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Taylor Hicks: Story Teller Tour Pt.2

Photos and audio recordings by Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

©2016 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved

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Please enjoy a look back at Taylor Hicks’ and Brian Less’ four night acoustic tour of the East that began on April 21st in Connecticut and ended April 24th in Pennsylvania.

From the Fairfield Theatre where Jamie McLean opened and then joined Taylor on guitar for the headlining show, to the vintage, renovated Queen Theatre at World Cafe Live in Wilmington, Delaware, to the sold out Avalon Theatre in Easton, Maryland and then finally to the New Hope City Winery in Pennsylvania, Taylor and Brian managed to make more music from their two man band than many could with a full band.

Following are a few photo and audio highlights of Taylor’s acoustic Eastern tour.

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Audio: What’s Right Is Right/Tupelo Honey-Avalon Theatre, 4/23/16

Smooth, cool vocals, a little harp and Van’s Tupelo Honey tag.

Audio: Six Strings Are Hard On Diamond Rings-Avalon Theatre, 4/23/16

The best ballad for Taylor to date. Perfect anthem for a traveling soul man.

Taylor Hicks: Story Teller Tour

Audio and photos by Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

©2016 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved

 

And he shall be Levon
And he shall be a good man
And he shall be Levon…

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Taylor Hicks returned to the Northeast last Thursday for four acoustic concerts in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  In each intimate venue, the two man band wrapped their stories into the music making the stage feel more like a living room than a concert hall.

The music and the story telling was all on Taylor and his keyboardist and musical director, Brian Less. The stories from before and after Taylor’s win on American Idol were humorously interlaced with tales from his life as an entertainer, writer and actor since his Idol win.

Taylor was first introduced to the TV viewing public singing Elton John’s ‘Levon’. Ten years later, Taylor still entertains through his songs saying “the vault is filled with music”. Letting the stories and music out one performance at a time guarantees that his story is to be continued…

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Please enjoy a recorded version of ‘Levon’ from Taylor’s April 22nd performance at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware.

 

OnTap Photo Focus: Flashback Friday:: Taylor Hicks at The Genesee Theatre

Photography: ©Louise Uznanski

©2015 Ontapblog All Rights Reserved

Please enjoy these photos of Taylor Hicks’ opening stint for BoDeans at the Genesee Theatre on December 28th and join with us in looking forward to all that is new for Taylor and his fans in 2015.

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BoDeans and Taylor Hicks Prove Fan Favorites at Genesee Theatre: Part 2

Review and Photography by Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

©2015 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved

BoDeans entered the Genesee Theatre stage on Sunday warmly greeted by an enthusiastic audience already on their feet before the first note was played. Their headlining set on a double bill that included a well-received opening set by American Idol, Taylor Hicks, would be one of the rock band’s last stops on their current tour.

 

The typed setlist for the night’s performance was found lying by the Genesee Theatre’s soundboard operator as he awaited the start of the show. The list was drawn primarily from the band’s eleven previously released albums (BoDeans Discography) and consisted of songs that have become classic rock anthems for BoDeans’ fans since their emergence onto the music scene in the early 80’s.

Before the opening number, Kurt Neumann, the lead singer and one of the band’s founders, told the audience how thankful the band is for their fans continued loyalty to their music after over thirty years of touring. He added that their story began like so many other American rock bands had, when, as kids, they started creating their sound in the basements and garages of rural Wisconsin. Now, over thirty years later, the band and their fans are still together and still rocking.

BoDeans song lyrics are filled with the dreams and hopes culled from the American experience. Performing songs with titles such as ‘Dreams’, ‘Paradise’, ‘Texas Road Song’, ‘All the World’, ‘Angels’, ‘American’, ‘Good Work’, and their most well known, ‘Good Things’ and ‘Closer To Free’, the BoDeans have maintained a foothold in classic American roots rock music long after their 1983 critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams‘ was released. During Sunday’s performance, the band offered these themes in a continuous stream, switching from one classic to another, seemingly without taking a breath. ‘I Can’t Stop/Slave’, a song from their upcoming album ‘I Can’t Stop‘, served as a preview of what’s new for BoDeans ahead of the album’s April, 2015 release.

Kurt Neumann, lead vocalist and electric guitarist, co-founded BoDeans with Sam Llanas. Llanas left the band right after the release of ‘Indigo Dreams‘ in 2011, leaving Kurt with a difficult choice to make. Deciding not to disband, Neumann regrouped and pledged to write new, energetic rock/pop music for the band’s ‘rebirth’. 2012’s ‘American Made‘ is an homage to Neumann’s passion and determination to continue on as a band. Their musical performances after the release of ‘American Made‘ are classic BoDeans with some twists back to roots rock and a forward-thinking infusion of pop.

