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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

May 2010 bring you prosperity, joy and happiness as well as lots of times to gather with your Taylor Hicks family!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To all those who have touched my life or have yet to do so,
I wish you and your loved ones the Merriest Christmas
and a properous New Year

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Traveling Circus Braves the Elements for the High Noon Saloon

The die-hard old ladies, as we’ve often been referred to, braved the wintery elements and frigid temperatures that hit Madison, Wisconsin this week to meet up for the last Taylor Hicks shadow show of the year. There may have been 17 inches of snow with 3-6 inches of packed snow and ice on the roads and temps in the single digits, but inside the High Noon Saloon, it was toasty warm by the time Taylor Hicks took the stage.

Now back home where I live, when it snows or sleets, it’s time to head for the house and stay put. Maybe even to make a quick stop by the grocery to pick up milk, bread and soup makings before locking the door for the night. Turn on the gas logs, the TV and laptop, cover up with a quilt and enjoy a warm bowl of soup. No one is going to be out tonight, at least I’m not. Maybe not even the next day unless my boss picks me up – I just don’t drive in the mess.

But for Taylor Hicks, I put away the sensibilities for a few days and headed north to where the winter storms had recently dumped snow and frigid temperatures. Before you say anything, yes, I’m very well aware of the fact that I’m a bit on the crazy side, daft at times, but to see Taylor Hicks perform acoustically, well, I’m not going to sit it out if I can help it. Anyway, the ticket and airfare were already paid for so I might as well go. Right?!?!?!

But here I was in the land of cheese and snow. The drive from Milwaukee was like driving through a Christmas card. The branches of the fir trees were hanging down from the weight of the snow. Only the interstate and main roads had been seen the snow plows and salt trucks. The fields were covered in pristine white snow and no animal tracks. Hay bales looked like bases of snowmen waiting to be completed. Roof tops were dripping with icicles that looked more like daggers and still covered with thick blankets of snow. I didn’t stop to capture the Kodak moment, but any Christmas scene will bring back the memory.

Once I made my way to Madison and left the interstate, I was beginning to question my sanity. Here I was driving on ice and packed snow. Me. I had no idea what to do – go with the skid or go against it. Hit the breaks or pump the breaks. Thank goodness I had paid for the collision insurance on the rental car – it looked like I might need it when I couldn’t get stopped at a red light with several cars in front of me. Pumping the break, I stopped just short of the next bumper.

Finding the hotel was the next adventure. The small courtyard in front was easy to see, but which building was the hotel. Twice I circled around, going up grades that only a goat would love and hoping no one would be stopped behind me. Finally, I figured it out (after a phone call) and made it safely to the correct door and inside the warmth of the hotel. This was a night for cab fare and drivers far more experienced with the elements than this old bird.

The group of ladies I was going to see Taylor with finally arrived and were of the same mind – cab drivers would be the way to go. We decided to go to the early show to see Shaky, a Neil Young Tribute band. For $5 and pizza, we decided we’d check it. They were an older group. Not being familiar with Neil Young music, I had no clue what they were playing but some of it was really good while the rest was nothing more than noise.

After a break and stage reset for Taylor Hicks’ show, the opening act, Mark Harrod took the stage behind his keyboard first for a couple of songs. Later he would use the guitar as accompaniment. I enjoyed Mark’s kind of music. He was very articulate in both his conversation and lyrical style. I didn’t buy his CD while I was there, but I think I may have to order it online. Mark’s a Madison native and former banker who decided a career in music was more to his liking. He definitely has the chops for the gig and I certainly wish him great success.

The table of ladies behind me gasped, and as I look around to see what it was about, I see Taylor in toboggan and wool coat with his entourage head for the room behind the stage to get ready for the show. It wouldn’t be long now before Taylor hits the stage!

Finally Brian Less leads the pack out followed by Jason Parker and Sam Gunderson. They take their places and with a quick musical interlude Taylor Hicks bounds the stage steps with his jack open to show us the holiday-looking lining! He looked happy and excited to be at the High Noon Saloon and his audience was equally as happy and excited!

Sitting down and grabbing his shiny black Taylor guitar, the opening number was “Gonna Move”. The songwriter may have been talking about moving, but the Traveling Circus was about to be moved. Now I’ve heard the song a number of times but acoustically, it is mesmerizing as I watch Taylor’s fingers glide or strum the guitar strings. No pick. Just his bare fingers or nail beds, I can’t tell just which. The man is happy to be singing for us. Just as happy as we are to be there! And I’m like right at his feet – if my table was any closer, I would be sitting on the stage! When “Gonna Moves” ends, the band and Taylor move effortlessly into “Soul Serenade” as if it were part of the first song.

Telling us the next song was from an earlier album when he was a kid, “In Your Time”, the audience is expecting the title song until Taylor Hicks says the song is “The Deal”. Someone says it’s from “Under the Radar” and he jokes with the crowd about knowing his music better and just keeping us on our toes. “The Deal” is perfect whether performed acoustically or with a full band.

Not a song expected to be performed in an acoustic set, “The Runaround” works its magic just fine with just guitars and a keyboard. After all, the intro features the ivories so to include the number makes sense. Taylor Hicks says it has a Billy Joel feel to it, so why not.

One of the evening’s highlights and crowd favorites is “Maybe You Should”. Perfect for the keyboard, its soulful melody is both haunting and reverent. Whether the partner will leave or not is not known, but the lyrics are enough to make one rethink leaving. Taylor has said a number of times that the song is on hold for another artist and hopes it will be recorded soon. An audience member even asks if Taylor wrote the song and said it was a beautiful song. He was right….it is a beautiful song!

Other songs for the evening included the Beatles, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “I Live on a Battlefield”, and “Forever Man”. Sam Gunderson was featured in a guitar solo during “Don’t Let Me Down” which was wonderful. I’m used to hearing Sam with an electric guitar and to hear him on acoustic was a treat. “Forever Man” is an old song back the days when Taylor played with Sam and Brian on a nightly basis. Taylor thought it sounded pretty good, and so did the audience.

