Sunday, December 8, 2013

Remembering a Country Troubadour...

Country music has lost an outlaw—one with an endearing “style of rustic simplicity.”

“Outlaw by definition is one that is unconventional or rebellious. Wayne Mills by definition is one that is a stiff-necked, country troubadour with an affinity for Honky-tonks and possessing a style of rustic simplicity.”

From the small Northern Alabama town of Arab, Mills was “raised on the values of the working man, and like most working men, young Mills listened to blue collar anthems sang by Hank Williams, Jr, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard. Little did the future performer know that the heavy beat and misfortune-laden lyrics of outlaw country would lay the ground work for his music career.”

Mills earned a degree in Education and played football with the legendary University of Alabama team before returning to the music he loved and hitting the road with the Wayne Mills Band.  They became one of the most successful country bands throughout the South and presented some memorable opening acts. On their way to the top, country music superstars, Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton, as well as American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, opened for the Band.

Most recently, the Nashville singer/songwriter toured with fellow country-outlaw musician and friend, Johnson. Mills was soon to release his studio album, Long Hard Road.

From “ ‘My music is a combination of my country roots with the real world I have come to know,’ said Mills. Long Hard Road is a chapter in the songbook of Wayne Mills’ life: leaving no stone unturned when it comes to lyric and life.”

@TaylorHicks: “My good friend Wayne Mills passed away in Nashville. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIP Wayne he was my buddy.”

Huntsville, Alabama, was the first Taylor Hicks concert I ever attended. Wayne Mills Band was opening for Taylor that night as the American Idol continued his first National Tour. The Band was high energy with hard hitting country…I knew I was back to the South! I will never forget that moment of excitement and the Alabama country sound that started me on this musical journey. I am grateful to have crossed the path of this man with “a style of rustic simplicity.”

After all, “a style of rustic simplicity,” may just be that to which we all could aspire.

Jerald Wayne Mills will be laid to rest today, in Arab, Alabama.

Funeral arrangements:


@TaylorHicks on Twitter

Photo: Wayne Mills, via

Monday, September 30, 2013

Taylor Hicks: "I love what I do!"

I am envious.

Say what you will about success. This is it:

“I love what I do.”

Taylor Hicks celebrates the soulful Americana ‘roots’ music that he grew up around in Alabama in his headlining show at Paris Las Vegas. In a promotional video for Ceasar’s Entertainment “Las Vegas_Player,” he takes us inside his very successful show and his ‘Southern roots’ music:

“To have soul you have to have passion …for what you’re doing. For me, obviously, putting soul and passion in my music is something that I really find important.

“And I love what I do.”

There’s no arguing with that. There are no ratings, awards, or paychecks that can outweigh it.

Critics cannot destroy it.

Our success is personal. Mine can only be defined by me. Taylor Hicks defines his success:

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

“It’s not how many records you sell, but how many lives you touch.”

“I love what I do.”

I know what that means and when it is lacking. We hope our daily work brings satisfaction, ‘things’ that we enjoy, and sustenance. And it may.

To say “I love what I do” is different.

While we hope others share the joy or worth of what we do, real success is how we feel about every day, not how the world views what we do. It is experienced within, not received from those around us who decide what it looks or feels like.

I don’t hate my work. I find it satisfying and rewarding. But I am somewhere in between like and dislike.

I have always wished that I could say with passion, “I love what I do.”

Taylor Hicks is a lucky one.

Funny thing is it is infectious. It is shared joy, shared success.

In his audience we are enveloped in that love and passion the minute he steps onto the stage. It emulates from his energetic music and stage persona. It is the ‘magic’ of a resonating performance by a quintessential musician.

This isn’t to say that mere love creates the musicianship and artistry. But it fuels the hard work, practice, persistence, and dream.

It creates a vibrant circle that spells success. “I love what I do.”

An oversimplified measure of success?

How would you measure it?
And this success train isn’t slowing down…

As it was Saturday night, Taylor’s headlining show at Napoleon’s Lounge inside Paris Las Vegas continues to be sold out night after night. He is one of the most popular performers on the Vegas Strip. He recently performed a one-night-only jam session with the popular Vegas headliner, The Million Dollar Quartet, in a jam-packed house.

A recent review on
by dennis63 claimed: “I think it may be the most underrated show in Vegas right now….”

He gives back the love. On October 12, he returns to Alabama to headline the charity concert and football watch party, Tailgate for Cure, benefiting Alabama Institute of Medicine.

October 17, Taylor headlines “Hollywood Welcomes the Stars” in Hallandale Beach, FL benefiting The Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County.

He’s an avowed foodie and a restaurateur! He has two recipes from his Birmingham restaurant, Saw’s, featured in the new, hugely popular “Recipes Across America” Cookbook.

Check out all that makes this American Idol say, “I love what I do!” on his official website at:
Go see the artists that love what they do, and you are looking at success!

Check out Taylor Hicks on his music, Las Vegas, and more on Vegas Player:

See Taylor Hicks at Paris Las Vegas and experience the love, passion, and success of this true American Idol!

Photo above:  Courtesy of Coder1951 via Twitter:  Taylor at Napoleon's Lounge, Paris Las Vegas September 28th. Thanks to all who share photos of their concert experiences.    

