Thursday, December 31, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ Keeping it simple

I’ve made all the usual resolutions:

Lose weight. Eat healthy. Save money.

I have even gone through the ritual of writing them down.

And the usual happened. I made a little progress and went on doing what I had been doing.

I’ve thought about this new year. What do I want to accomplish? Is "accomplishment" what my life is about now?

I read a music blogger. When I saw the subject line: “Leukemia,” I didn’t open it for a day, perplexed by that rather unusual subject line. When I did, it was stunning.

In his usual staccato style, he started with:

“I’ve got it.”

Life is never predictable. We may think so—for a while.

My music blogger is still writing about the music that he loves.

And I am reminded not to waste my time.

It’s an old story. Something happens, and we realize that we need to make every moment count. There are no guarantees.

How do we do that—make the minutes, the days count? We have responsibilities that rob us of precious time for the things we love. We are drawn into frays, unpleasantness, and stress. Life happens.

I’m not so sure how we do it, but we first have to want to. We must want to stay out of that gray funk that keeps us from seeing the beauty.

This music blogger started writing more blogs than ever, and in one made reference to the California sun setting in the West and the moon rising in the East. He sees the beauty. He listens to good music and shares his love of it.

So, I’m not going to write down any resolutions.

I do have one though. It is simple and probably one that many of you already do. I don’t. There are a lot of poor reasons why I don’t.

My resolution for 2009 is simply this:

Listen to music every day.

It doesn’t have to be the music of Taylor Hicks, although that is abundant in my home, car, and computer. What’s important is that I find time every day to enjoy music.

In a blending of generations on Christmas Eve, my son and I wrapped presents and listened to Van Morrison. It was a simple time, a happy time.

That’s what I want to change this year. I want to make time to be happy every day.

Give yourself a New Year’s present. Don’t resolve to do something that will bring stress or responsibility no matter how beneficial the results may be.

Rather, resolve to do something you love, something that will bring you joy. Resolve to be happy every day, if only for a little while! The rest of the day will be better too!

“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” Robert Louis Stevenson

I wish us all a truly “happy” new year. Let’s make it a good one!

My first musical indulgence for 2010 is "Whomp at the Warfield," by, yes, Taylor Hicks!

See more about Taylor's first live performance DVD in my blog below.

Reference and quote is from “Leukemia,” a recent blog by Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter,

Photo by RagsQueen, Taylor Hicks at High Noon Saloon, 12.11.09

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taylor Hicks~~ Rings in the Whomp!

“Whomp at the Warfield,” the live concert DVD by platinum recording artist, Taylor Hicks, is out January 5, 2010!

In May, 2007, Taylor Hicks had been on the road touring since February 21, doing five to six shows a week. He had been to 50 cities and 15 states. His tour bus had wound its way through the South, the Northeast and Midwest, and finally, the Southwest and California. He had been sick.

If you had seen him step onto the stage at the historic Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on May 9, you wouldn’t know that. It could have been the first concert of the tour.

Taylor Hicks does not slow down or dial down the energy!

This whirlwind of music and motion is caught in the singer’s first DVD, “Whomp at the Warfield.”

Captured May 9, 2007, at the historic Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, Taylor weaves an eclectic setlist through a fun evening. From rock classics like “Badge” and Eric Clapton’s “Naked in the Jungle” to Taylor’s own lament of lost love, “The Fall,” the Warfield concert is a ramped up new sound for the old theatre near Market Street.

The energy-spiked performance brings down the Warfield—whomp style.

During Prohibition days a lively speakeasy occupied the basement of the theatrical relic. In 1939, the Warfield hosted the epic “Gone with the Wind” with a portrait of Rhett Butler hanging in the lobby.

Almost 60 years after the historic saga of the South lit up the Warfield, Modern Whomp set the stage ablaze with an eclectic setlist delivered in style—Taylor Hicks in fancy boots, with a flashing smile, screaming guitar and wailing harp, “funkin’” it up on “Medicated Goo” and declaring, “You gotta love San Francisco.”

A new-age sound resonates in the old Warfield as Taylor’s diverse performance includes:

Gonna Move
Give Me Tonight
Heart and Soul
Just to Feel That Way
My Friend
The Deal
Hold on to Your Love
Wherever I Lay My Hat
Soul Thing
Heaven Knows
The Maze
The Right Place
The Runaround
The Fall
Naked in the Jungle

One review from a concertgoer claimed that the acoustic rendition of Taylor’s own, “The Fall” and Cream’s rock classic, “Badge” would be worth the price of the DVD.

Professional production and Taylor Hicks in hi-energy and hi-def makes this one musical bargain!

Whomp at the Warfield,” live concert by Taylor Hicks on DVD is at stores January 5, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Ring in the Whomp! Pre-order now for a New Year's celebration on January 5th!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ Happiness is...

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Buddha--Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.

As Taylor Hicks shares his music, he shares his happiness. His holiday gift to fans is a download of his concert at WorkPlay in Birmingham, September 26, 2009.

Visit for the download link and Taylor's holiday message.

In 2006, Taylor shared his music with then President and Mrs. Bush at Christmas in Washington:
Early December in a cold Madison, WI, Taylor shared a holiday message with his encore performance of Elton John’s The Border Song which says, “Let us live in peace,” captured here by Anothertayfan on Vimeo:
However we share our happiness this holiday season~~through music, time with those we love, or gifts to others, our happiness will not be diminished but increased!

May the true spirit of the season and the light of a thousand candles warm your holidays.

And, as Taylor sang, “Let us live in peace.”

Warmest wishes for a happy and joyous Christmas from TTHC!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taylor Hicks transcends the miles...

From a cold Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday night, Taylor Hicks transcended the miles and touched hearts.

The streets were still snow packed and icy. The crowd at the High Noon Saloon had braved the weather to be there for Taylor’s Shadow Tour concert after his performance as Teen Angel in “Grease.”

Miles, and even a vast ocean away, fans gathered to listen to Taylor’s music on a chatcert. From New Zealand, Canada, Washington, Arizona, Florida, New England and many places in between, the faithful stayed up late and was rewarded with a stellar performance by a relaxed and joking Taylor.

He might have phoned in the media from his hotel this week, but he never phones in his music!

It was phoned in for fans gathered from three countries. It traveled through two phones and a little computer mic to home computers and a chat room where the Soul Patrol talked of many things. As they listened, they shared their thoughts about Taylor, our brave troops and their families, and the joy his music brings to them. It felt like a good place and time for the Soul Patrol. I was happy to be there.

Besides sharing thoughts with others, I was especially touched by two songs. “Maybe You Should” is always a favorite. I heard it live in Birmingham. Last night it was just as emotional and hauntingly beautiful as it was in Birmingham.

I have never experienced the heartfelt emotion in his voice as I did with the stunning performance of “19.” The chat turned serious as people shared their connections to the military. Some in the room had been there. It was as if Taylor was singing just for them and his heartfelt comments were sincerely thanking them for the sacrifice they make. I could feel his emotion, and I was deeply touched.

Someone in the room reminded us: This is what he means when he says it is not how many records you sell. It is about touching lives. That connection was strong last night.

How could I be so emotionally connected through all these electronics?

There are two ways to enjoy a concert. Be there and be part of the event—exciting, emotional, and fun! Over the top!