Dedicated to our servicemen, “Nineteen” is a beautiful tribute to the sacrifice our military make to keep us safe and free. Performed acoustically is best because it brings out the reverence intended by the melody and lyrics. And Taylor Hicks performs it just that way. It’s one of his best songs on “The Distance”, his latest CD.

The first single off the last album, “What’s Right is Right”, is another beautiful song for an acoustic set. Taylor calls it a soul song, but I think it’s a great love song. It’s the kind of love that I want and I’m sure Taylor is looking for. (Sure beats getting “The Runaround”!) The harmonica was excellent tonight. Throw in “Tupelo Honey” and more harp to make the number complete and show off the musical skills of Taylor. I’m always amazed at how the musicians can anticipate and keep up with Taylor.

Rounding out the set were “Feeling Alright” and “Seven Mile Breakdown”. Taylor called the first song a ‘piano song’ and the second ‘a roadhouse song’. Both were great songs. It was great to hear the ‘hiccup’ in Seven Mile Breakdown again tonight! He even referred to Wisconsin in the song – glad he know where he was!

After chanting for Taylor to return for an encore, Brian Less comes out alone and begins to play the keyboard. Taylor joins him on stage for a duet of “The Border Song”. As the lyrics state, “Holy Moses”, was what went through my mind as Taylor sang the song. A fitting ending for the evening, the song was as much about peace as the holiday season we are in with the “Let us Live in Peace” lyrics. When the song was over, Taylor Hicks stood and wished us Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas as he left the stage. Same to you Taylor – we’ll be back in the saddle with you next year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night!

Pictures from the High Noon Saloon

Additional Videos

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Traveling Circus Eats to the Beat at Epcot

Epcot – Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – is home of the International Food and Wine Festival which this year ran from September 25 to November 8. In addition to foods and wines from around the world, there are seminar and demonstrations, festival shopping and the famous “Eat to the Beat” concert series. Musical guests included such greats as Richard Marx, Billy Ocean, Sister Hazel, Kool & the Gang, and of course, the Traveling Circus’ favorite artist, Taylor Hicks!

Two nights of the festival, Sunday, November 1 and Monday, November 2, were dedicated to the music of Taylor Hicks. Six shows over two nights with each show about 30 minutes in length. Six songs per show, including Taylor’s famous tagging and dancing! Some old favorites and some new songs to entertain the masses were part of each show’s set list.

And speaking of masses! As I pass the line for the first show on Sunday night, the line stretched for as far as I could see – I heard it went all the way down to Germany! I waited outside the barrier ropes at the back and just hoped I could find a place to park at the back of the America Gardens Theatre that backs up to the World Showcase lagoon opposite the American Adventure Pavilion. In just a few minutes the rope where I was came down and I found a place at the back to park my scooter.

As I scanned the seating area in front me, the benches quickly filled up as fans new and old gathered to see and hear Taylor Hicks perform. One of the things I found great about Epcot and the America Gardens Theatre was the efficiency in clearing the staging area and setting up for the next show. People lined up quickly and once the line started to move, the crowd quickly found seats and others waiting to sit down were able to get in. Each show was probably filled between 75-90% capacities depending on the particular show. And probably the times at which I looked around, which was generally before Taylor took the stage.

Each show was different – as only Taylor Hicks can make them. There were standards at each performance like Taylor’s last single, “Seven Mile Breakdown” and “Nineteen” which is to be released to the Armed Forces Radio on Veteran’s Day. New for me to hear was a Marshall Tucker cover, “Can’t You See”. I enjoyed Taylor’s version of the song. But then, I tend to enjoy whatever song Taylor chooses to sing.

Other songs included “I Live on a Battlefield”, “Use Me” (Bill Withers), Taylor’s own “The Deal”, “What’s Right is Right”, “Rockin’ Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu” as well as others. The audience seemed appreciative of the music, and the Soul Patrol was all over the place, jockeying for the good seats from which to watch their musical leader. I was just happy to find a place that would let me remain on my scooter and shoot some good pictures which you will find linked below.

Monday afternoon before the Eat to the Beat Concerts, I decided to check out the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Rumor had it that Taylor Hicks might make a showing at the one of the performances. I went to be there for 1:00 but that show was cancelled. A little bird told me to wait because Taylor would be there at 2:00, so I decided to hang around a bit longer. The wait paid off! Taylor came out for about 90 seconds to plug “Grease”, his latest CD, “The Distance” and to encourage those competing at the exhibit.

For the next 30 minutes, we were entertained by two gentlemen from England and a 17-year old from the States. The young man won the 2:00 competition and was to come back to compete at 7:00 pm. The winner of the final show of the day would receive an ‘ultimate golden ticket’ that would entitle the person to jump the line at any future American Idol tryout in the city of their choice.

Each day as I made my way to the America Gardens Theatre and then out of the park, I stopped by the various food vendors to sample such delicacies as Crawfish Etouffee from New Orleans, Rock Shrimp Ceviche from Santiago, Chile, and a Greek Salad from Athens, Greece. It made for expensive dining but a great way to sample foods from around the world. After all, if it weren’t for the festival, Taylor Hicks would not have been at Epcot and neither would the Traveling Circus either.

At the end of each day I thought about the other meaning of Epcot – Every Person Comes Out Tired – as explained by one of the bus drivers. He was right – I was pooped at the end of each day!

To all the Soul Patrol that I met for the first time and to others I had met previously, it was great seeing so many fans there to support Taylor Hicks. I had a lot of fun sitting with a number of you and meeting you by the various food vendors to share a bite. Hopefully, we’ll meet again and enjoy some more blue-eyed soul from our favorite soul man, Mr. Taylor Hicks!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

With the Traveling Circus, It's Always an Adventure!

