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Archive for July, 2010

Taylor Hicks on Tour: First Impressions

Only two shows into the Taylor Hicks summer national concert tour, fans share their first impressions of the experience:
 

“What struck me about the show at the Highline Ballroom was how loose Taylor seemed.  You could tell how happy he was to be on stage in front of an audience, in front of his fans. One of the most surprising parts of the night was actually not musical.  Taylor’s stage banter, virtually non-existent in 2007, was priceless.  His brilliant sense of humor and interaction with the audience just put a big red bow on the musical gift we were given.”

“Taylor has really come into his own as a performer.  He has a signature style that completely captivates the audience.  Seeing him in Maine again

Photo by Tricia Chase at Jonathan's

was absolutely a dream come true.  The last time he was in Maine, the show was full of electricity & Taylor didn’t disappoint this time either.  New England loves Taylor & I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.”

“Had a great time…was very surprised when we walked into the room because I thought we would have to stand but the room was set with tables and we were seated third row smack dab in the middle…serendipity.  I took my niece who is a newbie and she loved the show.  It just so happened that Javier (Colon) is from my home town of Stratford, CT…it was nice to get a picture with this very talented singer.  I also got a picture with Rob Shuter that is hilarious.   As far as our main man Taylor Hicks…what can I say…the man was on fire.  He put on a fabulous show with a great band…so much energy in the room.  Each song built to a cresendo which was Bullet Proof…love T’s rendition…oh what a night!”

“I was at the concert in New York City with my Mom, and brother. It was a GREAT concert! I have been to many of his concerts, and this was his BEST! I have never seen Taylor so happy, so chatty, so animated, and he was dancing a lot.

I really think (personally) that his Grease performance has really helped him come out of his shell. He isn’t as shy as he used to be. He even talked about Grease. He said that he loved being back on stage, and talked about his part, “A 5 minute song while everyone was sweating their butts off, and he was chilling in his bathrobe & slippers”.

I also had a special treat: I was given Taylor’s harmonica. I was celebrating my recent birthday. I’m still in shock. He even signed it. What a sweetheart!! Still on cloud nine.”

“Taylor had his long-time fans in the palm of his hand and he seemed to impress the newer fans at this intimate Maine venue.  He was in fine voice…strong and soulful!”

Photo by Tricia Chase at Jonathan's

“My Maine experience was what you would call, up close and personal.  I came to learn the full meaning of “intimate venue” while sitting in the seat against the stage directly in front of Taylor’s mic stand.  We all know how Mr. Hicks tends to sweat.  Well, I was the recipient of a good deal of that sweat. Not that I’m really complaining. :)  All kidding aside, it was a privilege to be able to experience Taylor in a small venue like Jonathan’s. I was mesmerized by every part of his performance as I watched, not just listened, to him sing, watched the way his hands moved across the guitar, watched the way he held the harp and the way the muscles in his arms and neck flexed as he played.  And the intensity.  Always the intensity.”

“Upon reflection, I think Taylor was nervous Sunday at the opening show of his summer tour. I got the impression during the first song that he was trying to remember to smile. But, he most definitely relaxed as the show went on. In between songs, Taylor interacted with the crowd and told very funny stories. His banter was the best I’ve ever seen, which only made the show more fun.”

“Taylor and band were ROCKIN the Highline ballroom. Javier opening for Taylor was a sweet little treat as his voice is phenomenal. I was totally blown away by Taylor’s performance and how the band sounded. These guys really know how to jam!!!  Bulletproof was the hit of the night!”

 

Photo by John Felleca at Highline Ballroom

“Javier was the right choice for the opener.  His set was mellow and melancholy; Taylor’s set was full of energy.  Taylor Hicks looked like a rock star!  I’ve been to two of his concerts now.  I must be Soul Patrol.”

“Had the Highline roof not been nailed down, Taylor & his buds would’ve blown it right off!!!!”

Taylor Hicks on “FOX and Friends”: My Story

This original story and all accompanying photographs are graciously provided by guest blogger Caryl.