Then there is listening to just the audio. Someone shared with me the audio from one of the Shadow Tour concerts. As I listened, it was all about the music and the sounds of Taylor Hicks. And that is what he is all about…the music.

Both Taylor live or an undiluted audio are incredible experiences.

Last night just seemed to be special in an almost indefinable way. There was something in his voice…

It was a Friday night well spent for many reasons, not the least of which was the music.

“I’ve got to be honest. You can take it all, but leave me with the music.”

The music—the heart and the soul of Taylor Hicks—was alive and well in Madison last night.

Although I’ve never thought that listening at home could be as good as being there, last night sure came close!

Thanks, Taylor, for another meaningful stop on this journey! Thanks for taking us to Madison. No matter the place (or the weather) you do it right every time!

We owe you so much! Add last night to the tab!

Everyone traveling from Madison, stay warm and safe!

Outside my window, the snow is falling!

Photo courtesy of Katjusa Cisar, writer and photographer for the Capital Times in Madison, WI. Ms. Cisar also writes a spectacular and interesting review of the concert and Taylor Hicks:

Part Two: The concert and some surprises! Stay tuned.

For media and recaps from Madison, visit your favorite board today!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ A Year In the Cone!

Last week Taylor Hicks and the cast celebrated one year on the road with the Broadway Across America National Touring Company of “Grease!”

When “Grease” opened in Providence, RI , December 2, 2008, our economy was sliding quickly downhill. Speculation said it was not a good time for entertainment. People would not spend frivolously to go to the theatre.

Taylor and the cast of “Grease” proved the naysayers wrong. People took “staycations” and spent money close to home—their hometown venues. In the past year, “Grease” has played to packed houses from coast to coast and in Canada.

In the communities where he visited, Taylor became a part of the local scene. He performed on TV, even in the kitchen, and mingled with the locals, from a heart-healthy basset hound in Texas to the Prime Minister and his teenage charges in Canada. He joined sports fans at ball games as he sang the National Anthem in San Francisco and Detroit. He will sing the Anthem tomorrow for the Carolina Panther and Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL game in Charlotte, NC.

It was an American Idol seeing America. Everywhere he went, lobbies were full of people waiting to meet him and have him sign his CD. I was pleased to be in those crowds in Tucson, Hollywood, Birmingham and Phoenix.

Outside the hometown audiences in Birmingham, I think the most enthusiastic crowds that I saw were in Tucson. This old Southwestern pueblo is Spanish land grant territory, beautiful desert cattle country and a Mexican border neighbor. Not Broadway theatre country you might think.

You’d be wrong. The crowds in Tucson loved Taylor and “Grease.” A lady at the stage door was there to thank them for coming to Tucson. She said many shows don’t. They all go to Phoenix. In the four performances I saw there, the crowds packed the beautiful entertainment venue, and it was probably the most pleasant theatre experience of my travels.

Perhaps this past year we decided that we wouldn’t give up all that makes us happy, no matter what the economy was doing. Perhaps it was that we needed our smiles do deal with all that we must.

“Grease” and Taylor Hicks has certainly brought a year of smiles to America!

Taylor has said that it is all about the lives you touch. From the stages to the lobbies, Taylor and the fun and talented cast of “Grease” have touched lives.

Congratulations to Taylor Hicks and all the cast on a very successful year of “Grease” on the road!

I was happy to be along for a little part of the ride!
Photo credit: Nederlander Productions

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ Showdown at High Noon!

Taylor Hicks always brings it!

From a cold Florida last week to a colder Wisconsin next week, he would do well to bring the heavy velvet jacket and add a cashmere scarf!

What we know he will bring is extraordinary talent to the acoustic stage at High Noon Saloon.

In late 2007, Taylor promised a string of acoustic concerts. Historically, the acoustic stage featured music raw and bare—just the singer and his music without wires and little or no backup. Performers like Elvis, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Jon Bon Jovi and many others presented new versions of their hits without trappings or large production elements. It was the backlash to the big metallic techo sounds of the 1980s that had become band staples.

The concept was brought front and center when MTV launched “Unplugged” performances by rock singers, primarily known for playing electric amplified instruments . Fans wanted to see if rock entertainers could stand up to a stripped away version of their hits. The first ones to perform on the series were Jethro Tull, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Samborie.

Eric Clapton recorded an Unplugged performance in 1992 that was both widely praised and criticized for heavily reworking many of his famous songs so they would work in an acoustic context, some to the point of almost unrecognizability. Clapton's Unplugged album went on to become the bestselling unplugged album in the U.S., with sales of 10 million. He won a grammy for Song of the Year with “Tears in Heaven” from this album.

MTV Unplugged website describes the re-emergence of the concept with today’s most successful stars who are, “…taking the stage and peeling away the trappings of their music to reveal the essence at its core. From established heavy-hitters like Korn to rising stars like R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo and the sexy, soulful Joss Stone, Unplugged remains the hallmark of intimate, exclusive concert performances that can't be seen anywhere else.”

We had a glimpse of Taylor on the acoustic stage during his 2007 Solo Tour when he would occassionally sit on a stool with only a guitar and sing an encore, such as “My Home’s in Alabama,” “Here Comes the Sun,” and “Louisiana.”

The “acoustic” Taylor music should not be confused with sleepy, slow tunes. Taylor is as intense in this kind of show as when he is moving all other the stage with a full band all plugged in for a show like WorkPlay. He has two or three other musicians for backup, and he really does sit on a stool. It is the “intimate, exclusive concert performances that can’t be seen anywhere else.”

At a time when music industry bloggers are saying the biggest stars are doing “autotuned” concerts—lip syncing on stage with perfect tracks of their music going out to fans who think they are seeing their stars real on stage—it is transparently true that Taylor Hicks is real in concert and doesn’t need any “fixing.” It is real music with its flaws, but rich with heart and soul.

Taylor Hicks brings real music, and that is enough.

He brings it to The High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI, Friday, December 11, at 8:00 p.m.

For more information visit:

We’re bringing the PalTalk chatcert team to share the music showdown! Join New Found Freedom, Season of the Soul, The Official Soul Patrol and The Taylor Hicks Community for Taylor at The High Noon Saloon. Visit these boards for more information on how you can enjoy the acoustic concert from Madison on your computer. It’s the new wave of cellcerts! Don’t miss Taylor at The High Noon, wherever you are!

Sources: Portions of this blog were written for and first published in Taylorsezine, The Soul Connection.

Photo courtesty of Gypsee from the acoustic concert at The Magic Bag in Detroit, MI.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving ~~ the small moments...

Taylor Hicks shares a small moment with a small fan. He never forgets that the small moments count.

I am thankful for the small moments. This story illustrates why they are important.

“Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn't realize was that it was also a ministry.

“Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, enabled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

“When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked.

“‘Just a minute,’ answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. ‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said.

“I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It's nothing,’ I told her. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.’ ‘Oh, you're such a good boy,’ she said.

“When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’ ‘It's not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly. ‘Oh, I don't mind,’ she said. ‘I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.’

“I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don't have any family left,’ she continued. ‘The doctor says I don't have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. ‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

“For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I'm tired. Let's go now.’

