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Taylor Hicks on Tour: Why Taylor Makes Us Proud

This post was kindly provided by Louise/4Tay who attended the Fort Walton show.  Photos of Taylor Hicks and videos provided by Louise/4Tay.  All other photos provided by macpolski.

Against a backdrop of the fifth anniversary of Katrina and a TV appearance by Taylor in “The Gulf is Back” on the CWT network Friday night, Taylor Hicks and his band, handpicked by sponsor Fort Walton Medical Center, found themselves as the centerpiece of the Fort Walton Armed Forces Appreciation Day at the Bull Rigdon Fairgrounds.  Despite heavy rain the day of the event, all participants joyfully went about their day to show their appreciation for the everyday heroics displayed by the many, many military personnel living and working in the Fort Walton Beach area.  This event also demonstrated the diverse cultures that make up the Fort Walton community.  It made me proud to see these cultures come together for this day of appreciation.

The Fort Walton Medical Center sponsored Taylor’s appearance and in their introduction of Taylor they spoke about why they ‘insisted’ that Taylor headline the entertainment portion of the event.  When the event was organized for 2010, the sponsors thought first of Taylor because of his tireless efforts on behalf of the Gulf Coast and his dedication to honoring American troops while on tour across the US for the past two years.  The sponsor said that they wanted no one else to conclude the Armed Forces Appreciation Day than Taylor.  This made me proud to be a fan.

The event was marked by friendly greetings by all military and auxiliary personnel from the ticket takers to the food vendors.  Military displays honoring the diversity of the region and military personnel were on hand in several buildings spread out across the fairgrounds behind the outdoor stage.  Displays of dance from the Phillipines and Latinos filled the hall where the two headliners, Kimberley Locke and Taylor Hicks would perform.  We knew the show would go on because the military wanted Taylor to join in the celebration.  This made me proud to be there to witness these events.

The US Air Force Reserve Band took the floor and offered outstanding performances of classic music from the 40’s.  Four branches of the military participated in a pizza eating contest while donations filled their respective charity’s buckets.  The winning team’s charity won the total donations.  The donations went to the Perry Jones scholarship fund.  Perry Jones is a young man who lost his life while serving in the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard ceremony honoring Mr. Jones was filled with heartfelt testimony and song witnessed by his extended family who were on the stage.  A Tuskegee airman, Walter Richardson, a Fort Walton native, sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic while the audience and Jones’ family sang along.  The scholarship money was presented on behalf of the Coast Guard who won the pizza eating contest.  Taylor brought me to this show but this ceremony made me proud to be an American.

Kimberley Locke, a 3rd place winner on American Idol in 2002 performed a long set with her band of original and cover tunes.  Her remarkable presence and style endeared the audience to her.  I was proud of how wonderful Kim is how far she has come since realizing her American dream.

Observing the crowds throughout the long day, I noticed the military families and their friends.  They are all so young and dedicated and committed to making their world a better place.  This celebration draws thousands on a yearly basis.  The weather did not keep people home.  They came anyway and visited the vendors and their friends and a lot of them left because the outdoor activities were not held.  I was at the fairgrounds earlier in the day and the streams of people came and went.  This made me proud of the community these individuals have created and are committed to on a daily basis.  Bad weather was not going to make them miss this event.

So with a backdrop of Katrina on every TV set in the country,  especially in this Gulf Coast area, terrible weather and a worse forecast, the people still came out to honor their military men and women.  To show his appreciation for our Armed Services, Taylor Hicks bounded onto the stage with vigor and exuberance.  The band could not have picked a better day to play the best show of their tour this summer.  Just being in the vicinity of our beloved military seemed to make Taylor strive for a flow of perfection from song to song.  Interjecting his gratitude between almost every tune, Taylor thanked the military for protecting his country and making it possible for us all to live the American dream.  This made us all proud to be a Taylor Hicks fan because this is not something he just mentioned for this event.  He says it at every show without fail.