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who's Gonna' Fill Their Shoes?

It seems like we are losing a generation of musicians too soon.

J J Cale, who passed away on Friday, is the latest. If you don’t know the musician, you probably know the music. He wrote “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” recorded by Eric Clapton. The Oklahoma native gave us the ‘Tulsa sound.’

Taylor Hicks tweeted on Saturday:

“RIP JJ Cale He was the quintessential #americana #roots-musician”

Cale’s “They Call Me The Breeze” made a hit by Lynyrd Skynyrd, has long been covered by Taylor.

We also lost country music pioneer and legend, George Jones, earlier this year. The musical competition, The Voice, was in its live competition shows. A duo from Oklahoma,  the Swan Brothers, paid tribute to Jones singing one of his songs posing the stirring question, “Who’s Gonna’ Fill Their Shoes?”

It was also a challenge for those new artists competing. It started a personal dialogue for me. I wondered beyond country music and asked myself who’s going to fill the shoes of artists like The Beatles, Elvis, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and now, musician/songwriters…

like J J Cale.

Will our plentiful singing competitions and hit producers of today give us singers and music that will take the place of those who molded our musical roots and genres—the unforgettable music that still plays today and will for a long time after we say goodbye to these great musicians?

What makes music and artists unforgettable? It is music and artists that we never tire of hearing, music that is never eclipsed by something on the Top 40—here today, forgotten tomorrow.

It’s music and performances that connect with people. That is the elusive link that the best musicians create—a strong connection and music so good that no other artist is associated with it.

I attended a small graduation this spring. At the socializing afterwards, a small band—just five guys who got together to play music—entertained with “House of the Rising Sun,” “Margarettaville” and then “Let It Be”—all songs that have stood the test of time. I was singing along and lost in the moment. Seldom are covers better than the original. I can’t even recall a cover of “Let It Be.”

That is the unforgettable—the purist example of the best.

And those shoes will be difficult to fill.

What new song today will be here after we are gone? What new artist will be remembered as a “quintessential” of music when they die?

And,  just as importantly, what artists today will carry on the legacy of this great generation of musicians? 

Truly, only time will tell.  Singer/songwriters who live for their music and connect with their audiences will have the lasting impact on the next generation of music.

There will be some who fill those shoes. That is the bright side of this.

Taylor Hicks covers “They Call Me the Breeze:”

Eric Clapton, J. J. Cale “After Midnight” and “They Call Me the Breeze:”

For more about J J Cale, visit:
Note: “Quintessential” is from the Latin meaning “fifth essence,” the purist example; in Medieval philosophy it suggested that after Earth, air, fire, and water, this was the Fifth Element.

I wondered, “After Earth, air, fire, and water, might MUSIC be the Fifth Element?”

Just a thought…

Sunday, July 21, 2013

On the Way to AC: Taylor Hicks Talks to Huff Post Live

Snoop Dogg, American Idol, Pantera, Las Vegas, raspy recording, ‘stand your ground’ law…

It was an eclectic list of talking points as American Idol, Taylor Hicks, stopped over in New York City on his way to a gig at Bally’s Atlantic City for a sit down interview with Mike Sacks at Huff Post Live. From light moments to serious opinions, the extroadinary conversation gave new insights from the Alabama platinum recording artist, Broadway star, and currently, headliner at Paris Las Vegas.

We looked back at some of the interesting highlights:

In music talk, surprisingly, and to Mike's delight, Taylor revealed he had been heavy into the heavy metal band, Pantera, partly because of his brother who was a huge fan. But he was more into the soulful and rootsy end.

“Pantera was an iconic and classic band.”

Recalling his associations with the likes of Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg, Taylor told of initiating an unlikely entertainment duo—Snoop Dogg and blues harmonica. He proposed playing blues harmonica on "Gin and Juice" with the notorious rapper.

“That’s something you never think you’ll do…blow blues harp on Gin and Juice…I don’t know if that has ever been cross pollinated before—blues harmonica and rap music…It was a first for me.”

A judge on American Idol? There has been much rumor and speculation about the Season Five Idol winner returning to the show as a judge. He said  he would enjoy a stint on the show. He has said in the past that he thought that a winner should be on the judges’ panel and continues to credit the show with giving him an important platform on which to continue his career.

A highlight of the 2006 American Idol tour was visiting the White House and meeting President George Bush. Taylor candidly shared his profound impressions from the oval office and divulged that the President and Vladimir Putin had just met in the Rose Garden on the day of their visit.

“You can feel the weight of the world in that building and that’s why I have the utmost respect for any president… it is the weight of the free world and you can feel it in the White House, you can feel it in the oval office.”

Living on The Strip in a hotel, the Vegas headliner described what one might see just getting morning coffee. He expressed admiration for the Las Vegas entertainment community that comes together to support each other as they did when Vegas headliner, Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller competed in the Celebrity Apprentice Finale. Taylor appeared at a Las Vegas fundraiser—an ice cream party hosted by Jillette and was a guest at the season’s finale.

A video question brought one of the more interesting insights about Taylor’s signature raspy voice. The guest asked how you develop and control that raspiness in the voice. Surprisingly, he says that it comes and goes. When he has done a lot of press (talking) it may be raspier or that it might come from singing in so many smoky bars in the Southeast.

