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Taylor Hicks at Bally’s Vegas: A Recipe for Success

by Louise Uznanski and Holley Dey

New recipes are often subject to intense scrutiny and customer review. Too bland, too spicy, too heavy, too light – hey, who changed the menu?! Bally’s did, no doubt about it. The Las Vegas venue made an unexpected addition to its entertainment menu this summer, injecting new ingredients and a fresh performance mix into the intimate and recently renovated Indigo room.

It proved a worthwhile gamble, a short-term commitment to southern soul food that returned rave reviews all summer long. Seems that Vegas likes sweet tea and country living, and this week Bally’s announced that headliner Taylor Hicks has agreed to a one year contract extension. The American Idol winner will return to The Indigo on October 17 and play select dates throughout 2013 in Las Vegas, as well as at other Caesars properties nationwide.

His summer show was decidedly different from the glitz and glamour commonly associated with the Vegas stereotype. There were no elaborate costumes, props or light shows to distract from the performance on stage. The focus was clearly on singer/songwriter Hicks, and on the veteran musicians who comprised his all star band. The music was rock, blues and country soul drawn from Taylor’s original albums and from a catalog of the bandleader’s favorite cover tunes.

The performances were intense and personal, delivered literally at the feet of the rapt audience in the front row. Hicks, who on television hook-up show “The Choice” insisted that nice toes are a dating must, could easily have inspected the nail polish of his most ardent fans. In such close quarters, the music was loud and passionate and real. The skill and effort of the musicians was on full display; neck muscles strained, sweat dripped and saliva flew as the energy built throughout the evening. There was a special delight in watching the camaraderie, the give and take among band members; a harmonica-guitar “duel” between Taylor and guitarist Jamie McLean was an audience favorite as each challenged the other to reproduce increasingly complex runs.

The American Idol winner delivered a winning show in Las Vegas this summer. His own power vocals and blistering harmonica play were a given, but the Bally’s residency confirmed that Taylor Hicks can build a set and a band that captivate an audience, returning that audience to their seats the following night, and with friends. Each of the musicians who played The Indigo this summer is individually talented. Together, the band offered a cohesive sound and unique product that impressed, including a stunning, soulful rendition of Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto” that was a consensus favorite.

Hicks has said that he expects to return the full band to Las Vegas for the extended run at Bally’s, and plans enhancements to the production at The Indigo. Hopefully, any minor tinkering will leave the musician core intact; this Taylor Hicks band is a recipe for success.

© 2012 OnTapBlog all rights reserved

Taylor Hicks Band at The Indigo, Bally’s Las Vegas

American Idol winner Taylor Hicks

Keys player and musical director Brian Less

Guitarist Jamie McLean of the Jamie McLean Band, formerly lead guitarist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Brian Griffin, drums/percussion for the Jamie McLean Band, touring early this fall behind recent Band release “Live at Gibson”

Brian Gallagher, in demand flute/saxophone player with extensive touring and recording credits

Joe Bergeron, percussion; the Las Vegas resident is new to the band this summer, bringing significant experience to the mix

Taylor Hicks

Jamie McLean

Brian Less, nicknamed “Little Memphis”

Mark Vanderpoel, bass guitar with extensive Broadway experience

Brian Griffin

Brian Gallagher

Ben Mars, bass guitar for the Jamie McLean Band; absent from Vegas this summer, Ben played with the Band on select east coast dates

Mark Vanderpoel

Jamie McLean

Joe Bergeron

37 Comments Post a comment
  1. timewarpnut #

    Wow!! Wonderful review of the Vegas Taylor Hicks show! This would definitely convince me to make the trip to see him there, (if I didn’t want to already!) 🙂

    September 21, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you for your comment. This new contract will give more fans, old and new, to see Taylor in his element: live and on stage in an intimate setting. Hope you can make the trip in the next year! It’s worth it!

      September 21, 2012
    • Brenda Hadsock #

      Oh how I enjoyed my trip to Vegas!

      September 21, 2012
      • ontapblog #

        Well then, time to plan a return trip? 🙂 Glad you had such a good time!

        September 21, 2012
  2. parleybluehenry #

    Great review and pictures. Can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for Taylor and the band.

    September 21, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks! We’re excited for the prospect of new music, new venues and a great 2013!

      September 21, 2012
  3. Gr8fulheart #

    Hooray! Needed some good news & this ‘recipe’ certainly did the trick! I’m ecstatic to see Taylor reep such positive reviews. Who doesn’t like a little additional ‘flavor’ in an already unique recipe? If there is any possible way for me to ‘be there’; I’ll be sitting (:D) in the front row; ready to indulge in the menu! As always; thanx ladies; for the wonderful news & pictures of what’s on the menu. Delicious♥

    September 21, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you so much Gr8fulheart. Glad you liked the ‘recipe’ for success. Taylor sure knows how to ‘cook’, doesn’t he??

      September 21, 2012
      • Gr8fulheart #

        Yes’em ~ He most certainly does!!!♥

        September 21, 2012
  4. A great “receipe” and you “cooked” up a wonderful tidbit. Thanks for the photos. Hope I can make it out there in 2013.

    September 21, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Julie, Keep your eye out for venues in the Northeast. Taylor might travel here to headline another property. Wouldn’t that be terrific? But, Las Vegas is where Taylor has really become a fixture on the Strip. That in itself is an adventure! Thanks again!