Joining Neumann on the Genesee stage were long-time friends Sam Hawksley on guitar and back-up vocals, Kenny Aronoff on drums, Zak Sparks on bass, Dave Duffy on violin and Stefano Intalesano on keys and accordion. The defining aspect of a BoDeans performance is the skilled musicianship. The transitions from band play to solos and back again are seamless. And, despite changing band members and musical directions over the years, the band has made it their trademark to always be on the same page when it comes to the music.

For their commitment to keeping their sound alive in each performance, BoDeans is rewarded by a loyal audience who becomes a sea of back-up singers, singing the words to the band with vigor and conviction. As if transported back to the time when the audience had dreams of starting a great American band in their parent’s garage, Sunday night with BoDeans at the Genesee Theatre made that dream feel real, if only for the few minutes they were on their feet singing the words to ‘Closer to Free’.

The following photo gallery contains some of the images captured at BoDeans December 28th performance at the Genesee Theatre.

Lead vocalist Kurt Neumann

Lead vocalist Kurt Neumann

BoDeans, Genesee Theatre

BoDeans, Genesee Theatre

Keyboardist Stefano Intalesano, Drummer Kenny Aronoff, Guitarist Sam Hawksley

Keyboardist Stefano Intalesano, Drummer Kenny Aronoff, Guitarist Sam Hawksley

Guitarist Sam Hawksley

Guitarist Sam Hawksley

Lead vocalist Kurt Neumann

Lead vocalist Kurt Neumann

Violinist Dave Duffy, Guitarist Kurt Neumann

Violinist Dave Duffy, Guitarist Kurt Neumann

Bass Guitarist Zak Sparks

Bass Guitarist Zak Sparks

Violinist Dave Duffy

Violinist Dave Duffy

L: Kurt Neumann, Zak Sparks, Dave Duffy

L: Kurt Neumann, Zak Sparks, Dave Duffy

Kurt Neumann, Dave Duffy

Kurt Neumann, Dave Duffy

Genesee Theatre Marquee

Genesee Theatre Marquee

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BoDeans

BoDeans Setlist

BoDeans Setlist

BoDeans featuring accordionist Stefano Intalesano

BoDeans featuring accordionist Stefano Intalesano

BoDeans Official Website

Link to Part 1 featuring Taylor Hicks opening set.

BoDeans and Taylor Hicks Prove Fan Favorites at Genesee Theatre: Part 1

Review contributed by Louise Uznanski and Holley Dey. Photography by Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog.

©2014 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved

Seemed an odd pairing when the show was announced, but on Sunday night at Genesee Theatre the performance bill suddenly made good sense and more importantly, made for good music.

American Idol winner Taylor Hicks opened the show. Perhaps best known for debut single “Do I Make You Proud,” Taylor’s post Idol career has also included lengthy and successful Broadway and Las Vegas runs. Now several years away from his 2006 reality show triumph, Hicks continues to work steadily with an album of new “country soul” music anticipated in 2015.

Legendary rock band the BoDeans headlined the Sunday evening show in Waukegan. The “Closer to Free” hitmakers continue to tour the country nearly thirty years after their smash debut, playing to devoted audiences who know and readily sing back the words. From roots to alternative to mainstream rock and back again, the BoDeans and their music have conquered the test of time. The band’s appropriately named twelfth album, I Can’t Stop, is targeted for a spring 2015 release.

Both Hicks and the Bodeans claim a foundation in American roots music and a sound that represents the fusion of rock, country, soul and blues influences. While the relative contribution of those influences differ between the artists, both careers reflect a dedication to craft that has found the ultimate reward – staying power.

On Sunday the audience stayed as well, and appeared to thoroughly enjoy both music sets. Hicks offered a mix of tunes and a mix of genres from his own catalog and his American Idol run, as well as a few select covers. The audience responded most strongly to a performance of “Nineteen”, the story of a young football player and fallen soldier that Hicks earnestly dedicated to first responders, police and firemen. An emotional, soul-filled rendition of the song prompted an equally heartfelt standing ovation.

