Monday, June 27, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ The Rear View Mirror

Not my first Jam Cruise.
Taylor Hicks had been on Jam Cruise before as a fan. This past January, he joined Jam Cruise 9 as a performer and sat in with jam bands and bands that jam like Galactic, Robert Randolph, and Mardi Gras. He hosted a floating Gong Show. This was a side of Taylor’s music that some had not seen.

An iconic capture from Jam Cruise by Brad Hodge Photos.

I think I made that dance up.
Making up dances, selling out the house, “soireeing” through the South—Taylor played the Vinyl Theatre in Florida, packed in the beautiful Beau Rivage on the Gulf Coast in Biloxi, Mississippi, and spun the gold at Tunica Gold Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. You can check out this link for "Riding Shotgun with Taylor Hicks" on YouTube for the "dance" he made up.

Intense Taylor and Guitar by NolaMar Images at Vinyl Music Hall.

Unique capture by NolaMar of Taylor Hicks and Donna Hall at Beau Rivage.

"The Fall" from Beau Rivage by NolaMar.

New found “Friday.”
Playing harmonica on his knees prepared Taylor well for his debut on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night show power sliding into the smash hit parody of Roberta Black’s “Friday” by Steven Cobert, Jimmy Fallen, and the Roots Crew on April 1. This “Friday” instantly went viral, and Friday will never be the same.

Jimmy Fallon, Steven Cobert and Taylor Hicks gettin' down on "Friday."

Professional image from Kirk Stauffer at Snoqualmie, OR.

Rough God Goes Riding.
It didn’t seem like just a new song on the set list. It was bittersweet. While Taylor played three SOLD OUT shows on the West Coast, his home state of Alabama was hammered with killer tornadoes in April—sometimes called the cruelest month.

It was that in 2011.

Taylor rushed home to lend support and a voice to his community. As he had done during the Gulf Coast oil spill, he spoke to media and appealed for help for the victims of the storms.

“Rough God Goes Riding,” which speaks of unfortunate times, quickly became a set list favorite.

Frame by San from video by Gypsee at Musica.

If it’s May, I’m in the twair.
May was a whirlwind of stages and cities from New England to the West Coast—eleven concerts or appearances in four weeks. Four were SOLD OUT. He also got his own wine label--Taylor Hicks’ Cabernet Sauvignon was corked exclusively for his concert at The Winery in New York City with proceeds benefitting the American Red Cross Tornado Recovery efforts.

The Winery's Taylor and Guitar by Mandy~RagsQueen.

“Maybe You Should” video by Gypsee at Musica yielded this Frame.

Stunning "portrait" from Jonathan's by Mandy~RagsQueen.

Music making a difference.
Spring turned into summer with musicians making a difference. Taylor and fellow American Idol, Ruben Studdard spent Sunday in the park with a free concert for the food banks in their hometown. The music community, including Taylor and an A List of music superstars like the legendary group, Alabama, came together for storm recovery in the huge benefit concert, BamaRising in Birmingham June 14. The same week, Taylor welcomed The Today Show to Birmingham with Al Roker, Paula Deen and Today’s Lend A Hand for The Community Kitchens, a longtime charity helping to feed the hungry.

This week said that there’s more to music than notes and more to celebrities than a spotlight.

BamaRising, from, courtesy Getty Images.

Who's charming who?

Paula Deen and Taylor at Today Show's Lend A Hand in Birmingham.

The backup’s good too.
The boys in the band were with Taylor all the way. Van Morrison was asked in 1981 if he would ever write and record and not tour. He said touring depended a lot on the band you have. As in 2007 and 2010, in Spring, 2011, Taylor had a “kick ass” band—Brian Less, Jeff Lopez, Sam Gunderson, Brandon Peeples, Leif Bonderinko, and David Keith.

They made it all rock and roll!

Colorful capture of Taylor and the Band at Greenburg by Anothertayfan.

Touring and summer—inseparable like Taylor Hicks and his harmonica.

BamaRising, courtesy of Getty Images via MJSBigBlog

Plan your summer getaway, staycation, or “Hell yes, I’m going to another Taylor Hicks concert” trip!

