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Taylor Hicks on Tour: The Sounds of Sequim

This post, including all audio and video supplements, is graciously contributed by Bonnie.

It took two flights followed by a two hour drive to get there, but the music made it all worthwhile. Hard driving and high energy, the show at Sequim, Washington was my favorite of the late summer Taylor Hicks national tour.

The line began to form at the door two hours before the scheduled start time. The audience was mixed; men, women, older, younger, devoted fans, new recruits, they were all there. One woman who had admired Hicks on a certain television show, but had never seen him in concert, was very excited, and near tears at the prospect of finally seeing him live.

It’s hard to meet expectations when anticipation is so high, but the show at 7 Cedars Casino hit the mark. For me, it was the most energetic and interactive of the summer’s shows. Taylor’s six piece backing band included longtime college friend and musician Wynn Christian. The onstage interaction between Hicks and Christian alone was worth the price of admission.

Taylor Hicks band show opener “Love the One You’re With

Wynn provided stellar support on lead guitar with featured solos on songs including “Hold on to your Love”. Wynn also contributed vocal support. When “Seven Mile Breakdown” was introduced, Wynn was credited as the songwriter and invited to take the lead vocal on the song. However, the show’s star couldn’t help but sing along. Catching himself, Hicks was then observed lip synching during Wynn’s performance. Go ahead, Taylor, belt it out!

Taylor Hicks band with Hold onto Your Love

Taylor’s vocals were strong and enthusiastic at this show, nicely showcased on the original song “What’s Right Is Right” and during a heartfelt performance of “Maybe You Should”. The show was fun, and the interaction with the audience was priceless. During the encore performance of the La Roux hit “Bulletproof”, the audience spontaneously headed to the front to sing and dance the night away. Hicks was forced to move cautiously as a few unmentionables were tossed onto the stage, complete with lace trim.

Following the show, the line to meet Mr. Hicks included a majority of the audience. The show ended at about 9:30 p.m.; autographs were still being signed as I left the venue at 10:45 p.m. They loved this man and his band, and so did I.

The following is an audio recording of the September 25 show in Sequim. While it cannot fully capture the quality and intensity of the performance, it provides a taste of what the audience enjoyed. I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

Taylor Hicks on Tour: Taylor Tags the East

Louise/4Tay traveled to Taylor’s 4 shows in the East and this blog is kindly provided by her along with photos captured at each show.

The late summer air turned crisp as we drove through New Jersey, New York and Vermont, headed for Taylor’s mini-tour in the East.  We expected  a good solid show at each stop, but were rewarded with shows of such unique character and heart, it is hard to choose a favorite.  Why are Taylor Hicks’ performance so unique?  In a word: TAGS-tags, those songs within a song that turn an ordinary performance into something truly special.

Eastbound and Down….. Running on Empty……….Tupelo Honey…….This is a Man’s World………….Love Not Fade Away tagged with The Runaround………Valley Road……

As Taylor did so often during his 2007 solo tour around the country, he did the unexpected. In 2007 live performances of original tunes “The Maze” and “Heaven Knows’, often included snippets of Van Morrision tunes seamlessly integrated into the mix.  In 2010 and throughout this 4 gig stop in the East, this tradition was continued.  We went for the rhythm and blues from Hicks, we left each night trying to guess what he would do the next day.

Four shows in a row meant four chances to answer that question. Each night brought a new style (gray henley, blue oxford, purple check and red and black check flannel shirts) but the one constant was always the seamless ride into the next tag.

There will be endless media from fans when they get home and recover from their travels.  The media from this whole tour has been outstanding.  What a gift Taylor has laid at our feet this summer and what a treat to see his fans record it with cameras and cell phones, uploading to Youtube and Vimeo.  But it has been in the mind’s eye that the memories of what Taylor does lives on forever.

