Thursday, November 27, 2014


A friend of mine recently said, “Let’s go to the Grand Canyon.  I want to see the sunrise.”

I love a road trip. 

The last time that I had seen the Grand Canyon was in 2007 when I was hosting a friend from Georgia who had come to see Taylor Hicks on tour in Tempe, Arizona.  In the interim before his next concert at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, we took a day trip to the Grand Canyon.  She was awe-struck and sat alone for a time reflecting.  “Grand” does not begin to describe this place!

On this November morning, it was very cold and windy standing on the Canyon rim watching to the East.  Several people from all over the world mingled around getting the best camera vantage. 

And there was complete silence.  No one spoke, not even the few children braving the cold.  It was a reverence I had never experienced. As I kept checking my watch, I irreverently whispered to my friend, “I guess the sun won’t be late.”  It wasn’t.  And the silence continued as first light appeared in the Eastern sky, the glow grew brighter, and then the brilliant rays brought us another beautiful day. 

Talk about the majesty and beauty of nature!

We hurried back to a warm lodge and a cup of sweet, hot coffee and watched visitors from around the world with backpacks readying for a hike into the wild.  The Grand Canyon is also a people experience.  It is a microcosm of the world’s people. 

The lucky ones.    

I am reminded that everyone’s world doesn’t start with a beautiful sunrise.  Instead, the sky may be lit by destruction.  What I spent for my sweet, hot coffee would feed a hungry child for a day, or longer.

Here we were, warm, safe, and so blessed.   

Another friend said to me this week, “Even with problems, we are still blessed.” 

And that we are!

May we remember and be thankful for our blessings this Thanksgiving Day and pray for a bright ray of hope for those who don’t start their days with a peaceful sunrise. 

We wish you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

The Taylor Hicks Community

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Back to Louisiana--The Hot and Humid Tour

And, yes, it was! 

August in Mississippi and Louisiana, we should have known.  We did, because the journey to see Taylor Hicks in concert was so-named before we ever got there. 

It was the summer of 2007. It was the summer of Taylor Hicks’ first solo national tour after winning American Idol Season 5! It was the summer of fun, friends, travel, and life-change!

Except for the 122-degree day in Phoenix, AZ, it was the hottest day I can ever remember flying into New Orleans August 1, 2007.  The humidity and heat literally took my breath away as I stepped out of the airport.  I quickly knew why the shuttle bus to car rentals had a bucket filled with ice and bottles of water.   It was the wettest and coldest bottle of water I can ever remember. 

Then it rained on the way to Vicksburg and steam rose from the pavement.  I was rushing through rush-hour traffic to get to the first concert that night and I spotted my first Taylor Hicks billboard!  Could I take a picture while driving?  No, I didn’t.   

At this point, I had seen six concerts in Alabama, Georgia, Arizona, and Las Vegas.  I thought I knew what to expect from Taylor Hicks in concert.  In Vicksburg, he showed everyone that “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”  He was sick, but no one would  have known that from his performance.  The tour would not be slowed by germs.    

 History is my field and passion.  Vicksburg was a historical treasure for the best and the worst reasons, the site of a long and destructive siege during the Civil War.  I was very fortunate to meet a new friend with a similar interest for the historical and our first full day in Vicksburg was filled with sites of the old Southern town and thoughtful exploration of the Battle of Vicksburg.  

 The second concert in Vicksburg was even better than the first.  Germs had not gotten the best of this American Idol and it was said around the soul patrol that the sicker, the better the concert!  Now in our youngsters slang “sick” does means “the best!”  I added another piece of  Taylor Hicks’ memorabilia to the collection which  I fondly call it the “germomonica.”   

Traveling though Mississippi the next day to Biloxi was a nostalgic sojourn for me.  My older brother was stationed at Keesler AFB in the 1950s and we took a family summer vacation to see him, though I don’t remember that it was in August! 

We drove through Gulfport, Mississippi, a very small town then and along the Gulf Coast to Biloxi.  It was the first time I had been to the beach and the first time my conservative father had worn a pair of Bermuda shorts.  We told him he could not go on the beach otherwise!  

