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Posts tagged ‘New York’

Taylor Hicks: Daryl’s & The Flying Monkey

©2016 Ontapblog All Rights Reserved

June 16, 2016: Daryl’s House Club, Pawling, New York 


Opening his New England tour last week with stops at Daryl’s House Club in New York and The Flying Monkey Performance Center in New Hampshire, Taylor Hicks, along with Brian Less and special guests Jamie McLean and Joshua Logan, performed two memorable acoustic sets to large, enthusiastic audiences.


Brian Less

Jamie McLean got the music started with his solo performance, infusing his new music with his well known originals before joining Taylor’s headlining set.  His guitar virtuosity added depth to the headlining set especially on his ‘In The Ghetto’ solo.


Jamie McLean

What made this show different?  Taylor mixes new songs and covers with his familiar set list but it is his talking and reflecting in between songs on his life since winning Idol that enriches the experience. His story telling centers on the songwriting he has done with some of the best, most prolific and happy songwriters in the industry.

Taylor’s new travel and food show ‘State Plate’ on INSP TV has started filming around the country and with it comes a new and different litany of stories from the road. If you have ideas for an interesting food experience, Taylor said he wants to hear it. You never know. You might be part of the Story Teller Tour.


Taylor Hicks

June 17, 2016: The Flying Monkey Movie House & Performance Center, Plymouth, NH

The Flying Monkey is a little jewel of a theatre in historic Plymouth, New Hampshire. Taylor invited season 5 finalist Josh Logan to open. Josh’s voice is strong and his guitar playing unique. He played original music and covered soul artists, including Justin Timberlake. He said he was so glad to see Taylor, a brother in soul music, win Idol. Being a local favorite encouraged the audience and his performance made him new fans.


Josh Logan


Brian Less and Taylor Hicks

The set list came with twists and familiar turns. Songs were added on the fly. Bob Seger’s ‘Main Street’, done acoustically, was a spur of the moment addition. The music ebbed and flowed over the hour and a half Taylor and Brian were on stage with love ballads sung tenderly and road songs sung with vigor.


The ‘take ’em to church moment’ came at the encore. With Taylor singing and Brian on keyboard, the audience joined en masse to sing the chorus to Bill Withers’ ‘Lean on Me’. The duo disappeared backstage as the audience walked from their seats humming, ‘we all need somebody to lean on’ all the way to the lobby. Catch a show on the tour that extends through December. By then, the new stories will be interwoven into the music and hopefully someone, somewhere, is writing a song about the road travelled.


Next up: June 24th in Natick, MA; June 25th in Boothbay Harbor, ME; July 8 in Rutland, VT; July 9 in Old Saybrook, CT.

Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman Charm Infinity Hall Crowd

by Holley Dey with photography by Louise Uznanski and Richard Uznanski ©2015 On Tap Blog All rights reserved.

g&g from Richard 1From the back of the merchandise line it was clear that nearly all of the audience had decided to join the queue.  As I watched the line slowly advance and then reverse direction, I realized that the Infinity Hall crowd now had their hands full…..full of music.  When the time came to reach for my own wallet, copies of Gary’s newest CD were long gone, long gone.  Instead, I purchased an older live recording that features several of the Hall of Fame songwriter’s #1 songs as well as a 2008 album that includes many of Georgia’s early hits. It was an incidental but very satisfying purchase when I later compared the recorded vocals to that evening’s live performance.

Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman came from Nashville to New York and then to Norfolk last month to perform for an audience that laughed easily, smiled broadly and enjoyed greatly. The music was drawn from the couple’s catalog of songwriting hits, from their own recorded music and from yet unreleased songs to be included on an upcoming duo album, the husband and wife’s first together. The show was patterned after the famed singer-songwriter sessions at the Bluebird Cafe where each songwriter in turn performs one of his/her hits, supported by instrumental and vocal back-up from the other.

Each song was introduced with a tale of inspiration, with behind-the-scene details from the Nashville music scene or….with a story of what could only be divine providence (or sheer dumb luck).  Take Gary’s history with Garth Brooks, for example.  Original song “What Mattered Most” was written for the country superstar.  “He hated it,” explained Gary curtly, “didn’t record it.”  (Ty Herndon later took the poignant love song to #1 on the country music charts.)  Happily, fate intervened.  In studio to record a Bob Seger song, Garth was forced to switch gears when the details of that song failed to arrive via FAX. “Might as well record that song I’ve been hearing around the studio this week.”  Done. That’s Gary Burr for you; he’s lucky (and talented) like that.