Taylor has been traveling a great deal in the last two years.  He is in a lot of airports lately.  He encourages us all to show our appreciation for the men and women who serve by overcoming our shyness, shaking hands and saying ‘thanks for your service.’  This is something he lives by and on this day of appreciation, Taylor’s performance and how he lives his life of gratitude to the freedoms we all enjoy does indeed make us proud.

When the show was over, the line of people waiting to meet Taylor was stretched from the back of the hall to the front.  Taylor took special attention with the military fans and wounded veterans.  Standing in that line behind a lot of folks and seeing Taylor interact with many new fans he made that night made us all proud to be there and honor our brave men and women because that is what Taylor has taught us to do by his example.  Nineteen makes me prouder every time.

Taylor Hicks on Tour: Date Night at Highline Ballroom

This post kindly provided by Candy/skeeter226 and supplemented by photos from Louise/4tay


It was with great anticipation and excitement that I looked forward to the July 25, 2010 Taylor Hicks concert at Highline Ballroom. Out-of-state friends were arriving on July 24 to travel with me to New York City the next day.

On the morning of the 24th I read on Twitter that @TaylorRHicks and @NaughtyNiceRob were running a contest.  The prize: a date with Popeater columnist Rob Shuter and the chance to meet Taylor Hicks after the Highline Ballroom show.  The contest question: “Is Taylor Hicks left handed or right handed?”  I tweeted my answer, and then left to meet friends who had flown in that day. En route I received this tweet from Rob Shuter: “@skeeter226 would you be my date at Highline tomorrow night?”  I answered:  “HELL YES” and it was a total whirlwind after that.

Now reality was beginning to sink in; I started to feel a little queasy and had to pull over to the side of the road.  My phone was going crazy with tweets and phone calls from friends who congratulated me on winning the contest.  It was crazy!

I’ve met Taylor several times and he is as down to earth as they come; he always makes you feel comfortable right away. It was Rob Shuter that had my stomach in knots.  I spent a sleepless night tossing and turning, wondering what this date would be like.  I have to thank my good friends for soothing my nerves before the big event; it wasn’t easy!

I was to meet Rob outside the Highline at 8pm.  I asked a friend to come with me to snap a few pictures and to keep me from freaking out! Rob came rushing up the street at 8 o’clock sharp saying KA’NDEE!! just the way my mother does (she is British also).  He gave me a big hug; we took a few pictures, and then made our way inside. I was totally comfortable with Rob from that first moment.  It turns out there was no reason to be worried or nervous about meeting him or spending the evening with him.

Rob grabbed me by the hand and on the way to our seats stopped to tell several people that I was his date. We paused at the table where my son was sitting for some quick introductions. Our table was in the second row at the end to the right of the stage. I gathered up my courage and asked Rob if he would mind sitting at the table where I had planned to join my friends. These good people had secured 3 tables in the front row center. When I showed Rob where we’d be sitting, he said: “Of course! You ladies have a better table than I do!”

As we settled into our seats and ordered drinks, we discovered that we had arrived just in time for the opening act, Javier Colon. I really enjoyed Javier’s acoustic set.  He has a wonderful personality and is a very talented artist. My favorite songs from Javier included a soulful “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “Use Me”.  I am sorry I didn’t get to meet him after the show, and hope he’ll open for Taylor again in the future.

Finally the time came for Taylor Hicks to hit the stage.  If there is anything better than seeing Taylor perform live, it’s to see the show with someone who has never had this experience before.  My friends and I tried to prepare Rob for what he was about to see, but as I have said many times, there is no explaining a Taylor Hicks show.  You just have to see it for yourself.  Taylor did not disappoint;  he burst onto the stage with “Not Fade Away/Runaround”, and it just got better from there.  Taylor’s band is fantastic and they were tight that night!  One comment from Rob:  “Taylor is NOTHING like this when we are out for drinks!”  He really seemed to be impressed, especially with Taylor’s guitar and harmonica playing.  I had the best time just listening to his comments during the show.  My favorite performances from Taylor Hicks that night were “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody”, “Hold On To Your Love” and the encore performance of “Bulletproof”.  Simply fantastic!

