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.