Monday, December 26, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ Our 2011 Top Ten List...

10. Making the HuffPo and The New York Times
A wrung on the media ladder, positive press including feature in the Huffington Post after Telluride show in an excellent article written by Cicily Janus (@jazzwriterchick) “Taylor Made: How One Man’s Dream Defined the American Idol.”

And it didn’t stop at the HuffPo. The following day it was picked up by The New York Times and 75 other media outlets. There were also several articles in USA Today as Taylor Hicks in the press went national and global.

9. Not Your Father’s Bowl
Playing with renowned harp player, John Popper of Blues Traveler, and the Jamie McLean Band at the Brooklyn Bowl.

2011 offered numerous events in which Taylor shared the stage with renowned musicians including Vince Gill and KebMo in Nashville and Jam Cruise. “That American Idol dude kicked ass” was overheard at the Brooklyn Bowl in September for the Jamie McLean Band’s CD Release Party of “Sunday Morning.” Taylor, John Popper and their fired up harmonicas brought down the house with “Fortunate Son!”

8. Tweets and Connecting
Engaging fans with Riding Shotgun features including backstage scenes of life on the road and staying connected on Twitter.

Taylor took the fans along as he continued with Riding Shotgun episodes on YouTube including special presentations for Memorial Day and his welcome speech to the Blue Angels for Toys for Tots.

Taylor connects almost daily with followers on Twitter and recently sent special Holiday greetings. The twitter scene itself might warrant a higher placement because it has not only allowed Taylor to connect with followers, but through tweets and pictures from Taylor and fans at concerts and events in real time, it has allowed those not attending to be a part of the experience. This means a lot to many far away from the center of the action. Follow: @TaylorRHicks

7. Jammin!
Returning to his jam band roots on Jam Cruise, 2011 sharing the stage with legendary musicians like JoJo’s Mardi Gras Band, Galactic, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, The Robert Randolph Family Band, and Anders Osbourne.

Jam Cruise also started out a year of sharing the stage with legendary musicians and reaffirming that he could play with the best. He once good naturedly responded after someone complimented him on his harmonica playing, “What’d you expect?” We expected that he would receive the stunningly positive reviews from the jam band community that he did.

6. Rocky Mountain High
Headlining the Telluride Jazz Celebration and taking jazz scene by storm with a soulful Saturday night concert that played to a new audience in the Rockies.

It might be described as a “sleeper” in the high country. Taylor isn’t known as a jazz singer. He stayed true to his music and wowed the crowd. “Taylor Hicks is killin’ it.” One jazz writer later wrote for the Huffington Post that he was the real live definition of success in being just who he is.

Telluride became a happening for fans everywhere when concerts, including Taylor’s, were streamed live online. And Taylor arrived early for the weekend, attended other concerts, was interviewed and shared his experience via twitter. It truly was a summer celebration! In the course of only a few days after the event, the online stream of his concert had been viewed over 3,000 times!

5. Florabama!
Back home on the Gulf Coast in the beloved Florabama, Taylor rocking the old, leaky-roofed roadhouse with Spoonful James and Rollin’ in the Hay.

For sentimental value, this might be Number One. It is one of the early places where Taylor performed, where he might call his musical home, where he learned to work a crowd. He has referred to it often. Fans from all over joined the party and the storm didn’t stop the fun! It was that “one of a kind” concert last year—in the middle of a hurricane!

It was also a rockin’ way to wind down another “kick ass” tour in 2011 that kicked off in February on the Gulf Coast, traveled to the Big Apple and New England, to the West Coast, the Rocky Mountains, Michigan and Midwest, and stops inbetween! It’s the “heart and soul” of any Taylor Hicks year—touring!

4. “Friday” and Going Viral!
The viral sensation in a surprise visit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for a parody of Rebecca Black’s, “Friday” with Stephen Cobert, Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Hicks, and Roots Crew!

It was recently named one of the Best Covers of 2011 by Rolling Stone Magazine. It racked up over 1 million views in a matter of hours on YouTube before NBC nixed it. A version of it still rolls up the views worldwide. It is a new Friday classic and is expected to be that for a long time! The sheer scope, surprise, and impact globally of this might suggest a higher placement on our list, but we settled for Number Four.

3. Striking Ore
Ore Drink and Dine, co-owned by Taylor Hicks, opening in April and becoming a Birmingham hot spot for great cuisine and live music.

It was named Birmingham’s Best New Restaurant by the Birmingham Magazine in 2011. Its dishes have received rave reviews from patrons and Paula Deen endorsed its Crawfish Rolls! For the long term, we feel the opening and success of Ore is a significant event. It may be a way of putting down roots with a nod to the past and looking to the future. It meshes two great joys—good music and good food! It’s easy to picture Taylor slipping in the back door and walking around the kitchen peering over shoulders of sous chefs and wandering around his retro industrial chic restaurant saying hello to diners! Or picking up his guitar and sitting on stage for a few tunes…like a “coming home.”

2. BamaRising and Good Works
BamaRising for tornado relief in Alabama and the many charity events to which Taylor always gives his time and talent.

This is always a significant part of the year of Taylor Hicks. The huge BamaRising concert in Birmingham with renowned artists like the legendary group, Alabama, in a four hour show raised millions for storm victims. In other charity events, he supported Life Changing Lives again in Los Angeles, welcomed to Birmingham the Today Show’s Lend a Hand with Al Roker and Paula Deen. He finished the year with ongoing support for the Marines Toys for Tots welcoming the Blue Angels to Birmingham, performing a free acoustic concert at Ore that collected toys, and appearing at a toy marathon at Legacy BBQ to help Toys for Tots reach their goal for the children of Central Alabama.

Many artists make good music, and fans are enamored with the sound, the show, and the artist. Not all artists continually and wholeheartedly support good works and consistently support their home state like Taylor does. He never forgets where he is from.