“Your true vocal voice, recordable voice, comes and goes…it’s nice to capture and record when it’s in that space…so, in the middle of the night you could be in that voice and you would go cut vocals for a record.”

Importantly, his thoughts on where the country is now:

“It’s in a good place.”

Although he said he did not have an opinion on the Zimmerman verdict, he did say that we need to “take a hard look at ‘stand your ground’" and that we can "...hone in on some of the laws and make them better, so that we can make sure that justice is served correctly.”

Surprises, insights, and thoughts you haven’t heard before make this an extraordinary conversation.

And there is much more in the video exchange with Huff Post Live in what Taylor calls their “killer newsroom.”

For time well spent, check out the entire interview here:

Or right here!

For some ‘supporting details’ take a look at:

Snoop Dogg and Taylor Hicks, “Gin and Juice:”

Performing “Takin’ It To The Streeets” at the Republican National Convention:
Taylor Hicks continues his contract with Ceasar’s Entertainment presenting free concerts at Bally’s Atlantic City this week Thursday through Saturday in the Blue Martini and the Bikini Beach Bar. For more information and performance times:

In August, Taylor is at The Hive in Sandpoint, Idaho, in Las Vegas at Paris Hotel and Casino and at Harrah's Laughlin.  Check out all the latest news and performance dates at: 

Follow on Twitter: @TaylorHicks

Sunday, July 7, 2013

#TaylorHicksinVegas ~ One Year and Counting!

Bally's Poster captured by Gary Hathaway

Taylor Hicks marked an anniversary last week. He tweeted:

“One year and counting! @BallysAC @ParisVegas in #Vegas #greatgig #thankful.”

On June 26, 2012, he became the first American Idol with a headlining residency in Las Vegas opening at Bally’s Indigo Lounge.

That night, a packed house welcomed the newest Las Vegas headliner. Bally’s Kelly Frey tweeted the moment:

Photo shared by Bally's-Opening Night

It was a turnaround for the long-touring musician. Taylor Hicks was in one place. Fans were now the ones making travel plans. And they did, coming from all over the world.

A new band took the Vegas stage behind Taylor, among them Jamie McLean, Brian Gallagher from his 2007 tour band, and long time music director, Brian Less. The musical talent and chemistry packed on to the small stage were as good as it gets. The energy blew the roof off, almost literally.

Photo from Bally's Martin Martinez

The music was new and old. On a set list of twists and turns, what was next was as unexpected at the nearby slots rolling up sevens. There were tracks from The Distance, his current album, classics from Elvis, and blues and soul favorites from this songwriter’s large repertoire. Las Vegas had a new mix and a new genre it coined ‘roadhouse’—raw, rockin’ and really good! From the energy-spiked, foot-stomping opener, “Country Living,” to Elvis’ classic closer, “Viva Las Vegas,” the show made you dance, grabbed your heart, and left you singing!


The stage was small. The sound, the energy, and the experience were not. In an arena, you are part of the crowd. In this small, intimate setting, sometimes referred to as Taylor’s Las Vegas living room, you were part of the moment, the music, and the show—you were all in it together. Taylor chatted between songs, thanked the military in the audience, and delivered funny lines like the best comedians in the city. He grinned and thanked those who voted for him on American Idol!  It all resonated with guests as an evening of great entertainment in a cool little corner of the Vegas Strip!

After the show in an informal meet and greet at the merchandise table, guests could meet Taylor, have items autographed and take pictures. The take-away of a personal connection with the Vegas headliner was appreciated and remembered.

Taylor’s stunning new Vegas wardrobe brought back chic jackets like those of the 2007 National Tour along with western shirts that, no doubt, had never seen a horse. And nothing had to be packed onto a tour bus.
Photo by DNJ Morton,

The little lounge show grew with every rave review and creative new moniker—‘searing soul,’ ‘rootsy rock,’ the ‘real deal.”  Shows were sold out. The Las Vegas entertainment community embraced the ‘new club kid,’ and the show was named one of the Top Ten “best of Las Vegas.” It became a vibrant part of the Las Vegas landscape. The Bally’s headliner joined the community is supporting charities, walking the Red Carpets in fine fashion, and smiling from the covers of local magazines.

It was success all wrapped up in a cool little lounge in Las Vegas!

It quickly outgrew The Indigo located just off the gaming floor at Bally’s. In January, 2013, the little lounge show that was packed to overflowing with really good musicians and people eager to hear them, moved a short step away to the larger Napoleon’s Piano Bar at Paris Las Vegas. The guitars didn’t bump into the drums.

More people came to experience what writer, Chaz Lipp, described as a backwoods ‘smoky roadhouse with a hot band.’ Napoleon’s Piano Bar that had been home to dueling pianos, champagne and cigars, now rocked with dueling guitars and smoky roadhouse.

Opening Night-Paris Las Vegas, Photo by Ashlee DeMartino

Who knew that Las Vegas would be a hotbed for ‘roadhouse,’ that the American Idol who auditioned there in 2005 would be the first to return to a long-term residency, and that new success would be waiting right where it had started?

Success is where you make it.  Taylor Hick seemed hell-bent on making this another success with hard work and musicians who love playing music. It paid off...again.  He’s winning big in the town of the elusive win.