Some may have remembered Taylor’s televised performance of Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto”. Sunday night the audience was treated to the Simon Cowell backstory that led to the song’s selection, and to a jazzier, updated version of the song. Other standouts from the set included a clap-along performance of Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together”, the mid tempo opener “Country Living”, and roadhouse rocker “Seven Mile Breakdown” that featured a silky smooth solo from in-demand Nashville guitarist Guthrie Trapp.

He sang with soul and played his trademark harmonica, but Hicks also showed his skill at the organ, on guitar and tambourine, surprising many. At intermission the audience poured into the lobby where “so unexpected”, “such a good voice” and “he can play that harp” were among the comments overheard. The Idol winner and band proved a fine complement to the strong musicianship of the Bodeans.

A gallery of photos from the opening set is found below. Review and photographs of the Bodeans’ headlining performance in Waukegan, Illinois will follow shortly.

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Photo by Louise Uznanski

Photo by Louise Uznanski

Guitarist Guthrie Trapp

Guitarist Guthrie Trapp

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Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks Photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks Photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

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Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks and Band photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks and Band photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Guthrie Trapp and Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Guthrie Trapp and Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Taylor Hicks photo by Louise Uznanski

Photo by Louise Uznanski

Photo by Louise Uznanski

Coming up next! Part 2, The BoDeans! 

Link to Part 2 featuring headliner BoDeans.

Taylor Hicks to Headline Asheville’s October 12th Country Music Super Fest

By Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

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Where else could country music fans find four outstanding examples of this genre and more on one stage in one night of performances? On October 12th, Asheville’s US Cellular Center provides the answer when the center presents American Idol winner and Broadway and Vegas veteran, Taylor Hicks, who will headline the Country Music Super Fest. Opening for Hicks will be three acts who are familiar to the local music scene. Austin Baze, a duo from Western North Carolina, Underhill Rose, a local, all-female Americana trio and Asheville songwriters Laura Michaels and Scott Raines will combine their talents before Taylor Hicks takes the stage.

Thomas Wolfe Auditorium Outside

The October 12th Country Music Super Fest at Asheville’s US Cellular Center brings nationally and locally known talent to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium stage, one of four performance venues at the center. While most of the outdoor festivals held during the summer are winding down, the Country Music Super Fest maintains the flavor of the summer festivals at Asheville’s premiere community entertainment center. Holding over twenty-four hundred patrons, the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium is known for its premiere lighting and sound which will accentuate the voices and instrumentation heard onstage on October 12th.

Source: jambands.com

Source: jambands.com

Taylor Hicks will bring his soulful southern country style to the stage to end the night. One of the most beloved American Idol winners in the show’s history, Taylor went on to release two acclaimed albums, headlined solo tours in the US and Asia, starred on Broadway as Teen Angel in Grease and headlined his own show at Bally’s and the Paris casinos in Las Vegas. Preparing to soon release his new, highly anticipated country and blues album, Hicks has said of his new music that it will remind people of a mix of Zac Brown Band meets Jackson Browne. Working with Nashville songwriters and Nashville mega -producer Mickey Jack Cones on several tracks, the new album is slated to be a return to the Alabama native’s country roots.

Source: Taylor Hicks

Source: Taylor Hicks

Austin Baze is a long-time duo from the northwestern North Carolina region. Both Brian Buckner and Nick Gunter grew up with the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains influencing their music. Together since their days of singing in church as children, the duo is presently creating new music with producer Dave Fowler and cannot wait to share their new project with their fans.

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Underhill Rose’s music personifies smooth harmonies, soul-touching lyrics and eye-catching stage presence and it has become synonymous with beautiful music, and, recently, increased momentum. The trio consists of Eleanor Underhill, Molly Rose, and Salley Williamson. After successfully raising funds through a crowd-funding campaign in 2013, the trio recorded their second album, the Cruz Cantreras (The Black Lillies), at Echo Mountain Recording Studios, which produced the single “Something Real”. Their music has been described as a heartfelt and fresh sound that blends their Americana, old country and rhythm and blues roots.

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Laura Michaels and Scott Raines round out the opening acts at Country Music Super Fest. A songwriting team who perform separately and together in the lively Asheville music scene, Laura and Michael will entertain the Super Fest audience as a duo for this special event.

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The Super Fest audience will be entertained by country musicians whose music runs the gamut from Americana to blues to old country and beyond. Plan to leave the show as a new fan of one, two, or more of the artists scheduled to perform. It’s all about country music and it’s ON at Asheville’s Country Music Super Fest on October 12th!