It is said that hearing the recorded voice stirs in the heart unforgettable, intense images. Each fan of music should experience the live performances of an incredible artist like Taylor Hicks.  The images he can evoke, especially in the tunes Maybe You Should, The Fall and Hold Onto Your Love, sung on a stool, solo, with an acoustic guitar, tug at your heart and make you want to be there and see it all just one more time. Again and again.

Perhaps that is why Taylor tags his songs so well or at all.  Sliding another heart stopper into a song that needs more pain is what Taylor does the best. And, you have to really be there to hear its perfection. Or hear it from someone who was there.

Best show (for me):  Tarrytown Music Hall.  What a great little town and a wonderful place to perform music. Jeff Lopez, spiritual sax player, commented that the acoustics were so fine they did not have to over-exaggerate their playing to be heard.

Best lighting, sound:  Tarrytown  with Bay Shore next.  Light to die for to see Taylor and his band do their thing.  Photographers swam in the light. Videographers reveled in its purity.

Best styling by an artist:  Jeff Lopez for his snappy vest and fedora seen every night at the beginning of each show.  Later he reveals his bandana under his cap.  When the cap comes off, you know Jeff is getting ready for a jam.  Who else plays two saxes at once?

Best blues guitar lick:  Sam Gunderson on Battlefield.  He brings that slide guitar out and it’s all smooth.

Best venue:  I loved the country ‘barn’ atmosphere at Infinity Hall.  Quaint and cute, it was an unexpected pleasure to see what the venue held on the inside.

Best ribs:  Smokin’ Al’s in Bay Shore.  I hope Taylor got to enjoy this place.

Best crowd:  From beginning to end, the audience at the Paramount Theater in Rutland cheered, clapped and stood on their feet.

The sold out crowd at Bay Shore:  An awesome site from the stage.

A show or tour cannot end without giving kudos to the band. Leif Bondarenko: the solid rock on which the band depends.  He is unforgettable. Sam Gunderson: he feels and lives for the music and it shows. Brandon Peeples: rock star bassist with some of the classic Al ‘Boogie’ moves.  Jeff Lopez:  the silky sax just slays the audience with his spirituality, especially on ‘19‘.  Brian Less:  Taylor’s little brother and the thread that keeps the band together and tight.

And Taylor Hicks, whose voice comes from deep in his gut with such energy and passion  you cannot help but feel the raw emotions that just seem to spring up when you see him perform live.

Click on the image for a larger view.

Taylor Hicks, Paramount Theater, Rutland Vermont

Taylor Hicks, YMCA Boulton Center, Bay Shore, New York

Sam Gunderson, Leif Bondarenko, Taylor Hicks, Brian Less, Tarrytown, NY

Sam Gunderson, Taylor Hicks, Infinity Hall, Norfolk, Connecticut

Jeff Lopez, Saxophones, Paramount Theater, Rutland, VT

Leif Bondarenko, Drums, Paramount Theater, Rutland, VT

Sam Gunderson, Guitar, Paramount Theater, Rutland, VT.

Brandon Peeples, Bass Guitar, Rutland, VT.

Brian Less, Keyboards, Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, NY

Taylor Hicks, Vocals, Guitar, Harp and Tags

Taylor Hicks at the Paramount: A Pictorial Review

Photographs contributed by Nancy Nutile-McMenemy;  Click on photos to enlarge.

When Taylor Hicks brought his band of six to the Paramount, he also brought the kind of honest, gritty music that Vermonters understand.  The blues rocked and the country had soul.  The photos tell the story; it was a darn good time.

Taylor Hicks and bass player Brandon Peeples.

Guitarist Sam Gunderson.

On the drums, Leif Bondarenko.

On sweet sax, Mr. Jeff Lopez.

On the keys, Brian Less.

At the Paramount, songs such as the rocking “Stay with Me” were delivered with conviction by the full band.  An acoustic performance of the original tune “Hell of a Day” was offered by Hicks solo, accompanied by his own guitar and harmonica.  The variety and intensity of the performances made for one Hell of a Night!

