What I Learned Over My Taylor Vacation

by


I’m not a person who takes vacations.

Usually my time off consists of helping family or attending to personal business. As a matter of fact, the last time I took more than a day of personal leave was in October of last year when I went home to Biloxi to volunteer where needed after Hurricane Katrina. Then while I was home that week, my grandmother, Millie, passed away (due in part to living conditions after the storm). Needless to say, it wasn’t a great break.

So, the three days I took off from work this past week were truly vacation days. This was to be an adventure for me. I was going to travel to Birmingham to see the American Idol Concert and, while there, I was going to do my best to meet Taylor Hicks.

Well, like all trips, things never turn out exactly as you plan (or daydream about in your office while you should be working). Although I had a blast and met some great people, I also met with some disappointments and self-revelations. And since there have been so many “cellcerts” and play-by-play recaps, I am giving a much more general look at what this trip was for me and what I learned on my Taylor Vacation.

LESSON 1: Taylor Hicks (with the help of Gray Charles) can bring people together

Many, many months ago, I was online at my favorite little blog. Perhaps you’ve heard of it…www.graycharles.com. Anyway, on that blog I noticed comments from a particularly clever and intelligent writer who goes by the name of Quossum.

Quossum and I struck up a respectful acquaintance on the blog and, later in PermaChat, found we shared many of the same thoughts about Taylor Hicks. Chat led to chat and, eventually, I gave Q my phone number. She called me, and hours later we were friends.

Via telephone, Q and I made plans to attend the Birmingham Idols concert on Aug. 8 along with her husband, James. She did most of the scheduling and booked the hotel. I took care of getting the AI tickets. Later she found out about the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra (LMBO) After/Before Party and got tickets to that.

Finally, after all the planning and purchasing, scheduling and coordinating, we had a chance to meet face to face this past Sunday. Q and James drove from Houston to my home in Jackson, MS, to stay the night, so we could get up early and head to Birmingham the next morning for our Taylor Adventure.

Q literally leapt out of the car when she and James drove into my drive. She ran to me and hugged my neck. It was so nice to finally meet.

Once all the bags were brought in and we were sitting and visiting, Q presented me with a beautiful gift…a handmade purple and green quilt (pictured at left, with Q on the left and me on the right). I absolutely loved it and found a perfect place to display it in my cheerful yellow guest room.

Then James, Q, and I sat down at my grandparents’ dining set, ate some lasagna and visited and laughed.

The next morning, after a hearty home-cooked breakfast, we headed out early for Birmingham. I knew it was going to be a great adventure when we made our first Taylor connection…just over the state line at an Alabama Stuckey’s. As Q placed her order at the Subway inside the Stuckey’s, the guy behind the counter noticed her Soul Patrol shirt and had to let us know that he used to live in the same apartment complex as Taylor. Apparently…and this is a little tidbit that only my readers and, possibly, Q’s readers and anyone else who talks to that guy will learn…the apartments were…a dump! Yes, you heard it here first, folks. You can thank me with cash for opening up that Capone’s safe for you.

LESSON 2: Where Taylor is concerned, people are crazy and, apparently, without shame

After we arrived in Birmingham and checked into the Sheraton, we headed to a dinner at the WorkPlay, where we would later see LMBO perform with a “special guest.”

The average age of the crowd was about 40…so I didn’t feel as old as I thought I would…at least physically. But on the level of sheer girly giddiness…I felt like an old hag.

The vibe was crazy…there were more rhinestones and themed shirts than a Bedazzler Convention at Dollywood.

For anyone following the whole “Buy Taylor a Couch” campaign (a campaign that never seemed rational to me)…I saw it come to fruition this week. After having their hopes of giving Taylor a new couch dashed when he told Jay Leno that he had bought himself a couch (which was obviously said to get a laugh), these couch ladies regrouped and gave their collected $5,000 to a local charity. Then they purchased a miniature couch to present to Taylor instead. It was at the WorkPlay dinner that I saw this mini-couch being signed by all the ladies. Weird.

By the way…$5,000 for a couch? Was it going to come with its own living room?

Another bizarre fan moment happened when I was making my rounds meeting the LMBO band members.

I introduced myself to and chatted briefly with guitarist Sam Gunderson (pictured with me at right) and drummer Zippy Dieterich then made my way over to bass player Mitch Jones. He chatted with me for a minute and then agreed to have his picture taken with me. But as Q was about to snap our picture, a tall blonde with a crazed look in her eye stepped between the camera and us.

“Mitch, would you sign this picture?” she said, shoving a photo and marker at him. “This is the same Sharpie Taylor used to sign with.”

The look on his face read, “Um, listen psycho-lady…I’ve known Taylor for years and couldn’t give a crap about touching the same pen he used.” But what he actually said was, “Uh, yeeeeeaah…can you hang on a second? I’m taking pictures with these ladies.”

She retracted the photo and pen then bounced on the balls of her feet while she waited. I swear I saw a little foam at the corners of her mouth.

