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Taylor Hicks: The Passion of Live Music

by Margaret Reilly (all photos copyrighted by ©NolaMarImages)

Click on images to enlarge.

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

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. hdey #

    My first reaction is: I need to move! How wonderful it must be to live in an area that provides access to so many options for live music. The fact that you have so many options, yet are still willing to travel for some artists speaks volumes for those musicians.

    I very much enjoyed your article; your passion for music is clear. Thanks very much for sharing your story AND your photos here.

    March 10, 2011
  2. tishtx #

    You really put into words what keeps me going to Taylor Hicks concerts. In fact he is the one that got my husband and me into the live music scene. Before seeing him at Antone’s in Austin with the band, we never spent any time or money seeing artists live. That has certainly changed. 🙂

    March 10, 2011
  3. Great job, Margaret! It’s so so true- there’s nothing like hearing/seeing music live. It gets into your body. You FEEL it. Love this story.

    And your photos! Fantastic.

    March 10, 2011
  4. NolaMar #

    Thanks Holley & Tish! I truly love it and would go out every weekend if I could afford it. Sometimes wish I could live down in the city to be closer to the music scene, though we can really get to the Quarter or Frenchmen Street in only about 25 minutes. I also wish I COULD travel more, not only for Taylor’s shows but my other favorite artists who aren’t based out of NOLA.(Derek Trucks!)

    Thank you so much Louise for getting the pictures to work. There is one big blank spot up there that if you click on it the enlargement will show up. It’s one of my favorites. The slide show has a lot more that couldn’t fit in the article.

    March 10, 2011
  5. jonibug #

    “Then there is Taylor Hicks”….BINGO!! You nailed my feelings exactly…great article and the pictures are exquisite as always. All the people who wonder why I travel around the country to see this man should read this!

    March 10, 2011
  6. Jenni Jac #

    Great article Margaret! I agree that there is nothing that tops the live music experience. There’s only a handful of artists I’ve traveled for and now Taylor has become a priority with me, for all the reasons you mentioned. I’ll be glad when our paths cross again at a Taylor show!

    March 10, 2011
  7. NolaMar #

    Thanks Caryl, Jonibug & Jenni!

    Jennifer, I sure wish Atlanta was not so far. I’m going that far for the San Marcos show, but that will be m last show fora while. My sister lives right near there and she & her husband have never seen Taylor live (except for the 3 song acoustic show we saw at the radio station lounge in ’09.) It was time to visit them anyway, so I’ll be going on another TX road trip very soon. It’s so funny – my Texas road trip in early ’09 is what got me hooked on Taylor in the 1st place. I listened to the Idol CD several times on the way there and back, then started my online journey, looking for any info, vids, news, etc when I got home. 🙂

    March 10, 2011
  8. Louise #

    Great job! I don’t see the blank space on my screen, so……. Glad to help.

    I have always said that when it comes to Taylor, his CDs are great but it is what he does with those songs and many others when he is performing live that people just have to see for themselves to know how wonderful he is.

    Now there’s another part of of the country I need to move to in addition to Alabama, Nashville and Lower Alabama.

    March 10, 2011
    • NolaMar #

      So, you can see the big B&W? Great! Must be my browser. I see a big blank white space, but if I click on it the picture opens up.

      I often say I wish I could squeeeze AL, LA, & TX closer together so I could get to see all the live music in B’ham, NOLA, AND Austin. 🙂

      March 10, 2011
  9. PatPietrowski #

    Great article Margaret….and you said you couldn’t write…and as always your pictures are superb. I guess as the saying goes “it is all about the music”…thank you.

    March 10, 2011
  10. Excellent blog and gorgeous pics! Taylor is the ONE worth traveling to see.

    March 10, 2011
  11. juliegr #

    I’ve seen lots of your photos, videos, and listened to your audio captures and I’m happy to be able to follow your travels as you enjoy the musical winds. You’re most lucky to live in an area where the blues, jazz, and soul music festivals thrive.

    You are among the many very talented fans in the Taylor Hicks fandom. Thanks for sharing the product from all the fantastic shows you attend.

    March 10, 2011
  12. chill #

    Great write-up, Nola! Living near a big city, like you in Texas, I never had to travel much to see any band; they always came to me. LOL Taylor is the only one I’ve ever traveled so far to see (shhh, many, many times), and I’m sure I’ll keep on doing it. He and his band are so worth it!

    And your pictures, I’ve come to the right place, baby. ha! You do have quite the eye!

    March 10, 2011
  13. jerseyirish #

    NolaMar, Great wrtie up!! And your pics just wow, thanks for sharing your Taylor time with us!!

    JI

    March 10, 2011
  14. Judith Morton #

    What a wonderful article. I enjoyed reading every word. The pictures are fantastic!! I have never followed any artist…but Taylor has me HOOKED. Anxiously awaiting Snoqualmie and Coos Bay.

    March 11, 2011
    • NolaMar #

      Thanks Judith. Lucky you!! Two shows up on the NW coast. 🙂

      March 11, 2011
  15. san #

    Great pictures and blog, Margaret. The pictures of Jeff and Brian are stunning…we see so many of Taylor (and we WANT to) that those are wonderful surprises!

    I also wish I were in a rich live music area.

    Thanks for your thoughts and pictures.

    March 11, 2011
    • NolaMar #

      Thanks San. I ALWAYS, or at least try to, get pics of the whole band – same thing when I video (which is rarely since I stink at it. haha!) I originally had a picture of each of the band members in this article but it needed to be cut back. There are lots more of pics of Sam, Jeff, Brian and Brandon in this bigger gallery. http://tinyurl.com/63cofcc Some of Leif too, but he and David were both back pretty far, and as usual, in the dark or behind other band members.

      March 11, 2011
  16. Thank you so much for the photos of Taylor, Margaret, they are great photos. I do like to travel to see Taylor in concert but now because of work shedules and my Mom being sick I am not too sure if I will get a chance to see a show if he doesn’t come to my home town, hoping he will come around to NYC in July, since my Sister and my niece are not working at their schools in July maybe I will have some more time to travel so that someone can stay home with my Mom who now needs constant supervision incase she falls and she doesn’t want any hired help in the house very stubborn! My best friend wants to go to NYC in July would be nice if Taylor plays the Highland Ballroom again if I can go and we can schedule it around the same time, I can only hope, it worked out for me before because Tay had a shadow tour for Grease in San Fransico the day that we were there to see Grease and we were only in the city for 2 days and Grease was in the city for about 2 or 3 weeks. Then again it would be nice if he comes here too if I don’t have to travel it would be easier on the whole family! So thank your for the pics I don’t know what I would do without your photos.

    March 11, 2011
  17. Great article! You clearly express why it’s all about the music for Taylor’s traveling fans. Thanks for sharing both your feelings and your great pix with us! ;p

    March 14, 2011
  18. mrzhicks714 #

    great! love all the pix! ❤

    April 24, 2012

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