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Taylor Hicks in Atlantic City: Review & Preview with Photos & Video

by Louise Uznanski and Holley Dey @2013 OnTapBlog all rights reserved

“Don’t think that somebody doesn’t read their tweets,” he said, “because they do!” @taylorhicks then motioned to the audience and a young woman with a cowboy hat squealed with excitement as she was beckoned to the stage. Kristen Campbell describes country soul as her genre of choice and counts American Idol winner Taylor Hicks among her musical influences. The singer-songwriter’s pre-show tweets were enthusiastic and to the point. “To sing harmony vocals on “Seven Mile Breakdown”, she pleaded, “would be a dream come true.” Her spirited performance and bright, genuine smile added sweet spice to the rockin’ finale, and @kaoskrissy was a hit with the Beach Bar crowd.

That crowd had gathered for a rare East coast appearance by Las Vegas headliner Hicks who is scheduled two weekends at Bally’s Atlantic City this summer, July 18-20 and July 25-27. He performs Thursday through Saturday at 10 p.m. in the Blue Martini, as well as Friday and Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m. at the Bikini Beach Bar. On the first Friday afternoon, Taylor’s set was as cool and confident as the day was steamy, a mellow contrast to his hard-driving opening night performance in the Blue Martini, the latter prompting whoops and hollers of party-ready approval.

Asked to describe his East coast shows, Taylor promised a mixture of his own original music, cover songs that he performed on American Idol and a few Las Vegas show tunes. It’s an accurate, if matter-of-fact description of a set of time-honored music, songs with substance that enjoy enduring popularity. It is what Hicks does with those familiar tunes that brings a unique flavor and an element of surprise to his live show.

Take for example, the classic Elvis tune “In the Ghetto”, one of the few songs shared in common between Hicks’ Beach Bar and Blue Martini sets. Elvis never performed the song quite this way. Seamlessly integrated into Taylor’s rendition were snippets of other songs including “Yes We Can Can” (Pointer Sisters), “Hot Fun in the Summertime’ (Sly & the Family Stone) and even “Movin’ on Up”, the theme song from long running sitcom The Jeffersons. When the first strains of “Movin’ on Up” were played, there was an immediate response from the Blue Martini faithful who began to sing along, proving yet again that we know what we know, and dang it, we like what we know!

Among the standouts from Thursday evening’s opening show was a cover of “On and On” (Stephen Bishop), a choice that simply fit, showcasing the warmth and depth of Hicks’ voice in a more subtle, textured performance than expected in the boisterous bar setting. Also popular both Thursday and Friday were “Going Back to Louisiana” (Delbert McClinton cover) and “Seven Mile Breakdown” (Hicks original), two songs that called forth blistering solos from the Soul Patrolman’s harmonica.

The audience was engaged early in both sets by Taylor’s relaxed manner and comfortable chatter about his American Idol run and post Idol experience. Introducing “Love the One You’re With”, Hicks recalled a chance meeting with Stephen Stills in the men’s locker room at a 2007 golf tournament in Burbank. The two discussed Stills’ music and its flexibility, the melodies open to variation and interpretation. Taylor leveraged that flexibility to add a few phrases from “Everyday People” (Sly & the Family Stone) and “Fire on the Bayou” (The Meters) to Thursday’s version of the classic song.

It’s a history lesson, I tell you! It’s also good music from talented, practiced musicians who clearly enjoy their craft. On this limited East coast engagement, Taylor Hicks is accompanied by keys player and musical director Brian Less and guitarist Cody Farris, both of whom shine in solos that are interspersed throughout the set, and who contribute to a sound that is larger and fuller than might be expected from a trio.

If Atlantic City is within reach, you might well enjoy a ride on the Soul train next weekend. Just make sure that you watch for your stop; once on board this train, you may not want to get off….

Photo gallery and video – Taylor Hicks at Bally’s Atlantic City:

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo @2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Bally’s Bikini Beach Bar

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Photo ©2013 Louise Uznanski

Kristen Campbell joins Taylor Hicks onstage on Seven Mile Breakdown.

