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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Traveling Circus Rocks at the Roxy

The Roxy was the place to be to hear the most new music from Taylor Hicks. That’s what I had heard from several reliable sources. Armed with airline ticket and hotel reservation, the Traveling Circus set off for a West Coast adventure with our honored ringmaster, Taylor Hicks.

The Roxy, a small club on Sunset near Hammond, had reserved seating for VIPs and standing room only for the rest of us. The place was packed – another body near where I was positioned would have forced the crowd into the entrance area – oh wait, there were a few people sitting out there when I ventured to the ladies’ room! It was a full house, and maybe even a sell-out! The crowd appeared to be equally male and female, younger couples matched to older couples, groups of guys and groups of gals, former road band members, “Grease” cast members, and lots of Soul Patrol.

Curtains closed the stage off from the standing room only area. When the band finished cuing up for the show, the curtains were raised and Taylor Hicks was front and center, ready to entertain us, and perhaps even ‘take us to church’ as he’s often known to do. This would be the night to premier most of the songs from his latest CD, “The Distance” as well as songs from “Taylor Hicks” and “Early Works”!

Amid squeals and applause, the sweet melody of “The Distance” let us know that tonight would really be a special show! With that song, the distance between singer and audience subsided and crowd swayed to the music, video cameras popped up and cameras were clicking away. The press was in full force right up front with the hard core Soul Patrol who wanted the best places to stand. Live, “The Distance” is riveting and this listener was extremely proud to be sitting in attendance and excited for the success that is so due Taylor Hicks.

To keep us in suspense, familiar standards from his first CD, “Taylor Hicks”, “Give Me Tonight”, “Heaven Knows” and “The Maze” allowed us to rock and sway, and maybe even sing along. Original tour band members, Josh Smith and Brian Gallagher, were accompanied by additional musicians, many who were playing live for the first time with Taylor. Being top-notch musicians helped give the band their tight playing edge so that the novice attendee would never guess this band hadn’t always played together.

My favorite bonus cut, found only on the Wal-Mart CD, “Hide Nor Hair” left me as breathless and begging for more as it did the first time I heard Taylor Hicks perform it live in Cincinnati in January. This time, Taylor added the pedal steel guitar sounds of Jay Leach, giving the song a country feel. Mr. Leach can also be heard on several songs on the new CD, so check out the credits to find out which ones!

Letting us know the song had been well received at a San Diego Naval Base just a week or so earlier, and dedicating the song to our troops Taylor sang “Nineteen”, a ballad about a young man’s choice to give up a scholarship to enter military service after the Twin Towers were brought down. His hands on his chest, Taylor sang the song with the same emotion and poignancy reminiscent of the American Idol tour when he performed his coronation single, “Do I Make You Proud”. Performed live, the song, I’m certain, produced more than a few tears for some. Even as I write my recap I can still hear the pedal steel guitar of Mr. Leach, and feel the same emotions I felt that night hearing Taylor sing “Nineteen” for the first time.

Going back to his old bar days and his post-Idol CD, Taylor Hicks performed “Gonna Move” next. I never tire of hearing Taylor’s version, and often find myself wanting to sing along. Hopefully, if I did at the Roxy, no one heard me! Tim Carmen, another artist that was part of the “The Distance” recording sessions, was featured on the keyboard and organ. Quite an accomplished musician that I hope we get to see more of at future shows.

A song that surprised me the first time I heard it at Martyrs’ in January, and one that Taylor recorded as a duet with Elliot Yamin, “Woman’s Gotta Have It” followed. Taylor left off the spoken intro found on the CD but did start off with the high-pitched ‘woo-oo-oo’ to get the musical juices flowing. I still want to close my eyes and sway to the music as I remember the sweet melody and Taylor’s soulful voice singing that song.

Sticking with his recently released CD, Taylor next sang “I Live on a Battlefield”, a song about the pitfalls of fighting for love. I can still see Taylor moving and grooving as he directed the band while catching his breathe in anticipation of finishing the song.

An original, written long before becoming a household name and recorded originally on his self-produced “Under the Radar”, “The Deal” provides a great way to slow down the pace before upping the pace again. A simple song with a soothing melody has a great saxophone feature that showcases the talents of Brian Gallagher.

Co-written with Wynn Christian, an old band mate from Taylor’s days at Auburn, “Seven Mile Breakdown” is a funky rocking song about traveling the roads in the Mississippi Delta and a stretch of highway that includes nothing but flatlands! It’s the perfect song to feature the talents of Jay Leach and his pedal steel guitar. The drumming makes me think of a speeding train or galloping horse which only intensifies the rhythm for me leaving me needing to stand up and dance! The song also featured Taylor on the harmonica before finally taking us home.

Originally written for Ray Charles but never recorded by him, Taylor Hicks put on his Ray Charles persona as he performed “The Right Place” from his self-titled CD released two years ago. Amid squeals of excitement and female woo’s, Taylor once gain did the song the justice it deserved while Tim Carmen put his touches on the organ solo just before the song ended.

With its salsa and Latin beat, “Once Upon a Lover” is a fun song both for the CD and live performance. Brian Gallagher starts off with his flute and the Conga drums become more noticeable. Taylor hit the higher notes with perfection as his voice spanned the musical scale from high to low. I waited to hear him roll his r’s when he sang ‘senorita’ and I don’t think I was disappointed.

