Taylor Hicks on Tour: Hicks, No Lone Star in Texas
Part 1: The Flamingo Room, Houston, Texas, 9/16/11.
Recap and all photos by Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog.
On the Frontage Road that runs parallel to US45 and leads to and from the Hobby airport sits a palm tree decorated restaurant, Paco Joe’s, and an adjoining nightclub, The Flamingo Room. Just a little gritty but standard for the area surrounding the airport, the Flamingo Room is a jewel in the rough. Rough in starting, the Taylor Hicks show turned out to be a rousing roadside concert filled with the sounds of Taylor’s strong voice, the blues of Little Memphis Blues Orchestra and the talented sounds of two young lead guitarists who stepped in admirably with Taylor after performing their opening stint at the Flamingo. On the whole, the show exceeded the sum of its parts.
While the restaurant was open and airy, the venue was closed up, a little dark and configured in a way so that there were few good spots to view the show. At first set up for standing general admission on the floor, tables were later arranged for VIP seating before the opening acts took the stage. Staci’s Edge consisted of Staci, lead guitarist and vocalist, a bass player and a drummer. Staci later came out and performed with Taylor on guitar during Call Me The Breeze.
After taking our seats, the openers performed. First Staci’s Edge and then a blues band Mojofromopolis. The Mojo harp player and lead singer really made an impression in the dark club but it was the lead guitarist, a young man in a light blue shirt who stole the show. His name is Dennis ‘Applehead’ Clapp. He would later perform with Taylor on Back to Louisiana and we completely believed he might show up the next night in McKinney due to a lack of a lead guitarist in Taylor’s band for this leg of the tour.
The fast pace and grittiness of this area of Houston seemed to be reflected in what occurred at the beginning of Taylor’s part of the show. Technical difficulties plagued the mics and the keyboard at the very beginning of the show. Still, the band played on. Tables set up on what is normally a standing general admission area stifled the performance at times but still the band played on. Becoming stronger and stronger as the night went on, Taylor and his band overcame the venue, the difficulties and a polite audience to give a performance that ended completely differently than the way it started.
Taylor performing in a country western style shirt to an audience who appreciated this kind of style endeared him to the crowd. But, it was his voice and his jam sessions with his band members and the two guitar sit ins that turned the night around. Thinking at the beginning of the show that this might be the only weak show I had ever seen Taylor perform, I was turned around as I patiently waited to see what Taylor would make of this night.
Patience turned out to be a rewarding virtue at the Flamingo Room as Taylor delivered song after song and blew the harp to cap off a show that made the audience in Texas into believers. The harp player in the Mojo band was AT the stage soaking Taylor’s harp madness into his brain. A harp duel was expected but did not materialize.
The set list was familiar but it was the guest soloists who made the songs new and refreshing. Staci dueled with Taylor on the guitar alternating riffs on Call Me The Breeze. She’s Pat Benatar and Shania Twain all mixed into one hot smoking player.
The young Mojo guitarist was in the zone from beginning to end as his fingers flew across the guitar strings. He didn’t hold back. He held his own. We were hoping to see him follow the band to Dallas but as it turned out, that hope was dashed and for good reason. Taylor had a wonderful surprise for us that he would share at McKinney PAC.
With Brian Less on keyboards, David Keith on drums, Jeff Lopez on wind instruments and Taylor on guitar and vocals, the band was completed by a familiar face in bassist Mitch Jones. The new young talent amazed the audience and the faces and performances of artists we have come to know for years were uplifted by the up and coming artists on the stage that night.
Never underestimate a man on a mission. Going on the stage late in the night and against some obstacles beyond his control, in what seemed like a jigsaw puzzle of a show, Taylor displayed the veteran skills that have served to set him apart. He pumped the show up to a new level. This is what we saw at the Flamingo Room. A different venue than McKinney, a show like no other.
If you are in the area and stop at Paco Joe’s, there will be a large LCD TV screen playing in the restaurant featuring artists who have performed in the Flamingo Room. Look for Taylor Hicks and his band on this screen. Taylor’s show was videotaped by the venue and we are positive it will show up on the TV in the restaurant. For those who did not go to the show or who are there for a drink and/or dinner, Taylor will continue to entertain his Houston fans.
Part 2: McKinney PAC recap with photos coming up next! Come back and visit for a look at another unique show by Taylor Hicks and Little Memphis Blues Orchestra.