For her thirteenth birthday, I promised my older granddaughter a trip to see Taylor Hicks in “Grease” when it came close to Memphis. Birmingham seemed like the logical destination until Taylor added two shows at Workplay. Actually, I had bought tickets for her but when the second show was added, it was decided that her mom (my daughter) should go instead. I would take her somewhere else.

Durham seemed like another logical place, especially she would be on fall break on Monday – we could attend both of the Sunday shows. I knew I would have to work late on Friday plus by Red Hat luncheon was Saturday – not something I wanted to miss. But on Tuesday night, I made the decision we would go to Durham if I could get everything worked out.

I checked my frequent flyer miles – enough for two tickets. Then I checked Ticketmaster to see what sort of seats might be available. Next I had to make sure I could take Monday as a vacation day. Once the vacation was approved, within 30 minutes the plane tickets were secured, hotel & car reservations made and tickets to “Grease” were purchased.

Finally it’s Saturday afternoon and we get to the airport in sufficient time to get through security and down to our gate. The first leg of the flight would take us to Atlanta for a plane change. And a pleasant surprise! As the gate attendant scanned out tickets, new tickets were printed out – we had been upgraded to first class! My granddaughter was elated! Thanks to my elite status, the airline made me look like a ‘can accomplish miracles’ grandmother!

By the time we arrived in Durham and picked up our rental car, it was quite late. And rainy. And pitch black. My first mistake was leaving Madge (my GPS) at home. The second was expecting my granddaughter to be the navigator. We tried to use the Yahoo directions I had printed out, but we kept going in circles and making wrong turns. Finally, we tried my iPhone which has GPS. Nearly 30 miles and one hour later, we were safely at hotel, which was really 16 miles and 20 minutes from the airport (perhaps as the crow flies, but that’s another story)!

Now my granddaughter is not the easiest kid to wake up, but she set the alarm so she could get up and go down stairs to enjoy the free breakfast. No time to wait for me to get ready – we kept in touch my texting. She had a great time making herself a waffle and even brought me juice and bagel.

Once I was ready, we left for another adventure – driving to the Durham Performing Arts Center, or DPAC. According to Yahoo, it should be a 30 minute, 20 mile drive. Forget it – 45 minutes and three re-routings – we made it to the theater! Thank goodness I had given myself at least an hour to get there!

While my granddaughter was getting a pre-show snack, I was talking the security guy. We discussed that the theatre was new and that I was from Memphis. Wrong person to tell that too! More later as to why!

We found our seats, center of the third row! We would see their pupils as well as the color of their eyes! Vince Fontaine started off with the pre-show revue to get the audience ready for the show. The usual dance routines, where the audience was from, birthdays, etc. I tried to get my granddaughter to dance, but she wanted too much of a bribe! And that was in addition to the “Grease” sweatshirts I had purchased for her and her sister!

The matinee was definitely the show to pay close attention to. During the first day of school cafeteria scene, as Patty Simcox is about to make her appearance, Rizzo announced that Patty was getting close because she could smell her coming. I snickered – that was new! In Marty’s bedroom, the radio was working properly and she had to ad-lib a bit until it started working again!

In the second half, with THE ice cream cone in place (I can only imagine what the Teen Angel did when he heard the goof), Sonny calls Frenchy “Sandy”! Then poor Roger is slinging his antenna around when it slips out of his hand and lands near the curtain behind him! He had the “what the heck do I do now” look, although I doubt that’s what he was thinking! He picked it up and the scene continued!

Finally the moment I was waiting for – the cone is opening! Now I’ve seen the show (covering my mouth as I say how many!) a number of times, so I know what to expect and what may get changed up. I was disappointed at the initial response and had to remind myself that North Carolina is home to three other Season 5 top 10 contestants.

But WOW! Frenchy and Taylor went all out during the matinee! As Frenchy did her “I voted for you” and ran her fingers up Taylor Hicks’ chest, she then put her finger on his nose and rubbed it! Taylor seemed to be surprised by that move! Then when they did the ‘hair & sizzle’, Frenchy said “hot diggity dam” when they did the side bump and she tried to pat Taylor’s butt! The audience chuckled!

After Taylor gets back in the cone to finish “Beauty School Dropout”, the audience does give him the applause he was due! Too soon Taylor was gone and the show continued! Taylor came out for the encore and then to sing “Seven Mile Breakdown”. As we all know, Taylor can change up a song at will, and at the matinee, he did just that! I loved what he did – a bit of higher notes at the end!

For any lack of cheering during the show, the audience made up for waiting in line to get a CD signed! It was orderly and moved quickly, in spite of the number of people waiting! I was very pleased to see the crowd. My granddaughter wanted to have her sweatshirt signed and became concerned when the theatre usher said Taylor would only be signing the CD or his merchandise. I kept telling her to lay the shirt down and that Taylor would sign it. He didn’t disappoint – he even signed it to her! While he was doing that and I was trying to catch a quick picture, the security person I had talked to earlier informed Taylor and Clay that I had come all the way from Memphis to see the show! I’m sure I was blushing while Taylor and Clay just smiled! In the end, all that really mattered was that my granddaughter had gotten her shirt signed! Nanee ruled!

We left the theatre to see what was close by for an early dinner, but downtown Durham was pretty much dead except for the Mellow Mushroom, a pizza place across the street. I must confess, it was a great pizza! By the time we finished eating, it was time to go back to the theatre for the evening show.

This time, my granddaughter took her sister’s hoodie to be signed. We found our seats, still center, but eighth row this time. Now after the matinee mishaps, I waited to see what would happen that evening. Nada – everything went off without a hitch!