In 2007, it was also a trip through the South with childhood memories flooding back of growing up in Kentucky.  There is so much that is “the South” no matter where you are like the truck selling watermelons by the side of the road.  

And although the Gulf Coast had been torn apart by Hurricane Katrina, it could not destroy the beauty. 

I stopped for this marquee.

The Mississippi Coast Coliseum was close to home for Taylor, and the “home folks” turned out including Taylor’s beautiful grandmother, Miss Joni, who passed away in 2013.  It was a huge crowd that welcomed Taylor and his tour band.  If you saw any of the 2007 concerts, you know that the band was about as good as it gets.  Simply, they rocked!

Taylor and lead guitarist Josh Smith showed what good music and a good show is all about. 

Simply, phenomenal!

I was still getting the hang of a camera trying to take pictures of a moving object—a musician that would not stay still for a second.  

Then it was back to Louisiana, although I had never been to Louisiana except when I had flown into New Orleans a few days before. 

 New Orleans is an amazing city--colorful, loud, and alive 24/7!  It is a fascinating mix of the foreign flavor of different cultures and the truly American flair with which it all comes together--the feeling that you "fit" here, no matter where you come from.  

Simply, I found it the most interesting city I have ever visited, even in the short time I was there.  I ate it up, along with the ‘gator sausage I tasted for the first time.  It’s not like chicken.

 It rained in the afternoon as I explored the French Quarter, and I immediately thought about Katrina and that this is where Taylor Hicks had searched in the middle of the night for a cab to flee the imperiled city just hours before the devastation.  It was a gift that much of the French Quarter was spared the worst of Katrina. 

 That night, the House of Blues was one of the most crowded venues I have ever experienced, barely room to stand.  I am quite sure that it was beyond “sold out.”  

On the narrow, crowded street outside, the tour buses dwarfed the surroundings. 

 I had seen and done so many things in that short week, it was hard to take it all in as I flew out of New Orleans on Sunday morning.  Of all the new places I’ve been in following Taylor, including New York City, my favorite place to return to would be New Orleans and the Gulf Coast

Simply, they are magical! 

It’s always a dilemma whether to take pictures to share and enjoy later or to lose yourself in the moment and enjoy the show.  Often, I chose the later, since I was not that good with the camera anyway.

But it’s really about the moment!  How do you really capture moments that bring sheer joy, abandonment, and that feeling of “stop the world right here.” 

We are fortunate creatures to have that part of our minds and our hearts where we can store and treasure our memories. 

The Hot and Humid Tour was memorable.    

Here’s to new summer memories—magical places, fun and friends and never-ending music! 

To all those seeing Taylor Hicks on the Gulf Coast this weekend at his sold-out show in Gulfport, MS

Simply, ENJOY!


Notes:  I believe it was the Editor of the Soul Connection, Connie Leinicke who gave us the “Hot and Humid” name.  To all those who made it magical, thanks for the memories!  You know who you are!

All photos by San.     

If you are really interested in reading more about The Hot and Humid Tour, below are my posts (minus the photos, some of which are shown above) shortly after the trip on an early Taylor fan site, The Whomp Swamp.

August, 2007 

 Yes, August is hot and humid in the South!  The Soul Patrol gathered from all over the country to follow Taylor and the summer tour band from the Ameristar in Vicksburg to the House of Blues in New Orleans

This is a special Bus Stop OPEN topic where we can share our thoughts....
If you were on this special roadtrip...please add yours! 

 Vicksburg was another bus stop for Taylor and the tour band.  But for the Soul Patrol it was a gathering! 

Cell phone messages and emails excitedly sent the word there was a Taylor billboard between Jackson and Vicksburg, and those who got the message in time captured the familiar Taylor pose. 

I had no warning and I opted NOT to try to stop, turn around or any crazy such thing when suddenly there was Taylor roadside!  I did grab my cell phone (okay, that was crazy at 80 MPH in heavy traffic) and tell people who were behind me. 