This is the significant side of Taylor Hicks that makes this artist more than a performer and the music more than sounds. He has said that it is not about how many records you can sell but about how many lives you can touch. His music not only touches lives. His offstage good works touches lives and hearts.

1. All About the Music!
A new album in the works and on the way and working with the KebMo.

Working with the soulful musician and longtime mentor, KebMo, and moving to Nashville has opened doors and collaborations with songwriters that promise an exciting new album out early next year. The music is the first focus for everything we do, and it had to be Number One. Taylor has described the new album as “country soul.” He has tweeted much about working with Nashville songwriters and meetings with Nashville movers and shakers.

The music is Number One also because it takes us forward into 2012! Looking back only serves as inspiration in looking forward to gear up, prepare, and, yeeeees, wait!

2012 rings in with promise in the air and new music out there!!!

From Nashville and Taylorized!

Stay tuned…
We chose one iconic picture of Taylor Hicks in 2011 to represent the intensity with which he performs his music and the intensity with which he reaches out to help others. It had to be this stunning capture by Getty Images from BamaRising:

After our No. 10 event, the article by Cicily Janus, Kern Radio 1180 tweeted a summary: “An interesting read on…” and what I think says much about Taylor:

“…balancing art and humanity.”

Taylor Hicks does indeed balance art and humanity very well.
Our very best wishes for a happy and energized New Year filled with new music and new joys!

~~The Taylor Hicks Community

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~ A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree...

There are no real Christmas trees for sale this year in the small town where I work and shop. Not at the SuperWalmart or the Hardware/Home with GardenCenter store.

I debated with myself whether or not to have a Christmas tree. My granddaughter had already visited during a snow storm and the snow was all she needed to make her happy. I wondered if it would be okay to break a lifetime tradition and simplify Christmas for one year.

I told a group recently that I had had a Christmas tree every year—a real one.

After I had thought about that, I wasn’t sure it was true. I couldn’t remember them all. Growing up in the country, it was easy to go out and cut one, and I know that we did. But Western Kentucky has hard wood trees, not pine trees. So, I’m not sure what the trees looked like. My older brother wrote once about dragging home a scraggly tree through the mud for Christmas. Christmas isn’t always white in Kentucky either.

When we first moved to the city, our family of five lived in two rooms. I can’t remember trees, but I will never forget one gift my older brother bought me—a little upright piano that had real keys and sounded somewhat like a tingy piano. And there was the year he bought the very latest bubble lights for our tree. We celebrated in whatever modest way we could.

We were together, and we were loved.

By the time I was a teenager, we had a small house in the suburbs with a big picture window. Now, I know that after that we had a Christmas tree every year in the front window—a real one. When I had a family of my own, the tree was the center of our celebration. In Michigan, we could go out and cut down one or get a real one on any street corner. In fact, we lived in the middle of an abandoned tree farm—Christmas trees five stories tall!

I treasure my traditions. They are a comforting reminder that some things haven’t changed.

Change is inevitable. But in a changing world, some things shouldn’t. We need to hold on to those things—whatever they are—that say “This is mine, and I am home.”

I’m not very good at accepting change. But to change is to grow. As I sit here writing a Christmas blog, it is a change I could never have seen coming. Change isn’t bad. It’s just different and the way we move forward, grow, evolve and become better, even happier. We can still clutch and drag along that which we can’t let go of and treasure those things we always go back to.

Our traditions are ours forever.

When and why did stores stop selling real trees? With more snow in the forecast and work, I probably won’t have a tree for the first time in a very long time.

That’s okay. I’m not giving up a tradition. I’m remembering it fondly and holding on until next year when I WILL start planning for the holidays earlier!

I do have a tree—a Charlie Brown Christmas tree just outside my front window.

It is exactly that. In the forest with high wildfire danger in the summer, it is required to clear out small trees and underbrush near your home. I left one. When I saw it I said it looked exactly like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and it stays.

As I finish this, the snow is falling and, in the best Charlie Brown tradition, my little tree is looking better all the time!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa!

Treasure your traditions and the loved one with whom you share them!

Happy Holidays!

To you and your loved ones from

The Taylor Hicks Community

Monday, December 12, 2011

Take our Top Ten Taylor Hicks Twitpic Poll: Beauty on the Road

Taylor Hicks is a touring musician.

He also has become quite a photographer with stunning images from his travels and shows all over the country.

Here’s our Top Ten Random Twitpics from 2011. VOTE for your favorite!

Hurricane Lee’s making landfall the same weekend as Taylor’s Labor Day Weekend beach concert at the historic Florabama Roadhouse on the Gulf Coast brought these striking images:

NUMBER TWO: “Till the skies open up and the trumpet sounds.” 9/5/11

“Lee is angry…had a great time @flora_bama Great Show!” 9/5/11

The stoic stage setups have become a favorite fan photo as they wait for the gig! It always meant good times were coming. Taylor got into the spirit with his own stage setup photo and with his own clever title:

“Gig gear” Flamingo Room 9/16/11

Travel was a given, and Taylor shared some of those “moments in time” with his followers on Twitter:

“They say the neon lights are bright” 3/13/11

Sunsets were a popular capture, perhaps because it was a relaxing time for the busy artist who spends most of every year on the road and on the concert stage.

Simply tweeted with this stunner: “Yahtze” 7/9/11

From Telluride: “Gondola” 8/5/11

It was sheer beauty as Taylor shared these:

"Fire and Ice:" Vacation in the Rockies

TIED FOR NUMBER TWO: “One of my favorite seats on the planet #bien” 10/5/11

Finally, pure randomness shared beauty of a different kind:

Attention to the smallest and unusual: "Life goes on. (turtle nest)" 7/25/11

WINNER-NUMBER ONE! A quiet moment on Lake Mission Viejo: August, 2011

Thanks to Taylor Hicks for all the photos from @TaylorRHicks on Twitter. Follow @TaylorRHicks and join this artist’s picturesque journey!

