A Gray Beacon in the Night


Text and Images by Ivoryhut

Okay, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.

I’m a dork.

After some initial hesitation, I went to the Beacon Theater last week with my son, Tim, who, along with Shrew, convinced me to brave the flooded streets in my area and head into the city on a Friday night. (Neither has yet to pull out the “I told you so” card on me. But I know it’s coming.) I’m so glad I did because there really is nothing like watching Taylor Hicks live, in his element, with a crowd feeding him more and more energy, making him boogie harder, spin faster, and growl louder. And he didn’t even have to wear khaki pants.

Our pre-concert activities included putting some food in our bellies for the anticipated long evening. Gray, sorry Tim took your papaya. It was so good that he had more after the show. (I opted for a falafel a few corners down, so I was not party to any tropical fruit theft.)


We were back at the Beacon a bit early for the concert. If it were just me, I’d sit in my seat like the nerd that I am and quietly wait for the concert to start. Tim wanted to walk around, so we did. Of course, I had mentioned that Gray Charles would be there, and after I repeated a description of him, my loyal 6’2″ lookout offered to scan the lobby for possible suspects. I didn’t have much to go on. We, on the other hand, were a different story. Tim was laughing when I told him I said we’d stick out because I look too young to be his mom, too old to be his schoolmate, and too ethnically-dissimilar to be his sibling.

When there is a mass of people around me, my eyes tend to glaze over in an attempt to stave off stranger anxiety. So I wasn’t much help trying to scan faces. But just as I was about to suggest giving up, I spotted someone who fit Shelley’s description talking to about five women who seemed to be hanging on his every word. Hmmm. Interestink.

Captain Dork (Tim) was waiting for a lull in their conversation to tap the person on the shoulder and ask, “Excuse me, uhm … do you blog? I mean, you have a blog? Or did you used to have a blog? Are you named after a color and a prince?” (Yeah, we were standing there long enough to come up with all these lame intro lines.) Then, all of a sudden, a woman marches right to the group and talks to him. When her face comes into view, I think to myself, “Hey, I know that face from one of Shelley’s posts.” Before I can say anything, my son yells to me, “I spot Monkbot! I spot Monkbot!”

And there, about 10 feet from me, was Gray Charles with his back to us and TM’s antenna sticking up from behind his shoulder.

And so, while I didn’t get to meet Gray Charles, I did get to meet Jan and finally lay my eyes on the actual Traveling Monkbot. (Shelley, I think TM’s been kissed one too many times. His lips are frayed.) Woohoo for dorkdom!

Tim, Traveling Monkbot, and Ivoryhut

Inside the theater, Toby Lightman was great. I like her voice, has some Norah Jones in it. (You can especially hear it in her song “My Sweet Song.”) She sang a number of original tunes from her album “Bird On A Wire,” then headed over to the lobby to meet any fans and sign CDs. She’s a petite lady, but don’t let the size fool you — she’s got a big, raspy voice and can sound 6 feet tall strumming that guitar. She’s quite funny and down-to-earth, too. In her online journal, she writes:

Last night we had a killer show at the Borgata in Atlantic City. I only had 30 minutes to play, but the band killed it. We then proceeded to have way too much fun after the show to celebrate. We all went to the “Gypsy Bar” in the casino where they had this amazing cover band, i think. and i don’t like cover bands….

The next morning, this morning, i woke up and realized that the “Gypsy Bar” was not my friend after all. All i wanted was coffee, sleep and later on, maybe a little chick-fil-a.


Okay, on to the main attraction of the show. I’m not the best person to do a concert write-up, and I’m sure there will be other much better reviews and recaps available. Suffice it to say that from the moment Taylor walked out on the stage, people were on their feet and stayed there for the duration of the show. Taylor never stopped moving, and boy, that man can dance. His vocals were incredible, and when he went really low to tag “Let’s Get It On,” the Beacon Theater was electrified. Almost as much as when he did his chicken dance.

Hicks’ on-stage energy can’t be captured with the mere snap of a camera.

The entire band was amazing. Brian Gallagher blew Tim away with his sax playing, and for the most part, he just kept repeating, “Wow” and “That was awesome” during and after every number. I had hoped to hear more of Brian Less doing keyboard riffs, but I was still happy to watch him play. The harmonica came out for the last number, and dang, the boy can blow! He said it was the best crowd he’s had on tour, and I guess a big part of that comes from letting the audience dance and scream and not have to sit still on their seats. I couldn’t understand how other venues could try and stifle the boogie. I mean, it’s a concert, people. Not poetry reading.

Taylor seemed pretty winded by the time the show ended, but everyone inside was still psyched and high on the music as they filed past the doors. I asked Tim what impressed him the most, and he said it was hard to decide between the sax player, the keyboardist, or the harmonica. But he agreed that it was one of the tightest bands he’s ever heard, and that every member could have been the star performer of their own band.I overheard a young man say to his female companion, “Wow, I didn’t expect it to be that good!,” and she enthusiastically agreed.

I wanted to chime in, “Yeah! It’s ALL good.” I wanted to ask them if there was anything that surprised them. Or which song they liked the most. I wanted to ask if they were already fans of Taylor before.

