Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Sweet Sound of Success: Taylor Hicks Opens in Las Vegas TONIGHT!

Good reviews are in an it's only the sound check!!!

From Bally's last night:

"@GaryHathaway: My wife & I were lucky enough to see part of @taylorhicks sound check this evening at @BallysVegas....His show is gonna ROCK!"

"@GaryHathaway: Hey people, go see this show if your in Vegas!! @taylorhicks pic.twitter.com/XjcTL6Sw"

Much is written about measuring success.

If entertainers measure success each time they step onto a stage, tonight’s another notch on his guitar…

Taylor Hicks, platinum-recording artist, 2006 American Idol, Broadway musical star, and touring musician, steps onto a new stage tonight at Bally’s Las Vegas for 40 shows in the next eight weeks.

It’s a homecoming. He auditioned for American Idol in Las Vegas. And he is the first American Idol to land a residency in the Neon City.

In 2005, he flew to Las Vegas alone, stood in the audition line, and dreamed of this day.

That day is here, but this time he didn’t come alone.

Van Morrison once said he wouldn’t tour if he didn’t have a great band.

Taylor Hicks has shown genius in gathering extraordinarily talented musicians behind him. More importantly, they are artists who match his own energy and passion for making music.

Meet the Vegas Band!

Jamie McLean on guitar and Brian Griffen on drums of the Jamie McLean Band have performed with Taylor in several venues in the Northeast. Taylor was a guest performer on their recent CD release Live at Gibson on Jamie’s “Country Living” and the classic “Midnight Rider.” They are hard- driving country rock super stars described as “dripping with energy.” Taylor has described them as out there “kicking ass every night.” They bring the jamband energy and kick ass persona!

Jamie McLean

Brian Griffen

Originally from Memphis, Brian Less is a longtime fixture on the Taylor Hicks stage. Don’t let that unglamorous description fool you. He lights up the stage as brightly as Vegas neon! His fingers literally fly over the keyboards and he often receives accolades for his performance. He was the youngest member of the original Taylor Hicks Band and later the founder of the Little Memphis Blues Band that performed with Taylor in shadow concerts during Taylor’s American Idol Tour. He has been a longtime band mate and Music Director.

Brian Less

Brian Gallagher on saxophone started “beating the brass” for Taylor during his first National Solo Tour in 2007 in that killer band. The St. Paul, MN musician picked up the saxophone at age 10. He told TTHC in an interview some time ago that he was a huge fan of the pop 70s sax solos. “I like any style of music if it’s done correctly. I soak in everything I can. Music, music, music!” He has recorded with Taylor, notably the soulful sax solo on “What’s Right is Right” for Taylor’s 2009 CD The Distance. 

Brian Gallagher

Mark Vanderpoel on bass is a Broadway musician with impressive credits. He has been part of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions including The Burnt Part Boys (2010), Guys and Dolls (2009), Legally Blonde (2007), and Jane Eyre (2000).

Mark Vanderpoel

If you measure success by how much you love what you do…

You will see, hear, and feel the love all these musicians have for their music and for performing.

The Alabama native turned American Idol, turning Vegas headliner, sums it all up succinctly and movingly:

“For me, you can take it all, but leave me with the music.”

The sweet sound of success plays at Bally's  Indigo Lounge this summer!

Rock The Strip, Boys!

Congratulations on Opening Night!

Much success in your summer at Bally’s…may it run into many winters...

See you in Vegas! 

The Taylor Hicks Community

Photo credits:  Taylor at BamaRising, Getty Images via MJSBigBlog; Vegas Band, FOX5 Las Vegas; Jamie McLean, screencap from Avalon Theatre; Brian Griffen, briangriffenmusic.com; Brian Less, Wonder, Epcot Center; Brian Gallagher, BrianGallagherMySpace; Mark Vanderpoel, FOX5 Las Vegas. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Taylor Hicks' Summer on The Strip, Part 2: "Closing Circles"

Taylor Hicks opens at Bally’s Las Vegas for an eight-week residency starting June 26.

Taylor Hicks isn’t just another performer headlining in Las Vegas.