We enjoyed looking back at the scenes from Twitter! Which is your favorite? VOTE at the right for one that you think is most outstanding.

Taylor’s Tweets and Twitpics are archived on our Connections Anthology here:

A huge thanks to cath_tthc who diligently keeps the archives of Taylor’s Tweets and Twitpics and ALL the archives on Connections Anthology. It is our own “super wikipedia” of Taylor Hicks!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Taylor Hicks and the November Chronicles...

Don’t think that November is down time for Taylor Hicks just because the bus may be parked.

November, 2005
Taylor Hicks
had his golden ticket to Hollywood and American Idol. Very few people knew that. He was on the verge of a new life that he had chased for ten years. Those of us who had never heard of Taylor Hicks had no idea this November how our lives would change forever… before the next November.

November, 2006
Taylor Hicks
had just finished headlining the most successful American Idol tour ever. He had won with the largest number of votes ever cast, more than in the previous Presidential election. In November, he was heading into the studio in California; he lived where he could smell the ocean in the morning through his open windows; he said then that it was the happiest time of his life. Remember and “Hollywood Nights?” This was a November to remember. He rocked “Christmas at Rockefeller Center” with what critics called a “show-stopping” “Runaround,” and a never-heard-like-this “White Christmas.” He was a presenter at the American Music Awards in Hollywood. The finishing touches were going on his first post-Idol album, “Taylor Hicks” to be released December 12, 2006. Taylor fans were finding each other; fan sites had launched or were in creation. For many of us, a new side of our life was taking shape.

November, 2007
November 1, 2007, at Pearl River Casino in Philadelphia, MS, Taylor was closing his first National Modern Whomp Solo Tour after a killer 10-month concert schedule that had taken him across the country performing 4-5 concerts a week.

I was there in Pearl River and followers after that prayed for one thing that November—that this never-slows-down young man would get some rest!

He didn’t. In a few weeks he kicked off his first international tour headlining the Asian Idol Finale in Djkarta, Indonesia, and continued a ten-day tour of The Philippines.

November, 2008
This November Taylor Hicks was preparing for a different kind of tour. He had just closed a very successful summer run on Broadway starring as Teen Angel in “Grease”!!! Like everything else that he did, he owned the role that he debuted in June and was credited by the New York News with significant weekly increase at the box office as fans from all over came to see Taylor Hicks on a new stage—the Broadway stage. So much did he impress the Broadway powers that he was getting ready to take it on the road and would open the National Tour of Broadway Across America’s “Grease” Providence, RI on December 2. He was also back in the studio working on his second album—this time an independent release, The Distance, on his own recording label, Modern Whomp Records. He would be an independent recording star and Broadway’s Teen Angel side by side!

A few days earlier in October, this blog was launched. I can still feel the excitement of having this place to share our thoughts and enthusiasm for Taylor Hicks and the new road on which we had embarked! Heading into our first November here, I was obsessed with it all, and that hasn’t changed very much!

November, 2009
The “Eat to the Beat” Concert Series at Epcot Center was host to Taylor and full band this November. Fans were ecstatic to enjoy six shows in two days and many flew in to enjoy Epcot and all the shows. Veterans’ Day was special when Taylor released a free download of “Nineteen” and invited fans to share personal stories of their veterans on his website at Taylor as Teen Angel was still flying across the country and Canada, while he took with him his new album, The Distance, that had dropped in March. Shadow tours brought his new music to the fans and “Grease” theatre goers could have it hand delivered and meet the “real” Taylor Hicks after each show. He was bringing his music directly to the people and building a fan base that a writer would later say would “serve him well.” It would also serve as a springboard for his aptly-named “kick ass” tour for the summer coming up.

November, 2010
This touring musician was still on the road wrapping up the summer’s “kick ass” tour that had crisscrossed the country and ended in Maplewood, MN Performing Arts Center. Then he gave his heart and talent, as he so often had done, to a charity performance—the “Dawn of a Dream” Gala for Children’s Cancer Research Foundation in Minneapolis, MN. Just when it all seemed to be winding down, he had a personal call from Clint Eastwood who asked him to sing the beautiful “Gran Torino” at the Museum of Tolerance Gala honoring Mr. Dirty Harry in Los Angeles. The only glimpse that we've seen of that appearance was captured in a future “Riding Shotgun with Taylor Hicks” which was launched this November. The Taylor Hicks TV Channel on YouTube takes followers along on the travels and escapades of Taylor and his band. “Riding Shotgun” episodes continue to be a very popular connection between Taylor and his fans. He concluded a busy November bringing the holiday cheer to tree-lighting ceremonies in Leeds, AL and Hollywood, CA.

November, 2011
Another November and Taylor Hicks is back in the studio, now in Nashville working on a new album of what he has called “country soul,” with his mentor, KebMo, who may influence the “soul” more than the “country.” It’s time to again wait and anticipate—new music, new touring, new travels.

There is something exciting about the “unknown.” What will the new music sound like? Country…soul…blues? What will be completely new; what will be perhaps familiar covers? What talented musicians will give it all the background that creates that incomparable sound that Taylor Hicks always creates?

Questions evoke anticipation. The answers will be even better.

And we’ll have those NEXT November!

If there is a theme for November, it is getting back to what Taylor Hicks is all about—the studio, recording music, and then touring it. November may be when followers “wait,” but Taylor is busy doing what he does.

In its first November, this blog was finding its legs. It has evolved; it has touched a few hearts and minds, I hope. It will be here for more Novembers, I can promise you. So, we too, are getting back to what we do—sharing the music and career of Taylor Hicks and remembering that excitement that we felt five years ago in November.

