Taylor Hicks at Epcot: The Thrill is On
Louise/4Tay attended Eat to The Beat at Epcot and Taylor Hicks’ six shows and provides her recap, photos and video from the two day event. Click on the image for a larger view.
Seeing Taylor enter the stage at a live concert is always a thrill for me. To be able to see him enter the stage six times in two days was an unbelievable delight. Whether Taylor flew through the air from the bass stand or he stopped and smiled with his band mates Brian Less and Brandon Peeples on the way to the mic stand, Taylor made quite an entrance in the two nights he performed at Epcot’s Eat to the Beat Food and Wine Festival this past weekend in Orlando, Florida.
Epcot’s Eat to the Beat is an annual event of food, wine and musical entertainment. This year the festival was celebrating its fifteenth anniversary and what better way to celebrate than to mix the rhythm and blues of Taylor Hicks and his band with the tasty foods from around the world. Eating your way around the world takes place during the day. When the sun starts to set in the Florida sky, the musical talent appears on the stage. Kids of all ages make their way to the outdoor theater expecting to hear the young man with the gray hair who danced quirkily on American Idol in 2006 and transformed his charismatic personal style into an unexpected win for the ages.
It is here at Epcot where that unexpected talent wowed the audience not once, not twice, but six times. The band was composed of Alabama musicians, friends of Taylor’s since before gracing the Idol stage. By now familiar names to the ardent fan, the band was a new revelation to the fans who made their way to see ‘that gray haired guy who won American Idol.’ Little did they know that the Taylor Hicks show is a well oiled machine and they were ramped up and ready to deliver a show worthy of a champion in the land of Mickey Mouse, French crepes and Reisling wine.
The new fan arrived just thrilled at the thought of seeing a real, live, American Idol. When they left, they left thrilled but for a different reason. They were wowed by the performances they saw and got back in line to be thrilled again despite their insistence that they were going to leave after the first show. For those who have lost count of the number of times they’ve seen Taylor perform live, the thrill of seeing him on the Disney stage in front of an audience that came there mostly out of curiosity, carried them through the long lines to get in, past the hot Florida sun and the long hours without sleep to see this unfold.
Taylor could have sung his Idol favorites everyone knew from his time on the TV show that made him a household name. But, Taylor stayed true to his blues, soul and country roots by singing six, thirty minute medlies of original tunes including Soul Thing, The Deal, and Hold On To Your Love and covers including Love the One You’re With, Battlefield, Stay With Me and Bulletproof. Taylor’s rendition of Nineteen brought the audiences to their feet each of the six times it was performed.
The band each took their turn in the spotlight. Sam Gunderson’s guitar blazing solo on Battlefield brought standing ovations time after time. Brian Less and Brandon Peeples duel it out on piano and bass guitar on Seven Mile Breakdown while Matt Kimbrell adds his spice and flavor to the thunderous drum rhythm supplied by Leif Bondarenko on Hold on To Your Love and Love the One You’re With. Leif has been known to pound the drums so intensely that plexi-glass flops to the floor under the pressure of a hot drum solo. Jeff Lopez’s heart stopping performance of a Dixie tag during Nineteen is worth coming to see the show just to see this one single solo.
And then there is the American Idol, Taylor Hicks, up on the stage playing the guitar, blowing sweet sounds on a hot harp and dancing to the rhythm of Scarlet Begonia’s, a Grateful Dead standard. Who is this man on the stage doing all of these things we’ve never seen him do before? His thrilling blend of voice, instruments and showmanship prompted some in the audience to call family or friends to come to the theater because they were missing the ‘new’ Taylor Hicks!
We went to see Taylor in a different type of venue where you have to line up six times to re-enter the theater for three shows a day. What we came away with was the joy of seeing Taylor enter the stage in six different ways and leave the stage with six sets of new fans made by providing them with the thrill of live performing at it’s very best. The joy that Taylor performs with makes it thrilling for fans old and new to see him in a venerable venue such as the one at Epcot. The festival was a treat for the senses and the greatest surprise in that festival was a much loved and now more admired thrill provider: Taylor Hicks.
Back to Louisana covered by Taylor Hicks at Epcot.
The Epcot American Theater keeps in tandem with the excellent organization expected from a Disney venue. Great lighting, acoustics and staging, these elements created a perfect environment for Taylor to do his best to thrill every last audience member for six sets of thirty minutes each. Below are a few examples of the excellence forged out of the collaboration of Taylor and Disney.
Additional photos of Taylor Hicks