The Ameristar on the mighty Mississippi promised to be the small friendly venue of which Taylor is fond.  The affable casino entertainment manager had assured us that every seat was a good seat when NO fans were able to come by tickets in the front section.  That left the Soul Patrol in the back closest to the bar.  Okay, they weren't bad seats. 

As Taylor opened with Soul Thing, I remembered he opened in Jacksonville with Soul Thing...the very first song on his solo tour.   I also remembered why I had again flown across the country to see Taylor live!  I knew immediately, "Oh yes was worth the trip!" 

But the best was yet to come!

Night two in Vicksburg was one to remember! 

Vicksburg Day Two
 The Soul Patrol enjoyed a non-travel day in this charming Southern City on the banks of the Mississippi River

Some visited the Civil War battlefield, the site of the siege of Vicksburg where monuments from many states reminded us that, then as now, war is hell. 

With most everyone staying at the Ameristar Hotel, it was no secret that a doctor had made a bus call.  The Soul Patrol hoped Taylor would feel well enough to perform. 

And perform he did! 

The front VIP section which had some empty seats the first night, was packed …including, it was rumored, dignitaries from Ameristar Corporation.    The Soul Patrol, was again seated close to the bar,

Then a smiling, “I can do this because I’ve done it before” Taylor took the stage and all was very well.    He confirmed shortly into the show that he did in fact have strep throat and bronchitis.  “Someone told me ‘Taylor, if you get into the music business, you get into the germ business.’”

Well, the music business and the germ business in Vicksburg rocked this little riverboat casino and the Soul Patrol could only say, “The sicker he is, the better the concert.”  Okay, makes no sense! 

"Heaven Knows" words are difficult to get out even when you know them!  Well, Taylor flubbing the first verse only left everyone laughing  (yes, we remembered forgetting words had happened before)…finally, the words came,  “You took my heart, baby.”   Say them over and over...”You took my heart...”

Taylor talked to the crowd… announcing as he took a drink that “It’s tap water.”  With the stage lighting he told the Soul Patrol he could hear them but couldn’t see them.  And the Soul Patrol made their voices heard. 

The Beatles tune, "Don’t Let Me Down," was a personal favorite, as it had been since the AI tour with that red guitar.  

The energy, charisma, and “I can’t phone it in” magic that is Taylor at his very best transported this audience to a night to remember.  The VIP audience in the front was drawn into the spirit and dead on performance of Taylor Hicks on his game.  They gave a standing ovation to this amazing entertainer who refused to let the germ business get the best of the music business! 

Taylor on the Gulf Coast

Driving to the Gulf Coast down Highway 47 South was a sojourn I had taken before…when I was 13 years old.  My brother had been stationed at Keesler AFB in the 50s and my family had taken a vacation to Biloxi.  We spent a day on Ship Island and there was nothing along the Coast then except beautiful Southern homes. 

Some things don’t change…trucks filled with watermelons going to some roadside market brought back the same childhood memory…of course, green and white striped watermelons!  My father never would have bought a solid green watermelon!   Again, returning to the South, I felt like I was coming home.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Taylor as well.   Home folks drove in from Alabama…I met a couple in the parking lot from Mobile who spoke so fondly of Taylor and Miss Jonie.  And Taylor’s grandmother was on the center aisle.  Fans related that she was transfixed on her Taylor with the adoring look of a very proud grandmother.  

Taylor wowed the huge arena crowd with his electric energy and whompin’ soul music.  It was a long way from the first time he sang “Try A Little Tenderness” for his grandmother, and she gave him “one of my first good reviews, and maybe the most important, because that was probably the first time I thought of myself as a singer.”  (Heart Full of Soul, Taylor Hicks)

From that first thought of being a singer to center stage in front of the screaming, rocking crowd in the Coast Coliseum, Taylor had made an incredible journey.

I am sure that she gave him another good review! 

New Orleans and Gator

New Orleans was new territory for me.  I didn’t know what to expect, especially after the devastation of Katrina.  I can honestly say there was only one thing I didn’t like…water, water everywhere…well, at least a lot of it to drive over, of which I was definitely not fond. 