Judy Katz took this picture; I'm short, and so she chopped off our heads to get everyone in, but I still love this picture!

After the show Rob introduced me to some of Taylor’s “people” and there were photos taken.  I really enjoyed listening to Taylor and Rob talk about the show backstage!  Taylor’s publicist Judy Katz was there and she was such a sweetheart.  She was very calm among all of the craziness and kept everything running smoothly.  I also enjoyed a good fifteen minutes talking to saxophone player Jeff Lopez backstage, and that was another one of the very special times that night.  Jeff is extremely talented and always a joy to see; I felt so lucky to have been able to spend so much time with him.  All of Taylor’s band members take the time to talk with the fans and I really appreciate that.

The Highline Ballroom show was just the beginning of a fantastic tour, and I can’t wait for September when Taylor Hicks and his band come back to the northeast.  Taylor Hicks and his band LIVE makes me “FEEL SO GOOD DOWN IN MY BONES” and THAT’S what it’s all about!”

Huge thanks to Rob Shuter, Taylor Hicks, and Judy Katz for making this a magical night that I will never forget!! You’re a “doll” Rob!!!..CHEERS!!!!

For more on Taylor Hicks, visit

Follow Rob Shuter on Popeater at

Taylor Hicks and the Hoff: Singing for the Gulf Coast

This post and all accompanying photographs are kindly provided by NolaMar who attended the taping of “The Gulf is Back” at Mississippi Coast Coliseum on Aug 17.  (Click on photos to see larger versions.) The television special is scheduled to air on the CW network on Aug 27 at 8 pm EST. 

As soon as it was announced that Taylor Hicks was going to be involved in the filming of a TV special over in Biloxi, MS in support of the Gulf coast I knew I wanted to attend. I live in New Orleans, and this whole region from TX to FL has been hit very hard by the oil spill this summer. Taylor has been involved from the start in doing what he can to help the people of the coast. It was very heartening to learn that he and some other regional artists were coming together for such a great cause.

The day before the taping I made the 3.5 hour round trip to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum to pick up the tickets, and then back again the next day for the actual show. I was proud and excited that I would be a part of the audience for this event, and also very excited to be seeing Taylor Hicks perform live for the first time in almost a year. The crowd lining up outside was a good mix of all ages, from kids to elderly.  It looked like a lot of them were country music fans: a good percentage wore cowboy hats. 

Taylor Hicks performs at Mississippi Coast Coliseum

As I entered the auditorium, I was awed by the massive set. The lights were absolutely stunning. It made me realize that this was the “real deal,”  a real live professional television production, and it was being done very well. I was able to get a great seat in the 3rd row. The only instrument on the stage was a beautiful piano. Technicians, stage hands, and camera crew were everywhere.  As the rest of the crowd came in they were encouraged by the crew to move down in the side bleachers, and up closer on the floor, to fill in any empty seats.  My best guess is that there were 2,000 – 3,000 people in attendance.  The man in charge spoke to the audience and told us what to expect during the filming. Among other things, we were asked to not drink our beverages or exit during the performances.

The production manager came out next, made introductions, and talked about the crew’s experience with filming music shows for television.  I heard “CMAs,” “Golden Globes,” and other well known musical and Hollywood events. He also discussed the program’s mission to support Gulf coast residents, and how proud everyone was of their resilience and fortitude through this crisis. He seemed to genuinely empathize with the hardships that the people of the coast have suffered because of the oil spill. I think that most in the audience were touched;  I know I was.

 We were then coached in appropriate TV audience responses – clapping, laughing, and looking like we were having the time of our life.  It was fun!  The cameras filmed us all the while, to be edited into the show in all the right places.  Then the real show began.