“We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. ‘How much do I owe you?’ she asked, reaching into her purse. ‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘You have to make a living,’ she answered. ‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

“Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. ‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’ I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

“I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient at the end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

“On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware--beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Take a moment to stop and appreciate the memories you have made, the memory making opportunities around you and make someone feel special today.”

I am not sure of the circumstances in the picture above except that Taylor is talking to a child—intense in the moment. I do know that this came from his very busy 2007 tour. But there are no autographs, posing for pictures, or smiling for the audience. It is the most genuine picture into the heart of Taylor that I have seen. It is a small moment—an unaware moment.

“We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware--beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.”

I am thankful for Taylor Hicks, who balances fame and the important moments with those beautiful, small moments that touch lives!

Make the moments count. They add up to a lifetime that counts.

And watch for those beautiful, small moments that catch us unaware.

Happy Thanksgiving from TTHC!


The Cab Driver’s Story has received widespread internet exposure. This source is:

Photo credit: I have tried to find the owner of the picture above, but I have been unable to. Of all the Taylor photographs, this is one of my favorites.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ Fading the Distances

Are we on to something?

I did a rather light-hearted blog here when we all had our fingers clicking to the bone for a not-so-little North American Mr. Twitter Contest and THEN the expected Worldwide Mr. Twitter Contest. We were seriously engaged in supporting our favorite twitterer, Taylor Hicks.

Remember that?

Did that somewhat seemingly frivolous battle open the door to a not-so-frivolous campaign?

During The Great Twitter Battle, I said here in an August blog, “Victories”:

“Funny about victories. They can’t always be seen in the final tally. In whatever ranking Taylor finishes, perhaps the greatest victory is in The Soul Patrol’s coming together for a common purpose.”

In late September, WorkPlay was the center of the universe for the Soul Patrol. From as far away as England, fans came to Birmingham in a gathering of the faithful. Through the magic of electronics (Yeh, I know it wasn’t “magic”) fans were at home listening, chatting online and sharing the magic (Yeh, I know it was pure talent) of Taylor Hicks live on stage.

After WorkPlay in her blog here, “The Distance Between Us Will Fade,” Evancol shared her thoughts.

In part, she said:

“It isn’t the cellcert I am proud of, although I am really glad we didn’t flop! It is the admin/owners from the 4 boards, boards with different members, different philosophies and definitely different opinions, putting all that aside to bring fans together to celebrate Taylor. It is the members of the four boards who embraced the idea and supported it from the word go. It is the SPIRIT I saw in everyone who participated. … It was all the right things a fan base can be.

“I got a lot of feedback from people about how great they thought it was that the boards were working together and that it was TIME. I think it’s past time, and I hope we can keep that spirit alive going into 2010.”

“… I am proud to have been a small part of such a dedicated and enthusiastic group. I think we were all reminded how much fun it is to share the magic that is Taylor Hicks…. And Taylor was right, the distance between us DID fade away.”

Last week on, in a true outpouring of love and caring for our veterans and our troops, we shared stories of our loved ones who have served and continue today to bravely serve our country. As we proudly remembered our family and friends, Taylor showed his appreciation by giving away a download of his patriotic song “19” on various humanitarian and military websites. It was a truly inspiring day of coming together for a common cause that we could all support.

Could we be on to something? I mean this common ground thing…

Is Taylor right? The distance between us will fade...

Well, get out your mittens…the universe collides next in frigid Wisconsin. Oh wait, I’ll be sitting right here in my nice warm home. But the wonderful world of electronics will be there! Yeh, we’re connecting the universe again at Madison, WI for Taylor’s High Noon Shadow Tour on December 11th.

While I embrace the electronics that I so long avoided (Yeh, I know…)

Common ground moves to the High Noon Saloon!

For more information on the chatcert from Madison, WI on December 11th, visit Taylor Hicks fansites—New Found Freedom, Season of the Soul, The Official Soul Patrol, or The Taylor Hicks Community.

And Taylor is giving away 10 free tickets! Visit for details!

Thanks to RagsQueen for the photo of a smiling Taylor from Epcot Center!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ Thanks our Troops

Taylor Hicks announced on his website and on twitter late today that to celebrate Veterans Day he has teamed up with various military and humanitarian organizations to offer a free download of his song "19."

One site offering the free download is Soldiers Angels, who posted the following on their site:

Free Song for Veterans

Taylor Hicks Thanks Troops
Soldiers' Angels has long been a fan of Taylor Hicks, and he's once again proving that admiration well-placed. He writes:

"Honoring our country’s servicemen and women is something that we should all celebrate together. For Veterans Day, I’d like to illustrate my appreciation for those who have served in defense of our livelihood and country by offering a free download of my song, 19. Featured on my latest album, The Distance, 19 is a patriotic song about a soldier’s call to duty. Help me celebrate the millions of veterans who have served. Continue to support organizations that help make a difference in the lives of our veterans, current servicemen, and their families. Enjoy 19 and be sure to visit my website for more music, news, and info."
Soldiers' Angels salutes Taylor Hicks for his continuing support of the troops and thanks him for highlighting Soldiers' Angels! Visit his website today, where he is celebrating Veterans Day by featuring the stories of veterans from Americans across the country.,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=440&cntnt01returnid=15

Other sites teaming up with Taylor to honor our troops are:

The Greater Los Angeles American Red Cross who announced that:
“Singer Taylor Hicks Honors Servicemen for Veterans Day”

The State of Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs announced the
“Special Tribute to America’s Veterans” with Taylor’s download of “19”

Taylor asked that we show our support and visit these organizations.

Thanks, Taylor, for caring about our troops and for sending them a gift of music!

For more of Taylor's special salute to our Veterans, visit his website at:

Veterans Day ~~ "That's for our troops"

We can never repay our debt to them.

We join Taylor Hicks this Veterans Day for his tribute to our veterans and troops.

Since July 1, 2006, in Salt Lake City where Taylor sang his American Idol coronation song, “Do I Make You Proud,” and dedicated it to our troops, he has remembered the brave men and women in our Armed Forces.

In 2009, he first sang “Nineteen,” the emotional story of an American hero “trying to hold on to his American dream,” live on stage in San Diego with many servicemen and women in the audience.

That’s for our troops,” he told them. “Nineteen” has remained his way of remembering our troops.

This Veterans Day, Taylor is saluting our veterans and troops with inspiring stories and videos on his website.

To the men and women of our Armed Forces past and present:

Our deepest thanks for your sacrifice and service. You make us proud!

“Nineteen,” video by KarinP and Allyn was first published here on 9.11.09.

Nineteen,” was written by Jeffrey Steel, Gary Nicholson, and Tom Hambridge and recorded by Taylor Hicks on The Distance out on Modern Whomp Records.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Veterans Day ~~ My brothers

Both of my brothers joined the Armed Forces as teenagers—my older brother, the Air Force and my younger brother, the Navy.

Growing up in the 50s and 60s it was every young man’s duty to register for the draft when he was 18 years old. Many of them “joined up” rather than waiting to be drafted, some dropping out of high school.

My younger brother quit high school and joined the Navy and headed for El Paso, TX. He finished his education while in the Navy and served honorably on home shores, as many do today.

My older brother joined the Air Force in the 50s and was stationed at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS. Family vacations as we know them today, were rare for struggling families like ours. My folks did, however, take our entire family to visit my brother at Keesler. We enjoyed a real vacation along the beautiful Gulf Coast that I never forgot.

