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This was going to be one very special night indeed – Friday, May 20, 2011! My family and I were attending the Taylor Hicks concert that evening at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, MA. Even more magnificent was the fact that we would be seeing my son, Private First Class Seth Jarek, for the first time in FOUR long months.
It was a summer night on Long Island. Taylor and his band consisting of Brian Less, Jeff Lopez and David Keith, set up on the Arches at the Tanger mall plaza for an acoustic set. The warm air, the sun setting and the sweet blues music made for an entertaining night.
Photos and blog graciously contributed by Louise Uznanski who traveled to see Taylor Hicks and his band perform five times in nine days in May.
Please click on images to enlarge.
The fog has certainly lifted, somewhat, from so much traveling, but the feeling that I am still going to get in the car or a plane or a shuttle to get to a venue where Taylor Hicks will appear is still pulling at my brain. Herding so many photos has been the most burdensome task. Note to self: Take fewer photos. I wouldn’t even try to do that, so here is the fruit of an overly enthusiastic shuttle finger and one fine and talented man and his band as they tore through the Northeast creating joy, mayhem and more than a few GPS systems to go haywire.
Pitman, New Jersey is a small town near the home of Rowan University in neighboring Glassboro. Glassboro was host to the Hollybush summit between President Johnson and Russia’s Kosygin in 1967. The Broadway Theater is historic in its own right, and the lighting and sound were epic!
It was truly an amazing night of musical changes. Forty minutes into the show, Taylor took a short break and came back to the stage, sat on a stool and did twenty minutes of acoustic music. After the shock of that sank in, we were treated to more of the rocking, rollicking Taylor and his awesome band. We brought two ‘newbies’ to the show and a lot of my work colleagues indulged me by buying tickets to the show. To a person, they loved Taylor, the show and everything about the experience. For lighting, surprises and overall effect, the Broadway Theater show was one of my favorite of the five shows in May.
With one day of rest between shows, we found ourselves in the car for the six hour drive to Greensburg, PA, near Pittsburgh. The town is charming, the theater was large and the setting was ideal for a great show. The stage was big and Taylor took full advantage of the expanse as he danced, jammed and generally wore us all out with his energy.
It was at the end of the show during the encore that Taylor so took the audience by surprise it still makes me shake my head every time I think about it. Just when you thought he could not thrill you more, Taylor pulls up a stool and sings Alabama Frame of Mind, solo, acoustic with Jeff Lopez laying on the sax to really slay the audience. It was as heartwarming and beautiful a performance as I have ever seen from Taylor. Just wow. He smiled the entire time.
No rest for the weary! On to New York City and the City Winery where Taylor and the band performed and also raisedmoney through wine sales and contributions for the Tornado Recovery.
What an interesting place this was in the middle of Manhattan to hear live music. The band was more than up for the occasion, pulling out all the stops and bringing guitarist Jamie McLean on stage to jam on Seven Mile Breakdown. The best part of the night for me was being able to get up from my seat, walk around and shoot photos and dance!
Several bad meals and three hotel rooms later we found ourselves in the lovely Hudson Valley and the town of Saratoga Springs, New York. After a lengthy nap and a short ride up the interstate to Glens Falls and the Charles Wood Theater, we arrived at show #4.
A unique movie theater setting at the Wood Theater, there is not a bad seat in the house. After settling in and noticing how the instruments were arranged on the stage, we remembered that Taylor did say the Glens Falls show would be an acoustic show. He delivered on that promise. His rendition of Soul Thing was the best I have ever heard. Rough God Goes Riding was like being at a seance. Taylor scatted and closed his eyes and made you feel like you were with Van Morrison when he wrote the song.
Musical talent has a way of surfacing no matter what the circumstances. Tired, road weary and drained from traveling, the Taylor Hicks band showed a sold out Wood Theater where their true genius is: it’s made up of individual nuances and notes and playing off of one another until the sound is so sweet and laidback you would think you were in your Lazy Boy with a Blue Moon in your hand. It is shows like this one in Glens Falls that make the band so appealing. It is the tour that is always changing.
Back in the car, and in my case two train rides to Philadelphia from New York City, and then a car ride from the station and a few days of gathering thoughts, then we were off for the show in Shirley, Massachusetts at the Bull Run Restaurant.
Sitting right at the mic at a table with long-time fans was the highlight of being there. Taylor was loose and talkative and in excellent voice. The restaurant owner was beyond happy to have Taylor there and all of his fans. The show was so unique because of our proximity to the stage. Taylor signed CDs and merchandise after the show while waiting for G.I. Seth to arrive to see the show. When he did not make it in time to hear ‘19‘ Taylor told Seth’s mother that they would sing it on the tour bus. Wow. The video is so heartwarming. We were all so proud to be fans when the latest episode of Riding Shotgun with Taylor Hicks was published on Memorial Day!
And so ends MY May tour with Taylor Hicks. It was a lovely ride. Lots of great memories. So many memories to be made again as Taylor flew to the West coast and made joyous noise in Coos Bay and Michigan. Looking forward to more surprises, good music and fun on the Taylor Hicks Tour!