The Taylor Hicks band next appears at 7 Cedars Resort, Sequim, WA on 9/25.  The band will also be featured in the Epcot Eat to the Beat concert series in Orlando, FL on 10/9 and 10/10.  Details and ticket links on the concert page, accessed from the blog header.


This post is kindly contributed by Caryl, with photo of The Taylor Hicks Band by Nolamar.


In the past month I’ve gone out on two separate nights to hear live music. Even though both bands were competent, I was bored. Both nights people got up to dance, hooted and cheered, clapped and stomped their feet, but I remained seated, uninspired.

I hate saying that. I’ve always been impressed and supportive of any musician brave enough to get up in public and perform. I know what it’s like to choke completely in front of a crowd. Granted I was only about eight years old and the crowd consisted of a few sweet old ladies and their Sunday school classes, but still! You don’t forget a humiliating walk away from the piano like that.

Since then I‘ve come to believe that any person who can get up and perform an entire song without blanking out (like I did) deserves lots and lots of applause. Believe me, I want to enjoy all live music. But when you’ve seen a band with the ’it’ factor, stood in the middle of a crowd as the music swells and you feel your chest will surely explode, it’s hard to appreciate a band that’s merely competent.

Due to a minor and uncharacteristic obsession, I’ve seen The Taylor Hicks Band perform more times than any other band. Though its members occasionally change, the one constant is their band leader who has a knack for assembling top notch musicians capable of reading his signals like a well-coached football team.

The most unappreciated winner of American Idol has the ability to move a crowd to tears, wild applause and dance. I’ve seen it. My most recent Taylor Hicks concert was at The Highline Ballroom in NYC. One song in particular got my attention and reminded me what it was about this singer that made him stand out on that show. He knows what he’s doing.

Performances like the one in the following video have spoiled me for the average local band who take the stage and merely play a song. God bless em, I know it’s not easy. But I don’t find myself remembering those shows, savoring the moments in my memory and longing to see them play again. This does:

This week marks the return of The Taylor Hicks Band to the northeast.  Look to the concert page in the blog header for information on shows in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, scheduled from 9/15 thru 9/18.

Taylor Hicks Comes to Infinity Music Hall September 15

Photo of Taylor Hicks by NolaMar; Remaining photos by Nancy Nutile-McMenemy

Taylor Hicks live performance, Ft Walton Beach, FL 8/28/10.

When Taylor Hicks comes to Infinity Hall on September 15, he’ll join a long and eclectic list of musicians who have played the historic venue.  The names on that list are nationally known and represent a spectrum of music from rock to folk, country, blues, and soul.  Hicks seems a fitting addition to the list; he describes his own music as a melting pot, or fusion, of the many styles that have influenced American music over recent decades.

When Taylor comes to Norfolk, he’ll find a small town, nearly hidden among the trees in this picturesque northwest corner of the state.  There is a library and a post office, but no grocery store; drive on to neighboring towns to stock the kitchen.  There is a community bulletin board in the town center, and there you’ll often find posters for upcoming shows at Infinity Hall.  With up to 200 scheduled shows per year, there are plenty of posters to hang!

Constructed in 1883, the Music Hall was recently renovated; the original proscenium stage and wood were retained.  The restored Hall offers seating for up to 300 with gourmet dining available in the Infinity Bistro downstairs.  Small and intimate with excellent acoustics, Infinity Music Hall was recently named as Connecticut Magazine’s 2010 “Best place for dinner and live music”.

Small can also mean personal.  Patrons of Infinity Hall often enjoy informal interaction with performers that is less available at larger venues.  Take, for example, this 2009 show with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.  Her hips are swaying, the audience is bouncing, and everybody is singing.  It’s just a good time all around.

Take the April 2010 show by Blues Harmonica Blowout at the Hall.  Players Mark Hummel, James Montgomery, Magic Dick, and Sugar Ray Norcia gave a performance so intense, and so good that the

audience was left screaming for more.  A planned one song encore became two as the crowd was treated to “Early in the Morning Blues”.