November is the breeding ground for next year—the next “what’s just around the bend…”

Stay tuned folks…! As Taylor might say...


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~ "Somehow"

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”
Taylor Hicks via Twitter.

by Taylor Rueben Hicks

There’s too many things
Left to be unsaid
Some live in a dark hole
Sometimes in my head

But I’m all right
I’ll get by

You want to feel their emotion
Sometimes even hold their hand
But they’re giving nothing in return
To suit their own demands

But I’m tired
And I’ll get by

Look at the people around you
Stabbing at your heart
But you still smile in kindness
For not knowing who they are

And their stories have ended
And they’ve lit up the town
And it’s time to go home
As they go and lay their bodies back down

There’s too many things
Left to be unsaid
So I live in a dark hole
Sometimes in my head

But I’m all right
I’ll get by

“I’ll get by…somehow.”

Classic country lyrics—cryin’ words. The first time I heard this I thought this is the country connection in Taylor’s music. This must have been written during Taylor’s Nashville stay…a Nashville sound.

When I look at Taylor’s music and try to “get inside” it, I don’t try to “get it right”—what he meant, what he was thinking, or what the situation was as he wrote it. That would seem like an intrusion. I look for what it means to me and how it may foster a dialogue.

I don’t think “Somehow” is a country song. I can hear Ray Charles singing this song, and I know he did country crossover. Taylor’s signature delivery is more soulful than country in spite of an easy rhythm and instruments that says country.

Beyond the deceivingly, simple lyrics of “I’ll Get by… somehow,” this is about that complicated place of hurt inside us all and about the resolve to survive and “get by.” The straightforward words are deceptive of their depth.

There’s too many things
Left to be unsaid
Some live in a dark hole
Sometimes in my head

There’s no country twang or room for it in Taylor’s performance of this. Because of the chorus lyrics, we want to give it a country vibe. But I hear a lament that is pure soul—Taylor Hicks channeling Ray Charles.

You want to feel their emotion
Sometimes even hold their hand
But they’re giving nothing in return
To suit their own demands

Taylor has sung this song in the rain. He sang it in New Orleans. I haven’t seen a stage version of it that I feel captures its essence. To me, it is a listen to stick in your ears—the recorded version from In Your Time or Early Works. It is an easy rhythm that takes you along on a pensive journey inside the mind.

Until a cryin’ saxophone breaks out with a wail that suggests getting by is not acceptable forever. Maybe there’s more. And with his signature growling passion, Taylor’s voice matches the emotion of the words:

Look at the people around you
Stabbing at your heart
But you will smile in kindness
For not knowing who they are

In the end, Taylor’s voice fades to almost a whisper. It is as if that moment of “living in a dark hole sometimes in my head” is over and he returns to a peaceful resolve:

But I’m all right
I’ll get by

I see “Somehow” on stage like “The Fall”—pure Taylor voice and minimum production with the beautiful lyrics of resolve and resiliency that come when we have no where to go but up. We know of the black hole sometimes in our head and we determine to go on in spite of all that we hold there.

This song leaves us with challenges. Our lives are full of too many things left that will remain unsaid and undone—what we should have said, what we never had a chance to say or what we couldn’t say—when there are no words.

Music not written, songs not sung, places not seen, lives not touched.

I heard a line recently that inspired me:

“I want to leave this life exhausted.”

Leave as little as possible unsaid and undone.

It also leaves us with the challenge of getting by, no matter how tired or how beaten down.

But I’m all right
I’ll get by

We can’t help but take this chorus out of context and make it an anthem for our times. Tough times have come to everyone even those with good jobs still making their mortgage payments. These times have forestalled retirements, cancelled or cut back on college plans, forced families to fight for just the basics.

Today is all about getting by.

It isn’t about waiting for a bailout. It’s not about what others can do for you. It’s about what you must do for yourself.

Most of us have experienced the failing economy; it is so far reaching now. I recently found out most of the value in my home from the last ten years is gone. And I am so lucky. I am not underwater, and I have a job. So many people have suffered far greater losses than equity in a home.

So we carpool, collect coupons, and carefully calculate consumer spending. We refinance, rethink priorities, and restructure resumes. We do what we must.

I return so often to a staunch belief that we are stronger than we know.

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

We are tougher than we think. It starts with believing in ourselves and never giving up.

A favorite passage of mine from Taylor’s autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, is just after he leaves Nashville after no success there and returns to Birmingham, not beaten, but as reenergized as he is every time he takes the stage. He writes:

“Anyone expecting Taylor Hicks to return to Birmingham from Nashville as a broken man with a cowboy hat in hand would have been sorely disappointed. I’ve never been one to remain flat on the canvas for long, so I returned with my head still held high, a little bloodied but unbowed, ready to get right down to work.”

Tough times will not keep us on the canvas for very long.

Yes, tough times are that. But the human spirit will always prevail. It always has.

So, I will see you on the other side of these tough times.


We WILL get by…


"Taylor Hicks - Somehow" 2007 Montage by rugratnat14 on YouTube:

"Somehow" by Taylor Hicks was originally recorded on his first album, In Your Time, and in 2008 on Early Works:

Blogger’s Note: This piece has been in the works for some time. I have always wanted to take a look at this song and its country connection…or not.

Yesterday, @TaylorRHicks tweeted the quote at the beginning and I was writing about this tough economy and “getting by.” We find ourselves in a “dark hole” sometimes especially now, and it may become a “deep hole.” It doesn’t help to dwell in that place. It does help to work at getting out of it, especially mentally and emotionally.