I had to be there in 2007 when the Taylor Hicks Solo Tour hit Biloxi. It was a sojourn for me to go back to the place of fond memories with my family in Biloxi. I drove along the same beach that I had with my folks when I was 13 years old. Then, it was a shore not yet ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

When my brother finished his Air Force duty, he returned home to the Midwest and went to college on the GI bill. One of his favorite leisure activities was going to the theatre, and he took me to my first live drama when I was a teenager. He and his wife often visited New York and saw Broadway shows. When he suddenly passed away in August, 2008, I was on Broadway seeing Taylor Hicks in “Grease” –my first trip to Broadway. My brother would have loved to have been there!

I was so fortunate that my family in the military was never in harm’s way. I cannot fathom the tragedy of losing a loved one in war. I can only offer my heartfelt thanks for all those who serve and have sacrificed so much for our country.

Words simply cannot express how much we owe them.

As we join Taylor this Veterans Day in remembering and recognizing our own, I hope veterans everywhere know that we care about them and are proud of their service to our country.

With deepest thanks to our veterans and their families…


You are invited to share your Veterans stories in videos or blogs at

Taylor will be streaming select videos on Ustream and featuring your stories on his website on Veterans Day. See instructions below or visit his website.

Remember our troops and honor their service on Veterans Day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ 11.11.09 ...Remember our troops

Share Your Troop Stories with Taylor…

From Taylor Hicks.ning

Veteran's Day (November 11th) is a holiday to observe and pay our respects to military personnel, both past and present. As most of you are aware, Taylor is a big supporter of our troops, and will be running a special video campaign leading up to Veteran's Day. Starting Monday, October 26th, you will have the opportunity to upload your own personal videos, sharing your stories of those you know who have served in the military, or those who are currently serving. On Veteran's Day, Taylor will choose a select number of your videos to feature on his U-Stream video player. In order to upload your videos to the U-Stream account, follow the directions below.”

How to upload:

1) Sign in to your u-stream account. (If you're not a member, you can easily create an account.) Click here to go to U-Stream

2) Record your video and include #taylorhicks in the title. (This will automatically link your video to Taylor's ustream account.)

3) Check back on November 11th to see if your video was added.Taylor Hicks U-Stream account:

Share your personal stories of veterans or troops serving now in our Armed Forces. On 11.11.09, join Taylor on Ustream video player for a Veterans Day remembrance honoring our own special heroes.

Remember our troops... honor their service!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ A year of blogs...what's next?

A year ago today, Evancol posted our first blog content, “Beginnings,” appropriately about music:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life
- Auerbach

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
- Victor Hugo

Music is an outburst of the soul.
- Delius

Its language is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate.
-Arnold Bennett

Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.
-Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
Posted by evancol at 2:19 AM

I first signed on two days later with “We’ve Come So Far” about the many changes that had taken place, not only in Taylor’s life, but in our own lives in the previous two years.

It ended with a look to the future:

October 30, 2008:

What’s next? We went to Broadway to see Taylor as he invited us to do. Now, he is bringing Broadway to many of our hometowns! Spring will bring us new Taylor music. We see exciting prospects for the journey ahead. We’ve said it before…we will be there.

We know one thing for sure…our way will be inspired by Taylor Hicks. His quest for something more in his life has made our lives richer. Someone has said that it is not the destination but the journey that matters.

We’ve come so far. We still have far to go. Taylor recently wrote with the release of Early Works, “Thanks for coming on the ride.”

Thanks, Taylor, for taking us!

What do you see on the road ahead?
Posted by san at 11:55 PM

The road this past year did bring us new music from Taylor and took us many places—coast to coast and back to Birmingham.

And back to American Idol.

If I had to choose my own favorite blogs from this year, they would be those in April and May around the release of “Seven Mile Breakdown” and Taylor’s appearance on American Idol performing his country rock single. That was an exciting time and fun writing!

I can’t tell you how much joy I have gotten the past year from writing about Taylor Hicks, his music, and my experiences. A blog was something I bugged Evancol about since the day TTHC went online!

As we have shared our thoughts, I hope that our dialogue has reflected our respect and affection for Taylor Hicks and our support for good music. I hope it has opened new doors in our minds and in our hearts.

Thanks, Taylor, for taking me along to some amazing places in the past year. The journey continues.

Thanks, Evancol, for giving me a place to share the experience. I owe you a lot!

Thanks to everyone for reading and leaving your thoughts. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Here we go for two! What’s next?

Fun travels to all!

Photo by raj6, "Taylor at WorkPlay."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ Music -- What is it, really?

Have we perfected ourselves right out of the music game?

I was intrigued with an article sent to me about the latest recording by Michael Buble, who is stepping away from “perfection” and going for the “groove” in an “old fashioned” way of recording.

Imagine the concept—musicians all playing on the floor in the same room and recording it LIVE! And he admits that the idea was not well received by the “experts,” and that it is risky, and may not be “commercially” successful!

There was something more important to Michael Buble—the music—real and moving.

“Despite the massive success of his first three albums, the Vancouver crooner had fallen out of love -- not with the music he was making, but with the way he was making it.”

Although he says he was very proud of his first three albums that sold 21 million copies, “there was something missing.”

“They sound really good; sonically, they're beautiful. They're all about perfection -- everything is recorded onto ProTools, and if something isn't perfect, you pull it out and fix it. There are no mistakes.”

And so, to “rekindle” an old flame, he listened to recording of Frank Sinatra, Elvis and the Beatles.

“And I would feel something -- I can't really explain it, but there was a great presence in some of those records. I kept wondering why they had this great presence and why I didn't always feel that when I was listening to myself, or to other records that are made today. And one of the first things I realized was that we live in a ProTools, American Idol generation. We've become used to listening to this absolutely perfect music, but the heart and the soul are gone. It's so antiseptic.

“At the same time, he admits, he was getting slightly tired of hearing an eternal refrain from fans and critics: That his live shows are more enjoyable than his studio albums. Putting the two ideas together led to his eureka moment. ‘I realized that maybe I could meet somewhere in the middle and capture the energy and the raw excitement that comes from doing it in a live setting.’”

The old fashioned way.

His fans were not the only ones saying live shows were better. Prolific music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, has said many times that he is blown away by live performances of artists whose recorded music he would not buy and listen to. He recently “discovered” Taylor Swift live at the Ryman and was moved to tears by the “real” music.

“Music done right is life itself,” Lefsetz said.

Have we ProTooled ourselves right out of music itself? If it no longer speaks to us, is it music? Or is it engineered sound…beautiful, yes, and listenable, and commercial.

Is it music?

Michael told his producer, David Foster:

“'I need to do this in a different way. It has to be far more organic. I don't want to record to a click track. I don't want to tape everything separately. I want to shove those microphones in the room and I want the band just to go in there and play. I don't care if the tempo speeds up or slows down. I just want it to feel great. I want those drums to be bleeding into the bass, and the bass bleeding into the strings, and them bleeding into my vocals. I want this to have some real edge.' "

He took a chance:

"I got my 18-piece big band, threw them in a room, chucked up the microphones, set up a little vocal booth, and we did Stardust with (a cappella septet) Naturally 7. My rhythm section was 10 feet away, and nobody wore (headphone) cans, and we played. We played the song three times and we ended up using the first take. It was so satisfying."

