Joliet Jake…A Story of Redemption

26 Apr

I know I just said (like, Tuesday) that I wouldn’t be doing any more Taylor features, but I can’t pass this one up.

brc made it back from a wonderful Taylor Hicks concert experience with her 6 year old, EMC, last night. She had a couple of very positive experiences regarding Mr. Hicks that I thought were worth sharing here. While there may have been some inconsistencies of Taylor “enthusiasm” among the Meet & Greets, it apprears that Taylor has found a niche that can show his soft side, satisfy the fans, cultivate good PR and not have to “risk” too much. Concentrate on the kids…pretty simple and relatively safe. And, scores HUGE points with the Moms.

Anyway, here is the wonderful recap from brc and the Joliet concert:

I spontaneously took my daughter (we’ll call her EMC) to see Taylor Hicks last night in Joliet.

What follows is my recap (both personal and musical) of the evening:

Around 3:45pm, EMC and I head out the door to see Taylor. The day is dreary and it’s drizzling. I’m excited to see Taylor for a second time, but have low expectations. I saw him in March at the House of Blues in Chicago and the show and the venue were so great I’m pretty sure it would be hard to beat. We point the car in the direction of Joliet and off we go. We are pleasantly surprised that in spite of it being rush hour we arrive in Joliet in just 90 minutes. EMC seems enthusiastic, but really has no idea what a concert like this is all about. She is only 6 years-old and just knows that she loved Taylor on American Idol.

She asks in the car if he will sing Do I Make You Proud. I explain that he will not.

We park the car, take a few photos in front of the very beautiful theater and ask a police officer where we can eat. Apparently this area of Joliet can get seedy at night, so Officer Friendly advises me and EMC to stay close and points out a nice bar/grill across the street. Nice bar/grill is PACKED with Taylor fans. It is also filled with smoke, but we’re tough and we’re hungry, so we stay. We (the two of us) are seated at a table that can fit six people. I see the line of people waiting to eat and feel bad, so after a few minutes I suggest to the manager that we wouldn’t mind if other people were seated at our table. We are then joined by two women. One 50ish and one 70ish. The 70ish woman is wearing a t-shirt that says “You’ve Come to the Right Place” in REALLY big letters. I try to stifle my laughter and not pee in my pants. We discuss Taylor, AI and the venue. A pleasant conversation and the food was passable. Dinner is done and EMC and I move on.

I had been telling EMC about Taylor’s purple bus and promised her that we could find it and take a picture there. We easily find the bus behind the theater and we’re the only people there. Not a soul around. It is lightly raining and the wind chill is 40 degrees. I’m assuming that Taylor is not nearby or there would likely be others standing around. Brian Less comes out the stage door and heads to the door of the bus. I yell “Brian,” not knowing what I’m going to say next. He walks over…I make some chit chat about the show at the HOB and ask if he thinks this will be as good. He then states that I might be pleasantly surprised. I ask if he would pose for a photo with EMC (who has no idea who he is). He very nicely does so and even asks her her name. I tell her that Brian is one of Taylor’s best buddies. This makes EMC happy

At this point it is 7:00 and the opening act is due to begin at 7:30. It’s pretty cold and I’m ready to suggest to EMC that we go inside. Then a security guard at the stage door waves us over. He says to us… are you listening… the security guard… the man who’s supposed to be keeping people away, says to us — “Taylor is on the bus.” EMC’s eyes light up and she asks me if we can knock on the door. EMC doesn’t understand why I won’t let her. Random people go in and out of the bus. We see Loren. We say hi to Ted (alltheanswers). But, still no Taylor. I suggest several times that we should go inside, but EMC is determined to see Taylor. Just as we’re about to leave, Melanie and Josh walk out of the bus and head straight toward us. Apparently, Taylor has taken pity on us standing in the rain and has sent out an autographed photo for EMC. I’m too stunned to ask them to pose for a photo. We thank them profusely and finally go inside.