Georgia’s eyes misted as she described her late father’s favorite song, “While He Still Knows Who I Am.”  A tender story of memory loss and reconnection, the Dave Berg-Tom Douglas-Georgia Middleman co-write went unrecorded for eight years until Kenny Chesney made an emotional connection to the lyrics.  It was the last song Georgia’s father requested, and the first song recorded for Chesney’s 2012 album release.

The Infinity Hall audience had no trouble connecting to the songwriters’ performance.  There was an enthusiastic back-and-forth between those on stage and the many more in the audience.  Laughter and good-natured teasing were exchanged; several song requests were accepted and performed.  It was like an evening with your closest friends, if only your friends had both talent and your rapt attention!

Among the joys of this acoustic-based singer-songwriter performance was the opportunity to hear that talent unfiltered.  Compared to recordings that are now several years old, the tone and clarity of the vocals have not changed.  Gary’s voice has a richer quality; maybe it’s maturity.  Well then again, maybe not.  That cheeky humor hasn’t changed either!

Nor has the quality of the duo’s songwriting wavered.  At Infinity Hall the audience was treated to a preview of new songs intended for the couple’s debut album.  “You Roll By” and “This Song” share the same well crafted melodies and lyrics as previous works, but marry Gary and Georgia’s voices in a warm and welcome harmony.

Here’s hoping the songwriters will return those harmonies from Nashville to New York, to Norfolk and beyond when the new album is released.  Might consider taking the show to Naperville, Newton, Norman or New Orleans….or go crazy!  That’s right.  Pick another letter.



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“Heads in Beds”: Required Summer Reading for Travelers

heads in beds coverby Holley Dey  ©2013 OnTapBlog all rights reserved

Five months too late, that’s when I found Jacob Tomsky’s Heads in Beds.  Coulda, shoulda read the book earlier.  Here’s why.

Times Square was bustling before the holiday and so was the hotel lobby.  The long check-in line snaked single file to the front.  At the desk the clerk confirmed my internet reservation, offered me two key cards but no bellman.  Carried suitcase, camera bag, computer and handbag to room 824.  Neither room key worked.  Returned to lobby dragging suitcase, camera bag, and computer with handbag falling off my right shoulder.  Asked an available desk clerk to re-program the room keys, but was curtly directed  to rejoin the check-in queue where I fear that the expression on my face may have alarmed other guests.

A few chapters into the book, what I learned: Reservations made via discount internet sites rank low on the luxury hotel’s priority list.  A well placed, upfront tip at the desk can change attitudes and rapidly improve service.  Might even move your discounted room away from that elevator bank.

Finally settled into my room, I opened my computer and was immediately hit with an extra one day charge for accessing the internet.  Paid it with a sense of indignant resignation.  Incurred a second charge when I logged into my email account the next morning, some twelve hours later.  Made yet another visit to the front desk where I began to protest.  After all, even in New York a day is twenty-four hours long, isn’t it?  I had begun to wax eloquent when I was abruptly interrupted by the clerk, “MA’AM, I’VE ALREADY TAKEN BOTH CHARGES OFF YOUR BILL.”

Huh?  Is it really that easy?  Well yes, it is.  The desk clerk doesn’t care.  You didn’t eat the Milky Way from the mini bar?  Never watched that adult movie?  No problem.  All it takes is a simple, “I didn’t watch the movie.  Please remove the charge.”  The desk clerk doesn’t want or need to hear you wax eloquent.  (Although, honestly, had I not been ready to discuss in detail the earth’s daily rotation on its axis, I’m not sure that both charges would have been removed.)

Before Jacob Tomsky was an author, he was a new college graduate with a degree in philosophy and loans to pay.  Seems that it was an off year for philosophy majors; Jacob took a job as a valet parker for a New Orleans luxury hotel.  Young, smart and eager to advance, he rose quickly through the ranks to front desk clerk and then housekeeping manager before burnout necessitated a months’ long travel break.  Savings depleted, Jacob then settled in New York City where the only viable job offers came from the service industry, returning the avid traveler to the front desk, now at the “Bellevue” Hotel.

During his ten years in the hotel business, Tomsky saw it all – sex, drugs, lies, and then there were the guests!  He learned the inner workings of the hotel, how to keep thejacob tomsky lobby running smoothly and customers happy while doing his utmost to minimize on-the-job frustration and maximize the twenty dollar tips in his pocket.  He went from sneakers to dress shoes, Dr. Pepper to whiskey, newbie to hustler in the space of several years and some 250 pages, never losing his humanity or his union card.