Source: livedownloads.com

Source: livedownloads.com

More information on all of the artists and where to buy tickets is at the links below:

Tickets

Taylor Hicks

Austin Baze

Underhill Rose

Laura Michaels

Scott Raines

Photo Focus: Taylor Hicks at WorkPlay:: Five Years Later

Words/Photos/Video by Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

© 2014 Ontapblog All Rights Reserved

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The lights, the smoke, the incredibly talented band. The long lines of fans patiently waiting to secure a spot at the stage. And, the excitement of being at the hometown release party of Taylor’s new CD, ‘The Distance’. This was the scene in Birmingham five years ago today as Taylor Hicks took the WorkPlay Theatre stage on September 25th and 26th to capacity crowds. The fans and friends gathered in Birmingham found Taylor to be inexhaustible as he performed a full week as Teen Angel in the Broadway touring company of GREASE before stepping onto the WorkPlay stage.

The band was bound together by the piano play and musical direction of Brian Less and the smooth, blues-filled strings of guitarist Josh Smith. Keeping the beat was Leif Bondarenko on drums, Jay Smith on bongos and Jason Parker on bass. Jeff Lopez filled the air with his spiritual and soulful sax. Clay Connor directed the backstage details that made the shows run according to plan.

WorkPlay was a celebration of family, friends and fans. Family in the audience and high school and college friends in attendance made the atmosphere like a reunion. The fans traveled from all over the country. Charles Barkley from the NBA and Auburn was spotted in the crowd as were old friends of the band Bill Will and Zippy Dietrich. Making the night feel even more like a reunion was special guest and college mentor Billy Earl McClelland, trading riffs on the classic tune Dust My Broom; Ona Watson and his smooth duet on Woman’s Gotta Have It; the UAB Gospel Choir striding onto the stage singing behind a rousing New Found Freedom; and Wet Willie’s Donna Hall Foster finishing an encore with Taylor in his ‘Magic City’ commemorative t-shirt.

Maybe You Should was sung stripped down and spare while Once Upon A Lover and The Runaround and Seven Mile Breakdown were successful in getting the joint jumping. The Distance, the title song from the new CD, was performed as tight and solid as a title song could be. What’s Right Is Right was performed with the polish and intensity of the video version Taylor released with the new CD six months earlier.

After the shows were over, word spread fast about the set lists, the guests and the performances of extraordinary music and showmanship in Birmingham’s legendary music hall. The shows created a musical atmosphere of friends, family and fans so much so that when the word WorkPlay is mentioned, it still evokes such strong memories of the music and the performances that were seen and heard five years ago on those two nights in Birmingham.

 

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Taylor Hicks sings New Found Freedom with UAB Gospel Choir. Video credit: lh1100

Taylor Hicks & Billy Earl McClelland WorkPlay Dust My Broom (partial video).

Taylor Hicks and guitarist Josh Smith duel it out with that chicken pickin’.

Maybe You Should

Jeff Grady Presents “Pixel Perfect”: Original, iPod Inspired Art

jeff grady pixel artThis won’t be some stuffy, highbrow art event.  No siree!  Jeff Grady’s first exhibit will be a true reflection of the man himself – smart, creative, just a little bit quirky, and above all,  fun.

Pixel Perfect is a one night exhibition of original art to be held at San Francisco’s 111 Minna Gallery on Friday, April 25.  The show draws upon Grady’s entrepreneurial business background as well as his passion for music and video games to present a collection that is a little bit history, and a lot more rock n’ roll.

The fifteen or sixteen pieces that comprise the collection have all been painstakingly crafted from discarded, non-functional iPods that are mounted on glass, many in iconic mosaic patterns.  Thousands of iPods were collected over a period of several years.  The Pixel Perfect exhibit was a full year in the making, inspired by Grady’s admiration for the often eccentric works and collections of artist Dale Chihuly.  Some of Jeff’s designs use hundreds of iPods to fashion representations of  digital icons, or of characters from vintage video arcade games, including the classic Mario Bros. and the iconic ghost from Pac-Man.  Do you remember that ghost, the one that stalked your game and gobbled your player?

Exhibit curator Kelly Coty remembers.  She remembers spending hours in the old neighborhood store where a ten dollar bill was traded for a roll of quarters, and play wouldn’t end until that roll was gone.  There’d be a queue waiting behind her; the next player would simply put his quarters on the game console and say, “I’m next.”