      September 21, 2012
  5. D McKay #

    I’m glad it worked into an extended deal for home – so many people can be re-introduced to Taylor – I went to his opening night at Bally’s – I got the VIP tickets – and I was so close to the stage it was crazy – I live in Vegas so I’ll be going back a few more times – the room is a bit small for a big voice and the great musicians .. But no one who is familiar with Taylor will regret seeing this show… And he is pretty to look at ..

    September 21, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      So glad you got to see the show the first night. The venue is small but intimate, I agree. It is loud in the front but there is not a bad seat at the Indigo so maybe next time we’ll sit further back and take it all in from there. Thanks for reading! Enjoy the Autumn run in Vegas!

      September 21, 2012
  6. Linda T #

    I cracked up right out loud at the notion of Taylor inspecting the nail polish of his most ardent fans! I love your writing…and as always the pictures are stellar! I’m thrilled for Taylor that he got the long term contract, and I’m hoping to treat myself to a Vegas trip as a graduation present sometime next spring or summer!

    September 21, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Linda! We soooooo hope your plans to go to Vegas come through. And don’t forget the pedi. Your feet will literally be under Taylor’s feet. He has good eyesight.

      September 21, 2012
    • Laurie #

      I laughed just as loud!! Great article and amazing pictures. I’m hoping, right along with Linda, to make a show in Vegas!

      September 21, 2012
      • ontapblog #

        Hope you’ll get there, Laurie! Taylor’s show is wonderful, and there are other shows to see, restaurants to visit, and money to lose. You gotta go.

        September 21, 2012
  7. Fantastic news! I was happy to have been able to see them four Vegas dates in a row this summer but am happier that Bally’s/Caesar’s picked them up for even longer….GOOD TASTE

    September 21, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      We agree, misphotog. With so many dates coming up, no reason to not to see several in a row. Thanks for reading and commenting and welcome!

      September 21, 2012
  8. Julia #

    Great article and pictures! Have to admit I got a pretty pedi for the trip to Vegas knowing I would be in the front row. Saw him twice this time – hoping to see him in 2013. Ya gotta love this guy!!

    September 21, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Julia. Appreciate your comment. I see a pedi competition coming on all to put our best ‘foot’ forward to hear the amazing Vegas shows by Taylor and the band.

      September 21, 2012
  9. Txsoulgal, Barb #

    Beautifully done. Thanks for all your work to make ONTAPBLOG a gem. Well said.

    September 22, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      You’re so kind, Barb. Thank you! It’s our pleasure.

      September 22, 2012
  10. Deb #

    I was so happy to hear Taylor will be back in Vegas! I was unable to get there this summer but now I am sure I will be able to find a way to get there to see him within the next year. Maybe I’ll even get to one of those shows in New England!

    Your pics were great! Thanks for showing all of the band.

    September 22, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, Deb. The extension will surely help those who couldn’t manage over the summer to get there. Hoping for the East, West, North and South dates!

      September 22, 2012
  11. Heck, I’d love Taylor’s music even if it were left-overs from a fast food joint.

    September 22, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      And we have a feeling you would not be alone, cath!

      September 22, 2012
  12. Kay #

    Great article! Traveled to Vegas in August to see Taylor and as usual, he did not disappoint! I’ve seen Taylor perform LIVE many times; I am already checking for flights to return to Bally’s.

    Taylor gives 110% to every song he performs and each song comes straight from his soul. SO happy that Caesar’s Entertainment extended his contract.

    September 22, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Kay. It is going to be such a great year for Taylor. So glad more of his fans can get to see him especially if he travels around the country. Can’t beat this for excitement!

      September 22, 2012
  13. Nancy #

    I’ve heard and read nothing but raves for Taylor Hicks’s Vegas show. Absolute raves. I saw him at the House of Blues once and it was fantastic. I’m so glad he’s been extended in Vegas and am planning to go see him!

    September 22, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Nancy. Rave reviews and full audiences got Taylor noticed in Vegas and aren’t we glad that so many more have gotten to see what we have seen in Taylor since 2006. It’s going to be a great year!

      September 22, 2012
  14. Judy Morton #

    Woo Hoo!! My fingers are sore from “right clicking”. What a great article and fabulous pictures. So excited to be planning another trip to see Taylor. I absolutely can’t wait to go back. Wonder what Taylor and the band are “cooking up” for their return to Vegas.

    September 22, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, Judy. It is exciting news and gives lots of fans lots of time to plan to make the trip. I’m sure the adventure will be yummy!

      September 22, 2012
  15. Connie Simpson #

    Great review as the others have said, and we have all become accustomed to enjoying your wonderful photography. I was able to sit on that front row as well this summmer. That is my happy place for sure! Hope it works out to go back to Las Vegas or to another venue this year. I am so happy for Taylor and the success he is enjoying. He has certainly worked hard for it.

    September 23, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks for your kind words, Connie! So glad to hear that you were able to travel to Vegas and enjoyed the show. Like you, we’re anxious for those 2013 performance dates and locations. It would be great to see what changes have been made for 2013.

      September 24, 2012
  16. Jenni Jac #

    Great pix of all the band! Loved the write up too. Always top-notch coverage…thanks!

    September 23, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Jenni! We certainly enjoyed the Vegas show, and hope to catch another in the coming year. Hope you’ll join us!

      September 24, 2012

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