It all started with an idea, a concert sign, and a dream. Arriving in Atlantic City a day early for the June 24th Taylor Hicks concert at the House of Blues, I asked one of my travel buddies to create a sign that I could take to the show. This idea came to me when I heard Taylor�s backup singer would not be on this leg of the tour.
Taking a Gamble on Taylor Hicks in Atlantic City Definitely Paid Off
I wanted a sign that read, "Taylor�s New Backup Singer" with a big red arrow pointing downward that would, when held over my head, point right to me. Mind you this was to be �just for laughs� but at four o�clock in the morning, while we were up preparing for the concert like excited teenagers, my friend asked what I would do if Taylor Hicks actually called me up on stage to sing. I laughed hysterically and brushed it off as impossible, never in a million years could she be right�
But it did plant a seed of hope. The next evening things got off to a great start. Not only was I carded by security at the House of Blues, which simply made my day, but I also ended up right in front at the stage thanks to two new friends who held a place for me and guarded it with their lives. Now armed with my trusty sign and the perfect spot, I was ready for a fantastic show.
After Mr. Hicks� opening number I figured that was my chance so I held up my sign and called out his name. He stopped and read it, smiled and went over to his microphone to say, �I�ll think about it�, in that Elvis-like southern drawl.
Right then and there I would�ve been satisfied�but it gets better. After Hicks sang a few more hits, consisting of his pre-Idol standards such as �Heart and Soul� and �Hell Of A Day� coupled with fantastic covers of Pink Floyd�s �Another Brick In the Wall� and Rod Stewart�s �Young Turks�, I figured I was not going to get my wish. But in a last attempt I raised my sign once more, during a quiet moment between songs, and cleared my throat loudly.
Hicks looked over at me again and asked, �Well, can you sing?�
My buddies vouched for my singing ability, even though they�ve never heard me squeak out a real note. Then I thought about how I had just been screaming and singing along at the top of my lungs throughout the entire concert and wondered well, can I?
He then replied, �You never know what you�ll get if you only ask.�
That was enough for me to pull out my digital camera so I could have the video setting ready to roll�just in case. I had snuck the camera into the venue, only to not have much luck getting around the camera Nazis in yellow polo shirts to snap one picture. But there was no way I was not going to video this event�if it actually were to take place.
The concert continued as I waited with bated breath, but once I heard the distinct opening drum line of �The Runaround� I knew that would be the last song of the show. I decided to be satisfied with at least having my sign acknowledged, and grateful for the shout-outs from Hicks.
Then, halfway through the song he made his way to my side of the stage and signaled me to come up!
My heart stopped.
Of course I immediately went into panic mode, my buddy and I fumbling the camera between us in a strained effort just to turn it on, all while Hicks stood over us wearing an amused look of �are you comin� or not?� Finally I managed to make my way through the crowd and took off for the back entrance of the stage.
The House of Blues should provide their security team with a hefty raise due to them giving me the hardest time in allowing me on stage, even after Hicks himself invite me. So there I stood, negotiating with two wet-behind-the-ears college boys who by then I had upgraded to Camera and Security Nazis while Taylor and the band, I�m told, were looking around for me to show up on the stage from somewhere�anywhere.
Eventually I decided to ignore security altogether and ran back towards the stage. I jumped up on the barricade step and realized there was at least a two-foot gap between the chest-high stage and me. There was no way I could vault myself that far without breaking or dislocating a major part of my anatomy. Fans behind me were yelling �jump!� and as I argued that it was impossible to do, Taylor Hicks himself came over and extended his hand to help me up�chivalry does live! When he saw how terrified I was he took me by both hands and yanked me up onstage with the help of the wonderful fans behind me (a big thank you to those who groped my rear to assure my safe flight).
I must give major kudos to Taylor Hicks. It takes guts to pull a fan from the audience to perform with you for a number of reasons: first being not knowing for sure if that fan can actually carrying a tune and second, the possibility of that fan being a psycho who could attempt to carry out unmentionable acts with the presented opportunity. I believe Hicks had more faith in my not being a physical threat than my ability to sing, and he stood very near to hear a few notes before grinning a mile wide at the audience and exclaiming �She can sing!�
Now I understand why Hicks lives for life �on the road�. My being on stage in front of fans actually cheering for me was an incredible rush. At first I was nervous enough to pass out but he made me feel right at home and I was able to toss the nerves and try my best to keep up with him. Somehow, surprisingly, Hicks and I �doing the bump� even snuck its way into the impromptu performance. I�m not sure what or who was the culprit but he was in an even better mood than usual! I�ve always enjoyed Hicks� concerts and he seems to have the best times of his life onstage, but Sunday night was above and beyond anything I�m sure any of his fans have ever witnessed.
You can view the full video of my stage debut (courtesy of EJ) here on YouTube:
The band, as always, was flawless. Loren Gold (keyboards), Brian Gallagher (saxophone/flute/percussion), Felix �D-Kat� Pollard (drums), Al �Boogie� Carty (bass) and Josh Smith (guitar) � those boys carry Taylor Hicks and do it effortlessly. There have been several times when I�ve stood in awe at what flows from their instruments, and I�m sure that night Smith caught me in the front row with my mouth dropped open�he amazes me, and I haven�t been this fascinated by a guitarist since Brian May of Queen. Musicians are captivating as a whole, and I still don�t understand how I have tried my hand at every instrument known to man and never succeeded at any of them�where was I when God was imparting instrumental talents?
Whether dressed in a suit jacket or T-shirt and jeans, Taylor Hicks makes his audience feel at home. And the more concerts a fan attends the more of a family reunion vibe he sets; always super-charged on a musical high and hell-bent on giving us a good time. Full of surprises, you never know what you will get at his shows, which is what I look forward to the most with every one I attend.
I am still waiting for Hicks to cover �Baby Hold On� by Eddie Money. I�ve been asking for a while now, maybe he�ll make that second dream of mine come true as well?
Maybe I�ll make another sign