Really, explains Kelly, this exhibit is a small piece of our generational history.  Just as each square of a handmade quilt carries a memory, so do the tiled iPods in Grady’s artwork.  Many of those audio players were engraved at purchase.  Some are etched with “Happy Birthday” or “I love you.”  Some rode in the car every day to work and back, playing the popular music of the day.  Others spent hours at the treadmill or pounding the pavement, making those workouts easier to complete.  Most were loaded with music that had meaning and importance to the owner.  Memories, there are memories embedded in each of Grady’s designs.

For the artist, the iPod carries both his past and present.  Grady was one of the first to purchase the original iPod following its 2001 commercial release.  The audio player came without a case, and so Jeff made his own.  He soon discovered that others wanted a carrying case and much more, accessories that the entrepreneur was more than happy to supply through his new company, Digital Lifestyle Outfitters.  Sales of cases, docking stations, boom boxes and other peripherals escalated at a rapid rate; in 2006 DLO realized sales of approximately $100 million.  When the company was acquired by Philips Electronics in 2007, Grady earned the financial freedom that would allow him to focus on other interests, including his passion for the music stored on his iPod.

At about that same time, soul singer Taylor Hicks found that his circumstances had also changed for the better.  The recent American Idol winner and DLO founder were introduced by mutual friends in New York; the two found common ground as each man slowly adjusted to the challenges and rewards of unexpected fame and good fortune.  For his part, Grady decided to leave some of that fortune in the City.  His newly purchased New York penthouse was decorated and furnished in a stunning rock and roll motif by Nashville interior designer Kelly Coty.

At home in Nashville, Coty occasionally worked with local area realtors to furnish houses that would then be offered for rent or sale.  One of the homes was leased to musician Taylor Hicks, temporarily in town to work with Music City songwriters.  Anxious to have his new home ready for a weekend visit from friends, Taylor enlisted Kelly’s help.  No problem, said the designer, and she arranged for his records and extensive memorabilia to be hung on the walls, even delivering a missing shower curtain to his front door.  “Thank you,” said the Idol winner as he shared with the surprised designer, “My friends the Gradys will be here this weekend!”

Taylor Hicks will rock some soul at the April 25 Pixel Perfect art exhibit, accepting an invitation extended by new friend and curator Coty, and promptly seconded by Grady.  Local area musician Peter Chung will also perform; Chung’s band includes techies who compute by day and rock by night.  Once each year the band rocks hard in support of Music in Schools Today (MUST), a non-profit organization that funds music/arts programs in San Francisco area schools.

jeff grady heart pixel art

Jeff Grady is also firmly committed to music education in the schools.  Says Jeff, “When I was young, I was fortunate to have attended public schools that had very strong music curriculums.  Music transcends the physical world and enables children to collaborate in ways that are blind to their differences and unifies them on a higher plane.  Music in Schools Today plays an invaluable role in facilitating, supporting and establishing music programs in schools, and this is something that can change lives.”  At Pixel Perfect, one of Grady’s artworks will be auctioned with the proceeds to support MUST.  That piece is a beautiful pink heart with a single red iPod at its center.

Admission to the Pixel Perfect exhibit is free of charge, and limited to adults ages 21 and over.  Register for the April 25 event at the link.  It promises to be a very special night:  iPods on glass, musical memories to be shared and made.  If you are passionate about music, design, 8-bit technology or video games, you’ve surely come to the right place, baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor Hicks: The Year in Photographs 2013:: Gallery and Giveaway!

by Holley Dey and Louise Uznanski                       ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved

Regis Philbin had a question for Taylor Hicks following the American Idol winner’s 2008 Broadway debut.  “This is what you want then……to be an actor?”  Replied Hicks, “I want to be a musician, and I want to be an entertainer.”  In 2013 Taylor made good on that intention, enlarging his artist brand with ventures into scripted television and celebrity cooking, while maintaining a primary focus on live performance music.

He had his fingers in many pies, borrowing from one recipe to enhance another, blending fun, food and football with the occasional falsetto to create an entertainment potpourri that satisfied even the most finicky.  Here are a few facts and photos attached to a musician who grew and diversified his brand in 2013.  Look for the giveaway that follows the photos; this features one of Hicks’ new ventures! Read more

Taylor Hicks at Harrah’s New Orleans:: It’s All Gumbo To Me

By Louise Uznanski for OnTapBlog

©2013 OnTapBlog All Rights Reserved

TaylorHarpDay2

We had two simple goals heading to New Orleans last week. One was to find the best music the Big Easy had to offer. The other was to find and eat the best gumbo the Big Easy had to offer. Putting on our musical chef hats we found that the basic principles of good gumbo can be applied to the basic principles of great music. Read more