Okay…make that just two things…I have lived in Michigan and I thought I knew humidity.   Even the lake areas of Michigan did not prepare me for the hot muggy, I-can’t-breathe air in the Big Easy as I stepped out of the airport on Wednesday.  It was better on Saturday—concert day. 

My first mission in New Orleans was to have beignets, the fried French donuts, at the world famous Café du Monde.   That was my plan for Saturday breakfast in the French Quarter, but I found they are just as good for a late lunch.  I thought they could not be surpassed…until I added frozen café latte…a to-die-for after concert treat at the Café. 

As I sat in the Café du Monde a strong wind and dark clouds blew in from the South.  I must admit I was a little uncomfortable.  It was only a cooling afternoon rain shower.  It didn’t dampen the holiday spirit in the Quarter or the gift shopping next door at Aunt Sally’s Pralines. 

The French Quarter was a delightful mix of old world charm and Southern hospitality.  I was very unsure about having gator and beans for lunch (especially after the beignets), so an accommodating young street vendor gave me a taste of the gator sausage.  It doesn’t taste like chicken!  I passed on that lunch. 

I walked back to the hotel along Bourbon Street past the open doorways from which came the sounds of New Orleans…jazz, Delta blues, rock and funk.  This is a music town.

And after all, the music was why I was here—blue-eyed soul music! 

In the very narrow streets of the Quarter, there was barely room for Taylor’s two shiny buses to park and traffic to go around.  There was no problem finding the House of Blues.  If the venue was not sold out before, it must have concert night.  There was barely standing room in the small Blues stage/bar. 
This was a special place for Taylor and he let everyone know that he loved New Orleans.  That amazing journey had begun here with Katrina bearing down.  He was clearly very happy to be back here, seeming to choke up several times. 

He held the crowd and the moment in the palm of his hand as he sat on a stool for his first encore and sang “Louisiana.”   Then he led a chant “New Orleans is back…New Orleans is back…” and the people went wild! 

It is times like this that words fail us…to describe such “special” times.  They cannot.  It was one of those times when you had to be there…see it, hear it, feel it.  It certainly does not do his performance justice to say that it was all the usual words we use…or to say it was SPECIAL. 

But when words are all we have, they must say what we felt...

This was one of the times in our lives that are not just memorable, but it is what keeps life from being boring and keeps us searching for the next moment like this very special one!  After all, it is the special times when we enjoy life that makes it all worthwhile!

New Orleans was one of those times!  

If you're counting....ten concerts, one harmonica!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Taylor Hicks ~~ Another Song...

When you do what you love, you can know the future.  When it's music...

It's another song.

When you are a fan, you know what to expect…

Another song.

Taylor Hicks, who more than anyone I have ever run into, knows what he loves to do—perform music on any stage, anywhere, anytime.  He left Las Vegas last week after almost a two-year residency there on the Strip, first at Bally’s and then at Paris Las Vegas—from June, 2012, through April, 2014. 

It isn’t just about his music.  Taylor Hicks is also a fan!

Just before he left Las Vegas, he sat in with “funkjammers” Galactic and long-time favorite, Robert Randolph and the Family Band. 
Great nite @BBowlVegas with @rrtfb last nite! Thx for the pic @CitonePhoto!
Thx again @GalacticFunk! Had a blast @BBowlVegas. For those of u who missed it... #goodtimes

 @GalacticFunk thanks for letting me sit in.. Always a an honor.. Tell Ben thank u for letting me use the harp rig!

Follow @TaylorHicks on Twitter and you get to know this talented artist and music fan!

He attended other artists’ shows in Las Vegas and is engaged in the entertainment community wherever he is.  He joined the music party at his own restaurant, Saw’s Juke Joint in Birmingham, this past weekend.

Few people can take what they love to do, their profession, and their creativity anywhere.  Taylor will be back in Alabama—back home, Nashville and a recording studio, and on the road for appearances, some already planned. 