Congratulations and Happy Anniversary to Taylor Hicks and to all those who made year one in Las Vegas memorable and successful!

Cheers! And best wishes for more success and good music in year two!

Years hence, we will say, “We saw you in Vegas!”

Viva, Las Vegas!
Tonight, Taylor wraps up a series of five shows in Reno, NV at Sammy’s Showroom at Harrah’s where he has played to packed houses.  Appearances this summer at other Ceasar’s Entertainment venues will include Harrah’s Laughlin and Bally’s Atlantic City.

Tomorrow night, he is back home at Paris Las Vegas to start year two of this little lounge show that’s making a big sound in one of the biggest entertainment meccas in the world.

Buy Tickets:

Check out all the latest news and places of other appearances this summer at the Official Taylor Hicks Website:

For more on the Las Vegas experience,  you might enjoy these blogs:

“Taylor Hicks in Las Vegas - Twists, Turns, and Tags”

"Taylor Hicks Rocks the Vegas Gig"

For our archive of everything Las Vegas and Taylor Hicks, visit Connections Anthology: -Thanks to Cath-tthc for keeping the memories! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Taylor Hicks Still Rockin' the Roadhouse!

You can take him out of the roadhouse, but you can’t take the roadhouse out of Taylor Hicks.

Taylor Hicks returns to the roadhouse this weekend for “Shindig on the Sand” celebrating Gulf Coast musicians at the Flora-Bama, Perdido Key, Alabama.

The Flora-Bama is a music landmark on the Gulf Coast renowned as The Last Great American Roadhouse. In his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, Taylor Hicks calls the Flora-bama “fabulous” and describes it as what Alabamans call a “real good time.” And it’s gotten shout outs from his Vegas show.

He knows it pretty well. It became somewhat of a regular stop for him traveling the South as a young musician on the ‘miles-from-Vegas’ chitlin’ circuit.

“Let me tell you, there is nothing remotely glitzy about life on the chitlin’ circuit…” Yet, Taylor says, “…you’ll find some of the most discerning and enthusiastic audiences there nonetheless.”

And although they were struggling times, they served him well.

“The lessons I learned in those sweaty roadside clubs—often for close to no money and too many times in front of almost no people—are the same exact lessons that helped me capitalize on the biggest break imaginable when it came my way. Playing the chitlin’ circuit any chance we got …we learned the simple rule that I still live by to this very day: either you entertain people or you go home.

“I remain proud to have cut my teeth as a performer at some of those less than glamorous southern joints long referred to as the chitlin’ circuit….I’m talking about the same sort of down home fantastically greasy southern clubs and roadhouses where great artists like my hero Ray Charles and the Ike and Tina Turner Review and countless other R&B greats played once upon a time.”

It was a long and winding road from the chitlin’ circuit to the club circuit: winning American Idol, touring, starring on Broadway, and now, headlining in a “glitzy little” club on the Strip at Paris Las Vegas.

“…but you can’t take the roadhouse out of Taylor Hicks.” .

And it served his well when he became the first American Idol to land a residency in Las Vegas.

“The kind of rootsy rock that is Hicks’ bread and butter is simply too rare on the Strip. You’ve got plenty of Rat Pack pastiches, big-ticket headliners and impersonators galore, but few entertainers who approximate what it’s like to be traveling through a backwoods town and stumble across a smoky roadhouse with a hot band. That’s Hicks.” –Las Vegas Magazine

With its 'rootsy rock' and 'searing soul,' #TaylorHicksinVegas has been named one of the "hottest shows in Las Vegas!"

There may be little resemblance in the Flora-Bama and the Parisian flavored Napoleon's Lounge in Paris Las Vegas, but they both breathe with good music from an artist who has kept it real wherever he goes.


While more than miles may separate Paris Las Vegas and the Gulf Coast landmark, it should be noted that the Flora-Bama has global stature as the 17th BEST roadhouse in the WORLD!

Ceasar’s Entertainment might want to check it out!

The chitlin’ circuit can be proud of its alumni. Check out one this weekend headlining at Flora-Bama’s “Shindig on the Sand”
Tickets and more information:

See how roadhouse plays in Vegas when Taylor returns to Napoleon’s Lounge at Paris Las Vegas on June 17 at 8:00 p.m. where he headlines through November, 2013. Check calendar for show dates.

And catch Taylor Hicks this summer at:
July 3-7 ~ Harrah’s Reno, NV – Sammy’s Showroom

August 29-September 1 ~ Harrah’s Laughlin, NV

For all Taylor Hicks news, events, and appearances, visit

Follow on Twitter @TaylorHicks

Photo Credit:  Dave Morton, via; Taylor Hicks on stage in Las Vegas. 
Blog Quote Sources:
“More Than a Matter of Pride” Las Vegas Magazine

Heart Full of Soul, by Taylor Hicks with David Wild. Random House. 2007.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day of Remembrance

Taylor Hicks sings "Do I Make You Proud" at the National Memorial Day Parade, Washington, D. C.
Growing up, Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, was a somber time when we visited the graves of our relatives. Along side the little country church, the cemetery had been cleaned, mowed and made ready. Before church on Sunday we went to the graves with a mason jar full of summer flowers from the front yard.

With expansions over the years, the cemetery grew much larger than the church and grounds next to it. And the time came when I had to leave my father and then my mother there to rest on the quiet hillside.