What can ticketholders expect from American Idol winner Taylor Hicks at the Hall?  Expect to be surprised.  Expect original music as well as covers of obscure older and contemporary tunes.  Expect a mix of genres reflecting Hicks’ broad knowledge of and interest in music.  Expect a well rehearsed band comprised of seasoned musicians.  Expect your hips to sway and fingers to snap.  Expect to have fun.

In his review of Hicks’s August 22 live show for the San Diego Reader, Alan Segal said, “He sang and played a mean blues harmonica on Nick Lowe’s “Battlefield” and did a roadhouse-rocking cover of “Love the One You’re With” that put Stephen Stills to shame.”  Check the following videos for recent examples of the live show, including a performance at San Diego’s small concert venue, Anthology.

“Seven Mile Breakdown” an original tune from Hicks’ 2009 album, “The Distance”, was taped on 8/17/10 for the television special “The Gulf is Back”, and aired on the CW network on 8/27/10. 

“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”; this  classic cover was performed live at Anthology in San Diego, and recorded by the venue on 8/22/10.  Instrumental solos are included from several band members.

For tickets to Taylor Hicks at Infinity Hall:

To read Alan Segal’s review of Taylor Hicks at Anthology:

Taylor Hicks: The National Tour Faces East

The Taylor Hicks national tour concludes next week with concerts in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont.  In this photo essay, we take a moment to review and enjoy the faces that have made this tour a savory summer treat, as the tour now faces east.

With feeling, in Annapolis 8/3/10.  Photo by Louise/4tay.  Rams Head Tavern provided an intimate setting for an intense musical experience.

Larger than life: Jumbotron view at Mississippi Coast Coliseum on 8/17.  Photo by NolaMar.  Captured as television crews taped the CW special “The Gulf is Back”, this photo was taken during Hicks’ performance of “Seven Mile Breakdown”.

You gotta have friends.  Photo by rugratnat14 in Laughlin, Nevada on 8/21 at Aquarius Casino Resort.  After each show, fans have been invited to meet the artist. Autographs are signed, handshakes and laughter shared.

A thoughtful moment at  Bay City, Michigan 8/7/10.  Photo by JewelsSoul.  Thousands attended the show at this outdoor venue; the post show “meet and greet” line stretched into the horizon.

On harmonica at Aquarius Casino Resort, Laughlin, NV.  From video by diane with screen capture by MNSue.  The summer tour has provided ample opportunity for lengthy solos by the artist on his instrument of first choice.

With harmonicas at Mexicali Live, Teaneck, NJ 7/31/10.  Photo by charleesdad.  These lovely and enthusiastic fans received special attention, and their first harmonicas, direct from the stage.

With intensity.  Photo from Armed Forces Appreciation Day, Ft Walton Beach, FL  by Louise/4tay.  The active and retired US military was celebrated on this day; the song “Nineteen” was delivered with feeling and received with enthusiasm.

The audience at Bay City, MI on 8/7/10.  Photo by Taylor R. Hicks.  The show was boisterous, the crowd thrilled, and we hear the ribs were outstanding.

Fox and Friends appearance, New York City, 7/25/10.  Photo by JewelsSoul.  The television audience was treated to a rousing rendition of “Love the One You’re With” prior to the tour’s kick-off concert at Highline Ballroom, NYC.

Saxophonist Jeff Lopez at Ft Walton Beach 8/28/10.  Photo by macpolski.  Taylor Hicks is backed by a tight six piece band including Lopez, who also toured with Hicks prior to his American Idol run.

With guitarist Sam Gunderson at Bay City, Michigan on 8/7/10.  Photo by JewelsSoul.  Look for Sam to solo on the Rolling Stones classic “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” on tour. 

