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

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Traveling Circus Learns About the Big Oak Ranch


John Croyle, a football player at the University of Alabama under the leadership of Paul “Bear” Bryant, was looking at the opportunity to play professional football or start a children’s home. Croyle, along with his wife, Tee, made the decision to open a children’s home and established the Big Oak Boys’ Ranch in 1974 in Gadsden.

The Big Oak Girls’ Ranch, founded in 1988, was established in memory of a 12-year old girl who was beaten to death by her parents. Croyle tried to convince the judge to let the young girl come to the Boys’ Ranch but the judge returned to child to her parents even though she had been physically and sexually abused by her father. Three months after pleading to take the child, she was dead.

In 1990, Westbrook Christian School was acquired. It is the source of education for the Ranch children as well as children from the local community. Tuition, fundraising events and contributions fund the school.

If you are interested in learning more about the Big Oak Ranch or to make a donation, please go to www.bigoak.org for more information.

On Thursday, October 21, the Big Oak Ranch held their gala at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Over 50 tables, each prepared for 10 guests, filled East 3 Exhibit Hall East. Following dinner, John Croyle spoke about the Ranch, introducing a young couple who spent their youth at the Ranch. These two young adults who met at the Ranch, were educated at the expense of the Ranch, and later had their marriage blessed in a wedding provided by the Ranch, were a testament to the success the Ranch has experienced over the years. The basic premise is one of family and Christian values.

Following the speakers and short videos, Taylor Hicks and his band took the stage to entertain the guests. There was plenty of applause and cheers for each song, and several songs had the guests on their feet. One of the favorites was “Nineteen”. Taylor’s set lasted about an hour and included such favorites as “What’s Right is Right”, “Maybe You Should”, “Seven Mile Breakdown”, and “Takin’ it to the Streets”.

Pictures from the event


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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Traveling Circus Eats to the Beat at EPCOT with Taylor Hicks

For the second year, Taylor Hicks has been part of the Eat to the Beat lineup at EPCOT during the International Food & Wine Festival. For you foodies and wine lovers, it’s a great opportunity to try food and beverages from around the world. I sampled a lot of different fares, including the escargot at France. Not bad when coated with lots of butter and garlic. Last year, my favorite was the Shrimp Cheviche in Chile and this year, it was again at the top of my list. But enough about the munchies!

The advantage of seeing Taylor Hicks at EPCOT is you get three shows for the price of park admission and six shows in just a little more than twenty-four hours! Each of the shows is always different, just like they are when Taylor is touring. Taylor brought his kick-ass band with him: Jeff Lopez, Sam Gunderson, Brian Less, Matt Kimbrell, Leif Bondarenko, and Brandon Peebles. These guys are tight and follow Taylor’s leading like they’ve been together since the beginning of time!

The American Gardens Theater was packed to capacity with people sitting on the walls lining the sides of theater. Few empty seats could be seen. Aunts, uncles and nieces were adopted so they would have a place to sit (I had handicapped seating). Discussions about what Taylor had been doing since American Idol were shared while we waited between shows. Lines were long and packed, just waiting to sit down and enjoy some good music.

During each thirty-minute set, Taylor Hicks delivered his musical message while the audience danced in their seats. Songs included “Taking it to the Streets”, “Bulletproof”, “Use Me”, “Nineteen”, and “Seven-Mile Breakdown”. Taylor added a new song, “Scarlett Begonias”! At the end of various songs, people stood and applauded their appreciation for such a good performance. That’s always a good sign that Taylor is really touching and reaching his audience!

Taylor Hicks never missed a beat throughout the shows, even when the Plexiglas screen came crashing down during “Hold On to Your Love” at Sunday’s second show. The screen had been wobbling continually up until that time. As it slid to the floor, the band continued to play while Taylor appeared oblivious to what was happening. The last thing to fall was the red guitar. Taylor finished the song, turned around, and talked about “bringing down the house” and a new ride at Disney called “flying Plexiglas”! Although it didn’t make an appearance at the last show, I have it on good authority that the red guitar is just fine!

When it was all over, I left the park wishing next year to come quickly so I could do it all over again! Let’s hope Taylor Hicks becomes an annual entertainment for this EPCOT event!

Link for Saturday’s pictures

Link for Sunday’s pictures

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Some of My Favorite Pictures