Taylor Hicks: The Passion of Live Music
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Should I or shouldn’t I? Travel that is. That is the 1st question that pops into my mind when I hear a new Taylor Hicks Band show announced within a reasonable driving distance, and one I asked myself when I heard they were opening their 2011 tour at the Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida on February 24th.
I have only occasionally traveled to see artists during my life. Growing up in Houston, all our favorite rock bands would come do shows right there in the city, but we would sometimes go to the Willie Nelson 4th of July picnics in the country , or to Austin for a ZZ Top show at Texas Stadium. And once I traveled to Cleveland for a Bruce Springsteen concert while temporarily living in Ohio.
I have also traveled to see a few artists more recently. I don’t do it very often, but some artists are just worth the extra effort to go see if they don’t come to you. Gov’t Mule in Houston; Shemekia Copeland in Baton Rouge; Rick Carter & LOLA at the FloraBama.
Then there is Taylor Hicks. I saw him once in New Orleans in 2007, but he has not done a show here since then. I usually try to wait for musicians that I like to come to me, but Taylor is one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen. For this reason I go to see him just about anytime I can get there in my car in 6 hrs or less.
As a lover of live music I get more than my fair share of it in New Orleans. With all the local spots around the city, the French Quarter, Frenchmen Street, and a music festival for just about every occasion you can imagine, I had the opportunity to see close to 40 different artists & bands last year alone. Photographs of some of my favorite, most memorable shows are found here: http://bit.ly/hhUH9F
Even with this sumptuous feast of music here in this city, I often yearn to go to some of the other big festivals around the country. Bonnaroo in Tennesse, Wanee in Florida, SXSW in Texas, and one of the newest music celebrations, The Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, AL. What is it about live music that compels us travel to it, wait in long lines, stand in blistering heat, pouring rain or a sea of mud for hours?? For me it is the inherent passion in live music that draws me to it. When you participate in live music, you don’t just hear it, you actually experience it. It can be a time of corporate revelry, like at Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras. Other times, depending on the genre and the atmosphere of the venue, you can just let it envelope your senses & emotions and get lost in it. Experiencing live music encompasses the senses in a way that just listening to it does not. You see it, you hear it, you taste it, you FEEL it when it’s being performed in front of your very eyes. The music is a binding force that connects you temporarily to the artists on the stage. It’s intimate. It’s sexy.
I totally love the visual aspect of a live show. Watching the expression of the music by the artist is a big part of the experience. No more huge arenas or stadium concerts for me. Nothing larger than a Workplay, House of Blues or Tippitina’s please. I want to watch the music being made. Even at Jazz Fest I don’t want to be a part of it unless I can get up close to the musicians. Days of wandering from stage to stage are fun and fabulous, but I have also camped out at a stage barricade or the front of the Blues Tent for an entire day for the up close & personal experience of headliner bands like Derek & Susan, the Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, Panic, BB King, Jeff Beck…. You do what you gotta do..
For me, a great venue actually enhances the mood and experience of a live show. The Vinyl Music Hall turned out to be just the kind of Venue I love the most – not too big, loads of character, and very intimate like the Blue Nile, The Maple Leaf, DBA, Old Point Bar and so many other great spots here in New Orleans – places where you can really connect to the artists.
The stage was open on two sides, giving more of the audience a chance to view the band either up close or from the bars.
I arrived at the venue early enough to be up close in front because watching Taylor perform is a musical experience like few others. Not only does he put together a fantastic, tight, rockin’ band and sing his ass off with his beautiful, powerful, sexy voice, but his passion for the music he performs just pours out of him, spills over into the audience, and ties us to him, the band, and the music to a degree that I rarely experience. And I love it!
It seems the more Taylor digs a song or a particular tag, the more he gets lost in it… You see it in his facial expressions….
or maybe in his whole being through his dancing.
This was my favorite of the Taylor Hicks shows I’ve been to see. Taylor truly excels on harmonica. His harp-playing is thrilling, and there was lots of it in this show.
Other highlights of this particular show for me: Gene McDaniels penned protest song Compared to What added back to the setlist; gettin’ on down with the funky Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody, a favorite of mine; Taylor playing the organ on a new song for him, Timmy Thomas’ Why Can’t We Live Together; this was a special surprise for us Taylor fans.
Rockin’, bluesy I Live On A Battlefield!! ALWAYS a favorite too, especially live; super extra sexy harp solo in What’s Right Is Right.
As the mom of a Marine who has been in harm’s way more times than I want to think about, “19” always brings me to tears. Taylor sings this with TOTAL feeling & conviction. The lyrics, Taylor’s passionate delivery, and Jeff Lopez’s Dixie flute solo at the end always make this song an emotional experience for me. Taylor’s band was on fire, as always! They are all so incredibly talented and made this show even more memorable.
The venue, the setlist, the kick ass band, lots of blues and harp, Taylor’s incredible talent and overflowing passion… they all made my “yes” answer to the question “should I travel to this one” the RIGHT one.
Here is a slide show of the photographs from this post, including some extras that are not shown here: http://bit.ly/howkWl