Check the schedule at the right for NEW California concert!

Happy summer!

Van Morrison interview source:

Thanks to all for the photos we share here.

Some photos were edited. Frames were cut and edited by San.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~~ Making a Difference

“With our voices, we can really make a difference.”

Taylor Hicks returns to Linn Park in Birmingham, Alabama today with fellow hometown American Idol, Ruben Studdard, for a free concert supporting the food drive for storm victims.

In a way, it started in Linn Park.

In 2006, Taylor Hicks was headlining the most successful American Idol tour ever or since. The stop in Taylor’s hometown of Birmingham, was more than a victorious rock star’s homecoming. Among all the hoopla of instant superstardom, there was a rather quiet gathering in Linn Park to meet Taylor. A group of fans had collected a significant donation for Studio by the Tracks, a charity in Irondale, Alabama that Taylor had supported since a teenager and still does today with events at his new restaurant, Ore.

He said, in part, to the gathering there on that beautiful August afternoon:

“Never in my wildest dreams would I realize, as a musician, what an impact that not only I can make, but what we can make as a whole.

For you guys, and all of us, to be able to give back in any small way…that’s what makes a difference.

...It’s amazing the impact that we have, not just my voice but everyone’s voice. I want to thank everybody that’s been able to put that out there.

With our voices we can really make a difference.”

He closed with what would be a promise for many of his future efforts:

“…I think this is just the start of something bigger...

This is just one of the first of many causes that I think that we can make an impact on.”

From that day in Linn Park, Taylor and his followers have supported too many good causes to highlight here—from children’s cancer research, the American Red Cross and Birmingham charities, Studio By The Tracks and Kid One, to Gulf Coast Relief. Today, back in Linn Park, and Tuesday night at BamaRising at BJCC, he appears for tornado recovery.

But then, it really started long before Linn Park. Before most of us had heard the raspy, soulful voice of Taylor Hicks, he gave a small donation to Kid One and told them that someday he hoped it would be more.

He has made good on that. And more.

With Taylor’s inspiration and leadership, it is amazing what has been accomplished together.

Isn’t that the way it is...


For this American Idol who believes in giving back and making a difference, it is still just the start…

Support today’s free concert in Linn Park with donations of canned food.
More Information:
American Idols Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard Team Up for Outdoor Benefit Concert

If you can’t attend BamaRising Tuesday evening, you can make a donation here:

Taylor in Linn Park, August 8, 2006:

Top photo by: Maria3731

Monday, June 6, 2011

Taylor Hicks ~ "Rough God Goes Riding"

Why does a song play over and over in your head?

During a recent tour through New England, Taylor Hicks covered Van Morrison’s “Rough God Goes Riding,” by some accounts a metaphor for the wrong side of luck and fortune or the avenging angel of death.

It connects.

It is this year’s “Border Song,” a Taylor cover of Elton John in 2009, and “Bulletproof,” the very popular cover of LaRoux in 2010.

Perhaps it was the timing—just hours after devastating tornadoes had hit his home state of Alabama. Taylor had spoken earlier that day about his efforts to help tornado victims in Alabama. “Rough God Goes Riding” comes from Morrison’s album, The Healing Game.

Taylor’s debut of the Van Morrison song at The Broadway Theatre in Pitman, New Jersey on May 12, was a new and intense setlist keeper. With Brandon Peeples playing the classic upright bass and joining the vocals, the strong, pounding chorus drove home a connection that continues to play.

When the rough god goes riding
When the rough god goes gliding

Riding on in
Riding on in
Riding on in

Although it’s driven by somber lyrics, the song never loses its musicality. You can listen to it over and over. It plays in your head. The harshness and barbs of the words don’t matter. It is the release that unhappy times find through music—solace and healing.

This was not the first time Taylor had covered the Irish musical legend. Morrison was by far the most frequently covered artist on previous tours in 2007 and 2010. During the 2007 National Tour alone, 25 different Morrison songs made the set list as covers or tags including “Rough God Goes Riding” that was tagged 13 times. “Naked in the Jungle” was a frequent encore.