Who knew what the commercial success of “Crazy Love” would be?

We recently witnessed the “real” music of Taylor Hicks at WorkPlay and much has been written about it.

Could the “music” of WorkPlay have been produced on ProTools? Can you imagine Billy Earl McClelland in one room, Taylor in another, and Brian Less in another with the keyboards…making music like that?

What is music? Is it perfect sound? Or, are heart and soul essential ingredients for “music.”

How far can we go electronically and call something “real.” Call it “music.”

What is it? Really?

Engineered sounds, or a human experience?

Michael admits that he possibly erred:

“But I erred on the side of integrity. I tried to make a record that really moved me. And I hoped that if it moved me it would move other people.”

Music moving people—an old fashioned idea? Was that the magic of Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles? Not the voices, nor perfect sounds.

Here is the uniqueness of Taylor Hicks and his music. Listen to recordings of “The Distance,” and “Early Works.” The music moves you. Taylor so lives his music that the recorded sounds capture the intensity of that human experience. Add the ProTools environment. The heart and soul—the real music—still comes through.

It just gets better on the live stage.

The live concert is the artist’s recorded music kicked up a big notch. Why artists tour. Why Taylor has said touring is where it’s at. Why Bob Lefsetz says give away the recorded music—live music is where it’s at. Recorded is the enticement to see it live?

OR, record it live?

Anyone for “Taylor Hicks—Live at the Fillmore!”

Sources: The Lefsetz Letter,
“Buble is Crazy” by Darryl Sterdan,

Taking a chance paid off commercially too for Michael Buble. “Crazy Love” is Number 1 on the charts in Canada.

~Thanks to KarinP for sending me this article on Michael Buble. It started the wheels turning.

Thanks to Wonder for the photo above: "Taylor at WorkPlay"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~The Birmingham Blogs ~Leave me with the music

Taylor Hicks is never the star. It is the music.

Watch him on stage. He is lost in the music. He closes his eyes and channels the passion and essence of the music. He is oblivious of his own stage presence. He makes faces as the music inspires. This is not about Taylor Hicks.

It is always about the music, and the music never takes a back seat.

“I gotta be honest. For me, you can take it all, but leave me with the music.” Taylor Hicks

Now, days after WorkPlay, what remains paramount in my mind is the music—the funky sounds of “chicken pickin”, with Josh Smith, the wailing sax of Jeff Lopez, the fired up keyboards of Brian Less and the deep, emotional, and strong vocals on songs like “Maybe You Should” by Taylor Hicks.

Music industry blogger, Bob Lefsetz recently wrote about the power of the music as he attended a concert by the Hollywood Philharmonic:

“... Dudamel [orchestra conductor] did not deal with the music from a distance, he charged right in, bringing the orchestra with him. And not having attended a classical concert in eons, I didn't know they now put the conductor on the big screen, from the musicians' perspective, so you can see him in action.”

“The passion! This isn't someone searching to be famous, to get rich, it's clear he's moved by one thing only, the music! At times he jumped up and down, smiled, but when he closed his eyes in reverie to the music, seeming to channel heaven, not only were you turned on, you connected. For this is the experience of listening to one's favorite tunes.”

“The passion! This isn't someone searching to be famous, to get rich, it's clear he's moved by one thing only, the music!”

Taylor never deals with music from a distance. He dives right in and takes everyone along with him. He is moved by one thing only—the music!

Take it all…but leave me with the music. That is the real legacy of WorkPlay…music to inspire the next WorkPlay, the next song, the next journey. Music to touch our lives.

While in Birmingham, Taylor talked to Alabama Public Television Profile host, Wendy Garner, about his music saying that touching lives is what it is all about. I think that Taylor knows that when he walks off the stage, sweat pouring off his face, that he has touched lives and made them happier. He’s made himself a little bit happier too. The music is what he lives for and what challenges him—make it new, make it better, make it touch lives.

It is the magic of Taylor Hicks--touching lives through his music.

It is the greater good that trumps success, money, CD sales, or sold out venues.

Someday, I think Taylor will look back, not at how many CDs of The Distance he sold, but on places like WorkPlay and remember “Dust my Broom” with his mentor Billy Earl McClelland, and his jazzy duet with friend and musician, Ona Watson. I believe he will look back on the music and the people with whom he shared it. He will remember Brian, Josh and Jeff and the good sounds he made with people like the UAB Gospel Choir.

I believe this is how Taylor Hicks will measure his success and his time well spent. His legacy and his life’s joy will be his music and sharing it with others.

He will remember the WorkPlays.

May Taylor have many more WorkPlays.

May we all have more WorkPlays in our lives!

Thank you, Taylor and Birmingham, for WorkPlay.

Thank you, everyone, who made Birmingham memorable.

I was blessed to be there!
Photo by Natalie Goik: Taylor at WorkPlay.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~ The Birmingham Blogs ~ Soul Patrol's Woodstock

I was at WorkPlay!

As I sat on a plane coming home, I thought about what I would say about WorkPlay. The memories were vivid and the music was still playing in my head…and my heart.

I made notes about what I wanted to say about “Grease,” my visit to see Vulcan, and the very beautiful town of Birmingham.

From WorkPlay, I could still feel the music pounding in my heart and the excitement made my head spin. Yet, I couldn’t find the words for what I had experienced. I could describe who was in the band, who joined Taylor on stage, what songs Taylor sang, how he looked and what he wore, how the crowd reacted—but that was superficial in the real schema of WorkPlay. That was only a snapshot of the moment.

WorkPlay was so much more.

Taylor had fun at WorkPlay, and he took us along on the gig!

Friday night brought us a speechless-at-first Taylor at home doing what he loves. We got a very healthy dose of everything Taylor Hicks, from the AI tour favorite, The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” which Taylor teasingly delivered with a sly grin and lifted eyebrow, to the newest sensation, “Maybe You Should,” when I reached for the Kleenex.

Much of Taylor’s live concerts are about the instruments.

We saw his deep bow to the bluesy jazz guitar of Billy Earl McClelland and his own wailing harmonica starring on “Dust My Broom,” which went on for a musical eternity, but ended too soon.

Brian Less brought his keyboards front and center with lightning fast fingers that rocked the stage as Taylor happily looked on, proving that there was much more to this show than his own stunning, raspy vocals.

The mournful flute of Jeff Lopez playing “Dixie” leading us off in “Nineteen” said what no voice could.

And we were reminded that we were, in fact, in the heart of Dixie.

On Saturday night Taylor created a SHOW that expanded the scope and depth of even Friday night’s happening. It was a rich extravaganza of people and music of which he could be proud, giving generous attention to those who shared the stage with him. He again surrounded himself with musicians of incredible talent, whom he prominently showcased like Ona Watson, Birmingham club owner who often gave Taylor a stage in his struggling years. Taylor returned the favor in the way he knew best—sharing his stage now and recognizing one of the hometown people who had been there when…

Taking a page from the rich gospel music heritage of his hometown, Taylor featured the UAB Gospel Choir on the inspiring encores, "New Found Freedom" and "My Sweet Lord."

It was the feel good sounds from my childhood when I spent every Sunday morning in church…and it WAS Sunday morning by that time!