When I saw Taylor’s quote and a tweet shortly after that which said, “That reminds me of your song, ‘Somehow,’” its time had come.

~~~ Photo: From @TaylorRHicks via Twitter; Taylor Hicks, Lake Mission Viejo, CA, August, 2011; edited by San.

Quote: Heart Full of Soul, by Taylor Hicks for Random House, 2007.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cleve Eaton ~ The "Count's Bassist" entertains at ORE...

Like Taylor Hicks, Cleve Eaton is an artist who began his musical career early. He was playing his mother’s piano at the age of 5. By the time he was 15, he had taken up the saxophone, trumpet, tuba and string bass.

His talent was nurtured in an intensely musical family. He played in a jazz ensemble at Tennessee A&I State University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music. He moved to Chicago and landed tours with the major jazz bands of Larry Novak, Ramsey Lewis and a 17-year stint with the legendary Count Basie when he was dubbed the “Count’s Bassist.”

And like Taylor Hicks, he found the road to be a “devil in disguise” or “no bed of roses.”

“Music is a business like any other,” he says, “and being on the road is no bed of roses. We’d finish recording an album in the studio and get right back on the bus, heading out for another tour. I went for years without a vacation.

“One time, I played 10 different countries in 10 days. Catching those 5 a.m. flights, having to exchange your currency every time you turn around—those parts of being on the road, I don’t miss at all.”

His ten years with the Ramsey Lewis Trio brought 4 gold singles including “Hang on Sloopy,” and “Wade in the Water.” He has played on recordings on almost all genres with the greatest musical stars of our time: jazz with John Klemmer and Bunky Green, R&B with the Dells and Bobby Rush, Pop with Minnie Riperton, Jerry Butler and Rotary Connection, Big Band with Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, Billy Eckstein, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and many more.

In 1974, Mr. Eaton began touring with his own group, Cleve Eaton and Co. which became Cleve Eaton and the Alabama All-Stars in 2004.

In the late 1990s he spent a time teaching music at the University of Alabama as creator and conductor of the UAB Jazz Ensemble.

He is an Alabama native, born in Fairfield, a suburb of Birmingham. He has been honored
with induction into the Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham, the Playboy Jazz Poll, Canada's Cultural Enhancement Award and the Achievement Award at the Count Basie Tribute Concert. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2008, the same year that Taylor Hicks was given that organization’s America’s Music Award.

Cleve Eaton on the red carpet at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Awards Gala in 2008.

Cleve Eaton and the Jazz All-Stars entertain at Ore Drink and Dine in Birmingham for Sunday Brunch from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

When Ore Drink and Dine was The Open Door Café, Cleve Eaton often played a gig there. So did a young, relatively unknown musician, Taylor Hicks, whose friend owned the Open Door.

With a long history at the location, it is no wonder that American Idol Taylor Hicks came back to The Open Door, bought it with partners, and opened Ore.

And Mr. Eaton still entertains there.

Ore Drink and Dine was honored recently by Birmingham Magazine as Birmingham’s Best New Restaurant. Ore’s retro chic industrial décor and Southern eclectic menu celebrates the history of the Magic City. It has received rave reviews for fine cuisine and drink, relaxed atmosphere, and live music.

Check out one of Birmingham’s Best restaurants and one of its legendary musicians!

Follow ORE on Twitter @ORE4747!/ORE4747

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Our Second Annual Favorite Shirt Poll #justforfun

Flamboyant Telluride 42%
Classic White 38%
Texas Stripes 26%
Blue Lavendar Plaid 17%
"Taylor" T Shirt 15%
DARK Blue 7%
Summer Short Sleeves 7%
Designer Piping 6%

Thanks to all who participated in our Second Annual Favorite Taylor Shirt Poll!!!

Speak out for your favorite Taylor Hicks style in shirts! A new tour season of shirts included the classics as well as new style statements for Taylor!

Here's our choices from the ever-smart and chic wardrobe of Mr. Hicks--from cool casual to dapper dressy and inbetween.


The classic dressy white for formal occasions like the Life Changing Lives charity event~~you can't vote for the classy red collar on the puppy!

Understated detail on the DARK blue for media at Black Oaks ~~
Simple summer short sleeves

Designer piping on chic black or blue depending on stage lighting OR are there two?

Flamboyant and colorful "Telluride" ~ a slight departure but very popular killer in the West!

Striking stripes for a big fashion statement in Texas

Backstage designs for meeting the Idol's idol

A blue/lavendar plaid under the meet-the-media jacket
Sometimes a self-titled t-shirt is enough

That's it! Vote in our unofficial, unscientific, justforfun poll at the right.

Thanks to all who captured the fashion parade of shirts (from top to bottom):

Albert Evangelista Photography, KZSQ_FM2, NolaMar Images, Kirk Stauffer Photography, NJGirl4tay, NolaMar Images, Mike Douglas via Twitter, Mike Douglas via Twitter, NolaMar Images.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Taylor Hicks "...Redefined the American Idol" -Huffington Post

When you follow an artist, know all his music by heart, contrive every way possible to see him perform every chance you can, are most alive sitting in the front row…

You want everyone to know what you know. They rarely do.

Sometimes you are, (borrowing the writer’s words) “impressed, surprised, and kicked off ‘your fan’ throne” that says no one “gets it.”

So, we raved Friday as some one got it—a music critic!

Cicily Janus, who met Taylor briefly and saw him perform at the Telluride Jazz Celebration in August, wrote in her Friday Huffington Post article, “Taylor Made: How One Man’s Dream Redefined the American Idol:”

“Recently I came across a living, breathing, bonafide definition of success. As a matter of fact he has tailored his success to fit the real version of himself. A rare treat indeed. And boy was I impressed, surprised and kicked off of the music critics "purist" throne.”

“…what I saw on stage and later during a jam at the Sheridan Opera House was NOT the Idol version of Hicks. Instead, the real Taylor Hicks made an unannounced appearance. My jaw dropped when I realized that this was the same shy, syrupy sweet man during the American Idol audition. After seeing him in Telluride, it was quite clear that his dream has not suffered and this life, his life, is working out well. More importantly, he isn't selling out to anyone.”