How lucky!  It isn’t where you are—it’s who you are, and Taylor is a musician.  That doesn’t end as he flies out of Las Vegas one more time. 

Don’t cry for Las Vegas!  Except that visitors won’t be able to enjoy the soulful sounds and roadhouse jammin' of Taylor Hicks on the Strip any longer.  But Taylor will be on another stage. 

With another song

We can’t wait. 

And we’ll be there!

A sincere thank you to Taylor Hicks , Brian Less, Amory Harwell, all the musicians in the band, Bally’s, Paris Las Vegas, Ceasars Entertainment, Las Vegas media, and all who made it a great run in Las Vegas! 

We’re just waiting for the next great adventure!

The Taylor Hicks Community

Stay tuned @TaylorHicks on Twitter and

Thank you to Paris Las Vegas for sharing via Twitter the stunning photo above of Taylor's final performance in Napolean's Lounge! 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Looking for the Constants in 2014...

“A change is gonna’ come…” 

In 2005, Taylor Hicks sang those prophetic words before the American Idol judges in Las Vegas

And it surely did.

“Change can be good.  Change can be bad.  But change is always one thing…inevitable.” 

I heard those words last week as I made a major change in my workplace after 16 years in the same room, same environment. People around me came and left.  I was comfortably established. 

I don’t like change… I look for ways to mitigate it.  I clung to the green plants that had grown in my room for most of those 16 years and moved them carefully.  I took all of my familiars into an unfamiliar place.  I believe we all cling to what we know.    

And I felt the frustration last week as I read the feed from music blogger, Bob Lefsetz. 

“So, I don’t know if it’s a day of change or not. Because I’m bad with change, I’m afraid of loss in the process.”

But Sunday morning I woke up in a different mood.  I had found the constants that I could hold on to. 

Reading the Taylor Hicks twitter feed the evening before, I welcomed a long-time constant. 

“@nebrinkley: I forgot how much I loved Taylor Hicks’ ‘Just To Feel That Way.’ Such a good song.” ebrinkleyemains.
 different beat, or the cityy tion,  American Idol judges in Las Vegas. ous soul, blues, and funk albums.  w

In 2007, a dear friend came to visit to attend Taylor Hicks concerts in Phoenix and Las Vegas.  We were shopping in the grocery store and suddenly heard a familiar voice—Taylor Hicks singing “Just to Feel That Way!” 

In the kick off of 2014 concerts, Taylor appeared at the Clearwater River Casino in Lewiston, Idaho, Saturday night.  He said in a prior interview with his plans for 2014 included “a long list of gigs, including tours around the country, the finale of his Paris Las Vegas residency and a new country album, which Hicks, 37, said should be released in spring.”

“ ‘The common thread will be my voice and the instrumentation,’ Hicks said of the Nashville recorded album, which features more country music than his previous soul, blues, and funk albums.” 

“common thread” –that’s what I was looking for.  Whatever the new roles, new venues, new endeavors, there is always…

The music. 

In the Inland360 interview, Taylor assured the Clearwater River Casino audience that they "could look forward to hearing… ‘Just some really great live music.’”   

That’s the constant we can all look forward to, and these are the words from Taylor that I have kept going back to for a long time:

“For me, you can take it all.  But leave me with the music.”

As surely as there is change, just as surely, there is the constant.    

The room may change, the road wind in a different direction, the drums kick out a different beat, or the new place lie over the horizon.  The voice and the music remain.

Leave me with the music. 

The Taylor Hicks constant—it’s such a good song. 

 So, I took out the shiny CD and slid it into my computer and listened.  It's such a good song. 

It always comes back to the music.

All the very best of happiness and success to Taylor Hicks in 2014!  

Wherever the song takes him...

...and us. 

For all the latest, follow @TaylorHicks on Twitter. 

Photo: Taylor Hicks and Cody Farris at Harrah's New Orleans, December, 2013; courtesy of CaseyPup via Twitter.  

Sources: “Hicks goes Hollywood:  American Idol winner performs at Clearwater River Casino”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Remembering a Country Troubadour...