The theater is beautiful. Very old fashioned. The show is completely sold out. The crowd is very diverse… lots of men and a surprising number of children. We have wonderful seats in the 4th row. The Greyhounds have already started their set by the time we get to our seats. I decide to try to figure out the digital camera I got for Christmas. The photos I took at the HOB were not great. So I take some practice pictures of the Greyhounds. Bad camera is not cooperating, so I spend the entire break before Taylor takes the stage reading the instruction manual (yes I brought it with me). I still don’t understand how to work the settings, but do learn that the camera has video capabilities — this makes me happy (and hopefully will make you happy soon too)! EMC is fidgety and asking when she will see Taylor. It’s 8:30 now. This is her normal bedtime and the concert hasn’t started yet. Mommy starts to worry, but EMC has done a pinky-swear with me that she wouldn’t cry even if she got tired, so I’m hopeful.

Finally, the moment arrives. The show starts and Taylor comes out. Everyone stands and suddenly our 4th row seats are not so hot. EMC can’t see a thing. She and the other children around us all stand on their seats and life is good.

Taylor starts out with Give Me Tonight then moves right into Soul Thing. He is in fine voice tonight. Very clear and strong. The crowd sits down except for the woman in front of EMC. When I ask her (very nicely I might add) if she planned to sit down she emphatically said she did not. When I pointed out that several children were sitting behind her, she said “I don’t care.” This is a 40-something year-old woman! EMC moves to my lap which makes taking photos and videos a challenge. The photo thing isn’t working out anyway. Everything is blurry or too dark — damn camera.

Taylor segues into Hell of a Day. I’m groovin’ on it when I realize that he’s tagging it with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Anyway, I think this is way cool and decide to give bad camera another shot. So, here I give you a link to my first video uploaded to YouTube.

(After I got home and saw that this worked I apologized to bad camera.)

He sings Dream Myself Awake, Heart and Soul and Wherever I Lay My Hat. They were fine but aren’t my favorites. He teased Heart and Soul with “Brown-eyed Handsome Man.” I actually liked the tease better than the song itself.

Then he said he was going to sing a really old song called “My Friend.” I hadn’t heard this before and I love hearing him sing new stuff, so I decided to try the video thing again. This was one of my favorite songs of the evening. It was very up-tempo and melodic. Simple, but very satisfying. Between wiggly daughter on my lap and nasty woman in front of us, the visual on this video isn’t great, but you can get a sense of the song

So I’m expecting another song from the album now and he launches into Run Baby Run. Fantastic! His voice sounds great. This is a totally different set than what he did at the HOB. I had seen that he was performing this in some cities but had never heard it before.

The crowd is really into it, though I have to say that the vibe in a sit-down theater is not nearly as intense as it is in a general admission place like the House of Blues.

HOTYL is next. One of my favorite Taylor originals. He starts in with the reggae teases — so cool, then he transitions into a more bluesy mode, he adds some mean harp. Well you just had to hear it. He has now done three songs in a row that were not from the current album and I’m loving it. EMC is starting to get tired and crabby now. Bad mommy is now questioning the wisdom of bringing a 6 year-old to a concert. I suggest that she curl up in her seat and just listen to the music.

Taylor sings The Deal, and Heaven Knows. I look down and EMC is ASLEEP… in her seat… in the middle of a concert. She woke up during The Right Place and perked up when he got to Runaround (I think The Maze was in there somewhere). In fact, by then she was standing on her seat dancing. He did Taking it to the Streets for an encore – he was really “on” tonight in his vocals. During the encore Taylor sat with Brian Less and played some keyboards.

Overall, the concert exceeded my expectations. He sang several songs I hadn’t heard before, he tagged and teased all over the place (there was some Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles in there somewhere). He played the harp at least 4 times, if not more. It was great. You can’t deny what a great entertainer he is. And to top it off, as he’s leaving the stage he walks down the steps and hands his harmonica to a young (maybe 10 years old) disabled boy in a wheelchair who had been rockin’ and boppin’ to the music all night. I get a lump in my throat.

I now move into supermommy mode and plan to scram outta there and get this kid in bed. As we walk toward the door EMC says “Let’s go stand by the purple bus.” Seriously. That’s what she said. It is now colder than it was earlier and raining a bit harder. But hey, if the kid wants to see Taylor up close and personal, who am I to deny her? So we walk back to the busses where there is a crowd of about 50 people. EMC being such a small thing and oblivious to concert/fan etiquette, charges her way to the front and stakes her ground, stuffed animal in hand. I’m stuck behind three rows of people. I manage to work my way to the front excusing myself but explaining that I have to keep an eye on my daughter. We wait about 15 minutes and Da Man himself walks out with pen in hand and Brian Less holding his umbrella. Brian, the keyboard player, relegated to umbrella holder. (After reviewing photographic evidence, it has been determined that Mr. less handed off umbrella responsibilities to a FOT named Bill.)