And staying true to himself.

“To watch him perform is to live. There's passion, excitement and a clear message to anyone who's ever wanted to be bigger than their beginning, that all things are possible if only you stay true to yourself. Don't play. Be honest with yourself and everyone else too...”

This “ Random House Author, Jazz Fanatic, House chef, Cultivator of Dreams,” as she describes herself, isn’t just living life, she is exploring it. She took the time to look inside the music she was experiencing and found a nice surprise.

Life done right…being true to oneself.

Author and musician Gene Santoro wrote about Tom Waits, the staunchly unconventional songwriter and musician:

“It’s hard not to be yourself when you are as much who you are as Waits is.”

Taylor Hicks
defends being who you are:

“…I don’t think you should ever run away from who you are. Rather, I think you should run toward whomever you want to be. It’s like they say—wherever you go, there you are.”

“If you stay the same person, it doesn’t matter where you go.”

It’s hard not to be yourself when you are as much who you are as Taylor Hicks is!
Bravo to all who stay true to themselves and their dream!

Bravo to writers who take the time to really know of whom they write!!!
You have to believe that is writer is someone who is staying true to herself!

Bravo to those who follow the man and the music and know that fame is not the pursuit.
The pursuit is the success that allows the real Taylor Hicks to keep showing up!

If you know all the words to Taylor Hicks’ music, or if you know nothing of Taylor Hicks—this is a must read.

If you want to know more about looking at life, it is a must read.

From Cicily Janus on the Huffington Post website:

Follow Cicily Janus on Twitter at

UPDATE: On Saturday morning The New York Times picked up the article on their Times Topics page!

It was tweeted by Kern Radio 1180 as “An interesting read on balancing art and humanity.”

We think the viral journey of this piece is only beginning!
~~ Our thanks to Ms. Janus who cared enough to get the real story!

The Taylor Hicks Community

Other Sources: Highway 61 by Gene Santoro; Heart Full of Soul autobiography by Taylor Hicks with David Wild for Random House.

Photo by Getty Images from Taylor Hicks performs at “BamaRising” for Tornado Recovery.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We will always remember...

We will always remember the victims of this dark day ten years ago. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.

How important it is that we recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes."
-Maya Angelou

We celebrate the heroes among us of that day and of every day.

Our sincerest thanks to our brave military men and women who serve our country.

"Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes."
-Bertolt Brecht

We are a land blessed with many heroes!
God bless all the heroes among us.

God bless America!

The Taylor Hicks Community

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Taylor Hicks and friends at the Flora-Bama ~ In a word, eclectic!

As the name suggests, the Flora-Bama sits on the Florida-Alabama state line on the Gulf of Mexico. It warrants a lot of descriptions from “It’s a dive bar like Jordan was a basketball player” to “America’s Last Great Roadhouse!” Much of it was destroyed in Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It was rebuilt, but did not lose its unique character.
Taylor Hicks, Rollin’ in the Hay, and Spoonful James play the Gulf Coast landmark today with beach party concerts, a football viewing extravaganza, and perhaps, with a tropical storm in the area, a wet and wild last shout out to summer! As Taylor added to a tweet about Flora-Bama this week: #justlikeoldtimes!

Shortly after winning American Idol in 2006, People Magazine talked with someone who “knew Taylor when” and knew Flora-Bama.

“Back when he was singing on the bar circuit in 2003, ‘he would get the crowd going,’ says Donna Slater, entertainment director of Flora-Bama Lounge, a popular watering hole on the Florida-Alabama border. ‘At first he was a curiosity, with all his dancing and twitching around on stage, but then everyone realized this guy could really sing.’”
Donna Slater had been hiring bands and musicians for the Flora-Bama Lounge since 1993. She started hiring Taylor and his college band in the late 1990s.

In a later interview, she talked about getting to know Taylor and his band.
“They were a college band with a lot of energy and talent, so I hired them during spring break of 1999? Late ‘90s.

“I kept hiring him through several band incarnations…this continued up until Hurricane Ivan hit in September, 2004. Taylor played the Mullet Toss in 2004. You have to remember that I met him when he was 19 or so. I believe that he always had that pull to perform and to play music whenever and wherever.”

There’s probably one song that will be on the set list tonight: Taylor’s own song, “Soul Thing.” It talks about this time when “the road can be your friend or the devil in disguise.” And it is Donna’s favorite. “It is that true R&B sound that he does so well.”

If you are in the Southeast today, the place to be is the Flora-Bama! Spoonful James with Wynn Christian, Quinn Borland, Eric Baath, and Patrick Lunceford plays at 2:00 p.m.

Rollin’ in the Hay with John Kulinich, Stan Foster, and Rick Carter takes the stage at 4:00 p.m.

At 6 p.m. Taylor Hicks returns to a stage he knows well. Difference is, there will be a few more people in the audience today as loyal fans fly in, drive in, and listen in as a Flora-Bama favorite son “brings it on home.”

There have been many different stages and shows since Donna Slater hired Taylor Hicks and his band in their college days. There is one constant for this great American roadhouse and these talented artists.

Music is their heart and soul.


And a shout out to those who were there in the beginning!
Yes, America voted. But those who were in those first audiences at Flora-Bama…they, too, make tonight possible.

Rock the Bama, Boys!

The party started early as Taylor tweeted this from inside the Flora-Bama Dome Friday night. With inclement weather in the area, the beach party moves inside.
On the beach for Alabama Department of Tourism photoshoot.

Quotes by Donna Slater from:
"Soul Survivor" by Mike Lipton, People Magazine

TTHC/TMO_Media Interview