David Hasselhoff: Host of the "Back to the Gulf" special

David Hasselhoff, the show’s host, came out to film an opening number. Five, four, three, two, one… applause…. I know Hoff as an actor of course, but had no idea what to expect musically from him. With his pianist and recorded music, he gave a very expressive rendition of the song “Feeling Good.” He came down from the stage and dramatically ended the song only 10 feet from where I sat. (Imagine a Vegas/Elvis type moment.) Let me just say that the man has NOT lost his good looks with age. No, he has not, not at all. 

Catching me totally off guard, they announced Taylor Hicks immediately after David Hasselhoff  finished his number. Taylor came onstage with his black Taylor guitar to much enthusiastic applause. In spite of feeling kind of addle-brained for a second, I noticed two things while he waited for the film crew to cue him – what he was wearing and how incredible he looked, especially on the two huge jumbotrons. He had on a dark blue button down shirt and black jeans and looked younger in person than he ever does in videos or pictures.  And amazingly handsome.  And like a star who belonged on that stage.  His smiles were to die for.  Taylor performed Seven Mile Breakdown, accompanied

Taylor Hicks performs "Seven Mile Breakdown"

by his own guitar and recorded music.  He sounded really fabulous! Taylor’s live voice always stuns me and this was no exception. Seven Mile Breakdown is a fun, foot stomping song and was perfect for this crowd. The audience really got into it. Everyone that I could see was moving and clapping, and loud cheers erupted both times he said “Mississippi,” and again when he played the harp.  I listened and took pictures while he blew everybody away. He seemed genuinely happy to be there and appreciative of the long, thunderous applause.

After he finished SMB the makeup crew came out and blotted off the sweat and reapplied some TV makeup. (You could hear the audience chuckling every time they did this between performances.) They took his guitar and then he sang his other single from “The Distance” CD, “What’s Right Is Right.” By this time Taylor’s voice was doing things to my brain that just made me block everything else out. Again, his voice just amazed me. I listened & watched and snapped more pictures, but I was too thrilled by his

Taylor Hicks performs "What's Right Is Right"

performance to notice the audience’s reaction during the song. I know there was more enthusiastic applause for him when he was finished, and again, more wonderful smiles from Taylor.  I was left wanting more of course, but felt very happy –  he had looked and sounded fabulous, and I had pictures.

I stayed for the other performances from Terri Clark, Bo Bice, and Lonestar. They also did two songs apiece.  While they were very talented,  and  fun to watch, honestly country is just not for me.  

Bo Bice (on right) sings for the Gulf coast crowd.

Aside from Taylor, my favorite performance came from Lonestar, probably because their sound is more southern rock/pop than country. Fun moments  included watching the camera on wheels zipping at high speed across the stage during the performances, and seeing the drummer sprayed with hairspray between songs.

Lonestar performs for the Mississippi audience

The whole taping was a fun and interesting experience.  I think that anyone who watches the show will be impressed; it will be a wonderful tribute to the residents of the Gulf coast,  featuring  good music from some artists who are native to the area.  I am eagerly anticipating Taylor Hicks’ appearance at Ft. Walton Beach later this month, and hoping for a club show closer to my home with the full Taylor Hicks band sometime in the near future.  I’ll be there!

Taylor Hicks on Tour: Hello Connecticut, Hudson Valley and Moonlight in Vermont

Louise/4Tay contributed this article and photos.   Infinity Hall poster created by Jenni Jac using a photo provided by NolaMarImages.  Taylor Hicks poster created by macpolski.

For Taylor’s tour schedule and ticket info: TaylorHicksNews on tap

As Taylor Hicks completes the taping of the Gulf Shores Special in Biloxi, Ms, his tour bus waits for him in Grand Junction, Colorado for his next stop on his Bad Ass Tour.  Facing a swing to Colorado followed by dates in Nevada, California and Florida that will take him to Labor Day weekend, Taylor’s fans wait excitedly in the Northeast to see his tour end as excitedly as they welcomed him at his first show at the Highline Ballroom in NYC on July 25th.