Country music has lost an outlaw—one with an endearing “style of rustic simplicity.”

“Outlaw by definition is one that is unconventional or rebellious. Wayne Mills by definition is one that is a stiff-necked, country troubadour with an affinity for Honky-tonks and possessing a style of rustic simplicity.”

From the small Northern Alabama town of Arab, Mills was “raised on the values of the working man, and like most working men, young Mills listened to blue collar anthems sang by Hank Williams, Jr, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard. Little did the future performer know that the heavy beat and misfortune-laden lyrics of outlaw country would lay the ground work for his music career.”

Mills earned a degree in Education and played football with the legendary University of Alabama team before returning to the music he loved and hitting the road with the Wayne Mills Band.  They became one of the most successful country bands throughout the South and presented some memorable opening acts. On their way to the top, country music superstars, Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton, as well as American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, opened for the Band.

Most recently, the Nashville singer/songwriter toured with fellow country-outlaw musician and friend, Johnson. Mills was soon to release his studio album, Long Hard Road.

From “ ‘My music is a combination of my country roots with the real world I have come to know,’ said Mills. Long Hard Road is a chapter in the songbook of Wayne Mills’ life: leaving no stone unturned when it comes to lyric and life.”

@TaylorHicks: “My good friend Wayne Mills passed away in Nashville. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIP Wayne he was my buddy.”

Huntsville, Alabama, was the first Taylor Hicks concert I ever attended. Wayne Mills Band was opening for Taylor that night as the American Idol continued his first National Tour. The Band was high energy with hard hitting country…I knew I was back to the South! I will never forget that moment of excitement and the Alabama country sound that started me on this musical journey. I am grateful to have crossed the path of this man with “a style of rustic simplicity.”

After all, “a style of rustic simplicity,” may just be that to which we all could aspire.

Jerald Wayne Mills will be laid to rest today, in Arab, Alabama.

Funeral arrangements:


@TaylorHicks on Twitter

Photo: Wayne Mills, via

Monday, September 30, 2013

Taylor Hicks: "I love what I do!"

I am envious.

Say what you will about success. This is it:

“I love what I do.”

Taylor Hicks celebrates the soulful Americana ‘roots’ music that he grew up around in Alabama in his headlining show at Paris Las Vegas. In a promotional video for Ceasar’s Entertainment “Las Vegas_Player,” he takes us inside his very successful show and his ‘Southern roots’ music:

“To have soul you have to have passion …for what you’re doing. For me, obviously, putting soul and passion in my music is something that I really find important.

“And I love what I do.”

There’s no arguing with that. There are no ratings, awards, or paychecks that can outweigh it.

Critics cannot destroy it.

Our success is personal. Mine can only be defined by me. Taylor Hicks defines his success:

“For me, you can take it all, but leave me with the music.”

“It’s not how many records you sell, but how many lives you touch.”

“I love what I do.”

I know what that means and when it is lacking. We hope our daily work brings satisfaction, ‘things’ that we enjoy, and sustenance. And it may.

To say “I love what I do” is different.

While we hope others share the joy or worth of what we do, real success is how we feel about every day, not how the world views what we do. It is experienced within, not received from those around us who decide what it looks or feels like.

I don’t hate my work. I find it satisfying and rewarding. But I am somewhere in between like and dislike.

I have always wished that I could say with passion, “I love what I do.”

Taylor Hicks is a lucky one.

Funny thing is it is infectious. It is shared joy, shared success.

In his audience we are enveloped in that love and passion the minute he steps onto the stage. It emulates from his energetic music and stage persona. It is the ‘magic’ of a resonating performance by a quintessential musician.

This isn’t to say that mere love creates the musicianship and artistry. But it fuels the hard work, practice, persistence, and dream.

It creates a vibrant circle that spells success. “I love what I do.”

An oversimplified measure of success?