There were also smiles for the banter and outright shenanigans of Taylor and his musicians!

When Taylor introduced his guitarist and musical director, Josh Smith from Ft. Lauderdale, Josh corrected him. Josh said that he had waited three years to tell Taylor he was from Jacksonville, not Ft. Lauderdale. And then, with a devilish grin to the crowd, Taylor asked Josh if he had paid him enough during those three years to make it “close enough?” Josh good naturedly agreed that Ft. Lauderdale was “close enough!”

There were so many layers of music and entertainment creating the WorkPlay experience. We were not just entertained; we were touched and taken along. We were given a glimpse of what this time meant to Taylor. We shared what it meant for many of us—being together and spending time with Taylor performing live.

This was Taylor and his people together again in Birmingham!

I think that WorkPlay will be a reference point—a milestone—that Taylor and his fans will look back to for a long time.

Like the Soul Patrol’s Woodstock.

Now, I was never a hippie and knew little about Woodstock at the time, but it became an icon of our generation. It was also an icon for the music and those who performed there.

As Woodstock was a coming together of people and music of an era in its own unique way, WorkPlay was a real connection between Taylor Hicks, the music and the people who came to share it. Taylor stood in the center of a mega melding of superb artists sharing their music with an over the top enthusiastic crowd in the moment and loving it—a fast fusion of hearts and souls through music.

Just like there will never be another Woodstock, there will never be another WorkPlay!

Yet, it is easy to believe that there will be other Taylor Hicks concerts where we will look back and say,

"There will never be another..."

I may have missed Woodstock, but I can look back and say…

I was at WorkPlay!

~~The legacy of WorkPlay is not the performance of Taylor Hicks. The legacy of WorkPlay is the music.

“I gotta be honest. For me, you can take it all, but leave me with the music.” Taylor Hicks

It is always about the music.

Next, The Birmingham Blogs ~~ “Leave me with the music,” my final thoughts about WorkPlay and the Birmingham experience.

Photo by San, Taylor at WorkPlay, 9.25.09.

An extensive collection of all the media from WorkPlay is available on our message board, Connections.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~ The Birmingham blogs ~ City of Iron

The biggest star in Birmingham is not Taylor Hicks!

It is the iron man who stands high above the city with outstretched hand holding a spear.

“Vulcan, Birmingham, Alabama's colossal statue is the world's largest cast iron statue and considered one of the most memorable works of civic art in the United States. Designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti and cast from local iron in 1904, it has overlooked the urban landscape of Alabama's largest city since the 1930s.”

The Roman god of the forge is the revered symbol of Birmingham’s rich history as an industrial town. He was cast originally for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. After returning to Birmingham, there was uncertainty about what to do with the metallurgic giant.

When the hollow statue was filled with concrete and weather badly corroded the iron man and caused Vulcan to crack, he was repaired, partially recast, and relocated to the top of Red Mountain, a peak between Birmingham and Homewood. Given his own grassy knoll, he is the central attraction in a panorama of Birmingham history.

I am a history nut, so I love to explore the past everywhere I go. Vulcan looks over the beautiful “Magic City,” founded in 1871 and so-named because it grew so quickly. Located on rich mines of coal, iron ore, and limestone, Birmingham became a leading producer of iron and steel.

Birmingham was a city in turmoil during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The Civil Rights Institute, across the street from the 16th Avenue Baptist Church, houses a dramatic look at Birmingham’s tumultuous past.

“The opening of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in 1993 did more to heal the city from within and in the eyes of the nation than any other single event. With the opening of the Institute, the city was able at last to tell its own story, and by telling, soothe the wounds of the past.”

I find the real look and get the feel of a city on its streets. In a walking tour, I discovered a beautiful section of Richard Arrington Drive with trees, flowers, quaint eateries and mounted policeman. In two blocks, I passed two beautiful churches. There were many old buildings just waiting for a new life that seemed to be just around the corner.

There is no doubt that Birmingham is Taylor’s town. At the Birmingham Weekly, I briefly talked to the editor who told me that Taylor used to tug at his sleeve and say, “Come on, you gotta cover me.” And he would tell him, “Taylor, I always cover you!

He was covering Taylor again in that week’s edition with “From Idol to Angel,” where Taylor talked about his vision for “The Distance.”

“I wanted to go back to my roots and write a really organic, serious record and I feel like I accomplished that. I didn’t rally care about how much radio would love it –I wrote it because I wanted the songs to be great, and I wanted people to understand me as a songwriter.”

Hometown reporter for The Birmingham News, Mary Colurso, who has also “covered” Taylor since American Idol, made her Idol choice clear:

“Over time, it's become clear: Taylor Hicks is the most dynamic, interesting and consistently entertaining member of Birmingham's "American Idol" trio.”

Birmingham is in the musical heart of the South with Nashville and New Orleans influences. The legends who made it in those towns, foster the dream that, “If they can do it, I can too.” And three American Idols from The Magic City have followed that dream and captured that magic—Bo Bice, Ruben Studdard, and Taylor Hicks.

In part of Saturday night’s concert at WorkPlay, Taylor showcased the area’s rich gospel music culture when the UAB Gospel Choir joined him on stage for the encores, “New Found Freedom” and “My Sweet Lord.” Young people grow up singing in the many churches.

The city breathes to a musical beat. There are numerous clubs where unknown musicians can hone their art, like Ona’s just down the street from Five Points entertainment district and The Oasis, where Taylor says he learned the visual aspect of performing by walking on the bar. Another is WorkPlay, a place I would soon know well.

Birmingham felt like a town, not a city. It has that comfortable feeling of a place you could move to and be at home.

It is no wonder that Taylor always says, “It’s good to be home.”

Taylor Hicks was home at WorkPlay and the Soul Patrol was in for a treat.

“The Soul Patrol Woodstock”—next.
Photo by San: Taylor at WorkPlay, 9.25.09

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Distance Between Us Will Fade

Last Friday and Saturday night, I watched Taylor Hicks give two of the best performances I have seen him give in all the time I have followed him. These nights were made much more special because I had the privilege of joining forces with SOS, NFF and TOSP to bring Workplay to our members who couldn’t be there via a new type of cellcert. We pulled it off, albeit with a couple of false starts and some glitches along the way … we will do it better next time, but for less than a week of coordination, we did ok.

It isn’t the cellcert I am proud of, although I am really glad we didn’t flop! It is the admin/owners from the 4 boards, boards with different members, different philosophies and definitely different opinions, putting all that aside to bring fans together to celebrate Taylor. It is the members of the four boards who embraced the idea and supported it from the word go. It is the SPIRIT I saw in everyone who participated. There wasn’t concern over what board would get credit for anything, efforts were made to share media with everyone at the cellcert as it came in, and the members interacted with people from other boards as if they were old friends. It was all the right things a fan base can be.

I got a lot of feedback from people about how great they thought it was that the boards were working together and that it was TIME. I think it’s past time, and I hope we can keep that spirit alive going into 2010.

I want to thank everyone who participated in the cellcerts, the people who expressed encouragement and offered kind words, and especially the admin teams from the other boards, as well as my own. I am proud to have been a small part of such a dedicated and enthusiastic group. I think we were all reminded how much fun it is to share the magic that is Taylor Hicks…. And Taylor was right, the distance between us DID fade away.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~ The Birmingham Blogs ~ On any stage...

