Taylor Hicks: The Year in Photographs::2011
by Holley Dey, Louise Uznanski, Richard Uznanski
The new year shouts, “Can’t you hear me knocking?’ We hear, we hear, but we’re not ready. Not until we’ve had one more look and the time to reflect, not until the last picture is posted and the last notes are toasted will we open the door.
Photograph by Paul McLaren
The Jam Cruise 9 version of the Rolling Stones classic found funk band Galactic knocking on the door with special guest Taylor Hicks featured on vocals. From January 4-9, 2011, the MSC Poesia sailed the seas from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Roatan, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico, populated by an amazing collection of talented musicians and an eager, excited group of fans who had waited the better part of a year for these few days of music and madness.
On his first Cruise as an invited guest, Hicks took full advantage of the opportunity, sitting in with Big Gigantic, Robert Randolph, Maceo Parker and JoJo’s Mardi Gras Band, among others. Scott Bernstein of Hidden Track blog reported that the harp wielding musician made “…his presence felt across the boat”, both on stage and during shipboard activities including The Gong Show, where Taylor drew upon past experience to comfort passengers whose often hilarious auditions were panned by an exacting panel of musician judges.
Photograph by Louise Uznanski
February 2011 found the Taylor Hicks Band back on the all too familiar road, with concerts scheduled in Florida and Mississippi. A highlight of the winter tour was the addition of the 1972 classic “Why Can’t We Live Together” to the setlist, with the bandleader on vocals and for the first time, on the Hammond organ. Hicks’ soulful sound was underscored by limited instrumental support, consisting primarily of simple organ and drum lines.
San Marcos, Texas welcomed Taylor Hicks and hundreds of cyclists to the start of the “Don’t Mess with Texas Challenge” on March 28, 2011. This event was organized by Ride 2 Recovery, a non-profit organization that supports the rehabilitation of wounded veterans through programs that use cycling as the core activity. A consistent supporter of the U.S. military, Taylor was able to spend time with several of the Challenge participants before performing at the opening night celebration. Later in the year, Mr. Hicks’ fans would also support Ride 2 Recovery through fundraising that sponsored one rider in the “9-11 American Challenge”, an event that took cyclists from Liberty State Park in view of the World Trade Center site, to the United 93 Memorial and then to the Pentagon.
Photograph by Lloyd Bishop/NBC Universal
It began as a joke between BFF (for six months) Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, caught fire as a fundraising effort, and gave rise to an April 1 performance that Rolling Stone named one of the top five covers of 2011. “Like Rebecca Black’s YouTube kitschfest, this blowout number on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon made its own so-awful-it’s-brilliant magic. Partying, partying…YEAH!” “Friday” with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and a surprise appearance by Taylor Hicks – a Late Night winner! Video here.
Photograph by Louise Uznanski
Fourteen appearances during the month of May carried Taylor Hicks from the deep south to the northeast, then to the far west, and back to the midwestern United States. Highlights during the month included a performance at City Winery in New York City where the band was joined on stage by musician Jamie McLean on guitar, and where a special label Taylor Hicks cabernet sauvignon was offered for sale. Proceeds from wine sales in part supported American Red Cross relief efforts in tornado devastated areas of the south and midwest. The featured photo above was snapped at Charles R. Wood Theatre in Glens Falls, NY where acoustic performances of “Rough God Goes Riding” and “Soul Thing” left the audience begging for more.
The star-studded Bama Rising benefit concert highlighted the magnitude of the need, and then raised over $2 million to fund disaster recovery efforts. Headlined by supergroup Alabama, the event easily attracted some of Nashville’s most popular recording artists, many of whom had been affected by the spring 2011 tornadoes that ravaged the south. Appearing on behalf of their home state, Bo Bice, Taylor Hicks, and Ashton Shepherd delivered rousing and heartfelt performances on this night.
Photograph by Scott Paine Photography
The Rocky Mountain State Games welcomed American Idol winner Taylor Hicks to the July 29 opening ceremony in Colorado Springs World Arena where the entertainer performed for thousands of athletes and their supporters. A multi sport festival that includes amateurs of all ages and abilities, the 10th anniversary Games offered competition in 33 sports over two weekends with over 7,000 athletes participating.
Photograph by Richard Uznanski
His August performance schedule included the Telluride Jazz Celebration where Taylor Hicks and the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra headlined the Saturday evening entertainment, opening with “Compared to What”. The sound of the cowbell penetrated the crisp mountain air, announcing to the crowd that it was time to rock. Joined on stage by Lisa Haley, “Seven Mile Breakdown” added an unexpected and riveting fiddle-harp duel that had the performers and crowd jumping for joy. Live streamed by the festival organizers, the performance drew an enthusiastic online audience who watched and enjoyed the set as it happened. Video remains available here.
The frequent flyer miles continued to accumulate in September as Hicks made trips to both coasts, and spots between. On September 11 his second consecutive appearance at the Life Changing Lives Gala included a crowd pleasing rendition of “With a Little Help from My Friends” that also featured former Idol contestants Lee DeWyze and Michael Johns. Video of that performance was made available in Taylor’s popular “Riding Shotgun” series here. Shows in Alabama and Texas were followed by a guest appearance at the Brooklyn Bowl where Taylor joined John Popper and the Jamie McLean Band for a performance of “Fortunate Son” that included a breathtaking (literally) harmonica duet.
Photograph by Peyton Hoge via Taylor Hicks
The month of October found the singer/songwriter at home in Nashville where work on a new album began in earnest. Expected in early 2012, the new music has been described as “country soul”. Longtime mentor Keb’ Mo’ will contribute to the project; numerous songwriting collaborations have included some of Nashville’s most talented writers.
Photograph via Paula Deen
Celebrity chef Paula Deen makes her home in Savannah, Georgia where the “Best Dishes” television show is filmed in her kitchen studio. A future episode of the show will feature the culinary skills of Taylor Hicks, who joined Ms. Deen in November to tape a segment on crawfish rolls. The delectable rolls are a specialty of ORE Drink & Dine, the Birmingham restaurant co-owned by Mr. Hicks. Opened in April 2011, the upscale neighborhood eatery offers fresh local ingredients, live music, and drop-in visits from its famous owner.
Photograph via Taylor Hicks
Again in 2011, Taylor Hicks offered his support to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. At the campaign kick-off, Taylor joined the governor of Alabama to encourage holiday donations to families in need. Later in December, the price of admission to a benefit show held at ORE Drink & Dine was an unwrapped toy. The standing room only crowd that packed the dining room enjoyed more than two hours of good music and good cheer with their hometown favorite.
There was music shared in 2011; new people and places were introduced to the scope of Taylor Hicks’ musical talent. There was diversification; who knew that the singer/songwriter could cook both on and off the stage? There was continued support of his southern home base with charity extended to those who needed it most.
For 2012, we wish Mr. Hicks good health, good friends, and the satisfaction that comes with knowing a job has been well done. We thank him sincerely for the music and good times that he brought us this year, and look forward with great anticipation to the soulful new music he has planned for 2012. Most of all, we thank him for being “good people”. It matters. Cheers!
Please enjoy the following newly released 2011 photographs of a musician at work. A small bonus is available to those who stay to the end of the photo set; a video capture of Taylor Hicks’ encore acoustic performance of “The Fall” at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, February 2011 is addended!
An unexpected and beautiful encore version of “The Fall” caught on cellphone, and shared by Louise Uznanski.