Heads in Beds is an often hilarious tale told from behind the desk and behind the scenes of the hotel industry.  There are valets with fists up, housekeepers with nylons down and managers passed out on the ground.  There are stories of celebrities, hookers and athletes.  There are trade secrets released and travel tips offered.  Ever wonder how to avoid that pesky last minute room cancellation fee?  Your answer is here.  Ever marveled at the sparkling mirrors and glassware in the hotel bath?  You may be surprised to know what produces that shine.  Want to empty the mini bar or watch a free movie?  No problem!  Jacob tells you how.  He also explains when and whom to tip and what to expect for that courtesy.  First priority?  Remember that the front desk clerk controls your hotel destiny.  A room upgrade, bottle of wine and/or late check-out are all in play for players.

What I took away from Heads in Beds:

1.  There is hope for our children.  If Jacob could turn an impractical college degree and life at the front desk into a book this well written, this entertaining, and ultimately this human, then maybe your child and mine can also find their way in this world.

2.  I will never again drink from the “sanitized” glass in a hotel bathroom.

3.  I have new empathy for the hotel staff, especially the valets, bellmen and housekeepers whose work often goes unnoticed, well, unless there is a complaint to be made.  Heads in Beds puts a face on people who are nearly invisible when their jobs are well done.  I plan to tip more often, and more generously.

4.  Profanity can be a term of endearment?  It’s New Yawk, people.  If  you don’t believe me, go to a baseball game and listen to the faithful advise the team from the cheap seats.  Cursing = love.  There’s plenty of love in this book.

Summary:  RECOMMENDED.  For an easy summer read, a book that will keep you laughing but leave you thinking, pick up a copy of Heads in Beds.  Oh, go on, do it.

A Conversation & Concert with Jamie McLean: Gramercy Theatre on January 27

There was no fanfare when the Jamie McLean Band took the stage in Fairfield a few weeks ago.  Jamie had an unassuming, almost self-effacing manner.  He walked quietly to the microphone; a handwritten setlist was dropped to the floor, the guitar strapped in place, and then the show began. Read more

Taylor Hicks in a New York State of Mind

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.

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Taylor Hicks on Tour: Hello Connecticut, Hudson Valley and Moonlight in Vermont

Louise/4Tay contributed this article and photos.   Infinity Hall poster created by Jenni Jac using a photo provided by NolaMarImages.  Taylor Hicks poster created by macpolski.

For Taylor’s tour schedule and ticket info: TaylorHicksNews on tap

As Taylor Hicks completes the taping of the Gulf Shores Special in Biloxi, Ms, his tour bus waits for him in Grand Junction, Colorado for his next stop on his Bad Ass Tour.  Facing a swing to Colorado followed by dates in Nevada, California and Florida that will take him to Labor Day weekend, Taylor’s fans wait excitedly in the Northeast to see his tour end as excitedly as they welcomed him at his first show at the Highline Ballroom in NYC on July 25th.

After a planned charity event in California, Taylor and his band of musicians will say hello to Connecticut on September 15th at Infinity Hall in Norfolk.  Nestled in the Northwest corner of the state, the theater is a cozy, historic and acoustically excellent venue to hear the soulful sounds of Taylor and his band.  Within a short driving distance from Philadelphia, New York City and Long Island, this is a venue and a show that should not be missed.  This excellent poster promoting the show says it all.  Blues, soul, rock and great musical presentation will delight audiences new and old.

The Hudson Valley in New York will be  filled with bright hues of the coming Fall season and it is a perfect backdrop for a musical event.  Making their way from Connecticut to New York’s Hudson Valley, the blue Prevost bus carrying Taylor and his band will arrive at their next destination: Westchester’s Best Musical Venue, the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, New York for a September 16th show.  This show will put you in a perfect mood  for the musical feeling expressed in the following photo taken at Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis, Md. by macpolski.

Moonlight in Vermont takes us to the days in New England just before the frost hits the pumpkins and fallen leaves.  It’s riding in your convertible with the top down and a woolen hat on your head.  What better way to start the Fall season then to follow the bus from Connecticut to New York and then finally to Vermont for a September 18th show at the Paramount Theater in Rutland, Vermont.  The snow will not be on the mountains at Killington but the heat will be on at the Paramount.  Even the late, great Ray Charles found reason to sing a siren song beckoning the music traveller to come to Vermont.

Come to New England in the Fall and see the finishing touches on a tour that started out in Gotham and will end  in the land of Ben and Jerry’s, maple syrup and great musical venues that bring the best out of Taylor Hicks and all artists who venture there.  Maine in July gave us this.

New England can bring you the passion and artistry of Taylor Hicks’ music.  Make the trip.  It’s going to be an adventure.