Taylor Hicks on Tour: Taylor Hicks is the Maine Man on Mother’s Day
Recap of Taylor Hicks’ Mother’s Day show in Ogunquit, Me and photos contributed by Louise Uznanski.
The theater ticket said ‘Taylor Hicks Mother’s’ on the front. Not Mother’s Day Special show. Taylor Hicks Mother’s. With that in mind, mothers, daughters, husbands and grandmothers gathered at the superb Jonathan’s Restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine, for a full day of food, festivities and a repeat performance by the ‘soul man’ of his kick ass blues and moves. The occasional lobster added to the joy of being in one of the quaintest New England towns Taylor’s fans have ever seen.
The day started at Jonathan’s with a Mother’s Day brunch and ended with a show that was everything the audience had expected from the soulful, handsome man. Many at dinner spoke of how they had seen him or just missed him the last time he was at Jonathan’s. All were looking forward to an evening of amazing music from Taylor and his stellar band of musicians. Taylor, to them, is the BEST and his band members rank right up there with the best of the best.
Traveling the country roads and highways to get to the venue, there were no signs leading the way to this show. In the town of Ogunquit, Taylor Hicks posters were plastered in every store. Once again the hotel clerks and car rental agents in town knew that Taylor was appearing! At first we answered the question posed by many, ‘Why are you here?’ with ‘We’re here to see Taylor Hicks in Ogunquit.’ Soon we realized that everyone knew who was playing Jonathan’s on Mother’s Day. We stopped saying ‘We’re here to see the sights and Taylor Hicks.’ Now it was just ‘We’re here to see Taylor!’
The band consisted of Brian Less, Sam Gunderson, Jeff Lopez, Leif Bondarenko, David Keith and Brandon Peeples. Ably assisting the band in every way possible was the hard working and amiable Clay Connor. The band entered through a rear door of the concert hall dressed in neat black attire and took their places on the tiny stage. Last year the band seemed to be spilling off the stage and onto the front tables. This year the tables were configured differently and the whole room seemed to be less cramped. A capacity crowd waited for Taylor to appear up the aisle leading to the stage.
New England Soul Patrol was in attendance and spread throughout the venue. Cheering and dancing at their seats, they made the night a dance concert. Taylor appeared dressed in a blue shirt, blue jeans and blue boots and danced up the aisle as the band played the opening chords to Compared to What. Finding the cowbell and the drum stick on the stage, Taylor beat the bell till it couldn’t take any more and then the voice started. The voice was well used the week before, and the body language might have started out a little worse for wear, but as soon as the VOICE rang out through the venue, the blues took over and smoothed the edges for this all-ages crowd.
Exchanging banter with the crowd, there came a point in the performance when Taylor hinted at taking requests. Just a hint. Little did he know that this would prompt someone in the crowd to call out ‘Sing Beauty School Dropout!’ from the back right side of the venue. Taylor said ‘no’ and then sang the opening lines. Just a brief playback of a time and place far, far away from Maine’s lobster pounds and quaint ancient towns. He said he had performed that song 585 times and would not sing it again for another 15 years until he sang it to his kids. Had us wondering if his kids will be fans of Broadway musicals?
Taylor was animated, funny, joking and pleasant. He exchanged pleasantries with the men at the front tables. He sang The Maze, a song not heard in many a month. Just to Feel That Way did not have the usual ‘Clive made me do it’ intro, only a comment that this was the first single from his national record release after winning Idol. Had Taylor mellowed to Clive’s decision to release JTFTW instead of The Runaround? I’m not certain we’ll ever know.
Making his way through the setlist, Taylor’s voice moved the crowd to applaud each song with happy anticipation. This was a seasoned crowd made up of veterans of Taylor’s tours and their loved ones who had heard so much about this man during the five years he has been touring. Maybe You Should was sweet and intense at the same time. 19 found Taylor standing, facing Jeff Lopez as Jeff made the flute linger on each note of his Dixie solo. There was a standing ovation once again for Taylor and his dedication at each show for our military men and women. This audience was old enough and young enough to appreciate this kind gesture.
Taylor came to near the end of his set and instead of leaving the stage and returning for the encore, he wrapped the encore into the set. This was a different approach that meant he would not be back on stage after the last song. As much as we wanted to see him for just one more tune, we knew there were mothers, daughters, grandmothers and sisters there who wanted to meet him and then wanted to be with their family before the night was over and another Mother’s Day came to an end. This night we were all ‘Taylor Hicks Mother’s.’ He would make any mother proud.
The venue and the restaurant at Jonathan’s is top notch. The entertainment provided by Taylor and his band surpassed expectations. Many left surprised at his musical talent and showmanship. If Taylor comes back to Jonathan’s, I’ll be there. For Taylor. For the lobster. For a chance to see this band so up close and personal once again.
Photos from the event. Click to enlarge and enjoy!