As the dinner wound down and the LMBO concert drew near, the fervor escalated.

I walked around (I couldn’t eat…as I was a bit nervous) and overheard snippets of conversations. Folks were dishing about knowing the band members or having met Taylor before. Like a bunch of Soul Patrol peacocks, everyone was trying to outdo the other with their tales.

Even I was forced to jump into this ridiculous show of one-upmanship…just to protect my street cred.

Because most of the dinner attendees were from the American Idol boards, many folks glazed over when I introduced myself as “Shelley from Gray Charles”…which, I admit, sounds little weird (my brother, Ben, has had more than one good laugh over it). But one woman from the Idol boards, upon introduction, told me that Gray, himself, was coming to the event. I knew this already so I just smiled and said, “I know. I’ll be so glad to meet him.”

“I don’t think he’s going to let folks know who he is,” she said.

I just smiled and shrugged and said, “We’ll see.”

She walked off…pleased with herself for telling me I wouldn’t meet Gray, and I went about my business of eavesdropping on other people’s conversations.

About 20 minutes later, I ran into the same woman in the restroom. I smiled at her in the mirror as I washed my hands.

“I don’t think Gray has gotten here yet…my friend said he won’t be coming. I guess you won’t get to meet him.”

What’s your problem, lady?…I thought.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said, drying my hands on some paper towels. “When he e-mailed me last week, he told me he’d see me here.”

And then I walked out the bathroom door.

Shoot. Blow. Holster.

LESSON 3: Gray Charles is a really nice guy

No sooner did I rejoin the dinner then I saw this guy in the line for drinks, carrying a big box under his arm. Something told me…this guy was the culprit.

A few minutes later, he walked up to me, smirking…and I started to grin.

“I knew that was you,” I said. “I thought to myself, that guy with the box has got to be Gray…ever the man of mystery.”

He and his lovely wife had recognized me from images they had seen online.

We left the WorkPlay and I took them out for a five-hour steak dinner…believe me when I tell you…it’s all about the music.

Just kidding.

But it was great to talk to them. Both Gray and his wife are very nice people. He posed for pictures with folks while his wife graciously chatted with the people who had basically taken her husband from her for the past half a year.

I asked him for advice about my blog.

“It’s a good site,” he said. “but you have too many links.”

So…from now on, y’all will have to look stuff up on your own…unless I’m feeling particularly link happy.

(By the way, Gray’s box was filled with Neighborhoodies for the LMBO band members…nice touch, Gray…but where was mine?)

LESSON 4: Taylor people are pushy, but true Taylor people band together

Finally came time for the LMBO concert, which opened with a performance by a Birmingham newcomer, the very talented and laid back Michael Warren (pictured at right). I had a great spot on the floor about 8 feet from the stage. It was perfect. I got to watch Michael up close, and I enjoyed his acoustic performance considerably. But, by the end of his set, I had been standing for close to four hours and was beginning to get pretty weary.

I regained some energy when LMBO came on stage. The guys were amazing. They had a video crew on stage, filming for a DVD, so the excitement was palpable. A couple of my favorite performances were when Sam took the lead on vocals for “Southbound” and then shared vocals with Brian Less on “Hey Pocky Way.” But my favorite tune of their first two sets was “Tiny Dancer,” done with just Jeff Lopez on flute and Brian Less on keyboard and vocals.

However, despite the fantastic music, I couldn’t help but feel like a person trapped in a crowded elevator. We were all pretty miserable with the heat, and a few people were not terribly considerate with whose view they blocked. I had a couple of petite women standing around me and kept checking over my shoulders to make sure they could see. But the girl in front of me…coughErin The Redcough…managed, over the course of the evening, to position her rather tall self directly in front of me. Erin…I love ya, girl, but I got nothing but a big view of your head (as well as a couple mouthfuls of your hair) for most of the concert. It was hard to not get frustrated at losing site of the stage throughout the night. I kept thinking…I thought we were all in this together…but I guess where Taylor is concerned, it can be a dog-eat-dog world.

After LMBO’s first set, the combination of skipping dinner and standing for hours in that hot crowd was causing me to get very faint. And once I lost my balance and stumbled from the dizziness, I knew I had to leave my spot to get some water and cool air…or I would hit the floor. I asked the women around me if they would hold my spot while I slipped out for a minute and they agreed. But when I returned, another lady had pushed her way into my spot.

“We tried to tell her to move,” one girl said…loud enough for the woman to hear.

“Ma’am,” I said. “This is my spot. I just went to get some water.”

The woman looked at me and said, “Well, we can share.”

Folks…I think I’ve made it clear that I ain’t a small girl…and this woman was larger than me. There was no way we would be able to share the spot. We were standing practically on top of each other.

Then the true nature of Taylor’s fans shone through. Those women who had been standing with me during the show…stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me to get back what I had spent hours earning.

“Listen,” the girl said to the woman. “She has been standing here for hours in that exact spot. She had to get some water. You can’t just come in here and take the spot. You need to leave.”