He is the first American Idol winner or finalist to receive a residency in Las Vegas.

It is especially meaningful for him because he auditioned in Las Vegas. When Hurricane Katrina caught him in New Orleans and his flight out was cancelled, he was given a replacement ticket which he used to fly to Las Vegas where American Idol tryouts were being held.

A few blocks from Bally’s at the Las Vegas Convention Center, he stood in line in October, 2005, reaffirming his vow to never give up his dream to be an entertainer. He was an unlikely contender, with prematurely grey hair, and, at 29, looking nothing like the very young people around him. It would have been the perfect opportunity to walk away.

He recalls the challenging time in his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul:

"I remember standing outside in Las Vegas at American Idol [auditions], and kids were coming up to me asking me where my kid was that was auditioning. If that doesn't make you want to walk away, I don't know what does. But I never walked away. I knew I had a vision, and that was to entertain people—and here I am."

After two days of auditions, the callbacks moved to the Renaissance Las Vegas. Only 11 of those “kids” in line got the Golden Ticket to Hollywood, including the unlikely Taylor Hicks.

He almost didn’t.

Only judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul sent him on while Simon Cowell infamously declared that the soul singer from Alabama would never make it to the final rounds.

He did, and more.

From seven cities around the country, 175 contestants headed to The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles for the Hollywood rounds of Idol’s Season Five. In solo performances, contestants chose from only 12 songs available. Taylor Hicks sang “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. Ninety-nine hopefuls moved forward to group performances and then a solo acappella. Forty-four went through and the final 24 were chosen, including Taylor Hicks.

He has said that he “made it” by standing out—not blending in. He has often cited song choice as important in the competition. His music was a standout eclectic mix of blues, soul and rock.

The Top 24 competition began in February, 2006, and the unlikely contestant from Birmingham, Alabama, captured the votes of America singing with never-die heart and soul:

Top 24 – “Levon” (Elton John)
Top 20 – “Easy” (The Commodores)
Top 16 – “Taking It to the Streets (The Doobie Brothers)
Top 12 – “Living For the City (Stevie Wonder) Stevie Wonder Songs
Top 11 – “Not Fade Away” (TheCrickets) 50s Songs
Top 10 – “Trouble” (Ray LaMontagne) 2000s Songs
Top 9   – “Country Roads” (John Denver) Country Music
Top 8   – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (Queen) Songs of Queen
Top 7   – “You Send Me” (Sam Cooke) Great American Songbook
Top 6   – “Just Once” (James Ingram) Love Songs
Top 5   – “Play That Funky Music” (Wild Cherry) Year they were born songs
               “Something” (The Beatles) Current Billboard Top 10
Top 4   – “Jailhouse Rock” (Elvis Presley) Songs of Elvis Presley
               “In The Ghetto (Elvis Presley)
Top 3   – “Dancing in the Dark” (Bruce Springsteen) Clive Davis’s Choice
              “You Are So Beautiful” (Joe Cocker) Judges’ Choice
              “Try a Little Tenderness” (Otis Redding) Idol’s Choice
Top 2  -- Finale “Living for the City” (Stevie Wonder)
              “Levon” (Elton John)
              “Do I Make You Proud?” (Taylor Hicks)

He was one of six winners who were never in the bottom three, and the Season Five Finale was the most watched TV show of the DECADE.

On May 24, 2006, Taylor Hicks became Season Five’s American Idol.

Six years later in the town where it began, he headlines at one of Las Vegas’ most iconic places—Bally’s!

In the official announcement from Bally’s and TaylorHicks.com he honors the traditions he joins:

“A residency in Las Vegas is one of those opportunities an entertainer dreams about. Vegas is where Sinatra’s Rat Pack and America’s greatest talents make musical history. To join those ranks is both humbling and thrilling. My goal is to live up to that legacy of live showmanship."

For the hopeful, road-weary musician from Alabama who had never been to Las Vegas before his audition there, headlining there must seem surreal as his name glows in the glitzy neon lights—like Lady Luck smiling down on those who dream and work diligently to make it happen.

