Taylor Hicks in Minneapolis: An Idol in America’s City
Living and working in New Jersey has its advantages during the first week of November. It’s teacher’s convention week, and this provided great motivation to ‘convene’ in another state. That’s how I found my way to Minneapolis, Minnesota and to the Maplewood Performing Arts Theatre. The Theatre was the setting for an intimate Friday night show that dovetailed nicely with Taylor Hicks’ scheduled charity gig (Dawn of a Dream Gala) the next evening. Since every show has a unique personality, I was interested to see what Taylor would bring to Maplewood, in the land of America’s Mall and in the country’s safest city.
Taylor made his entrance sharply at 7:30 pm. He left the stage at 9:10 pm. Thirteen songs, some original, some covers, but the three included here were my favorites of the show. When I put the camera in video mode, I tend to stop it when I see a good photo op. I never get much video as a result. During these three songs, I continued filming and felt confident that I wouldn’t regret the decision.
Hold on To Your Love is a Latin number Taylor wrote when he was about 20 years old. He said he never had much exposure to Latin music living in “LA” (Lower Alabama). But, Latin it is. Great melody and rhythm were provided by Jeff Lopez and Leif Bondarenko. Jeff substituted on congas for the late Matt Kimbrell.
Taylor and guitarist Sam Gunderson jammed at the end, with Taylor punctuating ‘Hold On, Hold On, Hold On’ to the beat of the drums and boom of the bass provided by Brandon Peeples. Taylor added some great footwork to go along with the explosive sound of the band as they moved toward the end of the song.
Taylor commented before he started the Grateful Dead’s Scarlet Begonias that he listens to the Dead all of the time and had always wanted to do this song in a show. Having seen him perform the song at Epcot, I got excited as soon as the congas, bass and guitar started the duh, da da da da duh duh da duh duh duh.
I can jokingly say now that Taylor knows this song inside and out and the performance is enhanced because of it. I just cannot stop humming it today.
And then Brian Less pressed the keyboard into service by hitting the first few notes of Elton John’s The Border Song; the audience let out a collective sigh. All but Taylor and Brian left the stage. The keyboard introduced the mood and when Taylor started to sing, it was as if this song was meant for his voice. I have been fortunate to see this tune performed once before in Madison and will always hold both experiences close to my heart. Two brothers together on the stage expressed that ‘he’s my brother, let us live in peace.’
The house was not full, but the enthusiastic applause and banter between Taylor and the audience members more than compensated for the numbers. Standing ovations for 19 and The Border Song among others made it feel like we were in Wembley Stadium.
I watched my videos from the 2007 show at The Beacon on the plane ride to Minneapolis. What that show meant to Taylor as he took a bite out of the big Apple translates to the type of show he did in America’s city. An Idol for many reasons, Taylor made a perfect fit for this small, intimate Maplewood venue with an audience of enthusiastic music lovers and friends by his side.
Saturday’s sold out Dawn of a Dream Gala benefited children’s cancer research. Fundraising reportedly exceeded the target goal by $100,000. I’d say that both audiences hit the jackpot this past weekend in Minneapolis. One event provided an intimate, long, cool, soul encounter and the other, a night filled with the spirit of giving. Together, these events made for two very different Taylor experiences. An Idol for many reasons, and for all seasons, had his hand in both of these events. Minneapolis rocks!