It isn’t surprising that the music of Van Morrison and Taylor Hicks connects. Morrison grew up in Northern Ireland listening to his father’s extensive record collection that included many of the same artists that Taylor Hicks credits for his musical core.

“…the young Morrison grew up listening to artists such as Jelly Roll Morton, Ray Charles, Lead Belly, and Solomon Burke; of whom Morrison later said, "If it weren't for guys like Ray and Solomon, I wouldn't be where I am today. Those guys were the inspiration that got me going. If it wasn't for that kind of music, I couldn't do what I'm doing now."

Ray Charles
—often mentioned by Taylor as his inspiration.

“Rough God Goes Riding” (1997) is the opening song on the album, The Healing Game by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. According to biographer Clinton Heylin this song: “signaled a return to the religious and spiritual preoccupations that had driven Morrison's work throughout the eighties, the image of the Rough God being derived from Robin Williamson's 'Mr. Thomas' — recorded by Morrison for Inarticulate — in which 'the rough God goes riding with his shears', a reference to the avenging Messiah who shall return to wreak final judgement on Man."

Greil Marcus, rock critic and columnist for Rolling Stone, and author of “When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison” (2010) wrote that "The deep burr of Morrison's voice buries the words, which cease to matter; you might not hear them until the tenth time you play the album, or long after that. 'It's when that rough god goes riding,' he sings, drawing the words both from Yeats and down in his chest, and you might never know it's the Angel of Death that has you in its embrace."

When Taylor Hicks sings “Rough God Goes Riding,” you can understand the words and hear and see the emotion they evoke. The slow, deliberate tempo is powerful and intense. Jeff Lopez wields the sax like a weapon lashing out. You almost expect a call and response with the sax and harp, but it is pure sax solo.

The rough gods are riding. A friend told me about stumbling over debris in the dark calling out the name of her loved one in Tuscaloosa. More devastation has ripped through other cities, as that rough god goes gliding from more dark skies. I drove home tonight watching the rising plumes of ominous smoke from Western wildfires.

Rough God Goes Riding
By Van Morrison, 1997

Oh the mud splattered victims
Have to pay out all along the ancient highway
Torn between half truth and victimisation
Fighting back with counter attacks

It's when that rough god goes riding
When the rough god goes gliding
And then rough god goes riding
Riding on in

I was flabbergasted by the headlines
People in glasshouses throwing stones
Gaping wounds that will never heal
Now they're moaning like a dog in a manger

It's when that rough god goes riding
And then the rough god goes gliding
There'll be nobody hiding
When that rough god comes riding on in

And it's a matter of survival
When you're born with your back against the wall
Won't somebody hand me a bible
Won't you give me that number to call

When that rough god goes riding
And then that rough god goes gliding
They'll be nobody hiding
When that rough god goes riding on in
Riding on in

When that rough god goes riding
When that rough god goes gliding
There'll be nobody hiding
When that rough god goes riding on in
Riding on in

There'll be no more heroes
They'll be reduced to zero
When that rough god goes riding
Riding on in
Riding on in
Riding on in
Riding on in

From Ray Charles to Van Morrison to Taylor Hicks—connections decades and generations in the making are played out on new stages. Music is the great super highway across borders and generations.

And it gets us through some tough times.


After the performance of “Rough God Goes Riding” in Glenn Falls, NY, Taylor told the audience of an unforeseen meeting with Van Morrison. Taylor was scheduled to appear on Live with Regis and Kelly in New York City. He was on the set when he was told he wouldn’t be appearing because he had been “bumped” by none other than Van Morrison. Taylor said that if he had to be bumped he couldn’t think of anyone he’d rather be bumped by than Van Morrison.

When Morrison recorded “Rough God Goes Riding” in 1997, Taylor Hicks at age 21 released his first album, In Your Time, with seven tracks and the humblest of beginnings. Now it is collectible and Taylor is on tour and covering one of the artists who inspired him most.

Good music lasts.

And, unexplainably, it plays over and over in your head.

Taylor Hicks ~ Rough God Goes Riding
SweetTFan Pitnam, NJ

The legend Van Morrison in Germany in 2010 Rough God Goes Riding: by vossmeister

Cath at TTHC Connections Anthology statistics

Photo and edit by San.