They left me much. My mother taught in the one-room school house just across the road from that church and cemetery where she now rests. My parents believed that God was a real part of our lives right along side hard work. And they made me believe that I could do anything I wanted to work for.

It is ironic that we look back to remember and honor those we have lost in the same space of time that we celebrate the achievements of our young people who are taking us forward.

Last week I attended an eighth grade “promotion.” My young man is off to high school. How cute they all were in their dress clothes with proud parents and grandparents marveling at this milestone when it seemed like only yesterday that they were in a stroller at Disneyland.

And an entire police force turned out for one graduation last week—that of a beautiful young lady graduating from kindergarten. They were standing in for her father.

In the midst of graduation celebrations, our home state lost two first responders last week--a firefighter and a law enforcement officer, the father of that young lady.

Last week spoke poignantly of grief and celebration side by side in our lives. It brought home again rebuilding from the ashes for those who lost so much in the tornados in Oklahoma. And rebuild we do. The Boardwalk on the Jersey shore reopened last week after total devastation of Hurricane Sandy. And thousands finally finished the Boston Marathon.

We rebuild, resolve, and never forget.

After a week that took us all over an emotional landscape, we come together on this Memorial Day to remember those who deserve our full measure of honor as they have given their last full measure of devotion to our country.

“Flags will wave. Bands will march. Floats will glide. Most of all, Americans who died in military service will be honored,” wrote Mary Colurso in Birmingham, AL.

From Washington, D.C., on Monday, the 2013 National Memorial Day Parade, a parade for heroes, will honor our troops who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our precious liberties.

Birmingham native and American Idol, Taylor Hicks, will perform for this day of remembrance:

"I'm honored to be able to perform on such a patriotic and important day for our country,"

“Everyone’s there to honor America and our fallen heroes,” he said. “We’re all there together… It’s about the day of remembrance.”

May we remember and honor all those who have enriched our lives, kept us safe, protected our liberties, and who inspire us for the future…

Fly the American flag for those we love and honor this Memorial Day!

On Monday, Taylor will perform "19" a tribute to an American soldier:

Video "Nineteen" by @Magnoliabreezes.
Mary Colurso of the Birmingham News writes on
"Birmingham's Taylor Hicks to Perform at 2013 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D. C."

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Taylor Hicks ~~ His Biggest Fan

She was his biggest fan…and his first.

In his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, Taylor Hicks recalls his grandmother Jonie and his first musical review.

At a young age and in a desperate desire to have soul music like that of Otis Reddings’ in his life, Taylor had taken an album from his best friend and had played it incessantly. “Try a Little Tenderness” spoke to him like no other.

“The song killed me then just as it kills me now…A few days later, I sang the song for my grandmother Jonie, who was nice enough to at least act suitably impressed. That might have been one of my first good reviews—and maybe the most important, because that was probably the first time I thought of myself as a singer.”

She was there to help when he scraped together a meager sum to record his first indie record, In Your Time. At the time when the 1500 copies were pressed, only a fraction was sold. Today, one of those original copies is a pretty penny.

“Grandma actually had a truly inspired marketing mind. And I like to think I’ve inherited a little of her savvy.”

He tells of her marketing scheme to drop ping pong balls filled with gift certificates for a Birmingham Mall in a flyover. It went much awry when strong winds sent them onto a busy freeway.

“…I respect my grandmother’s ability to dream big. It’s probably from Grandma that I got my desire—and ability—to draw a crowd.” 

She could draw a crowd herself. Fans will remember her attending Taylor’s shows and chatting easily with them. She knew the long road that Taylor had traveled to American Idol victory and shared how proud she was of his successes.

We join all those fondly remembering Miss Joni who passed along to Taylor that ability to dream big and believe in yourself.

God speed, Miss Joni.

May she inspire us all to dream…and to believe.

Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to Taylor and his family during this sad time.

The Taylor Hicks Community

Quotes from: Taylor Hicks, Heart Full of Soul, Random House, New York, 2007.

A Joni Hicks Memorial Fund has been established. Donations may be made to her church, St. Andrew by the Sea, building fund:

***Taylor's shows at Paris Las Vegas have been cancelled until Thursday, May 9th. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taylor Hicks Connects in Cleveland, Miami, and Las Vegas!

Early Saturday morning Taylor Hicks randomly tweeted:

"@taylorhicks: Some things aren't worth the hassle sometimes.....”

He had wrapped up three concerts in Cleveland, Ohio, and was somewhere traveling from there, through a nnowy Chicago airport, and on to Miami where he appeared Saturday evening at the “Blacks’ Annual Gala,” hosted by Real Housewife of Miami, Lea Black.

Here’s our flip side to whatever hassle in which he had found himself.

From a fan’s perspective, last week seemed like a coming together of good things. After a short time off from his headlining gig in Las Vegas, Taylor Hicks was back doing what he does best and getting the accolades for it.

As Taylor and company moved into Cleveland for the week, it brought back fond memories of the 2008-2010 National Broadway tour of the Tony-nominated “Grease” when the show dropped into a city with a flurry of excitement. Taylor Hicks, starring as the heavenly harmonica-wielding Teen Angel, was the face and spokesperson for the flurry. In fact, that “Grease” tour ended at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland, May 23, 2010.