 

I’ve never been on set at a TV show before, so when it was announced that Taylor Hicks was going to be on Fox and Friends last Sunday morning I thought it would be fun to go. A two-fer: I’d get to see the band perform and watch how the whole thing makes it to air.

I figured it would take almost two hours to get there from my Mom’s house out on Long Island and since the performance was early in the morning, I looked into the price of a hotel room. Expensive. One of my best friends was visiting with me at my Mom’s but had gone into the city to stay with her cousin for the weekend. When we spoke on the phone and I told her what I was cooking up, she asked her cousin if I could stay with them.
 
I absolutely did NOT want to interfere with their family time but everyone insisted, so a blow up mattress became mine for the 2 nights I would be there.
 
Sunday morning I woke before everyone else, got myself ready and hailed a taxi out on the street. That was a first, but I’ve seen people do it on TV so I got through it. A cab actually stopped, I gave the address and we shot off immediately, weaving FAST through the New York streets as if one of us were in labor.
 
I was nervous. I’ve never navigated Manhattan on my own. I was worried about missing the show, not tipping the cab driver properly, spilling hot coffee all over myself during the drive and possibly dying in a fiery crash. But not in that order.
 
The cab suddenly swerved to the side of the road and I was told we had arrived. I didn’t see anything that would indicate that music would be played in the area soon. In all directions, the buildings looked like ordinary sky scrapers. I told the driver I was going to Fox and Friends but he only repeated the address and pointed to the meter. OK, screw you, I thought. I gave him a handsome dollar tip (ha) and got out.
 
The address was correct. As I turned the corner there it was. Instruments were set up on a raised platform. A barricade fenced the area in, but I saw no human activity. I wondered for a second if I was in the right place because the band was set to play in less than twenty minutes.
 
Walking closer, I saw a group of five or so women, cameras in hand, waiting for the show to start. I expected more hustle and bustle. Instead, the air was still and crisp, the viewing area empty. To the left of the stage, I finally spotted the familiar faces of the band as they waited in the shade. Not a gray head among em, though.
 
Slowly, technical people sauntered over, headphones on, and 2 men with hand held cameras took their places. the band moseyed over. And there was Taylor, polished and shiny, wearing dark black sunglasses and a serious expression as he joined them. Someone may have applauded or hooted or something, but I don’t remember. I remember silence. This was national TV after all. No one wanted to mess it up. 
 
Suddenly a quick count down from Taylor and the band was playing, filling that quiet Sunday morning with the first few bars of “Love The One You’re With.” Adrenaline. Then back to silence. The short warm up started to attract a crowd. People filled in next to and behind me.
 
I knew we were about to get started when the smiling, glowing anchors of the show rounded the corner, mics in hand, and greeted the crowd. This was getting exciting!
 
I’m sure you’ve all seen the video by now. a little banter with the hosts and then what we’d all come to see- the Taylor Hicks band back in action! A sizable crowd had gathered by now. We had taken it to the streets.
 
Another weird, quiet pause while the show went to commercial break and then we were into the After Show. Taylor and band launched into “Seven Mile Breakdown.” The crowd bobbed up and down. His longtime fans sang along. When Taylor stepped back and slipped the red guitar off his shoulder I knew it was time for his harmonica solo.
 
Bent over, back to us, I saw that he had the harp mic in hand but no harmonica. Where is it? Where is it? Clay appeared, looking on top and under everything. Nobody seemed panicked, they just calmly looked. Finally, the red guitar was strapped back on. Taylor sang the last verse, Brian blew it out of the water on keyboards and the song was done.
 
I doubt anyone but his diehard fans noticed. Obviously it’s a shame we weren’t treated to a blast from his trademark instrument, but the song soared nonetheless.
 
As the cables and instruments were being packed away, Taylor walked off with a few people I assume were with Fox and disappeared around the side of the building. The show was over, but I was curious about what had happened. Sometime during his warm up Taylor had requested a harmonica. he spoke into the mic: “F harmonica.” did no one retrieve it?
 
