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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!

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. tishtx #

    Great blog! I could feel your excitement. The photos are stunning! I can’t wait to see this on TV. I hope it reminds the nation that the Gulf coast is very important to America.

    August 23, 2010
  2. Louise #

    Nice report of the TV filming and great photos of everyone involved. Hoff just keeps going and going, doesn’t he? Taylor on a jumbotron: priceless. Thanks!

    August 23, 2010
    • NolaMar #

      TWO GINORMOUS jumbotrons Louise! With live Taylor in the middle. LOL It looked incredible. 🙂 If you click on the pics it makes them bigger. A 2nd click, bigger still, and more amazing, especially the jumbotron one.

      Thanks THN for letting me share my experience. It was a blast! I’ve never been part of a TV show before. Will someone DVR it for me? I won’t be able to watch.

      August 23, 2010
  3. carole #

    Your recap made me travel to Mississippi. It was like I was there. I could have continued to read more about our amazing Taylor Hicks.
    Thanks so much. Loved the pictures too.

    August 23, 2010
  4. Great job, nola! The photos are gorgeous.

    August 23, 2010
  5. jerseyirish #

    Great recap and photos,you did a fantastic job!!!

    JI

    August 23, 2010
  6. Nice story to prepare us for the dynamite show we’ll see this Friday and again on September 1-and your pics are to die for-

    Thanks so much for doing this-and for documenting how involved Taylor has been in the Gulf Coast Crisis since the beginning.

    August 23, 2010
  7. caroljean #

    Your pictures are just fabulous ,you really captured the beauty of Taylor Hicks, and I love your story as well. If I hadn’t been out of town I would have made it a point to be there with ya !

    August 23, 2010
  8. Dee #

    geez, wish I were there … I am a giant fan of Taylor Hicks .. would like to see the other acts too, but Taylor is the one for me!!

    August 23, 2010
  9. Judy M #

    Great recap of your experience. Taylor is one fantastic performer!! Thanks for the great pictures of “our” guy!

    August 23, 2010
  10. Jemrah1 #

    Thanks for the great photos and summary of the event! I sure hope it appears on a channel that I get to see. Great exposure for Taylor, and for the Gulf Coast.

    August 24, 2010
  11. Love Anything Taylor. Love this.

    August 25, 2010
  12. NolaMar #

    I just wanted to add that I really did enjoy seeing all the artist that performed. They are all very talented and their fans are sure to enjoy this special on Friday night. Someone be sure to tape it for me! I’ll be on the road to Ft. Walton Beach when it airs. Thanks!

    August 26, 2010
  13. I can’t wait to see the actual broadcast here in Texas tonight. You did an unbelieveable job with your article. The pictures of Taylor are just great and so colorful. Can’t wait to see Bo with his hair lighter and much shorter. You are so generous to do this and share it with everyone. Thank you so very much. Betty Sheppard

    August 27, 2010
  14. I can’t wait to see the actual broadcast here in Texas. You did an unbelievable job with the article I just read.The pictures of Taylor magnify just how handsome he is, and they are so colorful.Can’t wait to see Bo with his lighyer and shorter hair, but my main man is Taylor. You were so generous to do this and share it with everyone. Thank you so very much. Betty Sheppard

    August 27, 2010
  15. Drake #

    There’s a Facebook page for the show – http://www.facebook.com/thegulfisback. Everyone should go be a fan to show support for Taylor!

    August 27, 2010
  16. Tiff #

    Any idea what the names of the songs were that Lonestar performed?

    February 14, 2011
    • I know they performed “Party Heard Round the World”; believe that was the song shown on television. I’m not sure of their second song.

      February 15, 2011

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