Hicks fans would make him proud

April 15, 2007|By TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN-The weather was cold, but the tickets were hot.

The Soul Patrol was out in force as tickets for Taylor Hicks' July 6 concert went on sale Saturday morning at The Maryland Theatre. When the box office opened on South Potomac Street, about 150 fans had lined up to make sure they get to see their Idol, and more were filing in.

A dozen or so had camped out overnight to be the first to drop $90 a pop to see the 2006 American Idol winner, braving temperatures that dipped to 28 degrees as spring still struggled to take hold in Western Maryland.

"We were warm pretty much all night, until early this morning," said Megan Riesland, 27, of Clear Spring.

They stayed warm by huddling under blankets and by dancing to Hicks' new self-titled release.

"And lots and lots of coffee," said Riesland, who arrived at the theater on Friday about 4 p.m. to be first in line.


"There's a group of about 12 of us who got to know each other very well," she added.

Among them was Riesland's mother, "60-something" Bobbie Wyles of Hagerstown, and two more mother-daughter combinations from Waynesboro, Pa.

They all voted for Hicks to win the American Idol title last year, they said.

"I voted a million times," Wyles said, perhaps exaggerating just a tiny bit. "I'm real good at that redial stuff."

The Waynesboro contingent brandished handmade signs declaring the depth of their devotion.

"Honk for Taylor," insisted one, aimed at traffic headed down Potomac Street. "Hicks Chicks," declared another.

Shannon Ellifritt, 21, and her mother Yvonne, 43, saw Hicks twice on last year's Idol tour, which showcased the reality show's finalists. They waited through the night with Lindsay Webb, 19, and her mother, Pam, 51, who held a "Soul Patrol" sign.

The Hagerstown show "is my birthday present," Shannon said.

Also traveling from Waynesboro was Wendy Buhrman, 36, who voted for Hicks "every week" during his Idol run last year.

Buhrman voted for him because "he sang great," and she liked his dancing.

"He's the all-American guy," Buhrman said. "And he's the only person I'd leave my husband for."

Which could mean a couple of men from Williamsport could be taking a gamble - they went to the theater to buy tickets for their wives, who were traveling in New York this weekend.

Mark Andrews and Greg Price said they didn't plan to attend the concert themselves, although Andrews' daughter, Megan Small of Falling Waters, W.Va., planned to go with her mother.

Another trusting soul is the mate of Cecilia Kline, 48, of Strasburg, Va., who traveled to Hagerstown with Brenda Smoot, 48, of Bunker Hill, W.Va.

"The ticket is my anniversary present," Kline said. But her husband's not coming to the concert.

"He just told me to get the ticket for my anniversary present," she said.

Pam Valdez of Chambersburg, Pa., didn't plan to see the show, either. But she waited in line with her daughter, Misty Myers, "to make sure she was safe overnight."

Myers was buying tickets for herself, her boyfriend and her nephew, all of whom were fans, she said. Hicks was her Idol favorite because "he always makes me smile."

"My whole family's coming," said Sharon Morgan of Shepherdstown, W.Va., who added that the die-hards stood in line in shifts so some of the fans could make bathroom and coffee runs.

Seriously devoted fans Sue Lopez of Hagerstown and Maryann and Jeff Miller of Williamsport arrived at the theater on Friday about 10:30 p.m. to get their tickets. They also will see Hicks on Tuesday night at Ram's Head Live in Baltimore, one of three sold-out shows the Alabama soul singer is playing in the region this week. He opens at the Birchmere music hall in Alexandria, Va., tonight, and will play a second concert there Monday.

It took more than three hours to work through the initial rush Saturday morning, said Brian Sullivan, executive director of The Maryland Theatre.

Sullivan went to the theater at 6 a.m. to check on the crowd.

"I made 'em all coffee," he said. "They're great people - they love Taylor Hicks."

Some of them also were a little disappointed - some of the better seats already had been reserved before tickets went on sale.

Sullivan explained that the theater was required to put about 100 tickets "on hold" for Hicks' management group and fan club.

"If they don't use all of them, we'll release them" for sale on a first-come, first-serve basis, Sullivan said.

"We should know in about a month" if any are left over, he said.

Meanwhile, some 600 tickets had sold by Saturday at 4 p.m. Sullivan predicted the show would easily sell out.

Any tickets left from Saturday's sales will be available from the box office, online or by phone beginning Monday at 8 a.m., Sullivan said.

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