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Taylor Hicks and Elliot Yamin jammin' in Agoura Hills...

The Taylor Hicks soundcheck about 5:30 p.m. on a beautiful California evening at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills gave no hint of the surprises to come. We sat outside listening to a familiar voice through the Club’s open door.

The waiting never gets old.

After dinner, we waited until someone in a baseball cap slipped onto the dimly lit stage carrying equipment and guitar. It was Josh Smith who played guitar in the Taylor Hicks tour band in 2007! He was joining the band tonight! And he was in that old 2007 groove from the start on “Rockin’ Pneumonia” and “The Boogy Woogy Flu” tagging “Hey Pokey Way.”

The Deal” went down next and then the always beautiful “Maybe You Should.” Next, was my personal “dark horse.” On first listen, I didn’t think I would ever warm up to it, but “I Live on a Battlefield” is hard to beat for shear excitement, energy, and momentum. It makes your heart beat!! I am hooked on it now!

What’s Right is Right” took off in many directions with tags coming along faster than Nascars on a straightaway—“Mystic Church,” “Waitin’ for the Ya Ya,” “Moonshine Whiskey,” “99 Red Luft Balloons.”

Like the mostly blue stage lighting, the music turned bluesy when the harp came out on “Back to Louisiana.”

Taylor Hicks and his harp--all you have to say!

Gonna Move” always has the easy, “moving” feel to it. Taylor mixes up the phrasing and timing a little bit, and it’s new again. It’s like hearing an old friend with a twist of lime.

I believe it was somewhere along here that Taylor quickly left the stage and came back in a short sleeved dry shirt. It was warm in the room!

Hold On To Your Love” took us back to 2007 again when Taylor introduced his drummer from his National Solo Tour that year, Felix Pollard. Felix sat in on drums for the rest of the show and proved why there are drum solos.

Concerts may have encores. This show had a finale and another surprise guest. With a grin on his face, Taylor introduced his “bro” from American Idol Season Five, the “one and only” Elliot Yamin…sing like “yamin it!” Their duet on “Use Me,” with Josh Smith on guitar, Felix Pollard on drums, Brian Less on keyboards, Jeff Lopez on sax, and David Keith who had temporarily given up his drums, was a band of musicians who don’t just love their music…they are passionate about it.

That was this band this night in Agoura Hills—musicians who do it because they have to. It’s who they are, and they were having fun.

It was a pleasure being part of their fun!

“Music that controls musicians is what I live for” was on twitter recently. It seemed like some of these people were on stage in Agoura Hills this week.

Taylor Hicks and Elliot Yamin ~ "Use Me"

Notes and Credits:

Quote from Connie Leinicke was in response to Taylor’s link to his early “Rehearsal’s Hollywood Nights” video to which she responded in part: “Music that controls musicians is what I live for.”

Photos and Video by San: Taylor Hicks and Elliot Yamin, “Use Me.”

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Taylor Hicks Running into the Sun...

In March, the spring tour was ready to kick off, and Taylor Hicks tweeted:

@TaylorRHicks “Finally....................the BUS.”

Music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, had just blogged about Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” and taking chances. He wrote that we who didn’t take chances …went to college and settled.

That’s what I did—went to college and settled. I didn’t take chances.

I was a soccer mom.

“So we don't take those risks, the artists take them for us.”

And we are enthralled when we meet them as if there is still a little corner of us that is drawn irresistibly to the uncertain.

Sometimes we are reminded of the unsettled part. Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” struck a deep chord when Taylor suddenly tagged it at Epcot Center last October.

Jackson Browne was a risk taker before Taylor Hicks was born. He lived much of his life on the tour bus…with its thrills and pitfalls.

Do we need risk takers in our lives?

“Running on running on, running into the sun.”

Why do we follow Taylor Hicks?

Is it the music or is he taking the risks for us?

He dropped out of college. He hit the road in an old van. He paid his dues. Now, he steps onto a beautiful tour bus each summer.

“The BUS” is the signal that a touring musician is on the road. It’s his home, his success, his business of risk taking.

I don’t mean those of us who settled are unhappy. I mean, for whatever reasons, we just avoided risks and even dreams and they are buried until sometime, something reminds us of the untraveled roads. As a senior in college I thought I’d be going on tour with the college choir. But it didn’t happen. It was an involvement in music I think I still miss.

I was in college musicals, even the solo cameo in a small stage version of “New York, New York.” Yet, it was never my dream to be an artist. I was too practical. How could anyone make a living in the arts? I married someone who aspired to being an artist. But his mindset was the same. How could he support a family and be an artist? He never touched a canvas again.

Perhaps our need for risk takers might explain our connection to our artists—one deeper than the music and the show.

And why we flock to the risk takers.

I work and shop in a small town on I-40 where I see the highway stretch for miles in two directions…not as beautiful as California’s 101 where Jackson Browne “ran into the sun.” But I still see a way to somewhere …to a part of me where I can’t go. I’ve stared at it and thought, “I could just take off and go.” But I don’t.

“You can buy insurance. Go to graduate school. Start a profession. Or you can walk the tightrope without a net, which is scary, knowing there's no protection, nothing to save you, but it's much more thrilling.”And that's what life is supposed to be. A thrill.”

Perhaps that’s why I felt a little bit of a thrill when I read Taylor’s tweet:

“Finally…………the BUS.”

I’m taking off to California this week to see Taylor Hicks at The Canyon Club…

in Agoura Hills.

I was that soccer mom years ago… in California. I drove my son to soccer games down the road just a bit…

in Agoura Hills.

I still don’t take risks, but I know someone who does.

Who is your risk taker?

Taylor Hicks running into the sun on Telluride Gondola.


Notes: Agoura Hills is located on the Ventura Freeway. This is also “the 101” of Jackson’s Browne’s “Running on Empty.”