When Taylor Hicks made his entrance, the audience was much more receptive than the matinee crowd, and it felt like the usual appreciation I had come to feel. Frenchy didn’t rub Taylor’s nose or add the diggity when they did the bump, just “hot damn”! And when Taylor sang “Seven Mile Breakdown” I didn’t notice any of the nuances I had heard earlier.

Again Taylor was signing CDs after the show. With this the final show and a Sunday night, the waiting crowd was smaller, but still a number of people. The hoodie was signed and I got a better picture of Taylor before we left.

By now, the navigator had figured out how the GPS on my phone worked and we were ready to head back to the hotel. This time we made it in record time! Well, record for us but not according to Yahoo time.

Our flight home was scheduled for sunrise (7:05 am) so we had to leave the hotel very early. As we were driving to the airport, we passed the Cheesecake Factory. My granddaughter pointed it out and informed me she had seen it last night. What! She didn’t mention it! That’s where I wanted to take her to dinner! Because she took the name literally, she didn’t mention it! I can’t really blame her – I hadn’t told her I wanted to go (not to mention I had no idea where it was much less that it was on the same street as our hotel!!!!)

Because of the weather, our flight was late leaving. I slept during the wait. My granddaughter read and chatted on the phone with her mother several times. We were finally airborne and on our way home. When I asked her if she’d had a good time and wanted to go somewhere again, she said she let her know when!

By the way, she really enjoyed the show! Both times!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Taylor

Here's wishing you the best birthday ever, Taylor Hicks! Enjoy your day! Thanks for the wonderful music you have brought to us and for the fun role of Teen Angel in "Grease"!

Birthday Myspace Graphics

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Traveling Circus Goes the Distance and Gains New Found Freedom Part 2

The Traveling Circus didn't enough of Taylor Hicks on Friday night at Workplay, so we went back again on Saturday night. Knowing that Friday had been spectacular and that Taylor never does the same show twice, we really didn't know how he could top Saturday night. But he managed!

Saturday nigth was over the top - spectacular - wonderful - energized (and after two "Grease" performances) - better than ever - top of his game - full of surprises - well, you get the idea. So here are the videos from that great evening!

Boogie Woogie Flu with Hey Pokey Way

The Distance

What's Right is Right

The Runaround

The Deal

Once Upon a Lover

Maybe You Should



Woman's Gotta Have It with Ona Watson

Seven Mile Breakdown

New Found Freedom with the UAB Gospel Choir

My Sweet Lord

And now for the Traveling Circus to recuperate before the next adventure at Epcot the first of November! We need it after this week-end! What a glorious week-end it was!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Traveling Circus Goes the Distance and Gains New Found Freedom

Perhaps this is more about Taylor Hicks going “The Distance” to gain “New Found Freedom”. Just when I think Taylor has given his best, he pulls out the stops again and leaves me realizing the best is still to come.

I am seldom at a loss for words, but after this week-end in Birmingham at Workplay, I suddenly find ‘the cat has my tongue’ and I’m at loss for words. Both shows were fantastic, awesome, fun and energized. Taylor Hicks was home and the joy he felt showed.

As I said, I’m at a loss for words this time, so I will let the videos tell the story for me. So grab your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy Taylor Hicks as you’ve never seen him…he has truly gone the distance and in doing so, has gained new found freedom!

I was able to video tape both shows in their entirety. As I get the videos converted over the next several nights, I will be adding them. So keep checking - the best is yet to come!

Pictures - Workplay - Friday Night

Pictures - Workplay - Saturday Night

Boogie Woogie Flu & Hey Pokey Way, Friday, September 25, 2009

I Live on a Battlefield, Friday, September 25, 2009

The Deal, Friday, September 25, 2009

The Runaround, Friday, September 25, 2009

Maybe You Should, Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't Let Me Down, Friday, September 25, 2009

What's Right is Right, Friday, September 25, 2009

Once Upon a Lover of Mine, Friday, September 25, 2009

Nineteen, Friday, September 25, 2009

Dust My Broom with Billy Earl McClellan, Friday, September 25, 2009

The Distance, Friday, September 25, 2009

Gonna Move, Friday, September 25, 2009

Seven Mile Breakdown, Friday, September 25, 2009

My Sweet Lord, Friday, September 25, 2009

And that, folks, ends Friday night's concert at Workplay! Stay tuned - Saturday night's performance will be up before the end of the week-end!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Traveling Circus Feels the Heat in Atlanta

Back in 2006 I made myself a promise that if Taylor Hicks ever made a return stop in Atlanta and was going to be at Smith’s Olde Bar with his guitar and buddies, I was going to be there too! And now, three years later, I was finally able to make good on that promise when Taylor brought his “Grease” Shadow Tour to Atlanta and Smith’s Olde Bar.

For the Smith repeat, Taylor Hicks brought with him John Kulinich (guitar), Jason Parker (bass) and Brian Less (keyboard). Taylor, of course, would be on the guitar, harmonica, tambourine and shaker. While Taylor can almost be a one-man band himself, the other musicians’ added beautiful accompaniment and energy to the fully-Taylor Hicks charged show – acoustic style – just the way Taylor is meant to be enjoyed!

For a late Sunday night show, Smith’s was about half-filled depending on how spread out the audience was. The crowd make up was more women than men (but there were lots of men), and the age group varied from barely 21 to late sixties or older. Several members of the “Grease” cast came after the final Atlanta performance, including Dominic Fortuna who plays Vince Fontaine. Of course, Taylor wasn’t going to start the concert until after “Grease” closed and he had met fans in the lobby after the show, so the concert wouldn’t start until 10:30 or so anyway.

Wearing gorgeous boots, jeans and black short sleeve shirt, Taylor Hicks greeted the cheering and screaming audience with “Atlanta, GA…How are we doin’ on a Sunday night!” With 3 guitars and a keyboard, the show opened with the title song from Taylor’s second album, “The Distance”. There’s just something about that song played acoustically that is chilling and mesmerizing at the same time. To me, this is the best way to perform this song.