After a planned charity event in California, Taylor and his band of musicians will say hello to Connecticut on September 15th at Infinity Hall in Norfolk.  Nestled in the Northwest corner of the state, the theater is a cozy, historic and acoustically excellent venue to hear the soulful sounds of Taylor and his band.  Within a short driving distance from Philadelphia, New York City and Long Island, this is a venue and a show that should not be missed.  This excellent poster promoting the show says it all.  Blues, soul, rock and great musical presentation will delight audiences new and old.

The Hudson Valley in New York will be  filled with bright hues of the coming Fall season and it is a perfect backdrop for a musical event.  Making their way from Connecticut to New York’s Hudson Valley, the blue Prevost bus carrying Taylor and his band will arrive at their next destination: Westchester’s Best Musical Venue, the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, New York for a September 16th show.  This show will put you in a perfect mood  for the musical feeling expressed in the following photo taken at Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis, Md. by macpolski.

Moonlight in Vermont takes us to the days in New England just before the frost hits the pumpkins and fallen leaves.  It’s riding in your convertible with the top down and a woolen hat on your head.  What better way to start the Fall season then to follow the bus from Connecticut to New York and then finally to Vermont for a September 18th show at the Paramount Theater in Rutland, Vermont.  The snow will not be on the mountains at Killington but the heat will be on at the Paramount.  Even the late, great Ray Charles found reason to sing a siren song beckoning the music traveller to come to Vermont.

Come to New England in the Fall and see the finishing touches on a tour that started out in Gotham and will end  in the land of Ben and Jerry’s, maple syrup and great musical venues that bring the best out of Taylor Hicks and all artists who venture there.  Maine in July gave us this.

New England can bring you the passion and artistry of Taylor Hicks’ music.  Make the trip.  It’s going to be an adventure.

Taylor Hicks on Tour: Fan-tastic

When Taylor Hicks and band came to New Jersey last month, one family was more than ready, and waiting.

“We were so excited to see that Taylor Hicks was playing at Mexicali Live. We bought the tickets as soon as we got the email so that our two daughters could be up close to see. Charlee, 9, has been a huge fan since American Idol and saw Taylor in GREASE on Broadway as well. Isabella, 7, liked Taylor but wasn’t sure if she would like the show since it was going to be her first concert.”

What did Isabella think of the show? “This was my first concert, and it will be my best concert ever! I want to go see Taylor Hicks here again!” While older sister Charlee knew most of the songs, it took a little while for her to warm to the concert setting. She was hesitant to approach the stage during the show, but did inch closer to take some pictures.  Just before the encore, both girls found a comfortable place by the stage with Taylor’s other excited fans.  By the time Hicks returned, the girls had relaxed and were dancing and screaming for more.

Said Charlee and Isabella’s father, “We never could have imagined that Taylor would notice them and give them harmonicas right there from the stage. It was so exciting to see their faces at that moment and that just continued as they waited for autographs and pictures. They both walked out with pictures with Taylor and signed t-shirts and harmonicas; better yet were the smiles that lasted for days.”

What did the girls’ Dad think of the show?  “I really enjoyed it and definitely have to say that Taylor and the band seem to love what they are doing.  They looked like they were just having fun up there.  It wasn’t about anything but the music AND having a good time with the crowd.  Especially in a small venue like Mexicali, it’s like you are part of the show too.”

“Taylor did a great job of mixing it up with different songs and types of music.  Gotta say my favorite might have been when he threw a little Smokey and the Bandit into Soul Thing.   But of course we loved the “Takin It To The Streets” encore when the girls were up at the stage.   The piano player and the Great Balls of Fire solo were excellent.  The sax player was very good too … he kinda stayed tucked away to the side but he was really great.  Can’t say enough good things about the show, Taylor, or his fans after this great night.”