I can’t get the flash to work on bad camera. In the meantime, Taylor has made eye contact with EMC. I think he recognizes her from our pathetic wait in the rain before the show. After signing a couple of autographs he walks over to her and says “How ya doin’ darlin’?” and crouches down to her level. I’m several feet away desperately trying to get bad camera to work. He then says to her “You got something you want me to sign?” EMC is holding her stuffed animal. She doesn’t know what an autograph is. Taylor starts to sign the skirt on her animal and she says. “I just want a hug.” He then obliges and my little EMC wraps her arms around Taylor’s waist. I don’t have it on film, but I’ll never forget it. She was so happy.


The best Bad Camera had to offer ^^^^EMC’s head

We walk to the car. EMC puts her jammies on and I buckle her in for the ride home. She quickly calls grandma on the phone to tell her she has scored a hug from Taylor and we head home. I then look in the rearview mirror and EMC is asleep. She still has a big smile on her face. It was a good night.


Posted by on April 26, 2007 in Taylor, taylor hicks


23 responses to “Joliet Jake…A Story of Redemption

  1. shrewspeaks

    April 26, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Just warms the cockles of my heart.

    Seriously, no snark. Great story brc!

  2. music maven

    April 26, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Ok, I must say that I am seriously in awe of brc for having the bravery to take a 6 year old to a concert. But, you know, it got her some extra Taylor love. Now, everyone out there will be trying to rent Kindergartners.

    The whole story “makes my big toe shoot up in ma boot”. Whoooooo.

  3. jenfera

    April 26, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    brc, that was great! And your videos are fantastic. You could submit that The Wall/HOAD video to the Best Of on the Boogie board. Awesome! What a different side of him.

    I’m taking my 9-year-old neice to his show in June. Can’t wait to see how she does for it. She is deaf in one ear and very sensitive to noise in the other, but she loves Taylor so she is up for it, even though I told her it would be loud. I’ll bring her an earplug just in case!

    Thanks for sharing your story, brc!

  4. brc

    April 26, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    jenfera, your neice will love the show. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t have EMC spend time listening to my Taylor music before the show. She’s more familiar with him from AI. I think she would have paid more attention if she had known more of the music.

    Thanks for the compliment on the videos. It truly did make up for the generally crappy photos I got. Phantom is already editing the videos for the Boogie. There are two (HOTYL and TI2TS) that no one has seen yet 🙂 Stay tuned!

  5. brc

    April 26, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    I forgot… I made EMC wear earplugs last night. It was like wax and it just formed to the inside of her ear. I think it helped. Especially if your neice is sensitive to loudness in her good ear.

  6. brc

    April 27, 2007 at 7:17 am

    Here’s a link to a montage of my videos from the Boogie:

    It starts with the Wall and goes into HOTYL and TI2TS.

  7. jenfera

    April 27, 2007 at 7:19 am

    brc, I gave my neice a copy of Taylor’s CD for Christmas so she is already initiated on that front. Her favorite is The Runaround – her little shoulders start bopping everytime that one comes on!

    I’ll have to look for these waxy earplugs you mentioned. Those squishy foam ones can tend to pop right out if you don’t get them in there just right. Thanks for the tip!

  8. lisa in boston

    April 27, 2007 at 7:46 am

    what a wonderful story!!!! How nice of Taylor to give your little girl her hug, and how sweet she was to ask for it. I’m glad you had a great time at the concert, and I think bringing your 6 year old was a wonderful idea, she’ll have a great memory of a wonderful night. xoxooxo..lisa in boston

  9. Jax

    April 27, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Just when ya think you can’t love him more.

  10. texastaylorfan

    April 27, 2007 at 10:07 am

    brc, I always love your posts, but this is my all-time favorite, girl! What a great recap. Thank you for sharing.

    And MusicMaven, you didn’t say you wouldn’t be doing ANY MORE Taylor posts, just not weekly! Right? Right?!?

