by Holley Dey and Louise Uznanski ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved
Regis Philbin had a question for Taylor Hicks following the American Idol winner’s 2008 Broadway debut. ”This is what you want then……to be an actor?” Replied Hicks, “I want to be a musician, and I want to be an entertainer.” In 2013 Taylor made good on that intention, enlarging his artist brand with ventures into scripted television and celebrity cooking, while maintaining a primary focus on live performance music.
He had his fingers in many pies, borrowing from one recipe to enhance another, blending fun, food and football with the occasional falsetto to create an entertainment potpourri that satisfied even the most finicky. Here are a few facts and photos attached to a musician who grew and diversified his brand in 2013. Look for the giveaway that follows the photos; this features one of Hicks’ new ventures!
Following a successful debut at Bally’s during the summer of 2012, Hicks was offered and accepted a year long extension of his popular show on the Las Vegas Strip. Now located in Napoleon’s at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, the show’s run has been continued at least through February 2014. Tickets are available through the Paris box office and at Ticketmaster.
He brings a unique “roadhouse” sound and show to the Strip that have proved popular with visitors and reviewers alike; they describe Hicks’ “engaging personality” and appreciate his gritty vocals and instrumental skills. Said one attendee, “Without a doubt (he is) the most original artist to ever come out of American Idol. Even if you don’t like or have never watched Idol, this show is not to be missed.”
Photos: @2013 Dave Morton
His Las Vegas show went on the road this year when Taylor traveled to Caesars properties across the country for time limited engagements that included appearances in the west, midwest, on the east coast and in the southeastern United States. During a December weekend of holiday shows at Harrah’s New Orleans, Hicks was joined on stage by the legendary Leo Nocentelli, a founding member of funk band “The Meters” who added zest to performances of “Ain’t No Use” and “Why Can’t We Live Together”.
Photos: @2013 Louise Uznanski
He was supported by a full band, but both in Las Vegas and on the road Taylor demonstrated his multi-instrument skills. In addition to his trademark harmonica, the musician played organ, guitar and tambourine. Might have also whistled…snapped his fingers…clapped his hands…danced a bit…anyone have the kitchen sink?
Photos: @2013 Louise Uznanski
His home state of Alabama was not neglected during the year. Taylor headlined the 1st annual “Shindig on the Sand” at the Flora-Bama, a June 2013 event that celebrated local Gulf Coast talent, presenting 50 acts across five stages on both sides of the Florida-Alabama state line.
Photo: @2013 Mullet Wrapper
Hicks also traveled home to perform during Empowerment Week, a September commemoration of important civil rights events that took place in Birmingham fifty years ago. He returned to to the State to headline “Tailgate for the Cure”, an October fundraising event for the the Alabama Institute of Medicine. The latter program also featured SEC football; the day’s games were shown continuously on large screens behind the performers.
A fierce and vocal fan of both college and professional football, Taylor’s strong social media presence and unvarnished opinions on game days led to some other interesting opportunities in 2013. The American Idol season 5 winner is now an expert NFL game picker for Lindy’s Sports, included on a panel of five that predict each week’s winners against the spread. Taylor was a guest on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, and was spotted with Charles Barkley and the ESPN College GameDay crew at the Alabama-Auburn showdown.
Photos: @2013 Greg McCallister
Radio guest spots were supplemented by numerous television appearances on both local and national levels. Notable among these were appearances on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Miami” in support of the Blacks’ annual charity gala, on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” in support of fellow headliner Penn Jillette and Las Vegas charity Opportunity Village, and on Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family series.
Hicks also appeared on NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU.” In his first scripted acting role, Taylor played a judge on fictitious reality singing competition “American Diva”, asking the nervous young teenager who stood before him, “What are you singing tonight, honey?” In a performance worthy and reminiscent of Simon Cowell, Taylor’s initial skepticism disappeared in a broad smile as the young girl (played by Carly Rose Sonenclar) delivered a soaring vocal. Musicians Clay Aiken and Ashanti joined Hicks at the judges table, and in his appreciation of the young talent.
The singing, the acting, the intensity of fall football – well, it can make a man hungry. Fortunately, foodie and restaurateur Taylor Hicks has the resources and know-how to satisfy the occasional craving for good southern cooking. During 2013 Saw’s BBQ was included in Parade magazine’s list of top new barbeque restaurants, was voted Birmingham’s best BBQ by local area residents, and earned a mention on Craig Ferguson’s late night television show!
Recipes from the Hicks co-owned Saw’s Juke Joint are included in Recipes Across America, the newly released Taste of Home cookbook. Taylor demonstrated how to prepare, and more importantly how to eat, BBQ stuffed jalapeno poppers in several television appearances that promoted the book. Paired with Food Network star Martie Duncan, Taylor also presented at Houston’s Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining show where he serenaded attendees with his voice and guitar before turning his attention to a mixing bowl.
In 2013 Taylor Hicks earned strong reviews and a contract extension for his groundbreaking Las Vegas residency. He revealed multifaceted interests and strong business acumen, expanding his entertainment brand to include an increased television presence through his first scripted acting role. He brought a demonstrated interest in cooking and the restaurant business to a new level, and married that interest to his first talent, music. The performer who once played the local Steak and Ale now invites rising artists to find an audience at his own Saw’s Juke Joint in Birmingham. When asked to demonstrate his cooking skills and original southern recipes for live or television audiences, Hicks is always ready with a song and his harmonica. And a spoon.
GIVEAWAY: For your chance to WIN one of two Saw’s Juke Joint trucker’s hats (pictured above), leave a comment below. Your comment is your contest entry. For a second chance to win, click on the button below to tweet the link to “Taylor Hicks: The Year in Photographs 2013″. One winner will be randomly selected from all blog entries, and a second winner from all Twitter entries. Contest closes on Monday, January 6 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Winners will be notified the following day.
Addendum January 7, 2013:
CONGRATULATIONS to Julia M. and @ParleyBlueHenry, our two contest winners! Please drop us an email with shipping details; we’ve got you covered!