The whole family enjoyed the opportunity to meet Hicks after the show.  “We love that Taylor takes the time to take pictures with everyone after the show (really just a down to earth guy).   He was the same way when we saw him after GREASE.  Thanks Taylor for acknowledging the “little” fans too and being so amazingly nice to our daughters at the show. We’ll be looking for your next visit to New Jersey or New York!!!”

Family friendly, fan friendly, fan-tastic: the Taylor Hicks band returns to the northeast in mid September for shows in Norfolk, CT, Tarrytown, NY, and Rutland, VT.  More information is available from the concert page in the blog header, or from Mr. Hicks’ official site at www.

Taylor Hicks on Tour: Living on Heart and Soul

Article and photos contributed by Louise/4Tay who travelled to Taylor’s 6 shows that opened his tour in the Northeast.

Twenty-two cities, one month on the road, 7 band members and 3 band assistants on one long, blue Prevost tour bus.  Venues to book, openers to schedule, driving routes that criss-cross the East for 10 days in July and August to kick-off the tour.  These are the makings of a tour for Taylor Hicks and his band as they hit the road for cities across the country. Taylor’s tour opened in New York City at the Highline Ballroom. The show  was marked by the band’s incredibly high energy and ecstatic fan enthusiasm for live Taylor music. The band stretched and gyrated itself into a set that became memorable for it’s incredible list of original and cover tunes.   The Bulletproof finale served it’s purpose for Taylor and his band as they laid it all out there as they ended their first night  of the tour.  Taylor has commented that with this tour he is ‘seeing what’s out there.’   With Taylor Hicks, you never know what he has in store but fans also know it is something they do not want to miss.  Taylor promised some ‘bad-ass’ on his latest tour and he and the band delivered that and more; they delivered the Heart of their being.  (The Band:  Keyboards:  Brian Less; Guitar:  Sam Gunderson; Wind instruments:  Jeff Lopez; Drums:  Leif Bondarenko; Bass:  Brandon Peeples; Congas:  Matt Kimbrell)

Taylor Hicks at the Highline

Shifting now to the scenic bluffs and ocean views that describe the coastal city of Ogunquit, Maine, fans did not question the trip to this quaint town some 400 miles from New York City.  The anticipation of seeing Taylor in this setting could only mean one thing:  Soul.  How to fit the band into the luxurious venue that is Jonathan’s Restaurant?  It did take a few shoe horns to get the band onstage just right.  After Javier opened for the Taylor Hicks Band, Taylor and company took to the stage before an over capacity audience.  Tight arrangements of music,  instruments and people resulted in what could only be described as a Southern soulful show of musical talent that brought the sold-out audience to it’s feet in ovation.  By the time Taylor left the stage, the room erupted from the glee they felt for a show that exceeded their expectations in this charming Maine town. The heart of New York came to meld with the soul of Ogunquit and the fans left the venue saying “where does this guy appear next?  I want to see him again!”

Taylor Hicks in Ogunquit, Maine

And the wheels of the bus go round and round………Load ’em up and drive to Virginia on the 3rd stop on the tour at the historic blues joint, The Birchmere in Alexandria.  Taylor made New York his own and gained a whole new audience in Maine.  Returning to The Birchmere where he appeared during his 2007 tour following the release of his first major label CD, Taylor Hicks, Taylor maneuvered the bus and his music back into the fabric of this soul and blues venue. Opening for Taylor was his good friend Clay Connor.  Then Taylor bounded onto the stage, filled with the vibe of a place he knew and loved to perform in. From the first note to the last note, Taylor made his way through the best set of tunes, in my opinion, of the tour so far.  Rock, blues, harp, soul, guitar riffs, dancing and funny banter filled the night.  Taylor and his band brought New York and Maine heart and soul to Virginia and the audience was the better for it.  It Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody to rock and groove to Taylor Hicks.