    Hmmmmmm….I wouldn’t let my 7-year-old go with me to Taylor’s last concert. After this recap, I’m going to reconsider for his next show. For her benefit? No, for MINE! J/K

  11. brc

    April 27, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    ivoryhut… if you’re out there… you posted an mp3 here that you made from the YouTube video of The Fall. I would love to make mp3s from the videos I took at the Joliet show. Is it complicated to explain to a technologically-challenged person how to do that?

  12. Laurita

    April 27, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    bc, i have a ton of work to do today, but i couldn’t resist sitting down and taking my time reading this really great, wonderfully detailed story of your trip (mixed with cool comparison comments to Chitown HOB, etc.) Your daughter sounds amazing, and the whole thing brought a big smile…

    I wonder if there will be young kids as well at our show here in San Francisco on 5/9.. I know there were lots of them when I went to the (mostly awful) Idol Tour Sacramento concert last summer (My friend’s 9 y/o daughter also had a similar Taylor encounter at their bus after the concert had already started, and had alone time with him for 5 minutes!)

    We’re doing the GA here, so I assume if folks are bringing little ones, they’ll be in the area with seats (so the kids can ‘sleep’ if they want to, like EMC- that cracked me up!) Take care, and thanks!

  13. brc

    April 27, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Laurita… I would never bring a small child to a GA show. At the HOB in Chicago there were a few kids and I felt sorry for them. There was no way the kids could see anything. There were two boys (maybe 7 years old) in front of us who just sat on the floor the whole time. Have fun in San Fran… it’s only a couple of weeks away!

  14. leejolem

    April 27, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    brc, I loved your story. Your daughter is very smart to ask for a hug instead of an autograph! That is so sweet. At the Columbus,OH concert Taylor was obviously more comfortable with the kids than the adult fans–I don’t blame him. We got a pic of him leaning over and talking to a girl in a wheelchair. He was so sweet and kind. I’m glad you had a great time, and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    MM, thanks for the Taylor post. I look forward to sporadic posts in the future! lol

  15. nolagirl

    April 27, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Awww, what a great experience for you and your daughter. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Laurita

    April 28, 2007 at 2:56 am

    b, the good thing about the Warfield in S.F. is that there’s seating in the loge and balcony, and GA on the main floor, and we’ve got a mix of folks doing either/or… can’t wait!

    (a bunch of us are doing an After-party at Biscuits & Blues a few blocks away, where a great harp player, Jason Ricci, is playing that evening, so we’ll continue the boogie into the wee hours!

    wish you were all here to join us! (i do have an extra GA ticket, so anyone who can make it here is welcome to it!)

  17. Sideways

    April 28, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for reconsidering the no Taylor feature.
    brc, what a nice recap. EMC sounds like an adorable girl and she has great taste in music!
    She will never forget her first Taylor concert.

  18. music maven

    April 28, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Sideways — I agree. I was 5 when I saw Elvis in concert and I remember is like it was yesterday…he was “my first” and soooo special.

    And, don’t worry, there’ll be more Taylor.

  19. Kathy

    April 28, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    What a nice story! My 13 year old daughter has her first crush – and it’s none other than Taylor Hicks! What can I say? My daughter has great taste, just like her mom – I must be doing something right!

  20. brc

    April 28, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    MM… you saw Elvis when you were five? Now that’s a cool memory. You must have seen him in his prime. Where did you see him?

    I saw him at the Chicago Stadium with my parents in October of 1976. It was 10 months before he died. He was so bloated and sad-looking, but he still had that amazing voice.

  21. music maven

    April 28, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Picture it… 1969. The Houston Rodeo. My 13 year old brother is forced to put me on his shoulder and take me down “to the stage”.

    I remember Elvis, so fit, so nice, so kewl.


  22. leejolem

    April 29, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Kathy, my 15yr old has a worse crush than I do! I can’t say it’s her first though. She was pretty smitten with Lance Bass from N*Sync about 7 years ago. She says she’s not going to date anyone because she’s saving herself for Taylor. I can live with that, but I really don’t want to be his mother-in-law–lol.

  23. Gr8fulheart

    April 30, 2007 at 9:10 am

    What a heart-warming recap. I Loved that Taylor reaches out to children. Wonderful! Couldn’t help but to laugh about ‘bad camera & wiggly daughter’. Seem to go ‘hand-in-hand’. Thanx!!!


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