But I didn’t. Because, well, I’m a dork.


34 Responses to “A Gray Beacon in the Night”

  1. Laurita Says:

    ivory, my dear, ‘dork’ or not, you’re an awesome and amazing writer, and thank you for giving the photos and this great story to Shelley to share with us all here..

    ‘gray’s famous papaya is better than dom perignon’ cracked me up… πŸ˜‰

    too bad you actually didn’t get to do blogmeister high-fives or even low-fives with Mr. Uncle G.C. Monkbot himself (although his would be an ‘ex-blogmeister’ handshake I suppose… That is, UNLESS he’s started a new secret blog that none of us know of yet!)

    I wish you could somehow come join us for the San Francisco Warfield concert, which is NOT going to be a ‘poetry reading’!; I do have an extra ticket, and it’s my gift to you if you can get yourself out here!

    (p.s. I also can’t wait for this last week of my semester to be over so I can immerse myself in all your recent offerings over at the ‘hut, as well as DD’s Francis S., and Elvis, and of course the ultimate : “the Archives”!)

    So, buenas noches chicas y chicos.. and gracias shelley, as always… (for violet’s drawing and more.. btw, I lived in Guatemala and Mexico off and on for 15 years, and worked with rural health project for groups like UNICEF, Save the Children, etc. It’s a blessing when we can share our money or time, like you said… take care all… L)

  2. double d Says:

    Ivoryhut!!! — your Tim is adorable! And, I’ll say it again…you and Bama could pass for twins, except she’s about a foot taller.

    What a fun time! Thanks for sharing….oh, and Gray with a harem…BWHAHAHAHAHA!

  3. jenfera Says:

    Ivory, if being a dork is wrong, I don’t want you to be right! Great post, loved how you set the scene.

    I really enjoyed Toby Lightman too. Did she do one song with just her and the guitar, no band? She did that at Foxwoods and totally blew me away with her power & stage presence, especially for such a petite little thing!

    All of the venues Taylor plays at should be given strict instructions – “Don’t stifle the boogie!”

  4. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Ivory, my twin! Great write-up!

    Seriously, how cute is Tim? SO CUTE!! And the idea that he would be happy to hang out with you at a Taylor Hicks concert….Lucky Mom!

    I’m so glad you go to meet Gray and the Monkbot! What a well-rounded experience, huh?

  5. justwatchin Says:

    Glad you had such a great time Ivory…..nice job on scouting out Gray….enjoyed your recap!!!!

  6. texastaylorfan Says:

    Loved reading this recap. Sounds like an excellent show and a great night.

  7. jenfera Says:

    May I go way off topic for a moment to ask a question about The Office from last night? If it was a re-run, I hadn’t seen it before. My remote-happy husband was switching back & forth with the ballgame and I missed a few seconds of the very last scene where Dwight was pretending to be Jim. Totally hysterical, loved the messed up hair – but what made him do that? Did it have anything to do with the opening scene, which I also missed?

    Thank you, and pardon the interuption!

  8. Shelley Says:

    Jen, it wasn’t a rerun.

    I missed the beginning of the show, too…so I thought Dwight’s dress-up had something to do with what I missed.

    It was funny…but had no context to me.

    I’ll be downloading it from iTunes tonight to figure out the mystery.

    In the meantime…y’all enjoy this.

  9. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Hey Jen- it wasn’t a re-run. It was new! The opening intro was THE BEST ever! Jim dressed up like Dwight and was spot on in his portrayal. So at the end Dwight tried to get Jim back by doing the same thing…of course, he wasn’t good at all…HYSTERICAL!!

  10. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Super cute video Shelley!! I LOVED that scene too. Last night’s episode was awesome!

  11. jenfera Says:

    Haaaaaa! That was awesome. Reminded me of that scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit where they con Roger out of his hiding place with “Shave and a Haircut.”

    I am sooooo very sad I missed that opening bit! Thanks for the 411, bama!

  12. shrewspeaks Says:

    “I spot MONKBOT!”

    That sums it up beautifully! Ivoryhut…if I couldn’t love you more.

    See peeps…Joisey’s real secret…Welcome to the Dork State!

  13. bamaborntxbred Says:

    New Jersey’s a state? For some reason I forgot that and thought it was a town in NY.

    Ummm…I’m going to go ahead and re-enroll in fifth grade…b/c I’m obviously not smarter than a fifth grader…

  14. shrewspeaks Says:

    Ooooh bama I am gunna sick The Joisey Devil on ya to impart some learnings.

  15. Claire Says:

    Hey, I got relatives in Joisey!! Ya got any Irish in ya, Shrew??

  16. shrewspeaks Says:

    Claire…Mom is a Sweeney, but Dad is from Scotland. Makes for interesting family events.

  17. Claire Says:

    Those dang Celts, always clashing swords over sumthin. πŸ™‚

    Ivory, nice recap. I always love the before show/after show memoirs, cos the show itself is always gonna be good, it seems!! And isn’t Tim a cutie! What a great smile he has.