To this fan, this week looked like those happy times when “Grease” was in a town near me!

As cities all over the country and Canada did on the “Grease” tour, Cleveland threw out their welcome mat. Taylor visited local TV and radio, went to a Cavs game, and wowed guests at three free concerts, two at the opening of the Thistledown Racino and one at the Horseshoe Casino.

With microphone in one hand, harmonica in the other, and smile, Taylor Hicks does what he does best!

“@HorseshoeCLE: Las Vegas Headliner @taylorhicks signing autographs at Vintage 51!”

New fans tweeted their reviews:

“@KelsoBug: One perk of my job...watching a Taylor Hicks concert from 10 feet away. Man got some serious SOUL!”

“@liza50: Wow ....just coming from @taylorhicks concert awesome experience you got a new fan !!”

Then there was the Blacks’ Miami Beach charity gala.

This American Idol wears black well and can rock the red carpet. He’s done it many times appearing at numerous charity events supporting good causes. It wasn’t a surprise that he was a guest performer at this glamorous Miami event hosted by Real Housewife of Miami, Lea Black, and her husband benefiting at-risk youth charities.

“@AWCSGO: Taylor Hicks is rocking the Gala. So great!”

No surprise either that he rocked the upscale gathering! 

Perhaps the most meaningful coming together, though, is the time Taylor spends after almost every concert meeting and interacting with guests, many new found ‘fans.’ They take away photos and good memories.

“@ThistleDownOhio: Some lucky fans got to meet @taylorhicks after the show! Hope everyone enjoyed the concert!”

There are always long lines to meet and get a photo with the talented and charming Las Vegas headliner.

Which bring us to the icing on this cake.

The Las Vegas Entertainment Guide listed Taylor Hicks at Paris Las Vegas one of the “Top Las Vegas Concerts 2013!”

“We are only listing the hottest concerts by the hottest stars.”

Those other ‘hottest stars’ include entertainment giants, Celine Deon, Shania Twain, Elton John, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Santana…

That’s some darn good company! 

“Whether it is his ardent singing style or his great personality, Taylor Hicks’ popularity is rising so fast he may soon need a larger venue!”

Actually, the first American Idol to headline with a residency gig in Las Vegas has already moved from the smaller Indigo Room at Bally’s where he headlined in 2012, to the present “glitzy little pocket” as Birmingham reporter, Mary Colurso, called Napoleon’s Lounge at Paris Las Vegas.

The American Idol who auditioned in Las Vegas in 2005 for the singing competition and won Season Five in grand style, is now among the Neon City’s ‘hottest stars.’

That is a coming together to celebrate!

So, it seems fitting that this vagabond entertainer returns to his Las Vegas home at Paris Las Vegas’ Napoleon Lounge this coming week for one of the “hottest” shows on the Vegas Strip!


And that’s not our word.

Oh, yes, there was also Twitter.

@TaylorHicks, official Twitter account, reached 36,000 followers and the number continues to climb daily. And all came the old-fashioned way; none was bought. It is simply new fans finding a really talented musician who loves his music and was born to entertain.

So, we think some good things came together for a very good week.

Congratulations to Taylor Hicks, who keeps right on doing what he does best, whether it is in Cleveland, Miami, or Las Vegas—entertaining us!

If we may speak succinctly and colloquially…

Rock on, Bro!


Taylor Hicks ‘hot’ in Cleveland:
(I know--we  had to go there. But 'hot' was an operative word this week.)

In depth interview by Rover Radio:


“I love Cleveland…I spent a month here with ‘Grease’”
A great performance of “Hell of a Day” and entertaining discussion with WKYC hosts:

“Taylor Hicks Can Do It All at FOX8” including the weathercast and traffic in Cleveland:

“Taylor Hicks Dropped By Fees Kompany” Interview:

Las Vegas Entertainment Guide’s List of “The Top Las Vegas Concerts 2013” with Taylor’s guitar-toting poster in the top five photo banner:


Taylor Hicks returns to Napoleon’s Lounge inside Paris Las Vegas April 15th. If you are in or near Las Vegas, see why his show is one of the ‘hottest’ in the town of hot shows!


For the latest Taylor Hicks news and events, visit:

And follow: @TaylorHicks on Twitter.
Thanks to all whose photos we share here! 

Top to bottom:
Thistle Down Racino: Mike Carew, Akron Beacon Journal
Thistle Down Racino: Lisa DeJong, The Plain Dealer
@HorseshoeCLE: Lines to meet Taylor
Via @TaylorHicks Twitter:  Red Carpet in Miami
Via @ThistleDownRacino: Lucky people meet Taylor after concert.

Via @DebbieinFlorida on Twitter:  Fan's view, Taylor on the Red Carpet, Miami!

Always rockin' the harmonica! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Best of Times~Taylor Hicks' "Hollywood Nights"

It was the best of times. The world was new.

The 2006 American Idol tour was complete, and the fall days were filled with exciting anticipation.

Newly-crowned American Idol, Taylor Hicks, was in the studio in California recording his victory album for Arista. He talked of this time as one of the happiest in his life, when he could smell the ocean from his open window in the morning.

“Hollywood Nights” was our anthem!