After thanking us for coming and letting us know that we were in for a lot of music, including special guests, Taylor sang “I Live on a Battlefield”. The guitars are very strong and at one point I was expecting to see smoke because of the all the rapid strumming that both John and Taylor was doing! Taylor seems to be much more comfortable playing the guitar in acoustic settings – it still amazes me that he doesn’t use a pick!

I Live on a Battlefield - Smith's Olde Bar - RagsQueen

“Written by an old buddy…tongue-in-cheek song about going to somebody’s wedding and running away with the bride”, Taylor Hicks sang “Wedding Day Blues”. Such a fun and lively song, and perfect for some melody variations and harmonica! A sly look at the part about “throwing the groom out of the limo”; a great way to get to ladies to raise the scream level up a notch or two! Even Taylor said it ‘was fun’!

Wedding Day Blues - Smith's Olde Bar - RagsQueen

A pre-Idol song written by Taylor, “The Deal”, is beautiful when played with just the guitars and keyboards. Made me feel like I was back in the days when Taylor played the local bars in Birmingham as well as Smith’s Olde Bar in the early days. The guitars gave a certain twang that adds to the enjoyment of the song, particularly when performed live. Taylor even chided about deal makers and deal breakers at the end, adding a sense of fun to the performance.

The first single off “The Distance”, “What’s Right is Right” was next. Taylor asked to have the volume of the keyboard turned up. Hearing the song as recorded on the album or the video or played with a full band doesn’t really give Taylor’s voice the listening to that it deserves. Played acoustically though, Taylor’s voice is front and center. Beautiful song, and even more beautiful when played this way.

What's Right is Right - Smith's Olde Bar - RagsQueen

Paul McCartney was in Atlanta for a big concert in Piedmont Park, and on Friday night, Taylor Hicks said he ran into “Sir Paul” during the sound check. In honor of that meeting, he threw in “Don’t Let Me Down”. A great song for an acoustic set and Taylor’s voice is perfect for the song. I swear the guitars even sounded like a Mariachi band was in the room. Don’t know if it was John or Taylor that was giving off that sound, but it was a great addition to the song.

From his self-titled album, recorded with a full drum corps led by Taylor Hicks himself, “The Runaround” is a song generally played with a full band, and sometimes even a marching band. Before starting the song, Taylor told a story about Brian Less having to play the bass sounds on his keyboard when the bass player didn’t show up. Brian would respond he could and asked if he was going to be paid twice! The audience loved the story and Brian was grinning ear to ear! The musical intro featured Brian on the keyboards for the acoustic performance of “The Runaround”, and nothing was missing from the song! Actually, the vocals ‘popped’ in this version! Taylor and Brian, together, it just doesn’t get much better than this! Taylor brought the house down with his ending chat…“has anyone ever gotten the runaround? It sucks! That’s why we write the music!”

The Runaround - Smith's Olde Bar - RagsQueen

Taylor Hicks has often said that when he heard “Nineteen” for the first time he had tears in his eyes and that it really touched him. Taylor announced that the song is to be released to the Armed Forces Radio around Veterans Day. A beautiful song, made even more beautiful with less instrumentation, was dedicated to our troops.

Nineteen - Smith's Olde Bar - RagsQueen

If you dream…if you visualize it…it will come true” were Taylor’s opening remarks for “Gonna Move”, a song that Taylor has performed for years, and seems more like his personal mantra because he’s always on the move. No regular address, hotels rooms are his home, and he’s said in interviews that his mail goes to his parents’ home. Before ending the song, Taylor tagged about ‘calling the bar owner about 10 times a week to let him open’.

He continued to talk about calling the bar owner to beg to let him open for someone and finally ending with he was closing the bar tonight! “Cheers, everyone!” Taylor talked about being on one long continuous journey and then about giving him two months with a real estate agent and he’d be ready to get back on the road. I think he may have been tuning his guitar as he continued to talk about the current shadow tour where he could strip down the music and trying it out with less production. And he thanked the “Grease” cast for coming and about them teaching him how to act.

A song that many fans have hoped would be the next single, and one that Taylor himself has said could be the song that establishes his writing skills, “Maybe You Should”, we were told was on hold by a ‘big country singer’. And no, Taylor did not reveal who it might be, although the gender is female. While Taylor was chatty and talkative, he didn’t have loose lips!

“Maybe You Should” is perfect for just a keyboard and a couple of guitars. Actually, the live version is even better than the recorded version, if you can imagine that! Everyone needs to hear that song live at least once so enjoy the attached video to get a flavor of a live performance!

Maybe You Should - Smith's Olde Bar - RagsQueen

A bit of Spanish flair and written with Simon Clime during a visit to Southern France, “Once Upon a Lover of Mine” is a great Latin-calypso style song, perfect for acoustic performances. The opening featured Brian on the keys. Taylor picked up the shaker while John and Jason backed up the vocals with guitars. Even a few ‘trrrrs’ with senorita got the audience into a frenzy of squeals! The higher pitched notes were hit with perfection! I didn’t realize the vocal range that Taylor had to sing with this song, even though I’ve heard it a number of times! WOW, Taylor really does have a wide vocal range!

As the original set was ending, Taylor quipped, “what to do next” and to shouts of love and adoration, responded with a high-pitched, “I love you too!” Also thanked us all for coming and for the support and to let us know that an encore would take place with a few more friends joining him on stage.

The final song, written by George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord” had been the encore song for concerts earlier in the year. Now it seems to be the last song in the main set. As he put it, the song had migrated from George Harrison to Billy Preston to Taylor Hicks. I always enjoyed the original George Harrison version but Taylor’s is more irreverent and fast, perfect for clapping and patting the foot to the beat as well as a bit of chair dancing (at least for me, anyway!)

