What a wonderful night for a BBQ! The sky was clear, then cloudy, then overcast, and then darkening. A storm was brewing. I’d been watching the sky for several hours, hoping that in spite of the gathering winds that the storm would blow over. After spending a couple hours watching several bands at Sloss Furnaces, with Madge (my GPS) in command and another car following me, off to the BBQ I headed.
A couple of wrong turns and missed turns and I was back within a block of Sloss. Ok, the car behind me was starting to give me hand signals – hands thrown up in the air. Those ladies were probably checking their Google maps to see where to go! Finally we were on the right track. I hit the interstate and the next exit. At the stop light we stuck heads out the window and decided we would just let Madge lead the way.
Way out in the middle of what seemed like no where, was the road that would take us to the farm where the BBQ would be held. The road started out wide enough to handle two passing cars. One more turn, and we find ourselves heading down a road not much wider than a golf cart path. If you met a car, someone had to go down the embankment will the other had to climb a hill! I just prayed everyone was heading TO the event and no one would be leaving!
The view because peaceful and serene. Trees lined the road with new tree sprigs peeking through the fallen leaves and pine needles. The road curved and turned continually, until we came to what could best be described as a ‘hairpin curve’ where the taillights and headlights could line up in a straight row. And the curve turned downhill as it snaked through the woods. We finally came to a small wooden bridge that crossed a still brook. As we cleared the woods, we could see the farm ahead.
Parking was no issue – there were plenty of places. My concern was how to get back to downtown Birmingham without having to back track the road I had just taken. After parking, I noticed a main road up ahead – that would be my exit later. As I would find out from another guest during the dinner, 18-wheelers have attempted to take that same route only to have to be pulled back out by a wrecker because they can’t make that hairpin curve!
I have but one regret of the evening, so let me get that out of the way right now. I have no pictures of the farm or the area of the party, other than those of the stage! Suffice it to say, this place was beautiful! The family home reminded me of the typical two-story white frame farmhouse. The barn was brick and stone with beautifully stained woodwork inside and out. The horses stabled in that barn lived in designer stalls!
Tables sat outside the barn, inside a paved road that circled the barn. The stage was set up across the road. A country band was playing for our dining pleasure. At one point, one of the ladies in the band was playing a ‘washboard’! That was a real treat! The BBQ was your choice of beef or pork (or chicken, maybe). Slaw and baked beans rounded out the meal.
While we ate and the band played, a couple of ladies walked around selling raffle tickets for a pyramid-style diamond necklace. $10 for one, or $20 for 3 tickets. I’m a sucker for raffles, so I bought some. It was for charity, and I knew it would not be my night to win it anyway. As I mentioned earlier, the sky looked like a storm was brewing. A couple of drops of rain fell, we looked at each other, and the clouds moved on over.
After dinner, various guests were introduced, including the wife of Alabama Governor, Bob Riley, Patsy Riley. Mrs. Riley spoke for the Governor who was home nursing a ‘blown out knee’ and wasn’t able to attend the dinner. A delightful lady, spoke on the need to help Hannah House Shelby, the charity that was benefiting from the event.
By the way, Hannah House Shelby is a home for abused women and children, a place of refuge when they need to escape the abuse. In existence for twenty years or so, it established its first actual house last year, and the mortgage had been paid off thanks to hard work, dedication and generous donors.
Before time for Taylor Hicks to take the stage, there was a live auction. One prize was three rounds of golf at some of the most prestigious courses in the Birmingham area. Another prize was a spa package. There were a couple of mini-vacations, dinner for 20 with the Governor and wife, and diamonds earrings the size of the tip of my pinky finger!
Let the bidding begin! I had my eye on those earrings, sight unseen! During the bidding process I finally had a chance to eyeball them personally – they would completely cover my earlobes – forget the diamond necklace, I wanted those big baubles! I jumped into the bidding fray, including giving the opening bid. Someone sitting in front of me (I’ll protect the innocent here) was flailing her arms in excitement and the auctioneer thought she was raising my bid! I think someone had to grab her arms to keep her quiet once they realized what was happening!
A couple more bids, and SOLD! I jumped up, waving my arms, only to hear someone shout out their bid – the auctioneer failed to say the usual ‘going once, going twice’ so the bidding had to be reopened. Needless to say, I hope that wife enjoys those earrings! I didn’t walk away empty-handed, though. I did win a mini-vacation to a location of my choice of three premium vacation spots. Now to play that trip!
