Taylor Hicks on Tour: A Tale of Two Cities
Text and photos contributed by Louise/4Tay Uznanski. Click on the photo to enlarge. Stayed tuned for the Snoqualmie recap coming up next!
Two venues, two very different shows. The one constant: the music and the passion of Taylor Hicks and his band. The Lincoln Theater is nestled in a small, quaint town where news travels quickly. The hotel receptionist 3 miles away knew that Taylor was in town. The gas station attendant knew it. And they knew that opening for Taylor Hicks was his AI5 buddy Tony Bridges and Tony’s two bandmates.
The road to Mount Vernon was a long and arduous one for the east coasters and the band traveling from Alabama. Caught in the crosshairs of Mother Nature, Taylor’s entourage arrived at the Seattle airport at rush hour, but they traveled fast and made their way to the theater with only enough time for a quick change of clothes.
The Tony Bridges Band is a young, acoustic trio that covers music from the late 90’s and early ’00’s, but also plays some of Tony’s new, original music. Tony plans to record in Nashville soon. He’s working on it. The near capacity audience (venue holds 500) was definitely local in flavor but that only enhanced the show for Tony and his band. It’s a family affair for Tony. His wife handles publicity and merchandise sales and she obviously adores her husband’s vocation. His young son is the spitting image of his dad and was in attendance at this all-ages show.
Tony mentioned that he had heard Taylor was going to be in Washington and contacted him, saying it would be great to do something together. Taylor obliged and gave Tony the spot as the opener. It proved to be a stellar move on Mr. Hicks’ part. The band is young and hip and their acoustic melodies were clear and crisp.
Happily, Tony also supported the Taylor Hicks Band in Snoqualmie the next night. The band had to make the redeye flight headed east on Thursday night, and Tony was seen setting up and then breaking down instruments to help the band on their way. He looked thrilled to be there and help.
The Taylor Hicks Band set list for the Lincoln was short on details but long on musical delights. Written in what appears to be Taylor’s handwriting, the words ‘Deal’, ‘City’, ‘Battlefield’, and ‘Why’, were written in black sharpie with ‘TITTS’ written at the bottom. The reverse side had the Beau Rivage set list. Gotta love a guy who conserves!
If Tony Bridges was Mount Vernon’s son, Taylor was their long lost nephew. Five years after his Idol win, the audience was more than ready to become reacquainted with Mr. Hicks. The easy familiarity of the audience with these two “family members” made for a comfortable night despite the tough conditions leading up to the show.
Despite leaving Alabama in the shadow of devastating storms, Taylor’s focus during the show was absolutely on the music. At the same time, we could sense that part of his heart remained with those who stood in danger’s way.
While Battlefield sizzled with Sam Gunderson’s hot guitar riffs, 19 was sweet and slow as Jeff Lopez played some innovative tenor sax on the familiar Dixie tag. Living for the City brought the crowd back to the familiar Taylor, but it was Seven Mile Breakdown that brought the crowd to the realization that they were seeing the new Taylor, the bluesy Taylor who could blow a mean harp and play an accomplished Hammond organ. Taylor said both nights that he sang these songs on ‘that show’. A gasp of familiarity washed over the crowd and they embraced both the old and new Taylor at the Lincoln Theater. And on this night, Taylor dedicated Seven Mile Breakdown to his southern family.
After the show, the line to meet Taylor snaked up the aisle and continued on and on. Taylor spoke with fans new and old and posed for photos with everyone. The merchandise table was set up on the floor against the stage and while this seemed odd to some, it was perfect. It was just like being in your uncle’s living room taking photos and swapping stories.
We did not get in the signing line but waited and said hi to the band members who passed by. It’s a blessing that we are able to converse with them like they are our friends and they never seem to tire of our questions. Some of the band like to hear what we observe and think or feel. It was a blessing to speak to Taylor as well about photography and videotaping in a relaxed manner.
Fortunately, performing at the Lincoln Theater is like being in your living room with 500 guests. It’s intimate, friendly and your rogue uncle will always call out some inane comment that everyone will laugh at, briefly. The banter between the songs was priceless but the stage limited the dancing a bit, I’m sorry to report! The whole night can be compared to a family visit; they come expecting a great turkey dinner and end up having a feast. The host is happy. In Taylor’s case, everyone left happy and full.
Taylor made the best of the situation. While he surely had a somewhat heavy heart from the heartbreaking events in the south , at the same time he performed like the professional he is. He said he had been looking forward to coming to the Northwest because his allergies give him a break when he is there, but I suspect that if he had his druthers, he would have been in Alabama, where his heart is.
I was fortunate enough to be able to have had some access to the stage for photos and took some from behind the curtain of Taylor at the organ and performing at the mic. No one wanted to go home. Just like my family!