And the woman huffed off.

LESSON 5: Taylor Hicks is like Christmas morning

I only had to wait one more hour after that to see what I had driven to Birmingham to see. For, in LMBO’s third set, the Mecca of all Soul Patrolness walked on stage…Taylor Hicks.

Taylor Hicks.

Taylor Hicks.

FRIGGIN’ TAYLOR HICKS!

And all I could think was…oooohhh, so shiny….so pretty…like Christmas morning.

Taylor was beyond amazing. Everything I had read about how handsome he was in person was drivel…because he was so much more handsome than even the descriptions indicated. His skin had a glow to it…almost an olive complexion. His gray hair was like frosting. His eyes were poured onto his face and his lashes were so long that they almost reached me out in the crowd. Taylor looks much younger than he appears in photos and on television. And there is NO WAY I would ever say he’s fat…he has a little belly…some very nice pones…but he ain’t fat.

But most importantly…the man can sing and move like nobody’s business (see picture at top of post). My favorites of the night were “Call Me the Breeze,” “Heart & Soul,” “Use Me,” and “Dance to the Music.” But all his performances were fever pitched…with him either on guitar, harp, or twisiting and girating with ooey, gooey sexy goodness.

I couldn’t help but scream like a 13-year-old girl at a Menudo concert. I went total…ape shit…fangirl…nutso…right then and there.

Taylor Hicks did me in.

And the best part was that my haircut, contacts, pedicure, and chin waxing paid off…as I MADE EYE CONTACT WITH TAYLOR HICKS!

However, I think the impression would have been stronger if I hadn’t been swimming in a sea of my own sweat. And as I yelled to him and smiled my widest (showing off my freshly cleaned teeth) all I could think was…I hope he can’t see my git tooth and temporary crown.

I know…I’m a moron.

But Taylor isn’t.

He knows how to totally work a crowd and how to be a gracious performer. Not only did he step to the side to allow the band members solo spots…he brought Bucky Covington, Ace Young, and Elliott Yamin (pictured below, respectively) with him on stage to share the spotlight and cheers. And the crowd loved him for it. They cheered like crazy for all three performers and even threw Elliott an Alabama cap to wear, which he did, gladly.

After the show (around midnight), with my ears ringing and my voice sounding like Jack Klugman’s, I headed to the lobby of the WorkPlay, where I was fortunate enough to shake hands and speak with Brian Less and Michael Warren.

Q, James, and I stuck around in the lobby with Gray and his wife and MindDoc and her husband, but we were told by management that there would be no meet and greet with Taylor or the other Idols. (I’ve since learned that they were trying to get to the Oasis club for another performance.)

Gray, MindDoc, and their spouses left, while Q, James, and I hung out in front of the WorkPlay a little longer…hoping to catch a glimpse of Taylor getting into the awaiting limo. But after being on my feet for eight hours in a hot, crowded hall, all I wanted to do was go back to the hotel, soak my feet, and hit the bed.

I held out a little longer since Q and James weren’t quite ready to leave, but I took a seat on a short concrete wall along the sidewalk.

“I’ve got a strategy for getting Taylor’s attention,” I said to Q.

“What is it?” she asked, all wide-eyed.

“My strategy is to sit my big fat ass on this concrete wall and wait for him to come out and yell, ‘Hey, you with the big fat ass! Get over here with that beautiful rump!’”

I don’t think Q was amused…and due to the fact that I had no feeling in the lower third of my body …neither was I.

So we all three headed back to the Sheraton and crashed.

LESSON 6: Taylor can spread his cheer even through non-fans…oh, and Dreamland BBQ rawks

The next day (Q’s birthday) we decided to eat lunch at Dreamland Barbecue…a known favorite joint of Taylor Hicks’.

After driving around Five Points for a while, James and Q found Dreamland (I was in the backseat imagining Taylor in his home environment).

Dreamland was a pretty cool place with license plates all over the walls (see picture at right of me at Dreamland) and all kinds of weird signs…it just somehow seems right that Taylor’s favorite BBQ is served in a place with a neon sign that reads “NO FARTING.”

When we entered the restaurant, folks were buzzing about Taylor. Our waitress was more than happy to inform us that we had just missed him by 10 minutes! Q and I tried to compose ourselves, but our frustration was apparent. It’s a good thing the food was so good!

Q and I asked our waitress a few questions about Taylor and his visit, and she told us that, although she wasn’t a fan, he was a really nice guy and she thought he was talented.

“And here ya go,” she said to me as she extended her right hand.

I gave a quizzical look.

“Taylor shook this hand,” she smiled.

I smiled back and gladly accepted the shake. “Thanks.”

She got a very generous tip.

