Saturday, June 27, 2009

Taylor Hicks~~leave me with the music...

It always comes down to the music. There is nothing more central to Taylor Hicks—it IS his heart and soul. There was just Taylor and the music last week at The Magic Bag in a rare acoustic performance.

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

There was no Eric Clapton band or dancing among the cords and equipment. There might have even been a partially dry shirt at the end of this show. Yet, from the reviews and comments of those who attended, it was “the best.” It stood the “unplugged” test…no frills, fancy production, or plugged in band instrumentation. The layers between the artist and the music were torn away and the audience was taken away by the pure voice of Taylor Hicks and his music.

The varied set list did not disappoint. It included music not seen on the concert stage before—“Maybe You Should” and “Indiscriminate Act of Kindness,” both with lyrics of intense emotion. “Nineteen” –the story of an American hero that Taylor dedicates to our troops—always gets a hushed reaction.

There were delightful surprises like the tag of “Sugaree” and James Taylor’s “Copperline.” Shades of American Idol Tour, there was “Don’t Let Me Down,” a big time favorite from the start of this journey. It is still near the top of my favorites list. And I understand from an SOS board member who was on the front row, that the most fun song to SEE was “Wedding Day Blues.” It only takes a little imagination to visualize this one!

Taylor and the music:
The Distance
I Live on a Battlefield
The Runaround
What's Right is Right
~Copperline-James Taylor
Don't Let Me Down-Beatles
The Deal
Wedding Day Blues
Once Upon a Lover
Gonna Move-Paul Pena
~Soul Serenade-King Curtis
~Sugaree-Grateful Dead
Indiscriminate Act of Kindness
Maybe You Should

My Sweet Lord-George Harrison
Seven Mile Breakdown
Feeling Alright-Joe Cocker

And Taylor Hicks always gives more. His striking vocals were complemented by outstanding hometown musicians Brian Less on keyboards, formerly of The Taylor Hicks Band, John Kulinich on guitar, from Rollin in the Hay, and Jason Parker on bass, from The Wayne Mills Band.

There is no doubt of the connection between Taylor and his music. It is evident to all who hear him. This blogger praises it in her review of “Indiscriminate Act of Kindness.”

“…Taylor Hicks owns this song by virtue of his articulation. The sparsity of instrumentation balances the singer’s remarkably tender yet deeply profound delivery.” (Kathleen Felleca, writeonnewjersey)

What started when he was five years old remains his passion, his life.

It all comes down to the music, and it played in a stunning reveal, front and center at the Magic Bag!

Shadow tour performances are coming to Atlanta and Birmingham.

Give yourself a gift, and go!

Photo courtesy of Wonder, 6.22.09 The Magic Bag, Ferndale, Michigan

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ "Seven Mile Breakdown" ~~ No. 1 video on Top 200 List...

A lot of people think that “Seven Mile Breakdown,” the video by Taylor Hicks, is worth watching—actually almost 120,000.
*UPDATE 6.27.09: a very impressive 163,788 and still No. 1!

The country rock romp that captures a new side of Taylor Hicks and brings a California hilltop to life has grabbed the Number One spot on MuVids Top 200 List of videos! is touted as the home of the “latest and hottest music videos online.”

Although “Seven Mile Breakdown” was added to the country genre on, it has reached the top place in the site’s Top 200 List. It beat out the pop favorites Pussy Cat Dolls, The Black Eyed Peas and Lady GaGa. And it is the only video from the country music genre in the Top Ten.

It is also the Number One music video on the site’s Country Music Top Ten List ranking above some very impressive country music stars.

“Seven Mile Breakdown” premiered on the MuVids website in May, 2009, when it was released as the second single by Taylor from his current album, The Distance, out on his own recording label, Modern Whomp Records.

The song is making its mark also. With impressive back up from members of Eric Clapton’s band, the delta- blues- gone- Nashville- rock tune, sits comfortably on the Country Music Chart at No. 30.

“Seven Mile Breakdown” takes country rock to the West Coast where the video was shot in Ojai, California, and created by Portland, Oregon, film maker, Spence Nicholson. Taylor arrives on scene in the classic of classic cars, a red and white Corvette and gives a free-spirited performance of “Seven Mile Breakdown” for a select group of music lovers. It’s a long way from the Mississippi delta where the song was written years ago by Taylor and fellow musician, Wynn Christian.

“Seven Mile Breakdown” is the second music video by Taylor Hicks. His first single release, “What’s Right is Right,” from The Distance was created for screen by New York videographer, Jake Davis.

This is a fun video with the charm of pretty girls, the outstanding vocals of Taylor Hicks, and a California dreaming location. How could it NOT be Number One!

It IS a must see. So, put the top down and get on out there.

Photo “Taylor Hicks” by Gabe Ulloa and Spence Nicholson Productions from “Seven Mile Breakdown.”

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Taylor Hicks~~on the acoustic stage...hold on to your heart!

It is another surprise from Taylor Hicks when we are no longer caught off guard by surprises.