Taylor Hicks at The Birchmere

Three shows, three cities, three different vibes.  What can we expect from the Crocodile Rock Cafe in Allentown, Pa.?  It is a venue catering to rock bands and promoting new music.  Knowing that we would see new music before Taylor took the stage and that it would probably be mostly hard rock, we were a little apprehensive about Taylor’s blues and soul set.  Not to worry!  Taylor became a rock star that night.  He fit right into the mood of the night.  Hit them hard, add some smokin’ guitar riffs and get the crowd going.  The bands that opened for Taylor were all in attendance.  And so were their fans. They wanted to see what this successful blues musician would bring to their home venue.  From gospel to rock, from country to rhythm and blues, the fans of all genres made Taylor their own.  Lining up after the show to meet Taylor were new fans of great music who realized they had just witnessed a man who tours because it is in his heart to keep the music going.

Taylor Hicks at the Crocodile Rock

They say  the third time is the charm.  Three shows in a row, that is.  The Mexicali Live Blues Club in Teaneck, New Jersey is an intimate setting with a twinkling back curtain and stage lighting to make a photographer’s heart thump.  Taylor’s voice was never better.  The band was one with their leader, Taylor.  Solos were performed by Musical Director and keyboardist Brian Less, guitarist Sam Gunderson and flutist Jeff Lopez.  Leif laid the background of rhythm and rock while Matt and Brandon provided the netting that meshed the band into a genre that became their own.  Never more relaxed but driven by the music, Taylor left the stage with the audience crowded at his feet to the sounds of Takin’ it To The Streets. Yes, he has taken it to the streets and it is in this venue where all of the heart and soul continued to drive the wheels on the bus to new destinations.

Taylor Hicks at Mexicali Live Blues Cafe

The last of six shows in the East, Taylor’s bus of bad ass music made it’s way to the Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, Md.  Which band would perform?  The rock band or blues or soul or even Latin?  Taylor’s set ran the gamut.  From this intimate setting, Taylor and his band made the most of their time on stage.  Hold on To Your Love was tagged with Sunny.  A memorable moment among moments so far on the tour.  19 was a tribute to our military men and women with Jeff Lopez providing the sweet sounds of Dixie.  Sam rocked out his baby blue guitar on Battlefield.  Leif, always looking to ramp up the tempo, made Seven Mile Breakdown a smash-up on stage.  Brandon is an animated, rock star bassist who delivers every night.  Brian moves from keyboard to organ while leading the band with the adeptness of a magician.  Matt whooshes and taps his underlying beat, especially in the Latin numbers.  The audience saw it all and close-up.  Taylor was never happier.

Taylor Hicks at Rams Head On Stage

The tour travels next to the mid-west and the west and then ends in the south.  The progress made in the first six shows proves to this writer and hopefully to Taylor that if you have the heart, determination, grit and guts to put it all out there night after night, living on Heart and Soul can take you anywhere.  With this tour, all of these adjectives apply to Taylor and his band of musicians.  The question is, do you want to miss a show when on any given  night you might see heart or soul or blues, rock or country or a combination of these vibes delivered by The Taylor Hicks Band on this Bad Ass Tour?  This writer travelled to six shows in the East and I will miss seeing the Heart and Soul I know he will deliver until the last note is played on the last night of the tour.

American Idol Aftermath: A Historical Perspective

Before American Idol captivated audiences nationwide, another talent show enjoyed a long run on syndicated television.  From 1983 to 1995,  Star Search declared competition winners in male, female, group, and junior vocalist categories.  Many years later it’s interesting, and possibly instructive, to take another look at Star Search.  It’s particularly interesting to examine the contestants’ careers after the cameras stopped rolling, and to consider parallels with the American Idol graduates.

Not all of the Star Search contestants achieved highly visible careers in entertainment after the show ended.  Some of the runner-ups became more famous than the show winners.  Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears were all contestants on Star Search. 