After a brief intermission, the stage was reset to add Wynn Christian and Quinn Boyland of Spoonful James (who by the way had played earlier in the evening). The first song, Eric Clapton’s “Why Does Love Have to Be So Sad”, obviously a standard for Spoonful James, featured Taylor Hicks on the tambourine. John was featured on the guitar! And Wynn was singing harmony with Taylor. Quite a nice performance of just vocals, guitars and keyboard – I love acoustic Taylor Hicks! (Sadly, my video was in the air with a great view but dingy me forgot to turn it on, so no video. Mea culpa!)

Written by Wynn Christian, “Seven Mile Breakdown” ended the show. Taylor left the guitar playing to everyone else while he picked up the tambourine. I miss that little hiccup when the words ‘might make you loose your mind’ but even without it, it’s a great song, and one I’m sure that having Taylor put on “The Distance” has surely made Wynn very proud!

Seven Mile Breakdown - Smith's Olde Bar - RagsQueen

And so the curtains were closed and what few light were in the bar came up as the crowd began to thin. Some of us sat for a bit to wait for the bar to clear and chat with friends and compare notes. But since I had to fly home and go to work later in the morning (it was after midnight after all), I had to get back to the hotel to get some sleep, as if sleep was possible after a Taylor Hicks concert!

Enjoy the pictures and video! Smith’s Olde Bar with Taylor and friends was a wonderful experience, one I hope you get sometime, and in the meantime, you can enjoy the videos posted!

Pictures from Smith's Olde Bar

ETA: Videos are also on YouTube for those who can't view the Vimeo ones!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Grease Comes to Birminham, AL

Would you like to have the opportunity to get tickets to see "Grease" in Birmingham before they go on sale to the general public next Friday, July 31? Well, here's your opportunity to get choice seats before then!

Seats are available for the Saturday, September 26 2:00 matinee and the Sunday, September 27 1:00 matinee at the group rate below plus a $3.75 service fee! You save on the price of the ticket as well as the usual Ticketmaster service fees!

Saturday, September 26, 2009, 2:00 matinee
$51.50 - Continental seating rows AA-KK
$42.50 - Orchestra rows A-X
$42.50 - Grand Tier rows AA-QQ
$33.50 - Balcony rows A-W
$24.50 - Balcony rows X-Z

Sunday, September 27, 2009, 1:00 matinee
$57.00 - Continental seating rows AA-KK
$47.00 - Orchestra rows A-X
$47.00 - Grand Tier rows AA-QQ
$37.50 - Balcony rows A-W
$27.00 - Balcony rows X-Z

When you click on the link below, you are taken to Broadway Across America where you will sign in with your special code - soulpatrol. Next you are taken to Ticketmaster to actually purchase the tickets. You may need to create a new account if your regular Ticketmaster account doesn't let you log-in. This special pricing is only for Broadway Across America!

Click here to access Broadway Across America-Birmingham for priority access to the best seats! Remember - the password is: soulpatrol!

See you there!

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Enjoy your 4th of July! Remember what the day really means and what it has taken to get where we are today.

"Nineteen" from "The Distance" by Taylor Hicks - Video by godhand06

If you have a few extra dollars and want to do something meaningful, why not send a soldier "The Distance", the latest CD from Taylor Hicks. Click here for more information.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Traveling Circus Gets Magic at the Bag

For the Taylor Hicks’ purest, Ferndale, MI was the place to be at a club called the Magic Bag. We were promised an acoustic Taylor and that’s just what we got. Not only that, but this show in my opinion, was the BEST ever – live Taylor Hicks – what he must have been like pre-Idol.

The band was small – Brian Less on the keyboard, John Kulinich on guitar, Jason Parker on bass, and Taylor Hicks on guitar and harmonica. These were ‘his boys’ and Taylor had ‘hand picked them’ for this show. The Magic Bag, a small theater with tables and chairs, seats around 300 patrons with standing room for maybe another 100 in the pit in front of the stage. With a funky cat and big round fabric lanterns, the place was intimately cozy and perfect for this acoustic show. THE show of shows!

The show opened with glad applause and cheers as Taylor entered from the back of the stage and took a seat at the front. Tonight, Taylor Hicks sat while the audience stood near the stage or sat in the seats. With his guitar resting across him, his harmonica case ready on his left, Taylor shouted out “I love Ferndale” and then started the concert off with “The Distance” from his latest CD by the same title.

Per Taylor Hicks, “the next song was off “The Distance” which can be found in any record store!” Not that he was hawking his new CD! “I Live on a Battlefield” followed. With just three guitars and the keyboard, the song had a different sound, and one that I really liked, and actually liked better than when I’ve heard it with the full band. The musical interlude with just the musicians was fantastic and the various guitars could be distinguished from each other which really intensified the sound. Hopefully, we hear this version again – and real soon!

From the first post-Idol CD, “The Runaround”, a song with a drum corps beat, performed acoustically, was a special treat. With Brian on the keys, and Taylor, John and Jason on guitars, no other instruments were necessary. The music was just as funky and Taylor’s voice was better showcased!

The first single from “The Distance”, “What’s Right is Right” is perfect for an acoustic show. Taylor told us that he’d been told us he’d heard it was a great song for weddings, and that “Do I Make You Pride” was a good mother of the bride song! And I have to agree!

Taking from his Beatles collection, Taylor Hicks performed “Don’t Let Me Down”, a song he did frequently during the Season 5 American Idol Tour. The guitars and keyboard kept the song from overpowering Taylor’s voice and Brian’s vocal accompaniment. It was a good choice to add to the acoustic set because of its lyrical simplicity. The musical interlude was a good way to feature Taylor and John on the acoustic guitars.

An early original, “The Deal” is perfect for an acoustic set. Tonight was probably much like hearing the original Taylor, before he became a household name and celebrity. Close your eyes and you can probably hear the song, the guitars playing in harmonic duel without overshadowing each other, but rather in accompaniment and compliment.