On any stage, Taylor Hicks will give his all.

The Birmingham stage would get it all and then some. And Birmingham loved Teen Angel and Frenchy!

While fans came from all over to see Taylor live at WorkPlay, they also joined locals to see Broadway Across America’s touring production of “Grease” at BJCC, a beautiful entertainment complex in Birmingham.

I expected everything to be special in Birmingham and “Grease” was no exception. I have seen it a “few” times in cities from New York to LA. I thought I had seen it all. I know now that “seen it all” never applies to anything that Taylor Hicks does.

When Taylor made his lofty entrance, the crowd went wild. They knew Taylor, and he knew them. He played the hometown crowd!

His gestures were exaggerated, eyes wider and more playful, and the smile bigger.

The couple next to me had come to see Taylor. They commented that he only had one song. They were happy when I said that he would do his own song, “Seven Mile Breakdown,” at the end.

The “Grease” showstopper is always the interaction between Taylor and Frenchy when she cuddles up to him and says in cooing voice, “I voted for you!”

In Birmingham, Frenchy’s line was literally a showstopper.

Frenchy went over the top with it, not cuddling up to him, but standing back and grandly announcing that, “I VOTED FOR YOU!” and then ran her finger down his chest.

As the crowd exploded, Taylor could only turn to the audience with a smile that had to be seen and acknowledge Frenchy’s performance with hands outstretched and fingers “asking for more” applause. And then Frenchy looked at her Teen Angel standing on his hometown stage and began applauding!

It was a priceless moment of performers connecting with the people who put them on the stage.

It was Taylor Hicks reveling in the love from Birmingham.

My first night in Birmingham had been smashing! I knew it would only get better.

I was about the meet the biggest star in Birmingham, and it wasn’t Taylor Hicks!

Next, The Birmingham Blogs~~The Iron City
Photo by san, Taylor and Billy Earl McClelland at WorkPlay, 9.25.09

Thursday, October 1, 2009

That Legendary Music Icon ... Ellen ???

If you are a seasoned old timer like me, you long ago realized that AI is less about a "singing competition" and more about making some 19 and Sony/BMG folks richer.

It's about the ratings, stupid !!

AI could not have said it clearer than when they recently announced the addition of Ellen Degeneres to the judging panel. I'm sure Ellen loves music, probably owns some CD's, and certainly has the power to promote anyone she chooses. What I'm not sure about is what exactly qualifies her to judge musical acumen. She doesn't sing, doesn't produce, doesn't write or do any of the things that would give her musical opinion any credibility.

What Ellen does do is bring star power. She comes on the tail of a long time, highly rated talk show with lots of viewers. And there is the rub ... drawing new viewers and saving the ratings that have begun to slide since Season 5. She has shown her ability (a la Clive Davis) to tell America they got it wrong.

Be sure to check out this great blog piece for a deeper look into what Ellen brings to AI:

Idolizing Ellen

By the way, if you don't know, Rewind of Season 5 is just starting to air. Watch Taylor's victory again, even sweeter now that you have followed him and know his story.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ New Found Freedom

Taylor Hicks spread his wings and flew…

It was a musical journey from a prophecy made when he was 18 years old in 1994 to the new found freedom of success and stardom in 2009.

It was Taylor Hicks live in concert at WorkPlay in Birmingham last Friday and Saturday nights!

On Friday night, after a funky dancing entry, he said hello to the hometown crowd with visitors from all over the country and as far away as England. Then Taylor admitted that he was speechless.

“I don’t know what to say. It’s always good to be home.”

Words were not coming easily. So he said he would just sing.

He took us back to the beginning when about half way through the concert, Taylor introduced renowned blues guitarist, Billy Earl McClelland, and the two “got down” –way down—with blues that you will never hear from a recording studio. It was music that could only happen live on stage charged with electrifying energy from a frenzied crowd.

The music pounded on your chest. It was musicians and people oblivious to all else but the music and the moment!

Taylor Hicks was in his element with the musician who perhaps started it all.

In a hat and with a broad smile, Mr. McClelland told the story that when Taylor was 18 years old, Mr. Hicks brought Taylor to him and asked him if Taylor was good enough to “make it.” Mr. McClelland said that he replied, “Well, I hate to tell you this, but, yes he is!” Taylor appeared speechless again.

At that young age, Taylor hired McClelland to teach him the ropes and he told Taylor to just “be yourself.”

Just “being yourself” got him to Birmingham last week starring as Teen Angel in the Broadway Across America production of “Grease” and to sold out concerts at WorkPlay, where he had performed as a struggling young musician.

It must have been an emotional two nights for Taylor as he surrounded himself with those who have been helped shape his path. Ona Watson, musician and popular owner of Ona’s, where Taylor has appeared throughout the years, shared the stage on Saturday night for a bluesy duet of “Woman’s Got To Have It.” Band members, Brian Less, and Jeff Lopez were part of the Taylor Hicks Band.

It was a 15-year journey from the prophetic words of Billy Earl McClelland to WorkPlay, 2009, on Saturday night when Taylor and the UAB Gospel Choir raised spirits and the roof with the gospel sounds of “New Found Freedom,” from Taylor’s latest album, The Distance.

“When I walk
I walk with confidence
I hold my head up high
When I talk
I’ve got a positive sense
Of who I am inside.

New found freedom
Let the light be my life
New found freedom
I’m gonna spread my wings and fly.”

A special commemorative black t-shirt marked the occasion in Birmingham with dates and “Grease’s” Teen Angel wings on the back.

The wings say it all. Taylor has spread his wings.

Billy Earl McClelland was right.

Taylor Hicks has “made it.”

And two nights at WorkPlay told us that Taylor Hicks can outdo Taylor Hicks.

I think we haven’t seen anything yet.

Media from WorkPlay is available on our board in a special forum, “Live From Birmingham.”

~More “Birmingham Blogs” will try to capture the magic of Taylor at home and all of the incredible Birmingham experience.

Photo credit: RajRae, via twitter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ Roads home...

Taylor Hicks goes home to Birmingham this week!

In 2007, as I prepared to fly to Birmingham for Taylor’s Solo Tour, I wrote about returning to the South:

“I’ve never been to Birmingham. When I step off a plane there on March 5, I will be coming home.

“Growing up in the South in the 40s and 50s was as idyllic as Opie in Mayberry. We lived in beautiful white farm houses, and my brothers and I played in the woods. We didn’t own the house or the farm; my father was a tenant farmer.

“The future then was in the cities and, like many Southerners, we moved away. I was eight years old when we left the South with everything we had in an old Chevy. My long journey began.

“Our family never lived in the South again. Roads took me to the gray, frigid winters of Michigan, sunny beaches and Hollywood hills of California, and the scorching deserts of the Southwest.

“I returned to the South only twice since leaving all those years ago, once for my father’s funeral in the white country church I attended every Sunday as a child, then again for my mother’s funeral in the same small church a few miles from the Ohio River.

“I have always known that I must see Taylor in the South. I know now that even though I left the South, the essence of the South is still in my heart. For me, Taylor personifies that unchanging character of a world I knew as a child--a quieter, slower time and place where hearts could dream, and a boy could dance and sing in his grandmother’s kitchen.