After Dreamland, we headed over to Laser’s Edge record store. It was much smaller than I expected…and much newer. I had been picturing Championship Vinyl from “High Fidelity,” but this place was in a very high traffic shopping district and was well lit and very clean. They had mostly CDs but there was also a small section of actual albums. Right inside the door was a display of the “Do I Make You Proud?” single. A large stack of “Under the Radar” CDs was kept behind the register. And there were about three or four guitars hung on the walls…signed by various artists…but the only autograph I could decipher belonged to Ben Kweller.

I purchased Michael Warren’s CD, and James bought a CD recommended by the Laser’s Edge staff. The Warren CD was good…but I had been expecting more of the acoustic sound he gave at the WorkPlay, so I ended up giving my CD to Q and James.

LESSON 7: I follow too many rules…self-imposed and otherwise…for my own good

Jan from Gray Charles had been kind enough to tell us about a check presentation at Linn Park for later that day, so, after freshening up at the hotel, we got on a trolley bus and headed to the park.

The check presentation was for Project Heart and Soul, an organization that uses the arts to work with people who are socially and emotionally challenged. It’s one of Taylor’s favorite charities.

We only had to wait an hour for Taylor to arrive, and, boy, oh, boy, did he look good! He was in a light purple shirt and my favorite jeans (pictured at left)…the ones with the faded spot where his harmonica sits in his pocket. My hands got all jittery when he walked within just a few feet of me to reach the gazebo where the presentation would be made.

It was all I could do not to call out to him…or to run up to him and…oh, I don’t know…lick his right eyebrow.

The check presentation was nice. Taylor was very polite and gracious and patient…even when one woman presenter on stage kept talking and talking and talking and talking. Taylor was so gracious that, when it came time for him to speak, he took instructions from some ladies in the crowd (one named Shelley) to move the mic so that we could see him better.

And he was a good sport. The lady who had talked so much called to the crowd to shout out a big “Woo!” and when she did, Taylor raised his eyebrows in surprise and said, “You’re pretty good at that!”

It was precious.

He also was taken aback at the two ginormous gift baskets that the women presented him with (they were literally about half his height). In response to the baskets he said, “I don’t know how long it will take me to go through those damn baskets, but I promise I’ll go through them.”

Again…precious.

The presentation ended about 45 minutes before the Idols concert was to start. The talkity talker lady told us that Taylor had to leave immediately and that no one was to delay him (in other words…no autographs, pictures, or handshakes). I was furious. If she had shut her trap and not been so loose with her diarrhea mouth, we might would have had a few minutes for Taylor to mingle with the crowd (which was only about 50 strong).

Well, being a good little girl that listens to instruction, I stayed back. And it positively killed me…especially when Taylor Hicks…our pretty little gray-haired singer…the man I had been waiting months to see in person…the guy I stood in a hot, crowded room for eight hours to hear sing…the guy I’ve been blogging about since the beginning of the year… WALKED WITHIN TWO FEET OF ME!

Part of me wanted to do what others in the crowd had done…ignore the woman’s instruction and stop Taylor for a handshake or autograph or picture. But a larger part of me just couldn’t do it. I had heard on the news that afternoon that he was doing similar events all over city, and I knew he had to be tired. That, coupled with the late hour, made me realize that I didn’t want to be that crazy fan who asked for more after he had graciously given so much.

So, instead, I found myself being one of those weirdoes with a camera who walks alongside a star, trying to take pictures. And not only was I disappointed and a little ashamed…my hands were shaking so much that I didn’t even get a decent shot. I did manage to give a very small…very timid “Thank you, Taylor,” which, of course, he didn’t hear.

In a last ditch effort, I gave a little wave at him and smiled again (thinking he might recognize the git tooth from the night before) after he had climbed into a huge, red SUV. I saw movement from behind the dark, tinted windows and…though he was probably just wiping sweat from his brow…I choose to believe he was waving back.

By the time we left Linn Park…I was in full grouch mode. I was hot and sweaty and disappointed. Nothing could raise my spirits, and I made my displeasure known to James and Q…who, I’m sure, wanted to brain me.

I griped all the way back to the hotel. I griped because the trolley bus never came to carry us back and we had to walk. I griped because we were running out of time to get ready. I griped, pretty much, to just gripe. I don’t like to travel and I hate to be hot. And here I was walking hurriedly in a strange city with my scalp issuing heat waves like asphalt in summertime. Plus my blue jeans were making a very nice chafing memory for me to treasure long after the concert.

Gripe. Gripe. Gripe.

LESSON 8: Feeling sorry for Kat and Corey Clark is better than feeling sorry for myself

The three of us scrambled to the hotel room and dried off best we could. Then we headed over to the BJCC for the concert (me griping the whole way).

But by the time we had gotten to our seats (Jan joined us for the concert), I was in a much better mood. And when the lights dimmed, I was ready for a great evening.

Mandisa opened the show and she was a great way to kick things off. I sang along with her for “I’m Every Woman” and loved her shout out to Rueben Studdard. Plus she looked absolutely beautiful. If Rueben doesn’t at least ask her out..he’s an idiot.

