explanation followed and she was satisfied.

We made our way back to the merchandise stand to visit Stephen and then make our way out into the fair itself. I had a long walk back to my car so I started the hike out of the fair. Once in my car, getting out of the parking lot was not going to be so easy. Thirty minutes of no movement and I decided to cut across the parking lot. That proved a good move and soon I was on my way back to the hotel. Thank goodness Madge was with me – she got me back to the hotel safely.

Once back at the hotel, I thought I’d give the lounge a try for a late night snack. After waiting ten minutes or so without acknowledgement, other guests let me know I had to go to the bar for service. It was easier just to leave. I went by the front desk to get a delivery menu and returned to my room to place my order. Even though it was rather late, I was hungry. I went through my photographs as I waited. This was going to be a ‘nap’ night so it was fine.

As I reviewed my pictures I relived the concert and enjoyed it all over again. Too bad it had to end, because I had had a terrific week-end! But will it be enough to tide me over until Millersville in two weeks? We’ll just have to wait and see! Until then…..

Pictures from the Big E

Some of My Favorite Pictures