Behind the stage, I saw a band member or two walking around, looking like they were packing up equipment. I decided to go see what I could find out. A black van was being loaded and behind it sat a black SUV. Taylor suddenly appeared- cap on- and swiftly jumped into the waiting vehicle. “Nice,” I thought to myself with a chuckle. It always gives me a kick when I see him sneak around unnoticed.
 
The drummer walked past me so I asked, “Taylor couldn’t’ find his harmonica?” He smiled and said, “yeah. and you know where it was? In his back pocket!” We shared a good-natured laugh. I complimented him on a great performance, told him Taylor had assembled yet another great group of musicians and that I would see them later at the Highline.
 
I turned to go and saw the black SUV containing Taylor Hicks stopped at a light directly in front of me. I waved at the back window, mouthed, “Bye!”, laughed and headed off in the other direction, back to the apartment.
 
I walked forty blocks. Did you hear what I just said? FORTY blocks. I don’t remember a thing. Just that the air was cool and breezy and “Seven Mile Breakdown” was playing in my head.

Taylor Hicks: At Home on Stage in New York City

This original story and all accompanying photographs graciously provided by blogger Louise/4tay.

 

Only a few short weeks following the end of his successful national tour of the Broadway show ‘Grease’, the fan question most often heard was ‘when is Taylor going back on tour? Taylor and his band of long-time musician friends entered the stage on Sunday night at the Highline Ballroom in New York City and left no doubt of the answer to the question of when Taylor would be back home on stage.

Dressed in New York chic black and blue, Taylor and his band took center stage with a command only matched by a caged animal who has been waiting to be set free.  From Love the One You’re With to RunAround and Battlefield, Taylor injected some ‘new’ with the familiar.  Through his long and animated riffs with guitarist Sam Gunderson and keyboardist and Musical Director Brian Less, Taylor was taking every audience member to dig deep and remember his 2007 Caged Animal and Hot and Humid tours.  Yes!  An answer was emerging.

A sadly soulful 19 brought cheers and applause from the audience.  New fan, gossip columnist for PopEater, Rob Shuter   commented that the combination of Taylor’s voice and the masterful sax solo by Jeff Lopez moved him to tears.

Drummer Leif Bondarenko drummed out a rousing intro to The RunAround, a single from Hicks’ first major label CD, Taylor Hicks.  Matt Kimbrell provided just the bongo accompaniment needed to ramp up the volume as Taylor burst into his harp solo.  On his knees at the front of the stage, the man was bringing himself back home and the Sunday night audience to church.

Hold On To Your Love brought bassist Brandon Peeples along for the ride as Jeff Lopez  made soulful sounds from the flute ringing a familiar note to those who have seen Taylor perform this original tune many times before.  The difference?  Taylor was in salsa mode, dancing and moving his body, releasing that energy pent up from many months on a Broadway stage instead of a live concert stage.

New tunes, only hinted at by Taylor in tweets leading up to the tour, were welcomed with rousing applause.  Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody was transformed into a roadhouse number complete with Hicks’ southern drawl and expressive emoting at the mic.  Taylor’s standard original hit Seven Mile Breakdown found the audience clapping hands and stomping feet as he finished his set with the crowd on their feet.  Taylor was almost home.  He had turned the key to the lock with Seven Mile Breakdown.  Would the encore that would surely come unlock the door and bring Taylor home?

Bulletproof by LaRoux is a huge pop hit.  Like it or not, in Taylor’s hands, the song became an instant favorite.  Re-entering the stage, Taylor in a Legends t-shirt and waving, began the Bulletproof to a mostly unknowing crowd.  He told the audience that this is his mantra now.  The musicians, Taylor, the audience at the stage by this time, made that song a new tour favorite that night.

Taylor was home.  He had made the leap from Broadway star, touring musician and Idol winner to his home as a live performer.  Taylor Hicks and his band will be bringing  their energy and musical genius to venues all across the nation this summer.  If you can catch a ride on the Soul Patrol train, GO.  Even if it’s not on a Sunday, you can go to church with Taylor Hicks any day he’s appearing on stage.

