The Indigo at Bally’s Las Vegas is about to be galvanized by the searing soul of Taylor Hicks. Beginning June 26, the American Idol winner will rock the Vegas Strip five nights a week. Fittingly, it was in Las Vegas that Hicks first auditioned for the television show that would change the course of his career. As he returns for an eight-week stand (the first such residency for an Idol winner), anyone expecting a mellow, laid-back evening probably hasn’t seen him perform live before.
Onstage, Hicks becomes possessed by the spirit of the music, leading his band with powerhouse vocals and frenzied harmonica solos. For fans of blues, southern rock, and jam bands in general, the Bally’s residency will be even more exciting due to the presence of the Jamie McLean Band, who will be backing up Hicks nightly. I had a quick chat with Hicks to get a better idea of what to expect from the upcoming performances.
What led to your decision to utilize the Jamie McLean Band for the Vegas shows?
I’m really excited about them performing with me. They’ve done some shows with me in the Northeast. I just thought it would be really cool to have them perform in Vegas as a back-up band for me.
With them being a guitar/bass/drums trio, will you have additional musicians as well?
Brian Less will be playing keys and Brian Gallagher is going to be playing saxophone. He played sax on my first tour after Idol.
Do you expect to play any new material as part of these shows?
I’ll probably release some new music into the set. I’m just really excited about being able to set my mind on putting on a really great Vegas show. There will be some benchmark American Idol songs, and obviously some of my own songs off of my records, some news songs, and then some classic Vegas show tunes.
What exactly do you mean by “classic Vegas show tunes?”
I guess I’m going to have to let your imagine run with that for now.
For those who might be attending more than one show, can we expect a little variety in the set from night to night?
I think there will be a bunch of songs that we do. I think it will be fluid. Each night will be a little different, no question.
What can you share about your upcoming appearance on Fox’s new show The Choice?
The format is basically every dating show you ever saw in the past wrapped up into one, and mixed with The Voice. It was definitely a fun show. My episode will be airing June 21.
Do you have any updates about a new album?
I’ve got some music now that I’m shopping to labels and I’m just excited about the opportunity for all of that to come together. But I think it’s all in due time. I want to make sure that the music is great.
I understand the next one will venture more into a country and western feel?
Yeah. Like Zak Brown, rootsy country, that’s the genre. I think there’s no question that country music is where I should have started.
Started, as in very early in your career?
Well, when I won American Idol, I think that a soulful country record is what I should have done, period. In my humble opinion, if you looked at the percentages it would not surprise me one bit if Idol is watched by more country music listeners than any other genre across the board.
You tested those waters even before Idol, having recorded some demos in Nashville. But you still plan to keep blues and soul in the mix?
Oh yeah! The soulfulness is not going to change. But it’ll just be more rootsy. I’m just really excited about the next step in where this music is going.
So it’s not a total departure for you to move into country, you’ll keep the musical elements you’re already known for, right?
That’s exactly right.
For tickets to see Taylor Hicks in Las Vegas this summer, visit the official Bally’s website. Look for my interview with singer-songwriter Jamie McLean, who will be playing with Hicks throughout the Bally’s residency, coming soon to TMR.