“What’s Right is Right”, the first single from “The Distance”, lets us know the show is winding down. The song about the perfect relationship, laughing and crying together, feels right when Taylor sings it. It was hard not to ‘play’ the video in my head while Taylor was singing, reminding me of the iconic images that Jake Davis sought to bring us in Taylor’s first musical video.

Once more there’s some early Taylor Hicks as he sing his original music, “Soul Thing”. Throw in some “Mama Said” and “Eastbound and Down” tags and the song is a crowd pleaser. Even the audience got into the song singing along with the “Mama Said” tags. When it was over, Taylor bade us good night and left the stage in a teasing manner, but for those of us that had attended other concerts knew an encore would be just moments away.

The encore, George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, was played with a mix of speed and irreverence that left me begging for a repeat performance. Taylor said he was going to do a ‘Billy Preston’ version, but this was really performed Taylor Hicks style. This is a song I hope to hear Taylor do again – I loved his interpretation of the song. As he left the stage for the final time, Taylor was blowing us kisses – he was happy with his performance and our responses and it was now time to relax and reflect on the music.

For almost two hours we had rocked, danced, clapped and cheered and yet it was over way too soon. For those who had the next day off (this was a Wednesday night performance after all), we stayed long after the majority went home and compared thoughts on the concert. Everyone was happy and pleased to have been there, glad they had traveled the distance and used coveted vacation days, and no one wanted to see the night end. For those few that stayed behind, the wait was rewarded with Taylor coming out to sign CDs and accept praise and thanks for the great show. It was all worth it! As Taylor would say, “it was all good”!

Pictures from the Roxy on Sunset

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Part 6 of The Troop Drive Has Started - See Contest Prizes!

Part 6 of the Proud Of Our Troops has begun with Taylor Hicks' new CD titled "The Distance." Jewelry Sprout is sponsoring the Proud Of Our Troops drive. We are asking everyone to please support and uplift our troops by sending them the CD from American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. The CD is titled "The Distance." Show your love and thanks to our troops and give them something that will lift their spirits and give them musical enjoyment during their off time. Some of our troops do not receive any mail. It is very sad. Please show you care and join in our drive. Soldiers' Angels, at www.soldiersangels.org, is taking care of shipping the CD's to the troops. We appreciate everything that Soldiers' Angels does to help with the Proud Of Our Troops drive!

This CD includes a great song for the military titled "Nineteen." Such a touching tribute to the heroes of our military who gave their lives for our country.

The Proud Of Our Troops drive started in June of 2006. Since then, over 6,000 of Taylor's CD's and books have been sent to soldiers overseas, and also to soldiers who were wounded in active duty and who recuperated in hospitals.

All information on how to send the CD's is below. Thank you very much!

Instructions:

You no longer have to ship each CD separately. Also, you no longer have to pack each cd in a manilla envelope before inserting it in a box. You can put all the cd's in one box. The purpose of individual packing was so that each soldier received a note or letter with the cd. You can still do it that way if you choose, however it is not mandatory.

If you would like to ship the CD's from an online store directly to Soldiers' Angels, that is fine too. Amazon.com and other sites have a free gift card option. Please utilize this feature so you can add a little note for the soldier who receives the CD. It's nice for them to have something to read to go along with their CD.

Please do not send anything else besides CD's. Our drive is only for the "The Distance" CD by Taylor Hicks. We do not want to be responsible for anything sent that is illegal or that other countries might consider offensive material being shipped into their country.

Please do not send homemade CD's or anything that is burned. They are considered bootlegged CD's and are illegal.

Many people have asked if it is okay to send CD's that have been opened. That is fine, as long as there are no scratches on the CD.

You do not need to fill out a customs form, as Soldiers Angels is taking care of all the shipping to our troops.

If you have any questions or comments about the Proud Of Our Troops drive, please email customerservice@jewelrysprout.com. You can view the Proud Of Our Troops drive page at http://www.jewelrysprout.com/taylor-hicks-cd-drive.html.

Please ship CD's to this address only:

Soldiers Angels
914 Tourmaline Drive
Newbury Park, CA 91320

Proud Of Our Troops Drive Contest!

The Proud Of Our Troops drive is holding a contest from March 10, 2009 to April 10, 2009. Simply purchase the Taylor Hicks CD titled "The Disance" and send the CD to Soldiers' Angels at the above address. Email a copy your CD receipt to jewelrysprout@aol.com and you will be entered in the contest. You can block your address off the receipt if you are not comfortable with sending that part. Enter as many times as you wish. Your name will be entered each time you send a CD to Soldiers' Angels. The prizes are below:

Sterling Silver cuff bracelet signed by Taylor Hicks. Coated over signature with a strong clear finish so that the signature becomes waterproof and the bracelet can be worn. Light silver smudge over a bit of the bracelet, as the bracelet had to be signed twice. The first time was signed in liquid silver but did not show up very well, so the liquid silver was taken off and the bracelet was signed in black instead. Smudge adds some "Taylor charm" to the bracelet! Bracelet donated by Jewelry Sprout.



Barbie as Sandy from Grease. Celebrating 30 years of Grease. Barbie comes with a stand and plays the Grease theme song. Box was never opened. Barbie was donated by the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.





Grease CD donated by the Brooks
Atkinson Theatre.




The contest begins March 10, 2009 and ends April 10, 2009. There will be more troop drive contests after this one with lots of great prizes!


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Some of My Favorite Pictures