Click on image for larger view.  Photo credit:  Louise/4Tay

Taylor Hicks on Tour: Snapshots

On behalf of the Gulf: Alabama coastline by Taylor R. Hicks

He’s taken more than two thousand photographs since graduating from the American Idol stage.  He says that the camera lens offers perspective, and the opportunity to observe those who are observing you.  Through the eye of the camera, the shy performer who is always on stage and on display can quietly return our gaze.

The Canon 30d was one of Mr. Hicks’ first purchases after winning the American Idol crown.  He has used the camera to document his experiences ever since.  Someday, when life slows down, he may have the chance to review and catalog those photos, and then there may be a book to share this performer’s journey through the art of photography.

Taylor is serious about art, and in particular about his musical art.  His most recent album, “The Distance”, offers a sample of the diverse influences that guide his writing and performance styles, and that comprise the musical gumbo he calls “modern whomp”.

It’s an unfamiliar term, but a welcome and familiar sound.  Modern whomp is American music; it’s country, rock, blues, soul, and cajun spices tossed into the melting pot, stirred, and served with a side of harmonica.  It’s American, from the country ballad “Maybe You Should” to the rocking “Seven Mile Breakdown”. 

On July 25, Taylor Hicks opens his national tour at the Highline Ballroom in New York City where he’ll delight the crowd with his signature energy, enthusiasm, and modern whomp sound.  From there, the tour moves from east to west across the country, and to a city near you.

Be a part of the Taylor Hicks tour experience.  Let the music move you.  Let your fingers snap, and your feet dance.  Take the man’s picture; maybe he’ll take yours.

 

 

Updated concert dates and locations, as well as ticket links can be accessed from the blog header, or at www.taylorhicks.com

Taylor Hicks Has Happy Feet

The stage is his comfort zone.  His feet feel just fine in front of the footlights.  Now Taylor Hicks is set to move those feet in a new direction, double-time.

On Sunday, July 25, Teen Angel takes on a new role, as Hicks leaves Broadway behind to open his national concert tour in New York City.  Don’t expect to hear show tunes at Highline Ballroom; look instead for roadhouse rock and blues, delivered with conviction. 

Will some of his Broadway swagger translate to the concert stage?  No doubt, and Taylor allows that his positive experience in GREASE could eventually lead to more theater, “if the right role comes along”.  He’s already fielded two or three offers to return to Times Square.  Hicks describes himself as serious and sometimes pensive, unlike the playful, charismatic character who spoke through the television during his triumphant American Idol run.  The right role for Hicks is one that “touches on who I am as a person”.

But for now, Taylor is looking forward to seeing the country from the windows of a tour bus with a group of guys who know their music, and who know how to give a good time.  Set to cover twenty cities in a month’s time, those wheels are going to turn.  And while at some point Hicks does plan to “dial up acting a little more”, just right now an “acting coach wouldn’t fit on the bus!”

 

 

Catch Taylor Hicks on tour this summer; tour stops and ticket links can be accessed from the blog header or at http://www.taylorhicks.com.

Consider the Sources

LIFE Magazine cover 3/23/22: Norman Rockwell original

One lady listens intently as a friend shares a secret over afternoon tea.  Hush, says the friend, “Don’t say I said it!”.  Quietly the story is passed along.  How do either the tea drinker or the eavesdropper know that the secret is true?  They trust the source.

When we asked writer Rob Shuter about the sources for his Popeater.com column, he responded that he only takes stories from people that he knows well and trusts.  He is mindful of the potential impact of his reports; he understands that the printed word can change careers.

How does Shuter respond when a celebrity challenges the content of one of his columns?  He talks to the celebrity or agent and they come to an agreement on how the issue should be handled.  Generally, said Rob, it’s not that the star feels that the report was inaccurate, but rather that the facts could have been handled more delicately.

The 2010 American Idol finale featured an extravagant farewell to judge Simon Cowell that included notable Idol winners and finalists from prior seasons.  Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert was missing from the show.  In his column Rob reported that Lambert was excluded from the show when he failed to appear for rehearsals.  That report resulted in an uproar that fills the columnist’s inbox to this day.