There was no twitter. Fans stayed connected through fan boards and media interviews. And for a short time, Friday Night Happy Hour was seeing a new release by Taylor Hicks from the studio for

“Hollywood Nights” created a sensation!

It would have blown up Twitter, if Twitter had been around.

It was a rehearsal, raw, imperfect, and excitingly real! Jeff Lopez, from back home in Alabama and longtime band mate of Taylor Hicks, played saxophone like there would never be another California sunset. “Hollywood Nights” also proved that music is perfect in its imperfections. Taylor changed (flubbed?) the words, added expletives, and fiddled with his ear piece. But this performance takes you from a rehearsal hall to a place higher than the Hollywood Hills.

It was real, like life…sometimes horribly imperfect, but exhilarating.

Taylor was riding the crest of success finally achieving the long elusive dream of finding his voice. On May 24th that year, he was star of the most watched and most popular show on the planet—American Idol Finale, Season Five.

“Hollywood Nights” screamed, “Yes, I Can!”

For the fans seeing this raucous, in-your-face recording, it was affirmation that we were right, and we were in for the ride of our lives!

A few weeks later, December 9, 2006, Taylor Hicks, the album, was released. It was certified platinum on January 17, 2007.

So much has happened since that Friday night when “Hollywood Nights,” took our breath away. So much has changed.

Except the passionate and sensational music.  

Twitter would have received “Hollywood Nights” in its signature, succinct style:


Which says it pretty well. 

And life has never been the same for the Southern boy “looking down on the lights of LA.”

Nor for us!


Thanks to @Sweetsmoke on Twitter for taking us back and reminding us of the not so boring and in no way anemic performance of Taylor Hicks’ “Hollywood Nights!”

The sensational music of Taylor Hicks is alive and well at Paris Las Vegas throughout 2013! See it for yourself!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Taylor Hicks ~~ Turning Around for the Music!

Can the singing competition shows stay true to the music?

I say I won’t, but this time of the year I get hooked on the singing competitions. Sometimes my ears hurt.

Although I’m an avid reader of music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, I didn’t agree recently when he said that the worst singers were on TV—the singing competitions. I don’t think they are the worst singers. I think they are wrongly presented because it all blurs together into who can wear the coolest ensemble, hit the highest, loudest notes, and hold them the longest. It’s all about the show.

And my ears hurt. Music is not all ‘glory notes.’

I even disagree, to a degree, with Taylor Hicks who has said that the competitions are visual…you have to be visual.

Often, I am sitting here and listening to TV. If I turn around to look, it’s for a good sound. It’s not stunning ensembles, short and sexy. That’s the premise that I first liked with The Voice—the blind auditions. It made sense for a singing competition. But after the chairs turn, it’s a show. It’s a competition to stage, dress, make over, and show an over-the-top, brighter and louder-than-the-other-guy stage extravaganza. Have you seen some of those killer shoes? 

Wait…this is a singing competition.  Why do I remember shoes?

Okay, entertainment is about the whole package, but the package is here and gone if the music isn’t at the center. Yes, Taylor Hicks put on a show on Idol. He rolled on the floor with Ryan Seacrest, danced with Paula Abdul, and sat on the steps singing Elvis’ “In the Ghetto.”

What was said to be his best performance on Idol? “In the Ghetto!” No theatrics, just a song done with passion.

That’s what I long to see in the competitions—a singer that connects with the music and the listeners. You don’t have to be sitting in the front row to know it.  You can be America sitting at home turning around.

As American Idol hopefuls dwindled from 20 to 10, I said I thought the girls had it this year. In the first week of the final ten, three girls were the top vote getters.

I like Kree. Forget sequins and shoes; this girl doesn’t need them. She is real. Her voice connects immediately. She is singing music she knows and loves, and that comes through. It’s a little like listening to Adele. She and the music become one. You turn around.

And I turned around when I heard Burnell. If the guys have a front runner, I think he is it.

I do agree with Mr. Hicks when he says that song choice is important. I hope the singers can make the right choices to showcase their voices and persona, but music with which they can connect—music that will be remembered.

Can we keep singing in the singing competitions? I mean no disrespect to any of them, but I frankly don’t care who the judges are. And I know that TV is about ratings. It’s too bad.

Singing competitions should be about the music. That sounds so right.

I hope America votes for the singer and the music that resonates with them…who they would turn around for.

Can we keep it real?

To all those who bring their dreams to this year’s competitions…

Hang your star on the music; it will serve you best.

If you have a Plan B, go straight to it.

If you have no Plan B and music is your life, your dream, take it from the Idol winner who inspires this place:

“Never give up.”

He didn’t when it would have been easy to…when he auditioned in Las Vegas. Now, he’s headlining there.

Take any gig. Winning is about doing what you love to do.

Keep your dreams. Keep the music.

And, as the outstanding Season Five American Idol finalist, Elliott Yamin, said,

“Sing like you mean it!”

Good luck!

Season Five American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks, keeps the music alive in his headlining gig at Paris Las Vegas.

Yes, he wears some pretty cool shirts and the boots are bad, but this show is all about the music! Check it out. Rave reviews mean shows are selling out. Get your tickets and see how this Idol does music!

Idol, back then: Taylor Hicks: “In The Ghetto”

Top Photo and video: Courtesy of FOX  and American Idol.