Ace was next and, I must admit, he sang so much better than he did on the television show. I actually feel bad now for all my negative remarks…well, not too bad. He’s still pretty cheesy…as illustrated during his performance of “Father Figure” with the pumping chest heartbeat of love at the beginning and, later, the pulling off of his coat during the “warm and naked” part of the song.

Lisa Tucker should never have been on American Idol because it never allowed her to do what, I think, she does best…sing while playing the piano. Her renditions of “Your Song” and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” were truly wonderful. Also, her duet with Paris Bennett of “Waterfalls” was extremely lively and fun.

Paris is a firecracker. I know she’s too young to be bumping and grinding, but her “Crazy in Love” was so energetic that I wanted to rush out and take a hip-hop dance class. Although vocally she was almost obliterated by the band, she really had people singing along to “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Whoo! Whoo!

Bucky is a great guy and a lot of fun to watch, but he still doesn’t have a great voice. My favorite song from him was his duet with Kellie Pickler on “You’re the One that I Want.” Every time they had to dance together, Kellie cracked up. It was pretty hilarious.

Kellie is as cute as a button, but she was rather low key that night. You could tell she wasn’t feeling her best but, still, her rendition of “I’m the Only One” was terrific.

I’m sorry to say that I’m still not a fan of Chris “The Tatoo” Daughtry. He did fine in his sets and the audience ate him up. But I just don’t get it. He yelled; I yawed. He screamed; I snored. Sorry. I’m sure he did well because lots of people cheered…I just wasn’t one of them. The only time I liked him was when he sang a duet with Elliott.

Elliott was much better at the WorkPlay performance…probably because WorkPlay was a more intimate setting. But he did wear his newly acquired Alabama cap to the concert…which I thought was pretty cool.

Katherine McPhee giggled incessantly any time she talked and it irritated me to no end…especially when she used the word “y’all.”

“Ha. Ha. I said ‘y’all.’ I’m picking up the accent.”

Cringe.

She did well for her two songs (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) but called it an evening because, apparently, her foot was injured so she was unable to sit and sing…whatever.

Then something weird happened to me…I began to feel sorry for Katherine McPhee. I noticed the crowd was relatively quiet. They had given tons more love to all the other performers, but they weren’t giving up the cheers for Kat…and I really felt for her.

So, at the amazement of Q, I actually cheered and yelled and clapped for Kat at the end of her set.

And I felt a lot better.

Finally, it was Taylor’s turn to take the big stage in his hometown.

He entered the arena from the side of the audience floor, wearing his purple jacket (he had saved it for B’ham) and singing “Jailhouse Rock.” His whole set was one of the most dynamic performances I’ve ever seen. He was brilliant…and he never stopped moving. When the crowd cheered him out for an encore, he performed “Taking It to the Streets”…rivaling his original AI performance of the song by 1000 percent. He was all over the stage…playing the harp, falling to his knees. Brilliant.

There was one boy group number and two group numbers with all the Idols, ending the show with “We are the Champions” and “Living in America.” They were all great, especially Ace, who bouced all over the stage like Tigger…and at one point, jumping over Bucky!

But the last person to leave the BJCC stage was Taylor Hicks. You could tell he was captivated and thrilled and grateful to be there. He gave to the crowd and the crowd, more than gladly, gave back. I was moved.

And then, in the sweetest of gestures, Taylor picked up a camera from the back stage, motioned for the crowd to stand and cheer, and then he snapped a picture of his hometown audience. It was such a perfect ending.

As we left the coliseum, I couldn’t imagine the night being any more wild…even when Q, James, and I stopped to cheer for the camera at a Fox 6 live AI broadcast.

As I walked along, I saw people from all the events I had attended over the previous two days. I even saw the guy who had sold me the Michael Warren CD from Laser’s Edge.

But the strangest of sites came a few yards away…as I passed by 2003 disqualified Idol contestant Corey Clark, standing on the sidewalk, with no table, no light…nothing but a handful of freshly minted Corey Clark CDs in his hand, waving them to people as they passed. It was pathetic. I thought about taking his picture, but I knew it would be just to make fun of him and I couldn’t do it.

After seeing Corey…there was no way I could feel sorry for myself for not having met Taylor…especially not after all the fun I had had and all the times I had gotten to see Taylor up close and in person!

LESSON 9: I need a new camera because my current camera sucks

I had a wonderful time in Birmingham. Despite my griping…for which, by the way, I later apologized to Q and James profusely…the trip was fantastic…as was seeing Taylor and hearing him perform live.

But I do have one regret.

One might think that my only regret is that I didn’t take the opportunity in Linn Park to actually meet Taylor…but it isn’t. If faced with the choice again, I would keep my dignity and allow Taylor to get to his car without added fuss. Honest.

No, my only regret is that I wish I had bought a nicer camera to capture all of my adventures. I wish I had bought the Canon Rebel I wanted instead of being cheap and getting the Samsung.

I say this so those of you who check out my pics on PhotoBucket won’t be too disappointed.