Taylor Hicks
disconnects the cords, turns down the amps, and strips away the gloss when he performs an acoustic concert at the Magic Bag in Ferndale, Michigan, June 22nd. Joining him will be old band mate, Brian Less, on keyboards and current Music Director of the Shadow Tour concerts, Josh Smith on guitar. With Taylor on guitar and harmonica, that’s a formidable band on any stage.

Acoustic shows gained popularity in the 90s when MTV Unplugged featured artists performing their music without the high production values and amplified instruments. It was often not new music, but their hits presented in a bare bones rendition. Fans wanted to know if the music of singers like Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton would stand up without all of the electronic frills. For many of music’s legends, it did. Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album in 1992 sold 10 million and he won a grammy for “Tears in Heaven” from that album.

We’ve seen an unplugged Taylor Hicks before. The first I was privileged to enjoy was in 2007 in Birmingham where he came back for the encore and sang the heart-rending “Birmingham” and “My Home’s in Alabama.” Another stirring moment was in New Orleans that year when he sang “Louisiana.” At Millersville he sat on the stool and sang “Here Comes the Sun.” These are rare times for the Taylor motion machine that wears a soaked jacket after the third or fourth song. Yet, the man and his guitar on a dark stage with the sound of pure Taylor voice are no less captivating. You are taken away by music in its purest sense.

Ferndale has a memorable evening coming. Taylor has said that he may sing “Maybe You Should” –a moment for which many of us have waited. Could we also hear “Indiscriminate Act of Kindness,” or completely new music on the set list? Has Taylor been planning this all along? Saving these acoustic gems for a change up in the intimate club shows that he says he prefers. He has always said, “The best is yet to come.” And it just keeps coming…and changing!

Is The Magic Bag a “magic bag of tricks” for Taylor—a new vibe for a show that already packs the house and brings it down. On this night in Ferndale, you can expect that Taylor Hicks will have that house in the palm of his hand.

If you go to this one, take your heart in hand. You will need to hold on to it.

Thanks to RagsQueen for the photo from The Triple Door, Seattle. Used with permission. Please do not repost.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Taylor Hicks ~~ and the traveling show...

When “Grease” took to the road in December, 2008, there was apprehension about whether a traveling show would do well. Could people afford to go to the theatre? In the aftermath of so many shows closing on Broadway, including “Grease” in January, 2009, the future of live theatre seemed to be in limbo.

Not to fret. From its opening in Providence, Rhode Island, to its current stay in Appleton, Wisconsin, and many stops in between, “Grease” has shown that this is, in fact, a very good time for the touring theatre company. People are doing things close to home and taking “moviecations” and “statecations.” Movie attendance is up. For some, it is a return to the simpler pleasures of family get-togethers and movie nights…and going to the theatre.

I overheard a conversation at “Grease” in Tucson. A lovely lady was waiting at the stage door hoping to see Taylor and the cast. She said how happy she was to have “Grease” come to Tucson. She said most of the shows go to the larger cities like Phoenix and they have to travel to see them. She wanted to thank Taylor and the cast for coming. And as the cast came out and stopped to sign her program, she did just that.

In this age of amazing technology where the entire world can watch Susan Boyle perform live in England, hometown entertainment venues remain a stalwart juxtaposition. Technologically, we have made the distances fade away and are entertained, literally, from around the world. Yet, the theatre down the road is what touches our daily lives and lends some of the enduring character to our community. Theatre goers can wait at the stage door and meet and thank the performers for coming to their town. It is holding on to the conventional when we are being bombarded and saturated with all that is new and distant. It is something that keeps us grounded and reminds us of the treasure we have in our own backyard. I think it best that we hang on to it for a while longer!

And we seem to be doing just that. “Grease” performances this past week in Appleton were sold out. Taylor Hicks just played sold out shows in Seattle. Theatres along the West Coast were packed to see “Grease” and his Shadow Tour concerts. At the Saturday matinee in Tucson, there were entire dance troupes in the audience and many groups of young people. A young generation may have their iPods in tow, but they are showing up at the theatre. The local music halls, beautiful new entertainment venues, and stunning historic palaces are passing along a rich heritage of live theatre. It is one of our greatest American gifts to future generations. And it is not being lost in hard economic times.

If there is a silver lining in this difficult economy, it is our rediscovering what was right within our reach all along. Broadway Across America and other touring theatre companies are bringing good entertainment to our towns. And it may put a smile on a worried face, if only for a short time. For that, it deserves a resounding shout out.

Embrace a stay close summer and support professional touring companies and your local community theatre!

“Grease” starring Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel tours the country this summer and into next year bringing fun, smiles, and happy traditions to our towns. It’s a road trip that matters!

Happy summer! Happy theatre!

Go see “Grease”…

Photo: “Taylor Hicks” by Gabe Ulloa and Spence Nicholson Productions from Taylor Hicks video for “Seven Mile Breakdown” shot in Ojai, California.