Without further ado, Taylor Hicks was introduced and walked out from the barn to the stage, flanked by what appeared to be two police officers. They remained near the stage for Taylor’s entire performance.
I was on a mission tonight. I wanted to capture video, and so the number of pictures I would take would be limited. But hopefully, the video would more than make up for that! Taylor Hicks took the stage with his usual ‘Ray Charles’ sway and yelled out “Soul Patrol”. Yup, we’d found him alright, and were ready for some blues! Along with Taylor were Jeff Lopez on sax and flute and Brian Less on the keyboard. Taylor had his trusty guitar and harmonica.
Now this shindig was billed to be about “boots, blues and BBQ”. We’d had the BBQ for dinner, and many of the guests were in country western attire right on down to the boots and Stetsons. But what about Taylor? I’ve scoured my pictures, but all I can see is what appears to be a brown jacket over a darker brown shirt and jeans. I don’t even know if Taylor Hicks was wearing boots! What good was I that night? Hopefully the video will earn me forgiveness!
With a shout out of “Boots, Blues and BBQ”, Taylor Hicks and company began the set with “Call Me the Breeze”. During the song, Taylor gave intros to both Brian and Jeff. The sincerity in Taylor’s voice as he did so let everyone know that Taylor Hicks may be the star, but those who play with him are also star performers.
A bit of chit chat after the song and Taylor likened it to open heart surgery! Being the shy person that Taylor says he is, it’s understandable that talking off the cuff to an audience may not be the easiest thing for him, but he sure makes up for it with his music! “Moondance”, a Van Morrison tune, was perfect for a concert under the stars with Taylor Hicks and his harmonica!
Taylor Hicks talked about working on his new album, having been in the writing phase for the last several weeks. He mentioned having written about thirty songs, some of his best music, and that he wanted to do the fifth song he’d written while in “LA” as in “lower Alabama”. The song: Taylor’s own “Soul Thing”.
And true to what we’ve seen during Taylor’s previous national tours, Jerry Reed’s “Eastbound and Down” crept into the song! While I was concentrating on my video I could tell that those there, beside the Soul Patrol, were enjoying Taylor’s music.
Does Taylor Hicks pass on messages in the songs he used for a performance? I don’t know, but Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” seemed to be a prediction of the future. The song is great for an acoustic set with minimal instruments, but it’s been a rare experience for me to hear him do this number. And it was beautiful and very soulfully done! Jeff Lopez on the sax was to die for, too!
Now we are all familiar with “The Runaround” and its opening drum corps. Imagine doing that song without the drums! It was an interesting version, and one I hope to hear Taylor Hicks do again! From time to time it seemed like Taylor used his guitar for the drum sound. I was surprised that Taylor would do this song over “The Right Place”, which he has done on “Regis and Kelly” with just a keyboard and sax.
Before doing the final song, Taylor Hicks sang “On and On” by Stephen Bishop. This was not a song I was familiar with, but I did like it. And then the final number: “Where I’m From (Alabama Frame of Mind)”. I was in heaven! No words can describe the song, so be sure to watch the video.
Taylor was escorted back inside the barn when he finished his set, and with that, we were bade a good night and drive home safely. We said our good-byes and headed back to our cars. This time someone else would follow me back into town and to the Metro Bistro to hear Brian Less sit in with The Erin Mitchell Band.
Once back into downtown Birmingham, I decided to visit Metro and listen for a bit. Around midnight, when the band took a break, I decided I would take my leave and go to Ona’s Music Room to see what was going on there. I made it to my car, but by the time I got to Ona’s the sky had fallen and it was pouring rain. Do I park and go in or go back to the hotel? I parked, pulled out my trusty umbrella and walked in the rain to Ona’s.
After getting into Ona’s I found a small table to the right of the stage and sat down. Not being much of a drinker, I ordered a diet coke and waited for Spoonful James to come back from their break. There were whispers of Taylor Hicks being in the house. I turned around to look survey the bar, and sure enough, a tall young man in a cap with gray hair sticking out was walking through the back of the lounge area. Taylor Hicks was definitely in the house!
When Spoonful James came back to do their final set, Taylor Hicks joined them to sing a couple of songs. Actually, he sang one song with them and then stopped until his harmonicas were brought in to him. With case in hand, Taylor went back to the stage and sang for a little more than 15 minutes! Video from that performance can also be found below!
WOW! An evening of boots, blues and BBQ had turned into a terrific night full of Taylor Hicks! One of those two-for-one evenings! Enjoy the video and what few pictures I took – links are below!
Video BBQ: Call Me The Breeze
Video BBQ: Moondance