  18. leejolem Says:

    Ivory, I can’t look at the pics cuz I’m at work, but I loved the recap. You may be a dork, but that’s part of the Monkbot charm. Someone asked HC4S and I at the Columbus,OH concert if we were going to be the only 2 idiots holding monkeys on sticks, and I said “yes” proudly!!!

    OT, The Office opening scene was the bomb-diggity. Jim’s Dwight impression was spot on. I just about peed my pantalones.

    Question-Is Jim Halpert the cutest thing ever?
    Answer- Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bama and Shrew, have you ever picked up a little Jim Halpert vibe from Brian Gallagher? For some reason when we saw him on stage it made me think of Jim. Maybe it was the super hawtness of Brian’s sax playing.

  19. Dr. Bob Says:

    Ivory, on you being a dork looks gooooood. Great write up!! (Tim is just as cute as he can be, and smart, and talented, and all-around nice.) It sounds like you had a great time!

    Nice fotos, tambien.

  20. wompuss Says:

    Dorks rule! Great recap and pics, ivoryhut!

  21. Dr. Bob Says:

    I heart dorks.

    And nerds.

    (this does not sound good at all — but you know what I mean)

  22. ivoryhut Says:

    Aww … you peeps are the greatest! Thanks for all the kind words. Had to rush out at 7am and just got in, so I am going to crash for now and check in tomorrow for a more coherent comment.

    Yes, I am luck to be able to share music with Tim (who, by the way, looks even MUCH better in person). My husband has, on more than one occasion, remarked that his son is turning out to be more like me. Haha. Invasion of the Asian snatcher …

    Good night all!

    Oh, and Laurita, I just may be in SFO soon. πŸ™‚

  23. Jan Says:

    Ivoryhut: It was so great to meet you and Tim in person! I’m sorry you didn’t get to meet Gray. I thought you were part of the harem. Great writeup. The whole trip was so much fun. I was guessing that Tim was your brother since you are so young.

    I love the picture of Gray’s Papaya. Cracks me up.

    I can’t believe how much fun it was to introduce people to the Monkbot. I have lots of pictures of people with the Monkbot. Silly but fun.

  24. Laurita Says:

    Marfil (ivory en espaΓ±ol!), seriously! (i mean, seriously!)
    get yourself out here, girl, but let me know asap, if you’re talkin SERIOUSLY!

    [you got my email from the ‘hut, so be in touch, muchacha! i will seriously donate that ticket to you (and you just can buy me some cheese grits at Biscuits & Blues at our After-Party!)]

  25. rowan Says:

    Really enjoyed your evocative recap, Ivory! Am glad a cool Monkbot like you feels a bit dorky in such situations, cos I know I would too. Would likely never have the courage to go within fifty feet of Taylor – wouldn’t know what to say and would gibber gooberishly. Would hope not to do that if I met Gray, but would likely need to be introduced by someone a leetle more brave. Am not a very warlike Celt! (Waves across the Irish sea to Claire.)

    Really glad you had such a blast at the concert you describe so vividly, Ivory! Hope to see Taylor live sometime too.

  26. leejolem Says:

    Rowan, I thought I would be gabby also, but was struck totally dumb! So was HC4S. We’ll tell more in our recap which we will hopefully get to Shelley early next week. We’re still recovering from our experience. I swear Taylor is the only man that has ever made me lose the power of speech.

  27. rowan Says:

    Aw Lee! Hee hee! Best wishes for a speedy return to gabbitude, cos I can’t wait to read!

  28. Quossum Says:

    Another great write-up! Thanks for sharing. It’s so great to get these reports from around the country, all these Monkbots having great times and sharing in some Taylor fun and energy!


  29. Karen Says:

    Here’s “The Office” lead-in scene for last week (if it works — don’t know if you can post links here).

    Does anyone else think Tim looks like Patrick Swayze “friend” who turned bad in the movie “Ghost”?

    I’m new to this blog, so please unconfuse me — does Jan = Ivory, and who is Shelley?

  30. Shelley Says:

    Jan and Ivoryhut are two different people.

    Shelley is me…the owner of this blog.

    You might want to visit here if you’re new. It explains a lot.

    Welcome, Karen.

  31. Karen Says:

    Thanks, I’ll do that. I remember you as a VOR (voice of reason) from GC.

  32. jenfera Says:

    Karen, you are my hero!! Thank you for posting that video! Hysterical.

  33. Laurita Says:

    K, thx again for the vid; hilarious! – As a huge Robert Randolph & The Family Band fan ( http://www.robertrandolph.net ), I also loved the little pedal steel guitar lick by RR when The Office clip ends and cuts to the NBC ad.. gotta love it!

    (don’t remember that character from Ghost, but recently recorded it on DVD so I’ll check it out someday soon…)

    btw, if you didn’t realize it, K, you can click on the usernames of folks posting here which are blue (versus black like mine and yours), and that will take you to their blogs or websites – such as the wonderful IvoryHut page, for example..

  34. Karen Says:

    Laurita: Thanks for the information about the user names. I’ll have to go exploring sometime.

    Here is a steel guitar solo for you (again, if it works):

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