This summer, celebrate all those who dream and never give up—the legendary entertainers who“made it” and headlined in Vegas…

And welcome one more to that august company!

From standing in line outside the Las Vegas Convention Center in 2005 to headlining inside the glamorous Indigo Room at Bally’s Las Vegas in 2012, that road for Taylor Hicks comes full circle.

And as “Taylor Hicks” goes up in neon lights at Bally’s, that circle is closed.

Be there when another one begins…

At the #hottestsummershowonthestrip!

See you in Vegas!!!


Read Taylor Hicks’ inspiring autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, Random House, 2007, with David Wilde.
Photo:  Taylor Hicks at BamaRising fundraiser for tornado relief, 2011, shared via http://www.pgagolf.com/

Information according to http://www.wikipedia.com/

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Taylor Hicks' Summer on The Strip: Takin' It Back To Las Vegas...

Taylor Hicks opens in Las Vegas at Bally’s June 26, for an eight-week stay.

Bally’s isn’t just another Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

As the MGM Grand, it was the biggest hotel and casino in the WORLD when it opened December 5, 1973, and remained so for some time.

The entertainer for that premier was Dean Martin.

“The 26 story MGM Grand cost $107 million, has over 2,000 guest rooms and suites, six restaurants, two showrooms, a shopping arcade, a movie theater for classic MGM films, and an area for spectators to watch, and wager on, live Jai Alai games.”

It was destroyed by a massive and deadly fire in 1980 that killed 85 guests and hotel employees. The disaster led to massive changes in fire safety regulations. The MGM Grand re-opened in July, 1981. It became Bally’s in 1986 when it was purchased by Bally’s Manufacturing.

One of the showrooms at MGM Grand when Bally’s took over was home to Jubilee, which is still playing 28 years later making it the longest running production show in Las Vegas.

Jubilee presents about 85 performers, both topless and covered, and 1,000 different costumes made with 8,000 miles of sequins. The rhinestones used on the costumes are silver plated Swarovski crystals and the headpieces can weigh up to 35 pounds.  The massive stage is half the length of a football field and the sets weigh up to four tons. 

Bally's marquee featuring Jubilee... 

Bally’s has hosted the biggest names in entertainment: Liberace played here in the 1970s.  Las Vegas was the iconic hangout for The Rat Pack—Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. When one of them played there, others would show up and usually join in the show.

The rich musical and entertainment traditions of Las Vegas are legendary. It was, and still is, a benchmark for performers to play in LasVegas. There is simply no other “gig” like “playing Vegas.”

Taylor Hicks joins the ranks of those headlining in Las Vegas as he opens at the Indigo Room at Bally’s June 26 for eight weeks.

The Indigo Room is billed as a “grand escape” for a first class time in Las Vegas serving signature cocktails and coffee drinks. It is one of Las Vegas’ “most glamorous destinations” with a stunning lounge environment set apart from the casino floor. It’s getting a makeover designed to accommodate more ticketed entertainment with soundproof curtains and room for larger crowds. The “retrofitting” is scheduled to be completed before Taylor’s opening.

Bally’s is the center of Las Vegas nightlife on The Strip!

Join Taylor Hicks as he brings his fired-up Southern country rock to this Summer on the Strip!

He is joined by the New York Jamie McLean Band for a singeing hot summer party on The Strip—one to be remembered!

BUY TICKETS NOW FOR #thehottestsummershowonthestrip:




Taylor Hicks' Summer on The Strip:  Part 2—“Closing Circles”

"Taylor Hicks isn’t just another performer opening in Las Vegas...”

More of  #thehottestsummershowonthestrip!
Get tickets, get packed, get glitz, and get your Vegas on! 
***Photo Credit at top:  by Amanda Shavers-Davis/Cullman Times; Taylor Hicks at Smith Farms Music Festival, Cullman, AL, May 26, 2012; photo copyrighted and used here with permission; please do not repost. 

***Source Credit: Thanks to cath_tthc for research and pictures for Connections Anthology "Las Vegas 2012" forum with information from:



Read more and keep up on the latest from Taylor Hicks' Summer in Vegas:  http://s1.zetaboards.com/connections/index/