So was it true?  Shuter says yes; he still believes the printed story was correct.  The information came from two independent, well placed sources that he trusts.  Rob feels that the everchanging response to the column by Adam’s team (not invited to appear, never planned to appear, invited to appear but on vocal rest) confirms the accuracy of the Popeater report. 

Do we ultimately care why Adam Lambert was missing from network television on May 26?  No, but it does raise an interesting question: how does the reader reconcile differing versions of this or any other news story?  The reporter is dependent on his/her sources to provide factual information.  Without access to or direct knowledge of those sources, the reader depends upon the reporter to verify the reliability of what he or she has been told.

When you read different accounts of the same news story, what criteria do you use to separate truth from fiction?  Your thoughts and opinions appreciated.

Doggone Smart: Curry, Rob, and Taylor

courtesy of AP Photos

Meet Champion Coleraine’s Mandalay Royalty, a three year old Glen of Imaal terrier, recipient of the Best of Breed award at the 2010 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  Nicknamed “Curry”, the terrier prefers Hebrew National hot dogs (grilled not boiled), enjoys lazy mornings in bed, and is uber friendly.

She’s a lot like her owner, Rob Shuter.  Yet outside the show ring, and away from his day job as Popeater’s celebrity columnist, Rob is most often found at home.  He’s a private person who prefers the local dry cleaner and sandwich store, and doesn’t venture out to the parties at night.

Perhaps it is that shared sense of privacy and individuality that has led to a friendship between Shuter and musician/singer Taylor Hicks.  Rob reports that when the two recently met for drinks, the fancy bar setting was quickly exchanged for a neighborhood dive where ball cap and T shirt were appropriate fashion. 

Rob describes his friend as a gentleman, a kind and decent man who is “comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t need fame so badly that he needs to lose himself”.  Rob reports that Hicks is a savvy businessman who recognized the disarray that currently describes the music industry, and so quietly went his own way, recording the songs that he wanted to sing and making the album he wanted to make.

What’s next for Rob Shuter?  It could be television, “Naughty but Nice” on cable with a theme song co-written and sung by Barry Manilow.  What’s next for Taylor Hicks?  His friend couldn’t be certain, but suggested that a major televison opportunity may be on the way for the American Idol winner.

What’s next for Curry?  With a face like that, surely the film directors will be calling.

Rob Shuter: Nice with Spice

Photo courtesy of Rob Shuter

 First in a three part series.

Rob Shuter talks about other people for a living.   The twist?  He actually likes the celebrities whose ups and downs are chronicled in his Popeater.com column.  Does this mean that Shuter is “celebrity friendly”?  Rob prefers to describe his reporting as “celebrity fair”.

The Naughty but Nice columnist applies a dinner table standard to his reporting.  “If it’s not something that I would talk about with friends in the cafe, I won’t print it.  If it’s not appropriate, I won’t talk about it.”  That doesn’t, however, mean that Shuter is a pushover.  When celebrities fib, and they do, they’re challenged with a quiet “Now that just doesn’t sound right.”

Rob insists that this is the right time and he’s in the right place to deliver gossip of the kinder, gentler variety.  Mean just isn’t selling well this century.  When asked if his comments refer to firebrand Perez Hilton, Shuter replies, “Ooh, Voldemort, he who shall not be named!”

Nice seems to be working out well for Rob.  In just a few weeks, he’ll film the pilot for a new cable television show, “Naughty but Nice”, based upon his Popeater column of the same name.  The format?  Think Chelsea Lately without the edge.  The thirty minute show will include a 15 minute chat between Rob and his media colleagues, a 10 minute celebrity interview, followed by 5 minutes of audience questions.  The nicest (Brad Pitt is very tall) and naughtiest (Brad Pitt has terrible skin) tidbits of the day will be shared.

Rob confesses that he loves his job.  He enjoys talking about the stars that we all love, and likes to give his readers a laugh, even if those laughs sometimes come at the expense of celebrities like TLC reality show queen Kate Gosselin.  Which celebrities does Rob most admire?  He respects those who are most difficult to reach, those stars who prefer a quiet corner bar to the New York City hot spots.