In concert and enjoying his work at Chuckchansi Gold Casino, Coarsegold, CA.  Photo by Steve Collins for Chuckchansi Gold Casino.

A few concert dates remain, and limited tickets are available for this summer’s national tour.  For more information on the 9/15 show at Infinity Music Hall, Norfolk, CT, the 9/16 show at Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, NY, the 9/17 show at Boulton Center, Bay Shore, NY, or the 9/18 show at Paramount Theatre, Rutland, VT, access the concert tour page in the blog header. 

Take this rare opportunity to see Taylor Hicks and band in an intimate concert setting; the  music will lift your spirits and move your feet.  Bring your smiling face to the crowd.

Knocking Down the Door: Taylor Hicks on Tour


This post is graciously provided by denv, and supplemented by live performance audio clips from hickifino.  Photo credits to denv and Niram.

Recently I was lucky enough to catch Taylor Hicks as he made his way across the middle to the western part of the country — three shows , three time zones, from the midwest, through the Rocky Mountains, to the desert. Each show was as unique as the man himself, the ultimate entertainer, and well worth traveling to the humidity of the midwest in August, worth the 3.5 hours drive through the Rockies, and the trip to the desert in the dead of summer.

Taylor has an innate ability to understand who his audience is at each performance and to adapt his show accordingly, which means each audience gets their own special show. No two are ever alike.  Different genres and styles are mixed within each show, and even within the same song; the Taylor Hicks band can jam!

Taylor Hicks LIVE at Knuckleheads, Kansas City 8/14/10. Photo by denv

Kansas City was first up. On a hot, humid night, with an audience there for the blues, Taylor delivered a hard-driving, all-business, nitty-gritty blues show that heated up an already hot night. The audience returned the effort with wows and cheers in response to an incredible rendition of “Dust My Broom”, along with “Back to Louisiana” and Taylor’s originals of “7 Mile Breakdown”, “Soul Thing”. and “What’s Right Is Right”, tagged with blues and soul that blew the audience away.

Next was Grand Junction, a somewhat isolated ranching/farming community on Colorado’s Western Slope on the “other side” of the Rockies. An infrequent stop for the big touring acts, Grand Junction was extra excited and thrilled to have Taylor there and the audience exploded into enthusiastic cheers and applause at the conclusion of the opening song, “Love The One You’re With”, backed with “Not Fade Away”. The venue was intimate and interaction between Taylor and the band and the audience was warm and familiar.  The audience was treated to a performance that was relaxed and fun.

On the harp at Grand Junction. Photo by Niram

Taylor brought back an old favorite, “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad”, thrilled the crowd with a Rolling Stones classic, “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”, and at the end of the show, “7 Mile Breakdown” and the “Bulletproof” encore, had the audience even more excited than when the show started, dancing at the stage and leaving the theater buzzing.  This is one of my favorite shows of any I’ve seen.  Listen to the following audio tracks, captured live at the venue, for a sample of what I heard.

“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” – Taylor Hicks at Grand Junction

“Seven Mile Breakdown” – Taylor Hicks at Grand Junction with extended harmonica solo and “Valley Road” tag

Finally, Laughlin and the Aquarius Casino. Taylor and the band were having fun and the energy was high on stage and in the audience. We got a great surprise when an old friend, Rick Carter, joined Taylor and the band on stage for a duet of “The Weight”, also featuring vocals by Brian Less. The huge, enthusiastic crowd was taken to a frenzy with a rousing “Not Fade Away” and “7 Mile Breakdown” and brought to an absolute hush while enthralled in a heart-wrenching, passionate “Maybe You Should”. One word to describe this show — FUN.  Be sure to listen to the emotional delivery that Taylor gives the love song “Maybe You Should” in the following live audio clip.

Taylor ended with an old favorite, “Taking It To The Streets”, then headed straight out to take pictures and sign autographs for a solid hour with a smile for everyone in line.

Three cities, three unique, fabulous shows.