From time to time, a singer/songwriter comes along with a sound so distinctly their own, it defies comparison. As a music lover, this thrills me. As a writer, I'm stumped. Willie Nelson sounds like Willie Nelson. Springsteen sounds like Springsteen. And Taylor Hicks? Well, Taylor Hicks sounds like Taylor Hicks. And people, trust me. This is a good thing. No wonder this guy is the winningest- winner American Idol has ever seen. With Hicks' soul infused gut-wrenching vocals, and the R&B stylings of the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra, no one was ready for the party to end when Hicks opened the McKinney Performing Arts Center's fall season last weekend with a heart and soul performance that will keep North Texas buzzing for days to come.
Hicks is at home on the stage. And, with his powerful voice, his salt and pepper good looks and southern charm, he made a most gracious and captivating host indeed. The combination of his comfortable stage presence, and the unique intimacy MPAC's Courthouse Theater provides, definitely made for a special evening for all.
I can't talk about Taylor Hicks without mentioning his band, the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra. Their energy and sheer talent was a force to be reckoned with. Standouts for me were Brian Less, ripping the keyboards to shreds, and one man woodwind section, Jeff Lopez, wailing on the sax, the clarinet, and sometimes both at the same time. Yes, both, at the same time. As for Lopez' flute solos, as a former flutist in a high school marching band, all I can say is, Dang Brother! Mad props for making the flute look and sound so cool!
In addition to enjoying a night filled with stellar performances, from my vantage point as a writer covering the show, I was able to get a small glimpse of a day in the life for Taylor Hicks and company. I came away from the concert with a deep appreciation of how fun hard work can be when you are living your dream and sharing it with others. Hicks and crew busted their tail feathers before, during and after the show to give the audience a musical experience to remember. From set up to sound check, to pre-concert reception and performance, to a post show meet and greet for every fan in attendance, these guys worked till long after the final notes faded. All the while smiling, laughing, and with the utmost respect and appreciation for those in attendance.
While the Taylor Hicks concert marks the beginning of MPAC's fall season, it also wraps up McKinney's inaugural Music MashUp. Winning vocalist Williams and Perkins, and Jackie Wasson, all of McKinney, performed beautifully, opening for Hicks' show. These stand out performers were selected as Mashup winners triumphing over 80 entries from throughout Texas, winning a combined $2500.00 in cash prizes, in addition to the honor of opening for Hicks.
TownSquareBuzz.com owner and publisher, Angie Bado, who helped organize and sponsor the MashUp said, " We were just delighted to have Taylor Hicks perform as the culmination to our MashUp fundraiser for MPAC! He put on a fantastic show and I think that our MashUp winners were very excited to meet him and open for him."
For your viewing pleasure, TownSquareBuzz.com will bring you video clips via Buzz TV of Taylor Hicks in concert, with special guests, Williams and Perkins, and Jackie Wasson.
-Michele Stevens Bernard, TownSquareBuzz.com