“It has been said, ‘Home is where the heart is.’ When I step off that plane in Birmingham, I will close the circle started when I was eight. I will be coming home.”

For me, going to Birmingham felt like reclaiming that connection with the South that I had never really lost. Growing up there was a magical time and place that will always be in my heart.

A lot has happened since I first flew in over Birmingham over two years ago with my face pressed to the window looking at football fields thinking I might see one that said “Hoover.”

Taylor has a new stage, a new album, a new genre, and many new fans. He still commands an audience. He still has fans flying across the country to see him.

I’m going back to Birmingham…

And I will probably, once again, press my face against the window and look for anything that says, “Hoover.”

Make the sweet tea and fried green tomatoes…

Thanks, Taylor, for bringing me back to my roots.

See you in Birmingham!

“Birmingham,” was first published in Taylor’s fan e’zine, The Soul Connection, February, 2007.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~ Birmingham week!

Taylor Hicks has been to Asia. He’s been to Broadway, to Canada and California, and to hundreds of places in between.

This week he goes home to Birmingham.

At age 15, Taylor stepped onto the stage to entertain at Corey’s Sports Bar, a biker’s joint in downtown Birmingham. There were only a few more than his age in the audience. Taylor’s first “gig” was almost 20 years ago!

The next ten years took him all over the South—the Chitlin’ Circuit—bars, roadhouses and clubs from Nashville to the Gulf Coast. He said in his autobiography, “Heart Full of Soul,” that he could always count on coming home to Birmingham for a few gigs—City Stages, WorkPlay, Marty’s, Open Door.

In May, 2006, Taylor came home as a finalist in the biggest show on the planet, American Idol. He received a huge welcome—a parade and a meeting with Governor Riley who declared a “Taylor Hicks Day.”

A few months later, he returned to Birmingham as Season Five American Idol. In the famous purple jacket with a rock star entrance and Elvis’ Jailhouse Rock, he entertained the hometown crowd on the American Idol Tour.

Taylor was home again in March, 2007, on his own beautiful tour bus with full road band and entourage in tow. He performed at the historic Alabama Theatre in downtown Birmingham as fans came from all over the country to see Taylor in his hometown.

This week Taylor is back in Birmingham on yet another stage and another rung on the American Dream ladder. He stars as Teen Angel in the Broadway Across America production of “Grease.” He also entertains in his own concerts at WorkPlay with music from his new album, The Distance, out on his own label, Modern Whomp Records.

It’s Birmingham Week again!

September 22 ~ 27 “Grease” at BJCC starring Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel. Opening Night Cast Party at Rogue’s Tavern benefits Black Warrior Riverkeepers.

September 25 ~ WorkPlay concert SOLD OUT with Buffalo Black opening. Taylor appears after “Grease”

September 26 ~ WorkPlay concert with Bonnie Bishop opening. Taylor appears after “Grease.” Tickets are going fast!

Join Taylor and fans for the Birmingham experience!

It’s all special in B’ham!

Ticket for WorkPlay Saturday night:

Photos by san ~ Alabama Theatre marqee and Taylor in Atlanta, March, 2007. (No pictures were allowed inside the Alabama Theatre.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ "Maybe You Should"

What’s not to like about “Maybe You Should.” It is the pure, rich voice of Taylor Hicks singing a powerful song from the heart.

The heart rending lyrics of “Maybe You Should” have the feel of resignation. When all the words have been spoken and silence is broken only by tears, there is nothing left. Painful words recall the way love once was. Yet, in spite of the resolve and promises, all that remains is to give in to the inevitable.

“If you can leave here tonight,
Baby, maybe you should.”

We hold on to love, fight for it, live for it. Sometimes, we finally give up on it. “Maybe You Should” is a last acquiescence, a death knell in “this room” now filled only with memories.

The acoustic simplicity of “Maybe You Should” leaves a blank canvass for the emotional lyrics and rich vocals. Taylor’s simple delivery is straightforward, a sigh of resignation, even as plaintive words make a last attempt to rekindle those “tender years.”

“Baby, I just keep on seeing all that moonlight shining down
The way our love could light up this little Alabama town.
I keep holding on to hope still finding reasons to believe...”

If there is a trace of underlying anger it is in realizing “there’s a lot that I misunderstood” –an anguished moment when neither words, nor music, can change life.

“If you can tear down everything we built,
Deny everything we felt,
I guess there’s a lot that I misunderstood.
If you can leave here tonight,
Baby, maybe you should."

An austere, but rich piano track moves hand in hand with expressive lyrics. Bass, guitar, drums, organ and pedal steel are so finely interwoven that they are almost indistinguishable. Their blending is such a smooth musical backdrop that the mood of “this room” is all we hear.

Vocals fade at the end like someone walking out of the room. A final “maybe you should” is a whisper in an empty room sung only for the singer. Like the door closing or the final curtain falling and the lights coming up, the last musical notes take us to another inevitable—life goes on.

“Maybe You Should” is a hauntingly beautiful, bittersweet song that finds a place in each of us where love did not last forever. It plays in that deep, hidden spot in our hearts that we cover and deny that the pain is still there. But in remembering lost love, we also remember the bright spots when love could “light up this little Alabama town.”

And so for that, we go on gambling, leaning on love, and, sometimes, walking away.

Stunning lyrics are the fire in this song. They contrive to place us in the past, the present and the probable future. Words and phrasing are creatively unpredictable—not the usual “ losing you” lyrics. They are matched by beautiful melodies that carry us through a story that comes together for the kind of musical experience that we will listen to for a lifetime.

Smokey Robinson told Taylor that the songs you record, you have to live with for a long time.

“Maybe You Should” is a song that Taylor Hicks can live with for a long time!

And so can I.

Maybe You Should,” written by Taylor Hicks/Gary Nicholson/Michael Reid is from the album, The Distance, by Taylor Hicks on Modern Whomp Records.

Photo courtesy of RagsQueen, The Magic Bag, 6.22.09

Maybe You Should” video capture by RagsQueen at Smith’s Olde Bar, Atlanta, 8.16.09

Listen to an MP3 sample of “Maybe You Should” from The Distance at TTHC Discography:

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Nineteen" ~~ We will always remember.

9/11 is one of those days that we all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the “whole world turned around.” That day changed so many lives forever; it changed the world forever.

The tragic losses for the families of the many victims of 9/11 are shared in the hearts and memories of people around the world.

We would like to share a new music video, “Nineteen” by KarinP and Allyn depicting the realization that, in Karin’s words, “our young people and their families are sacrificing so much while they protect us.”

“Nineteen,” recorded by Taylor Hicks, tells an emotional story that remembers the brave men and women—many of them young—who serve in our Armed Forces. Our “American heroes.”

The members of our military and the supporting NATO forces have served their countries with honor over the past eight years despite the hardships they and their families have faced.

Thanks to Karin and Allyn for creating this emotional video and to our friends in Canada for their brave act of kindness when Canadian airports became safe havens for our planes on that morning as the world struggled to know what was happening.

Karin is from Canada and Allyn is from the United States…

We give our deepest thanks to the courageous men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces and to their brave families who sacrifice more than we can know.

And our heartfelt thanks to the First Responders on that day, and every day, who risk everything to save and protect others.

For everyone whose world changed forever on 9/11…

We will always remember.