Written by a friend, and given to Taylor Hicks when he was about 20, the song is about what happens to many a young man when a former lover gets married. Except this time, the ex-lover gets the bride! The first time performed live, “Wedding Day Blues” thrilled the audience! When he got to the part of the song about “tossing the groom out of the limo and making love to the bride”, he gave us a sly but mischievous look. Amid screams and applause, laughter and fun, one can image how the story might play out if it really did happen to Taylor or one of his friends!

“Once Upon a Lover”, according to Taylor Hicks, was written while in France while he was working on the material for his latest CD. Several times throughout the song did a ‘trrrrrlll’ with his voice. I don’t know how else to describe it! The guitars had a Spanish twang that complimented the theme of the song. And with a Spanish flair, at the very end, Taylor stood up and did a ‘mock fandango’ move. Not just once, but twice! And too quick for me to capture for posterity!

Taylor thanked us for coming, not just to the Magic Bag, but for supporting “Grease” and Detroit! Having a bit of fun with the audience, he asked us what was next. With shouts of various songs, he said we sounded like we were heckling the Penguins, and then Brian said it sounded like the audience shouting out prices of prizes on “The Price is Right”!

The song that brought tears to my eyes, “Nineteen” was next. This wasn’t the first time Taylor Hicks performed it, but this was the best performance. Brian’s keyboard was the most prominent instrument during the song, but I’m sure the guitars were strummed as well. Taylor’s voice was strong, and at the end, he signaled to John to finish the number with a solo guitar.

Paul Pena’s “Gonna Move”, a frequent song on Taylor’s set list, and admittedly his mantra because he’s ‘always on the move’, featured Brian on the keyboard and Jason “the Kid” on bass. Some dueling guitars between Taylor and John would also thrill us. Taylor’s comfort level and guitar skills shined through his ability to hold his own with another equally accomplished guitar player while Brian’s fingers flew across the keyboard at a speed that would rival the fastest race car driver’s! Before it was over, some “Soul Serenade” and “Sugaree” found their way into “Gonna Move”.

Something we should all practice, “Indiscriminate Act(s) of Kindness”, is the perfect song for an encore. But instead, we were treated to this song as part of the main concert. And we heard it first here, at the Magic Bag! Performed predominately with just guitars and Brian singing harmony along with quiet keystrokes, the crowd was remained quiet and mesmerized – as least I was – by Taylor’s voice.

Another new song, “Maybe You Should” was performed before a hushed crowd. Taylor admitted that this song made ‘the hairs on his arms stand up’ the first time he heard the song. And for those of us there, we could understand that statement. With eyes closed and arms resting on his guitar, Taylor sang the song softly and with feeling and emotion. This was a song we’ve waited for since the first shadow tour in January, and it was worth the wait. I hope we will hear it more often. It’s a great song!

The song most recently associated with Taylor Hicks show encores, “My Sweet Lord” was great acoustically as well as giving Taylor a chance to play some harmonica, assuming he had the right harp, that is! Grabbing harmonica after harmonica and testing, Taylor quickly realized he didn’t have the one he needed. Finally making the “A” gesture to Clay Connor, tour manager, and shouting to get him an “A”, Clay ran back stage and came back with the right harp. Taylor poked fun at himself about being the band leader and yet never missed a beat in the song!

“Seven Mile Breakdown”, Taylor’s most recent single for the country stations, was the last song of the main show. At times the guitars were able to give it a country twang like a banjo might have been added to the mix of instruments. Again Brian was singing backgrounds, and for a moment there, I thought the woman who actually did it was singing along as well! Before the song was over Taylor was ‘sucking and blowing’ on his trusty harmonica. Once more Taylor thanked us for coming and bid us good night before leaving the stage.

After a very brief intermission, Taylor came back to give us “Feeling Alright” as the Magic Bag encore. Brian was giving the ivories quite a workout as he played the keyboard. That man can play those keys with such speed that I wonder if the keyboard will catch on fire!

And speaking of fire, during the first couple of songs, I would swear I saw smoke coming out from behind Taylor! I’m sure it was just the lighting but for a couple of moments….

Almost as quickly as Taylor took the stage, security was scouring the crowd making sure NO video was being taken. For that, I’m very sorry, because this was THE show to video tape. Pictures without flash were fine, so you will have to enjoy those shots included throughout the recap and at the link below.

Tonight, it was all about the music. Pure. Unadulterated. Raw. Gritty. Emotional. Intimate. Taylor was in his element. His comfort zone. Into his music. If you were there, you know what I mean. If you missed it, well….I’m truly sorry.

Pictures from The Magic Bag

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel - Happy Anniversary!

Courtesy of TMO & Soul Connection

One year ago, Taylor Hicks surprised by taking the role of Teen Angel in the Broadway production of "Grease"! Many of us traveled to New York City to enjoy this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Or so we thought!

Then last fall, Taylor Hicks announced he would be reprising his role as Teen Angel in the touring cast of "Grease" with many stops across the country and a stop in Canada. And recently Taylor Hicks let us know his contract extends to June 2010. That's a lot of time spent in a blue sequined suit with angel wings, gray pompadour in an ice cream come above the stage floor!

Taylor Hicks says he is enjoying the role, and that the "Grease" tour is allowing him the opportunity to add his style to Teen Angel as well as sing one of his singles from his latest CD, "The Distance". For the first part of the tour, he sang "What's Right is Right" after the "Grease" encore, and now he sings "Seven Mile Breakdown".

So enjoy a clip of the touring "Grease", courtesy of the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington!

5th Avenue Theatre - Taylor Hicks Grease Montage

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Friday, May 29, 2009

The Traveling Circus Keeps the Triple Door Open

The Emerald City, the Rain City, the Gateway to Alaska, the home of the Mariners and Seahawks, the birthplace of Starbucks and UPS, and the location of the Triple Door – Seattle was the place to be to see Taylor Hicks. From around the country, the Traveling Circus flew into town to catch the show, and what a show it was!