If you came here looking for great pictures…lower your expectations. My camera might as well have been made by Mattel for all the good pictures I got.

But if you came here to read a long-winded account of my Taylor Adventure with Q and James in Birmingham…I hope I’ve met your every expectation.

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29 Responses to “What I Learned Over My Taylor Vacation”

  1. double d Says:

    Shelley, I love ya, girl!

    Best recap I’ve read! I was so waiting on your impressions as I know you give it straight.

    I never understood those who said they were crying over a post but I must admit, I got a little misty-eyed in some parts.

    Sure wish I could have been there, but you gave me a great “picture” of it all…really grateful.

    Oh, and thanks for the other picture.

    YOU RAWK!

  2. Banda Says:

    Shelley, Banda here. Let me shake your hand, one writer to the other. That was wonderful! Well-written, funny, perfect. Thanks for being our ears and eyes.

    Are you allowed to give any physical description of Gray and his wife? Because ex-site groupies want to know.

    Finally, I read your blog obsessively – and you are a beautiful woman. Truly.

  3. Quossum Says:

    YAY!!!! Great recap, Shelley! It did what a recap is supposed to do and more. It went to those emotional places that make one recap “different” from all the others describing the same exact event.

    I think you were a little too hard on yourself while cutting me some undeserved slack, though! Folks, anyone listening: I, Q, had my obnoxious moments, believe me. Shelley graciously doesn’t mention how I squirmed my way into the throng at WorkPlay, abandoning her about three rows back. Or other, even more obnoxious things!

    And I am choosing to firmly believe that Taylor waved at us from the car after Linn Park!

    I went on the radio this morning with my DJ friend, Sam, and gave him a quick recap of the B’ham events. He especially liked the story about Corey Clark! But, unfortunately, even though I said in a sad little voice that I hadn’t gotten to meet Taylor like I’d wanted to, no front row tickets or backstage passes were forthcoming. *sigh*

    It was a great trip, though, every bit of it. We got to see Taylor doing what we love him for: Performing his heart out, and in an intimate setting to boot!

    So when’s the Taylor Hicks Band going on tour? 😉

    Love you, Shelley!
    –Q

  4. TALK! Says:

    DD, Banda, and Q…thanks so much for the kind words. It really makes my heart sing to hear that y’all enjoyed the write-up.

    About Gray, Banda, I don’t mind giving a physical description…but before I do…let’s see if he’ll let me post the picture we took (afterall, he was taking photos right and left at the WorkPlay)!

    Gray…if you’re out there…can I put a link in to our pic or would you prefer a written description from my twisted mind?

  5. double d Says:

    Shelley,
    I shit you not….you are one hell of a writer. I am not easily amused, but you continually amuse me.

    Thanks so much for your insight, humor and honesty…you are truly one of a kind.

    To me you will always be:

    Shoot. Blow. Holster.

    One last thing…I thought about you on Tuesday during Karaoke when some ambitious youngins took on “Jackson”.

    “We got married in a fevah, hotter than a peppah sprout, we’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, evah since the fire went out….I’m gone to Jackson, I’m gonna mess around…I’m gone to Jackson, look out Jacksontown.”

  6. shrewspeaks Says:

    Shells…I lived, I laughed, I rolled my eyes, I griped and I cheered with you through this post! Really, you made it all so real for me. For days all I have been getting is giggly “Oh my god, he is so amazing’s” and no real substance. You however, gave me the crystalized experience selflessly…I felt like I was standing beside you through your vacation to TaylorWood. You seem to be the only voice of reason apart from Gray’s podcast interview. (If you have not had a chance to hear it, it is worth it to hear his perfect musings on his “experiment”…that and some guy interviewed before Gray’s who shamelessly outs two soul patrol women.)

    Bravo, my friend, bravo!

    Verification word of the day “hzqlkdwf”: the sound one makes when someone stands in your friggin’ spot in a crowed hot hall!

  7. NOLAgirl Says:

    Ahhhhhh. Sweet music to my ears. A “recap” from someone who can write like a champ! Although I kinda loathe “ROFL” this was the closest I’ve been to that in a long time. Seriously.

    Off topic, but not really since you mentioned it … my grandmother’s name is Mildred but everyone called her Millie, and because she is such a huge part of my life, I plan to name my daughter (if that happens of course) Millie one day. So sorry to hear about your Millie – I bet she was a super special lady. 🙂

    Ok, so some thoughts:

    Q leaping out of the car to hug you — love it!

    You and Sam’s pic — y’all make a nice looking couple actually …

    Sharpie Nazi/Glitter Patrol — Hooo boy am I glad I missed out on that. As the young kids might say, “Dem bitches crazy.” Sorry, had to be said. 🙂

    Shelley’s street cred — a giggle-worthy concept in itself, heightened by your bathroom version of “you just got served.” Hilarious!

    The use of “ooey gooey sexy goodness” — well, seems pretty spot on.