How would you measure it?
And this success train isn’t slowing down…

As it was Saturday night, Taylor’s headlining show at Napoleon’s Lounge inside Paris Las Vegas continues to be sold out night after night. He is one of the most popular performers on the Vegas Strip. He recently performed a one-night-only jam session with the popular Vegas headliner, The Million Dollar Quartet, in a jam-packed house.

A recent review on
by dennis63 claimed: “I think it may be the most underrated show in Vegas right now….”

He gives back the love. On October 12, he returns to Alabama to headline the charity concert and football watch party, Tailgate for Cure, benefiting Alabama Institute of Medicine.

October 17, Taylor headlines “Hollywood Welcomes the Stars” in Hallandale Beach, FL benefiting The Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County.

He’s an avowed foodie and a restaurateur! He has two recipes from his Birmingham restaurant, Saw’s, featured in the new, hugely popular “Recipes Across America” Cookbook.

Check out all that makes this American Idol say, “I love what I do!” on his official website at:
Go see the artists that love what they do, and you are looking at success!

Check out Taylor Hicks on his music, Las Vegas, and more on Vegas Player:

See Taylor Hicks at Paris Las Vegas and experience the love, passion, and success of this true American Idol!

Photo above:  Courtesy of Coder1951 via Twitter:  Taylor at Napoleon's Lounge, Paris Las Vegas September 28th. Thanks to all who share photos of their concert experiences.    

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who's Gonna' Fill Their Shoes?

It seems like we are losing a generation of musicians too soon.

J J Cale, who passed away on Friday, is the latest. If you don’t know the musician, you probably know the music. He wrote “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” recorded by Eric Clapton. The Oklahoma native gave us the ‘Tulsa sound.’

Taylor Hicks tweeted on Saturday:

“RIP JJ Cale He was the quintessential #americana #roots-musician”

Cale’s “They Call Me The Breeze” made a hit by Lynyrd Skynyrd, has long been covered by Taylor.

We also lost country music pioneer and legend, George Jones, earlier this year. The musical competition, The Voice, was in its live competition shows. A duo from Oklahoma,  the Swan Brothers, paid tribute to Jones singing one of his songs posing the stirring question, “Who’s Gonna’ Fill Their Shoes?”

It was also a challenge for those new artists competing. It started a personal dialogue for me. I wondered beyond country music and asked myself who’s going to fill the shoes of artists like The Beatles, Elvis, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and now, musician/songwriters…

like J J Cale.

Will our plentiful singing competitions and hit producers of today give us singers and music that will take the place of those who molded our musical roots and genres—the unforgettable music that still plays today and will for a long time after we say goodbye to these great musicians?

What makes music and artists unforgettable? It is music and artists that we never tire of hearing, music that is never eclipsed by something on the Top 40—here today, forgotten tomorrow.

It’s music and performances that connect with people. That is the elusive link that the best musicians create—a strong connection and music so good that no other artist is associated with it.

I attended a small graduation this spring. At the socializing afterwards, a small band—just five guys who got together to play music—entertained with “House of the Rising Sun,” “Margarettaville” and then “Let It Be”—all songs that have stood the test of time. I was singing along and lost in the moment. Seldom are covers better than the original. I can’t even recall a cover of “Let It Be.”

That is the unforgettable—the purist example of the best.

And those shoes will be difficult to fill.

What new song today will be here after we are gone? What new artist will be remembered as a “quintessential” of music when they die?

And,  just as importantly, what artists today will carry on the legacy of this great generation of musicians? 

Truly, only time will tell.  Singer/songwriters who live for their music and connect with their audiences will have the lasting impact on the next generation of music.

There will be some who fill those shoes. That is the bright side of this.

Taylor Hicks covers “They Call Me the Breeze:”

Eric Clapton, J. J. Cale “After Midnight” and “They Call Me the Breeze:”

For more about J J Cale, visit:
Note: “Quintessential” is from the Latin meaning “fifth essence,” the purist example; in Medieval philosophy it suggested that after Earth, air, fire, and water, this was the Fifth Element.

I wondered, “After Earth, air, fire, and water, might MUSIC be the Fifth Element?”

Just a thought…