The fine print: Opinions expressed here are those of the writer.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Connections A Million Miles Away: Music and a Cat

Life can be so complicated. Yet, at its core, its heart, it may be as simple as music and a cat.

Pope Benedict XVI gave a last blessing to the Faithful and flew away in a white helicopter to a new life of quietude. He will take along his beloved piano and his cat. I was surprised to learn that he is an accomplished pianist and music lover.

My first connection with faith and with music was growing up in a small, white country church in the South. It was a million miles away from the Vatican.

I had never felt a connection to this great leader of people. He suddenly became real to me.

I wondered to a friend what kind of music he loves. I perhaps wrongly assumed classical and opera.

It’s funny the things you remember from school. I will never forget studying opera in junior high. That’s right. Many years ago, I had a wonderful teacher who thought the classics and opera were important to our education. We learned the tragic story of Aida and listened to the music. We knew “Carmen” and could sing “Torrr.reee.a.dorr!” In high school choir, we sang in Latin.

The music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, has said several times that music, done right, is life itself.

It is a global connection across cultures, time, and faiths.

Taylor Hicks has said it’s not about how many records you sell; it’s about how many lives you touch.

Music touches our lives. Not just in sounds and words, but in connections, sometimes unexpectedly. It is the soundtrack of our lives taking us through rough times and celebrating the good times. And it is that which we may come back to in quiet times.

I was reminded that music is a connection when there seems to be no other. I will remember the Pope Emeritus now living a quiet life…

With his music and his cat and wish him all the peace and joy they may bring.

Thanks to Benedict, now Pope Emeritus, for an unexpected connection, a friend who shares her deep faith, Taylor Hicks who inspires us with his music, and the funny cat that shares my space!

Connections all, which make my life brighter!

What connections enrich your life?

You can connect with roadhouse soul! Taylor Hicks, Season Five American Idol, headlines at Paris Las Vegas connecting with audiences at Napoleon’s Lounge.


His music has enriched my life.  I’d make a Vegas bet that it will enrich yours too...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paris Las Vegas hosts Taylor Hicks Hangout ~ Clouds & Connecting

Taylor Hicks connects on Google+ as Paris Las Vegas hosted a fun and hilarious “Hangout” Tuesday.

It was fun, hip, and Bill Gates would be proud as I watched on a Microsoft product. His world has come a long way!

I finally found it. Go to Twitter and follow the links.

Follow the links like we used to follow the road map.

It was ‘today’ and cool, like the young. Here was Taylor Hicks in Las Vegas, fans in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Miami, all chatting it up. Webcams showed whatever was in front of them—tattoo, family Schnauzer, scribbled notes, while Taylor hammed it up, enhancing his image with funny hats and answering questions.

The Hangout was another technological marvel to catch up on—a two-way UStream with a select number of people on webcams and viewers looking on.

It’s only been seven years since we first connected with the American Idol from Birmingham, Alabama. There was no Twitter, Facebook (what was that predecessor of Facebook?), no Google+ or Chrome, iPad, or Idol App.

It’s only been four years since this blog launched. In one of the first blogs here, I said “We’ve come so far. We upload, download, and overload.”

How could I know that that was only the beginning and, now, that seems like nothing.

Except for the overload.

Some days seem like technological overload. Now, we Tweet, Google, FB, and carry it all around with us. The connections are endless and 24/7.

Can we keep up the struggle to keep up with all that’s in the clouds? Complete schools are being built there. You can back up your own computer all out there in the clouds?  I’m having trouble seeing the clouds in the same way.

But there is an organic part that doesn’t change.

In the hammy world of Taylor’s Hangout, he was asked to sing a little bit of a song, “Indiscriminate Act of Kindness,” that he recorded as a bonus track on The Distance. It blew me away then, and it still does.

And one guest shared the positive connection that Taylor’s music makes with her silent, autistic son.

How far we’ve come and how close we’ve always been to the essence of connecting.

It’s not only about technology. It’s still about touching lives. It’s still about the music.

Also yesterday, music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, talked about getting old in his “See the Changes.” It wasn’t really about growing old, but about what will get you through.

From Lefsetz’ “See the Changes:”

“Just when you think you've finally figured it out, you find out you were wrong. The hurricane destroys your house, depletes your life savings. The earthquake topples your abode. You thought you were prepared, but life is laughing at you. Pray if it makes you feel better, but no one's listening. Not God, not the government, not the media. You're on your own.

Unless you've got a good record collection.

And someone to listen to it with.

Then you're all right.”

Taylor talked about the success of technology like the iPad in connecting with the autistic.

Technology is a marvelous delivery, and music opens the silent world of a child…

It's making connections and making them count.

We’re all right.

Thanks to Taylor Hicks and Paris Las Vegas for keeping us all connected!


Connect with the music! Not in the clouds. Live on the stage!

See Taylor Hicks at Paris Las Vegas, headlining in Napoleon’s Lounge.

See what inspires our connections!

Taylor Hicks Headlining at Paris Las Vegas:


Watch the Taylor Hicks Google+ Hangout hosted by Paris Las Vegas:

Oh, yes...
And add YouTube to that plethora of technology that’s always with us!

Quote from Bob Lefsetz’ “See the Changes:”