    Linn Park — I would have done the same thing as you, if that makes you feel any better. It’s b/c we’re good people. I hope you see that now instead of the whole 2-feet-in-front-of-you thing. (But, still… damn!)

    So glad you had a good VACATION! Wish I could’ve been there, griping and all. 😉

    And lastly, your git tooth references are the.funniest.thing.ever.

  8. Holeigh Says:

    Shelley, you’re my hero. Yours (and Gray’s) are honestly the only recaps I have read of the show because I know that, as DD said, you’ll tell it like it was. And I was certainly not disappointed tonight! This probably won’t be very long or detailed, but I appreciate everything that you added, positive and negative because while this journey was to see Taylor, it really was about you (and Q, of course!) and that makes it so much better. I look forward to my own concert (Tuesday night!) and I will be replaying your thoughts in my head, haha. I’m so glad you guys had a great time, thanks for making such a wonderful write up for us! 🙂

  9. Holeigh Says:

    P.S.: I am so sad that I didn’t go with you guys…I understand my parents’ decision, but it would have been so great! At least I got to FEEL like I was there. 🙂

  10. TbSP Says:

    I came here recommended by Q.

    hilarious!!!

  11. Gray Charleshttp://www.graycharles.com/ Says:

    Shelley, excellent recap. Minimal yet effective linkage. I’m glad to see your observations skills at work – it gives people a good idea of how things really word.

    Posting a picture? Please, no. I find the written word to be much more intersting and, actually fun.

    Feel free to describe me (of course you’ll play up the good bits right?)

  12. TALK! Says:

    Okay, Gray…you asked for it.

    Folks, here is my best effort to give a physical description of Gray Charles…this was a challenge as his greatness didn’t allow the naked eye to look directly at him.

    Since I’m 5’5″ and was wearing flip-flop wedges with about a 1.5 inch heel…I figure Gray to be about 5’9″ or 5’10”. Although rumor at the dinner was that he is actually 8’9″ and had lowered himself to walk among the commoners.

    Truly Gray is ageless, timeless…but for the evening, he appeared about my age (36)…but possibly a few years older (his aura of wisdom causes some descrepancies in giving accurate assessment of age).

    My first impression of him was that he looks like a young Tim Curry (the Rocky Horror years)…only Gray has piercing blue eyes to go with his dark straight hair…and he had a hard time pulling off the garter and corset look.

    Gray may have dined with Taylor Hicks but he doesn’t believe in putting on airs. He was a little scruffy (beard stubble and laid-back hair and clothes), but he kept his cool edge with a pair of very hip glasses, modernized with a light-colored hornrim.

    And, all kidding aside, what really stood out about Gray was his unassuming and approachable nature. He was very gracious and patient with all of his fans. And he and his wife (a lovely and kind woman) were friendly to no end.

  13. Phile Says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this, and you didn’t disappoint. Thanks for sharing your vacation and thoughts. I look forward to more lessons in the future.

    By the way, that quilt is beautiful!

  14. double d Says:

    Shelley-

    From Nashville…Takin’ it to the Streets….go to the end.

    Taylor may be lurking….check out his last move.

    Three familiar words come to mind….

  15. Anonymous Says:

    You are an excellent writer. Enjoyed every minute of your vacation. I felt like I was standing there in that hot room and had to go get a drink of water with you. You are so funny and made the other reviews that I’ve read look like chopped liver. You presented steak to your readers. I will definitely continue to read your blog.

  16. suzi-q Says:

    Not only did I enjoy reading the blog, but I had the laughs and tears from laughter again as I heard the blog read by the author:) Shell, you are quite the entertainer in your own right! The pictures of the entire event were great and you have done not only honor to yourself but honor to all of us who can live vicariously just two feet from the MAN. Thanks Shell for the view of life that escapes most of us. Taylor lets us live through his songs and you let us live in-between times. p.s. you did a great job decorating too:) Over four thousand was raised for that very worthy cause. God Bless. Keep using your weapon of JOY:)

  17. Staci Says:

    Shelly,

    You are so awesome… I wish I had gone with you now… just to have been a fly on the wall as you glistened (sorry, women do NOTE sweat) waiting for Tay.

    sorry I’m just now reading the recap… can’t wait to get the blow-by-blow when I get back to the office.

    s

  18. erinnthered Says:

    I would like to remind you of how many times I asked you if you could see okay at WP, and how many times you told me you could see fine and would gladly shove me if you couldn’t. Take heart that I saw the bulk of the show through a viewfinder and that the overzealous Milkie who erased all my hard work was only able to recover four songs. Only one of them with Taylor. Oh yeah, and I wasted my one shot to talk to Taylor by asking for an answer to her silly question.

    I still love her, and you, and the awesome SPers I’ve met. Even a couple of the bedazzled kind.

    I’ve loved your blog since Q pointed me your way and I will continue reading. I’ll have to owe you lunch next time you’re in TX. I’ll make the lasagna this time.

  19. TALK! Says:

    Hey Erin,

    Perhaps being near heat stroke has messed with my recall of everything said…sorry.