And which celebrity would Rob most like to see naked?  “Lassie. I hate dogs in those silly coats!  Wink.”  Come now, Rob, that just doesn’t sound right.

 

Coming Thursday:  Rob Shuter on Taylor Hicks

Taylor Hicks 2010 Bad Ass Concert Tour Analysis: Part 2

The Merriam Webster dictionary is revised every 10 years.  When last updated in 2003, 10,000 new words were added.  In addition, 100,000 new meanings were added for existing words.

Don’t know how often the urban dictionary is updated, but meaning #10 for “bad ass” is just two words, “Chuck Norris”.  He’s strong, he’s tough, he delivers a punch.  “Chuck Norris does not sleep, he waits.”  And “The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.”  Does this mean that the Taylor Hicks 2010 Bad Ass tour will feature roundhouse kicks delivered from the stage?  Maybe the hand jive was simply a cover for the new martial arts dance that Hicks was really learning on tour.  He’s bulletproof now.  Approach that stage with caution, and at your own risk.  Might balcony seating be the best choice this concert year?

Many of the new definitions added to dictionaries are slang meanings for existing words.  It is the nature of slang to use opposites.  If the suits say good, you say bad, but heck, you mean good.  Bad, wicked, sick: it’s all good!  So the Bad Ass tour may simply be the best concert experience available this summer.  Buy your tickets now, and I mean it.  It’s gonna be sick.  Just don’t make Hicks sick, he needs to come to a concert venue near us.  Stand back people; keep your germs to yourself.

Yet there is another choice. perhaps the most clever of them all.  Maybe  the Bad Ass tour is not an attitude, but a business decision.  I’m talking sponsorship.  Use the binoculars from the balcony, and check out the footwear on stage. 

Now that’s how you fund the tour bus, and the barbeque.  Yes, indeed.

Because word meanings continually evolve, it’s hard to know precisely what Bad Ass means in the context of the Taylor Hicks 2010 summer  concert tour.  We’ve come to the conclusion that the only way we’ll know for certain is to buy a ticket and witness Bad Ass in person.  And because one show wouldn’t really be an adequate statistical sample, well, we’ll just have to buy more than one ticket.  After all, Bad Ass might just mean kick ass.

We’ll file a report….. from the balcony.

The Bad Ass Tour Part 1: Etymology

TOUR IS GOING TO BE BAD ASS!! WHO’S GOING??!!                          

I’ve Got Some BAD ASS NEW TOUR MERCHANDISE!!!!!

Quite honestly, we were taken aback when these two tweets from singer Taylor Hicks appeared upon the screen.  Bad ass tour, bad ass merchandise.  What could that mean?  Didn’t know, but we immediately recognized the urgency of the communication.  All in CAPITAL LETTERS and accentuated by multiple exclamation points.  We weren’t sure if bad ass was a promise or a threat, but we knew the man was serious.

So we decided, based upon our respect for Mr. Hicks, that this situation merited proper research and analysis.  In Part 1 of  our Bad Ass Tour study, we consider the etymology of the word “ass”.  In Part 2 we’ll analyze the term “bad ass”, and then we’ll consider whether the “bad ass tour and merchandise” are good for you and me.

In the following video, we learn more about the word “ass”.  While often considered a vulgar term, Charles Hodgson explains that “Ass has always been part of English but mostly it meant “donkey.” It was arse that meant what we think of as “ass” now.  As the meaning shifted, people who wanted to refer to the animal got embarrassed and came up with a new word. Although ass goes back thousands of years, donkey only shows up in 1785, as ass the rear end was gaining strength in common usage.”

So, now we understand that the jackass came first and the human ass brought up the rear, but we still don’t know why a bad ass is a good idea.  Sure, Disney turned ass into cash, but Eeyore was depressed, not mean.  Would you wear an angry ass on a T shirt, or worse yet, an emoticon?  Just asking.

 Part 2 tomorrow.

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