Photo @2013 Holley Dey

Photo @2013 Holley Dey

Taylor Hicks, Kristen Campbell: Seven Mile Breakdown

Photo @2013 Holley Dey

Photo @2013 Holley Dey

43 Comments Post a comment
  1. jonibug #

    Perfect…..the photos are breath-taking and so glad you got video of SMB with Kristen. I started to but then decided I simply wanted to walk closer to the stage!!! Great to see you two gals again and all the other friends/fans who were there too! Loved the three shows I saw….just wish I could see them all! LOL

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks Joni. Great to see you in this new environment for Taylor and the band. The video is a little jumpy. Kept trying to get closer but there were people knelt down at my feet I managed to not trip on. That duet was another first. I was in AC when Taylor brought Chelena up to the stage at the House of Blues in 2007. I see they removed the Skye bottles from the bar at the Blue Martini. Now I’m going back for more of Taylor without bottles at his feet. He was just awesome!

      July 21, 2013
  2. Gorgeous pics Louise! Oh to be somewhere and get to see Taylor twice in one day.

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, Peg. Two completely different shows and both were spectacular. I really loved the beach bar show even though it was 99 degrees.

      July 21, 2013
  3. Jenni Jac #

    Great review! Sounds like a lot of fun in a new venue. I wish I could have attended.

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Jenni. We are lucky to be close but not too long from now I think Taylor will spread his wings and travel to different places especially if his CD comes out next spring.

      July 21, 2013
  4. Josie #

    Wow! Great article and the photographs are absolutely stunning, capturing the emotion and power of the performance. One can almost hear the music. It appears as though I may have to visit the Blue Martini; looks like a decent venue. Nice job by all involved.

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you. It was a great experience. By all means visit the Blue Martini. It’s unique with a raised stage and a ring of ice running along the inner bar. And Taylor Hicks, of course! Thanks again.

      July 21, 2013
  5. Beautiful photos!! Junebug

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, June. Our pleasure. The band all looked and sounded great. So much energy on stage it’s mesmerizing to watch.

      July 21, 2013
  6. Vicki minger #

    PERFETAMUNDO……

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Grazie mille, Vicki! It was bellisimo all around.

      July 21, 2013
  7. Those photos and videos are amazing I love smb and Kristen did a great job I can’t wait to meet her.

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Angela. Kristen did a great job. What a thrill that must have been for her.

      July 21, 2013
      • azure #

        You guys are just awesome! Fabulous recap. Thank you.

        July 21, 2013
  8. Annette #

    I enjoyed the photos and the recap. That is a cute girl and she can really sing. With that cowboy hat she reminds me of Jessie in Toy Story! I liked it when Taylor had a back up singer, even though the guys are so good. Are you going again next weekend? Of course you are! Thanks for taking us on the ride.

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Annette. Kristen was great. Loved seeing Taylor do that kind of thing for a fan. Going again, yes. It’s the beach, the summer and Taylor. Hard to pass up.

      July 21, 2013
  9. Linda #

    Great photos. Thanks

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, LInda!

      July 21, 2013
  10. Paul #

    Thank You for bringing our friend Kristen up and letting her sing with you. She’s a great lady with a great voice. We’re hoping her band, The Whiskey Revolvers, makes it big. We will all remember the event and you for a long, long time. Thanks again!

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Paul, It was great to see Kristen on stage singing with Taylor. What a great day that must have been for her. She was fantastic!

      July 21, 2013
  11. Liz #

    Thanks Louise and Holley-loved the feature! Since I couldn’t go to this one it’s nice to see and hear all about it (besides the THR live texts lol) glad everyone had fun!

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Liz. Sorry you missed it. So glad you enjoyed. Hope to see you next time!

      July 21, 2013
  12. Louise, great show and the greatest pictures. You are wonderful at capturing Taylor’s every move and we do appreciate all your hard work during his performances. It was great to see you again and looking forward to seeing you on the road somewhere again this year! Thank you.