The Triple Door was a fantastic venue for an intimate club show. Dinner and drinks before the show, plenty of time to chat with friends and neighbors. The food was what I’d call Asian, served with rice and vegetables cooked with garlic and ginger. My pea pods were exquisite! And those princess prawns – I recommend them! Excellent service from friendly staff as well. But enough about the food!

The place was quite interesting. There are four rows of four half-moon booths that seat four persons each. Behind each row of booths are long tables that seat parties of varying numbers, as well as a row of single-seat tables at the foot of the stage! Tables line the sides so that there is no bad seat anywhere because everyone faces the stage! There’s also seating in the bar area if all you want to do is listen. There was an upper level that could look down on the stage, but appeared to have limited seating.

Since my reservation was for one, the hostess asked if it would be fine to seat me with other guests. Sure, no problem. I was led to my seat at table 6, front row, at the foot of the stage just a little left of center. What a treat because I was seated with other fans I have met during my travels. You might say, there were a lot of members of the Traveling Circus there for Taylor Hicks!

The opening act was Keri Noble, a very talented singer-songwriter from Minneapolis. With just her voice and a keyboard, she entertained the crowd and warmed us up for Taylor. Her music was pleasing to listen to, and I’m sorry to say, I didn’t get one of her albums. She’s the kind of entertainer one would enjoy while curled up in front of a fire with a glass of a nice mellow wine, just listening to her music without the desire to move. Keri was one of the best opening acts I’ve seen Taylor use in quite a while – actually her style and music reminded me of Michael Warren, another Birmingham musician that had the opportunity to open for Taylor during his 2007 Spring Tour.

Following a brief intermission, the house lights grew dimmer and Taylor’s band took the stage before a full house – the show was sold out! After a few warm-up bars, Taylor Hicks took the stage and “The Distance” was the opening song. Wearing the usual gray shirt now covered with a gray vest, black jeans and boots, silver hair glistening, Taylor Hicks owned the stage and would continue to do for the next hour and a half! “The Distance” was a great song to open with, a way to bridge the gap between all people whether at the show or just in the world in general. With a shout out to “Seattle” and grinning ear to ear, Taylor knew he had an audience that was ready to be entertained, to hear him sing and enjoy an evening of good music!

Continuing with his latest album and the first single, “What’s Right is Right” was next. A wonderful song about love in its purest form, performed live, transforms into the memory of the music video that accompanied the single’s release. Taylor sings with heart-felt emotion and passion, leaving the listener knowing that this is the type of love that Taylor is looking for and desires.

From his first album, “Taylor Hicks”, tonight would feature “Heaven Knows” and “The Maze” with lots of other songs tagged within them. “Ain’t it Funky” and “Inner City Blues” found their way into “Heaven Knows” while “That’s Where it’s At” and “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoe” were included with “The Maze”. For over ten minutes Taylor continued without stopping to even gulp a drink of water! Two funky songs with lots of dancing and pure energy!

What Taylor could easily call his own mantra, “Gonna Move” was dedicated to the memory of its writer, Paul Pena. Taylor cracked his own joke about moving, ‘gonna move to where...’! A standard of Taylor’s from his early bar days, is still just as fresh today as it was then. “Old Weakness” was also incorporated into the song before it was over. Also, one of the musicians from “Grease” joined the band for the song, Josh was all I caught. Taylor was going to play his guitar but the guest was using Taylor’s amp, so he had to put his guitar back down and shouted out ‘guitar players’ to get the crowd to laugh!

From the recent album, Bobby Womack’s “Woman’s Gotta Have It” was next. From the first time I heard it live including the recorded version, I find this song is perfect for Taylor’s voice and style. Hopefully, one day we will get to see Elliot Yamin join Taylor on stage to perform it as a duet!

It’s always nice when Taylor performs one of his earlier works, such as “The Deal”. With a big standard guitar, one that almost looks like it might overtake him, Taylor plays his own simple accompaniment to the song.

The bonus track from the Wal-Mart release “Hide Nor Hair” was a crowd pleaser! The young woman sitting with her husband on my left remarked afterwards that “Hide Nor Hair” was her new favorite! It’s been one of mine since the first time I heard Taylor perform it before “The Distance” was officially released! Taylor definitely does Ray Charles proud with his version – I’m sure Ray smiles down on him every time he performs it!

For those who’ve found love and lost it, “I Live on a Battlefield” might bring back those less happy memories. But as Taylor Hicks sings, those memories quickly fade as watching Taylor brings smiles to the faces and hearts of the listeners.

Almost an hour later, the show end with “Seven Mile Breakdown”, almost eight minutes of pure country rock pleasure! Watching Taylor play the guitar during this song made me wonder if his fingers might bleed from the sheer speed with which he played! While this version wasn’t as ‘country’ as the latest single mix is, it’s still a great song performed live, and one that serves Taylor well in his set list.

After a few minutes to catch his breath, Taylor came back for one more song, George Harrison’s, “My Sweet Lord”. I love Taylor’s version which seems faster and maybe a bit jazzier than the original, but definitely a great listen! That is definitely one song I would love to know why it was chosen for the encore (not that it really matters) and one that I look forward to hearing again real soon!

Leaving the stage one last time, the house lights came up and everyone was ushered out the door because the parking lot next door was closing at midnight – not because we would all be turning into pumpkins! Several of us stayed behind to compare notes on the performance, chat with other guests who found Taylor’s performance to be amazing, or just try to figure out where to find some of the many pictures that were taken during the show! For now, the Traveling Circus just needs a little rest before the next adventure, so until then, enjoy the pictures and video that can be found below!

Triple Door Photos

ETA: More fantastic Triple Door pictures courtesy of 4tay

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Some of My Favorite Pictures