Saturday, May 12, 2007

Unleash the Soul Patrol (woo-hoo!)

Last night, I went to the Taylor Hicks concert at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland OR.

First, get over your snobbery about last year's "American Idol" winner and realize that his win was an example of justice in our universe.

Here's a guy who has been performing in any club he could book, writing his music, and dreaming one day of a record contract...ever since he graduated high school. He was facing 30 and was about to give up on his dream of ever finding success as a singer/songwriter/performer. By happenstance, he happened to be in New Orleans before Katrina hit. FEMA gave him a one way plane ticket to anywhere. He had never been to Las Vegas, so he decided that's where he wanted to go. By chance, there was an "American Idol" audition while he was there and from that moment on, his last chance to make his dream a reality finally took hold. How can anyone dismiss that or not be happy for the guy?

Let's face it...the music industry is pretty shallow. More people seem interested in fame and wealth than the love of music. In fact, a lot of contestants on "Idol" are more into the fame (witness this year's Sanjaya, who can't sing). But what was apparent early on was how much Taylor really loved music. It came through. His victory a year ago was universal justice. And because of the superficiality of the music industry, he had a hard time getting his music out there. His mix of soul, blues, and rock is not what's current. He was a man born too late for that style of music, but because he lacks serious competition in that type of music, he does fill a unique niche.

Last year, I learned through the local news in Atlanta that Taylor Hicks had been performing in bars around the Buckhead neighbourhood (where I lived from 2001 to 2004) for years! Had I known about him and his style of music, I most definitely would've went to see him. I love the mix of soul, blues, and rock. In fact, during the concert, I couldn't help but think of musicians as diverse as Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Michael McDonald, and Joe Cocker. He's right up there with them.

One reason why I probably liked Taylor from the start (during the audition phase of "American Idol") is because like him, I am prematurely gray, though he got more of it at a younger age. I also liked his sense of humour and easy-going nature. Had we known each other in high school, we would've been in the same group of friends I'm sure. On the show, I was impressed week after week as he seemed focused and determined while others seemed more into the fame aspect. He worked hard and I especially loved his rendition of "In the Ghetto" (I wish he'd release that one on disc). He was the first "American Idol" choice of mine to make it all the way to the end, and when his CD came out, I bought it on the day of release. And unlike previous "American Idol" CDs I've bought (Tamyra Gray, Josh Gracin, and Chris Daughtry) in which I was disappointed by the lack of memorable songs, Hicks' CD blew it out the park with many songs with an awesome hook and melody. It's definitely worth a listen.

The concert was pretty good, though overpriced at $39.50. He's a showman and you can tell that he loves what he's doing. I'd love to say that it's great, but I'm partial to the theatrical concert style of Madonna and U2 (if I was a performer, I would tell stories through music, with backdrops, costumes, characters--all around whatever themes I was interested in), so any concert where it's just a performer and band on stage is going to be merely good and enjoyable entertainment instead of W O W!!

The crowd was interesting. Mostly middle aged couples, elderly women, and pre-teen girls. I guess that's the statistical demographic for the "American Idol" audience. Can't say that it surprised me. What did surprise me was seeing an elderly lady with a walker look devastated when told that Taylor Hicks had already left the building and wasn't coming out to the bus that was waiting outside (along with a crowd of groupies, including one buxom lady holding a cheesy sign: "Taylor, you make me proud!!!"). Wow, people are really that into it! Meeting Taylor Hicks would've made that woman's year, and because she wouldn't get that chance, she was so distraught looking. Scary! I didn't realize how intense the fans are.

But it was an enjoyable evening with a friend, who wasn't afraid to let loose her "inner Taylor" and dance like a mad woman. I'm glad to see success come to Taylor Hicks by his 30th birthday and I hope he has a long future in music ahead. It's hard to find good new music that I like, and his style is certainly something I've always liked. So, don't hate the man for finding the success he has long sought in life (like him, I've struggled in low wage jobs since graduation from high school in 1990 and still hoping for a literary agent to make my year with a publishing contract on my novel). So, his persistence serves as an excellent inspiration for me not to give up on my dream of becoming a professional writer/novelist.

Now, I will return you back to the more serious posts (I want to keep the "fluff" rare on here, since we get inundated with it on too many tabloid TV shows and magazines and I prefer to write about topics of spiritual and political relevance). Stay opinion on the makers of OxyContin is coming soon!


Sean Langdon said...

Sorry but Taylor only won last year because of his personal story of how it all came to be for him. i thought last year's American Idol was the beginning of the end. I think it will go down as being one of the least memorable seasons.

And besides the Sanjaya fiasco it seems to have turned around this year. The final 4 are wonderful (now down to 3).

Furthermore, Carrie Underwood has been the best yet. She continues to knock it out of the ball park! She was my prediction that season and I was happy to see her win. Plus, she is so awesome in concert.

D/B/c/m said...

well, i'm not a huge idol fan, but my mom is and i watch it so that i can talk with her about one of her favorite subjects.

anyway, i always liked taylor o.k. but you convinced me to give him a few more points in my book. well done.

i think it's cool that you're so passionate about the things you love.

oh, and thank you so much for the kind birthday thoughts; i'm flattered!