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      It was so great to see you again. I think it was a very good weekend of shows and hopefully there are many, many more in our future seeing Taylor and the band. Thanks again!

      July 21, 2013
  13. Linda T #

    Sorry I missed seeing you this weekend — we went for the Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening shows. Great description of an energetic and engaging set list. I’m really impressed with your photos from the Blue Martini — that looked like challenging lighting to say the least! Your picture at the merch table is wonderful — his expression clearly shows how engaged he has become with each person who comes to the table for a signature or a pic. Thanks again for posting!

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Sorry to have missed you, too, Linda. I have to agree about the merch table photo. He looks so joyful writing his name on the harp. Two seconds before that shot he was playing it. I guess that fan wanted some DNA or proof he played it! Thanks agin.

      July 21, 2013
  14. Louise, Thank you for capturing Taylor and the AC event. For those of us on the west coast who could not be there, your pictures and recap are fantastic. Loving all of the detail.

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, Judy. These shore (as we call it in Jersey) shows were unique. Elevated stage at the Blue Martini and a beach bar and Taylor and Brian and Cody were terrific on each stage. Amory really had her work cut out for her moving the merchandise inside, outside, inside, outside.

      July 21, 2013
  15. Evelyn #

    AMAZING~AMAZING~AMAZING! What a thrill this weekend must have been for those who attended. It’s always a thrill to see a message come through for this blog. Thanx so much for your continual support of a man & his music who has blessed so many over & over. Kristen seemed so excited about her part in SMB. Great Job! ♥

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks so much! it’s a pleasure to continue to follow Taylor. He keeps us going back for more. Kristen was absolutely thrilled that Taylor read her tweet and called her up on stage. It was another great Taylor Hicks experience.

      July 21, 2013
  16. Wow, great blog, wonderful photos and a video…..what a present for the Soul Patrol!! Kristen Campbell was really good. Her voice reminded me of Donna Hall when she sings with Taylor. 🙂

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks so much. Not usually able to stand still long enough to take video but this time it was the thing to do. Kristen was so excited she couldn’t believe Taylor was calling her up from the audience and then she jumped up and the rest is on the video. The all seemed to be having a great time.

      July 22, 2013
  17. Julia #

    Thoroughly enjoyed your review, video and photos! You have such a gift for taking pictures! Personally love your black/whites – think the first pic shows Taylor with a bit of his “Elvis on.” Thanks so much for sharing with us. Do you have favorites among the color or black/white?

    July 21, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, Julia. Black and white is so striking but the colors in the Blue Martini were so powerful that I really liked them as well. I can see Elvis in that first photo too. The first one is my favorite…..today. Thanks again.

      July 22, 2013
  18. Pattiebelle #

    Thanks Louise. These are all beautiful. What a great bunch of shows.

    July 22, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Pattie. It was a great weekend. Going back for more next week?

      July 22, 2013
  19. Anne #

    Louise…can’t thank you enough for these fabulous goodies….your talent is amazing and truly appreciated. Great seeing you this weekend and again..
    thanks for capturing these great pics in that heat.

    July 22, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      So great seeing you all this weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting. Although it was hot I think we all thought it was definitely worth it. What a unique and energetic string of shows!

      July 22, 2013
  20. Tammy Krebs #

    awesome pics and review! I had a BLAST Friday and Saturday at all three shows! Taylor never ceases to amaze me…especially when a fan yelled “make me proud” for Taylor to sing…and, as promised, he DID! Such a wonderful man, great to his fans, and so appreciative of where he is in this business.

    July 22, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      So glad you enjoyed the weekend, Tammy! It was a good one, for sure. Might be worth repeating next weekend…? Thanks for reading and commenting!

      July 22, 2013
  21. Your pictures always amaze me. They are beautiful and it was good seeing you!

    July 22, 2013
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, Sharon! I was so glad to see you enjoying yourself at the Friday show. It was an amazing weekend and I hope to see you again soon. Taylor brings out the best in my camera. Thanks again.

      July 22, 2013

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