None of them won.  Aguilera, Timberlake, and Spears were all recruited by Disney after the contest and benefited from consistent exposure to a national television audience through the Mickey Mouse Club, and from the continued support of the Disney company.

Season 1 male vocalist champion Sam Harris produced two early, well received albums following his Star Search win as well as several follow-up albums, and has worked continuously.  Perhaps best recognized for his contributions to theater, Harris was nominated for a Drama Desk award for his performance as Doody in the original Broadway revival of GREASE, and has worked intermittently in both television and film.  He has written as well as performed for the stage. His acclaimed Star Search performance of “Over the Rainbow” follows:

Season 2 male vocalist winner, Durell Coleman produced one album following his television victory, and subsequently toured in support of Anita Baker and BB King, among others.  There was no follow-up album.  In 1990 he joined the Los Angeles based Al McKay’s All Stars as vocal director and lead singer.  In the mid 1990’s he organized the Durell Coleman Band, a special events band that provides entertainment for private parties and large corporate events in southern California.

Kenny James was the 1986 grand champion in the male vocalist category.

His musical efforts received limited attention after the competition ended; James is now a vocalist/performer on the cruise ship circuit.

David Nelson Slater was the 1987 male vocalist champion.  He subsequently released two critially acclaimed country albums, but has since had difficulty with the law, serving jail time for forgery and theft.  He now lives and continues to sing in Nashville.

It’s difficult to draw generalizations from such a small sample, but it does seem that diversification helps, and that American Idol contestants may benefit from expanding their brand beyond singing into other entertainment avenues.  And not surprisingly, added face time in front of the television camera works.  What’s also true  is that talent is not enough to ensure a healthy career in the industry.  All of the Star Search contestants and winners could sing, and sing well.

Why a Reworked American Idol Won’t Work

The  judges panel in turmoil, a shrinking talent pool, the music industry in flux: all are potential reasons for American Idol to rethink and retool its television franchise.  There are signficant incentives for designing a fix to the Idol woes.  Big money and bigger egos are at stake.  Yet even if the judging troika found common ground, and a young Britney Spears presented herself at auditions, would that be enough to guarantee a future for the television show?

I contend that it would not be enough, and in support of that contention, I offer you Mr. Simon Cowell.  Yes, I do mean that Simon Cowell, the ascerbic British judge with the limited wardrobe and bad haircut.  His interest in music leans more to commercial potential than artistic merit, but Mr. Cowell understands business, and he understands human nature.

Simon cited boredom as one of his reasons for departing Idol, and frankly, we’re bored too.  Every popular television show from Seinfeld to Friends to The Sopranos has a limited lifespan as the concept becomes too familiar and the characters predictable.  Take for example the talent show Star SearchStar Search enjoyed a long run in syndication, generating winners and also rans from 1983 to 1995.  The show introduced talent that still works the music industry today, including Mickey Mouse Club members Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera.  Yet despite the success of its alumni, the show ended, and a shortlived relaunch on CBS lasted only from 2003 to 2004.  Enough is enough.

We share a national ennui, fueled by the ready availability of digital entertainment and our ever shortening attention spans.  We are tweeters, not writers.  We scan; we don’t read.  To quote Jeff Goldblum’s character in The Big Chill, “Any article for People can be no longer than the average person can read while taking a crap.”  We expect, even demand, myriad entertainment options, and we want those options now, albeit briefly.

That American Idol has held our attention this long is a testament to the original construct and staffing of the show.  Waning interest is an expected outcome associated with longevity.  While his taste in both clothing and music may be suspect, Simon Cowell has shown an uncanny ability to predict public sentiment and follow the money.  His departure from the show signals an inevitable, although gradual decline to the end.


This essay is solely the opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the view of the entire Taylorhicksnews on tap editorial staff.

Tomorrow on the blog:  American Idol afterlife: a historical perspective

Thursday on the blog:  Taylor Hicks National Tour: A Photo Essay