    Though I do remember saying I would shove you…which was far less an actual threat of action and more my passive agressive way of saying, “You’re in my way…please move.”

    I always assume people will read my thoughts and act accordingly. I need to learn to be more direct…or to follow Roosevelt’s advice. 😉

    We’ll definitely have to reconnect if I’m ever over your way…and you won’t need to go to too much trouble with the lasagna…I served Q & James Stouffer’s.

    Oh, and if you got to talk to Taylor…it doesn’t matter if you only got to ask him the time…YOU GOT TO TALK TO TAYLOR! You go, girl!

  20. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Shelley! Finally my boss left for lunch! He’s been hanging ’round my office all morning supposedly “helping out”…whatever!

    Here’s what I like best about your recap: It’s not a freakin play-by-play!

    I absolutely love that you told us the story of your trip to WorkPlay, but we didn’t have to read page after page of, “And then he stopped and wiped sweat off his face, and then he took a drink of water, and then he cleared his throat, and then he blinked, and blinked again.” You are a story-teller, and a gifted one.

    Initially I was sooo sad/envious/pissed that I couldn’t go. After reading your post, I truly feel like I was there with you (minus the heat, the crowd, the EYE CONTACT!!). Thanks for scooping me up and putting me in your pocket for the trip. I had a blast!!

    The two things I most wish I could have experienced in person are: Seeing Taylor perform live (which I will do on 09/07 in Dallas) and meeting GC. I bore my co-worker (who is sooo above AI) to death w/tales of all this madness and even she is soopa curious about the man, the myth, the legend that is Gray Charles.

    Shelley, urdabest. Please don’t leave us again for so long. I cried myself to sleep every night! The payoff was worth it, but still…I missed hers!

    (Oh, and hello, further proof that we were separated at birth: You are the only other uber-fan, ‘sides me, that could’ve walked into a restaurant 10frigginminutes after da man walked out. What tha??)

  21. peggyisamused Says:

    speaking of play by plays…. here’s a play by play of the only superstar i know:

    this morning she came in through the front door, not the side one i come in, then she walked to her office, put her purse down, and turned on her computer!!!! she sat only long enough to realize she needed coffee, then went to the breakroom!!!!! she poured a cup (1 sugar, 2 creams), then she said good morning to like 3 people!!!! she’s so down to earth you wouldn’t believe it!

    the best part though, came at lunch… WHEN SHE RODE WITH ME TO THE BOOKSTORE!!!!!!!

    i can’t believe i work here with shelley!!!!

  22. TALK! Says:

    Bama…I was wondering where you were!

    Sorry I’ve been away from posting so much this past week. I’ve been crazy busy (between Birmingham and going to Biloxi this weekend to help my mom with a charity event).

    I gotta get back into the swing of things.

    So glad you enjoyed the recap.

    Yeah…about the blow-by-blow…honestly, it was all so overwhelming that I couldn’t have done an exact recount of everything…even if I had wanted to.

    It’s all about the flava, baby!

    By the way…Peggy, you’re a moron.

  23. nolagirl Says:

    Hey Bama – Did you see that LMBO scheduled an after party in Dallas? You better get your happy ass there, so that we can read YOUR recap. 😉

  24. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I know, I heard earlier! I already took that Thursday and Friday off, so I’m totally going (as long as the tix aren’t outrageous!)!!!!

    Here is a preview of my recap:

    LMBO is raisin’ the roof, people are jumpin’ and screamin’ and groovin’. Taylor walks out from somewhere behind the stage, I pass out from excitement, get trampled on, and wake up from a coma 186 days later.

    🙂

  25. bamaborntxbred Says:

    BTW Shell, Waaaaay off topic-Please see my comment on your last “America’s Suckiest Bunch of Talentless People In The World” post. I filled you in on the rumored “Dancing With The B-Listers”. I wanted to dish!!

  26. nolagirl Says:

    Ok, good Bama – Didn’t want you to miss out! Unless something pops up then, I guess they aren’t planning for anything after the Houston show. 😦

  27. patrickkadiddlehopper Says:

    Hey Shell, its me again. To be honest this blog is the best one you’ve written. I was amazed at how much this little story reminded me of the Odyssey by Homer. I’m sure if anyone who reads this thinks a little while they make subtle comparisons between the two. One example being the really punky lady. You could’ve embelished and said she had a patch over one eye, but thats beside the point. The three main awesome things about this blog are simple:
    1.Taylor Hicks rules
    2.Shoot, blow, holster will be my new catchphrase
    3.Your present camera does suck
    MUCH LOVE

  28. TALK! Says:

    Patrickkadiddlehopper, thanks for comparing me with Homer…and not the Homer from the Simpsons…though I do love donuts!

    D’oh!

  29. Something’s Different this Time Around « monkbot talk Says:

    […] how times change.A mere seven months ago I headed out to Birmingham to see Taylor Hicks perform at Workplay and see the American Idol concert. At that time, I was […]

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