Interestingly, in my mail this week was a letter from my alma mater inviting me to be a part of an Alumni Choir. No…that’s under the bridge.

Taylor Hicks is in California this week. Check out his schedule to the right with a NEW Labor Day weekend gig at the historic Flora-Bama Lounge on the beach at the Alabama/Florida line!

Quotes: Bob Lefsetz “Running on Empty”

Photos: "Road101" Flickr; "Gondola" by Taylor Hicks via Twitter.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taylor Hicks working with KebMo on new album...

Taylor Hicks confirmed tonight during a Live Chat on Ustream that he is collaborating with KebMo on his new album expected out early next year.

Taylor said that Keb has been a long time mentor even before American Idol and gave him advice on some of his song choices on that show. In an interview earlier this week, Keb listed Taylor Hicks as one of the musicians with whom he was working on projects. Taylor is already involved in the song writing process and gathering songs to record. He will take the time needed and not let a sense of emergency interfere with a CD of “great” songs.

In the live feed that encountered some technical difficulties and lasted in excess of an hour, a relaxed Taylor also talked of future plans to live in Nashville and that he was looking at property there. He said the city has so much to offer, not just in the way of country music, but all kinds of music and culture. He is looking forward to a “normal” life there.

He is still taking acting lessons from Carl Ford and found that doing audition tapes was a new experience. He has only done one audition in his life—his audition for American Idol.

Questions flew by in the Ustream chat window. He said he was definitely ready for some football; Ore Drink and Dine, his new restaurant in Birmingham, is doing great; they are featuring the live music of the great Birmingham musician, Cleve Eaton at Sunday brunch. He was asked about Amy Winehouse and he said he thought that someone should have been with her. At one time, Taylor said she was an artist with whom he would like to do a duet.

There will be more concert dates coming up. He is especially looking forward to playing the Telluride Jazz Celebration since he never has. It comes up August 6, 2011.

If you missed the live chat, watch for the recording on or Ustream. Previous chats have been posted there.


Photos from Taylor's Facebook: KebMo and Taylor Hicks at The Ryman in Nashville for Vince Gill's Jammin' to Beat the Blues Benefit, 4/7/2011.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ Tales of the Harmonica

Taylor Hicks and his harmonica are not soon parted.

It was a simple beginning, but it was life changing.

And it was a significant leap from being a “major music fan to becoming an actual player…”

In his autobiography, "Heart Full of Soul," Taylor Hicks recalls his first encounter with a lowly harmonica in a flea market when he was just sixteen.

“I was hanging out with some friends at the flea market in Bessemer, Alabama, on a lazy Sunday afternoon when a beat-up old Marine Band harmonica suddenly caught my eye. That crusty old harp didn’t just look used; it looked downright abused. Still, the price was definitely right, so after considerable debate, I dug into my pockets and made the single best $2 investment of my life.”
It was love at first sight.

“I fell totally and passionately in love with that harmonica. …that instrument and I became inseparable. The thing went to school with me. It went to bed with me. I even went to the bathroom with me. It kept me company and gave me a new identity. I was ‘the kid with the harmonica.’

“As I’d done with so much else in my life, I taught myself to play the instrument without any formal instruction. I …began trying to play along with all my favorites. …not just to soul and blues tunes but also to the rock tracks I loved by performers such as Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, and Supertramp. …for me, the ultimate test was playing along to ‘Take the Long Way Home’ by Supertramp.”

No wonder that “Take the Long Way Home” is a super concert favorite today.

Although instruments were not part of the American Idol competition, the harmonica went along. The most memorable audition image is Taylor entering the judges’ room blowing on his harmonica and plopping himself down on the chair in front of them to hear their decision.

After making history on the American Idol stage, Taylor was able to take his harmonica on the American Idol Tour and was often on his knees playing his harp.

Now, there’s a passel of harmonicas in different keys, neatly arranged and labeled in cases on stage.

One still goes everywhere!

The golf course...
The high seas for Jam Cruise, 2011. Media appearances... Stunning images show the intensity with which Taylor is one with the harmonica, here at the Rocky Mountain Power Jam in 2010.

He took it to Broadway and gave Teen Angel a new kind of heavenly harp.

There is only one that we can find who wasn’t impressed with Taylor and his harmonica. It was a bad day in Dallas when Taylor shared the stage with Burt, the basset hound, who wanted no part of a harmonica playing American Idol. Taylor throws them into the audience sometimes as he did during “Seven Mile Breakdown” on American Idol in 2009. During the 2007 tour, fans could buy the ones he used after the concerts. He gives them away, often to young fans at concerts.

Taylor Hicks is more now than “the kid with the harmonica.” He has added much to his identity, his musical catalog, and his self-taught talent.

Yet, the harmonica still symbolizes the intensity with which he performs, the talent he has developed, and his love and passion for his music.

It is his smooth stone—a touch stone that seems to ground him.

It was, indeed, a good $2 investment.

How many harmonicas has Taylor Hicks held since that first one in Bessemer, Alabama?

It bends the mind to ponder!

But we and the music world are richer from that beat up, abused harmonica that couldn’t have known its significance on that Sunday afternoon in Bessemer.

Sources: Quote: Heart Full of Soul, Taylor Hicks, Random House, July, 2007.

Photos: BamaRising; American Idol -screencaps; golf course-Birmingham News; Jam Cruise-Tom Zinn; media-Jacksonville Morning Mess screencap; Rocky Mountain Power Jam-screencap; Grease-promo photo; Burt-Good Day Dallas screencap; Taylor at Magic Bag-Peece (pc325).

The story of Burt, the basset hound, "Taylor Hicks Meets the Toughest Crowd in Texas" is here:

"Take the Long Way Home" from Millersville, 2007, by Skeeter: