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Taylor Hicks is a hit

July 07, 2007|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN-"Everybody doing good on a Sunday night?" Taylor Hicks asked the near sellout crowd at The Maryland Theatre.

"It's Friday," a few hundred fans yelled back.

"I forget nights," the "American Idol" winner said, scratching his salt-and-pepper hair.

It would be hard to blame Hicks for forgetting what day it is, as the performer has been on the road since last fall, touring and promoting his eponymous compact disc.

Backed by a tight five-piece band, Hicks sang covers of Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye and other soul artists, mixed with tunes from his CD, such as "Just To Feel That Way."

In a bygone era, concertgoers showed their appreciation of rock stars by illuminating darkened theaters with lighters. Friday night, the glow of cell phone camera screens could be seen throughout the crowd as fans videotaped and snapped shots of Hicks.

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Many of those in the audience, some of them well-traveled, clearly idolize the singer who rose from obscurity to capture the "American Idol" crown in 2006.

Robin Loscheider and Megan Morley, both of Baltimore, were attending their fourth Hicks concert.

"Wherever he goes, I'll go," said Loscheider, wearing a Hicks concert T-shirt that the singer had autographed after another concert. "It's not just about the music. He's a great performer ... as well as very good-looking."

"I would have run my fingers through his hair," said Pam Dodson of Sharpsburg, one of three women outside the theater wearing "Soul Patrol" T-shirts. She, along with Fay May of New Market, Md., and Linda Truax of Knoxville, Md., had waited outside the theater, and saw Hicks during a meet-and-greet session the singer had with Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

"This is my first concert ... of any kind," said Dodson, whose shirt also was autographed.

Truax said she was a little tongue-tied when she asked Hicks to sign photographs she had taken of him, her and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at a NASCAR race in Homestead, Fla.

May is another repeat customer for Hicks, having seen him at a concert in Lancaster, Pa.

"Women were tripping and pushing each other" outside his tour bus, May said.

"I think it's the gray hair ... The way he moves is good, too," said Cindy Wolfinger of Hagerstown.

"He's just a down-home, wholesome guy," said her friend, Lynne Smigelski.

"I picked him to be the winner from the beginning of 'American Idol,'" said her daughter, Lindsay Pompa, an elementary school music teacher. She and her friend, Amber Shingler, came to the theater at 5 a.m. several weeks ago to get in line for tickets, which sold for $60 and $90.

Hicks made sure members of the audience knew he had not forgotten what got him where he is now.

"Thanks to your support, in two years, I've gone from a minivan to a tour bus," he said between songs. A couple of buses, actually, to move the band and crew from town to town. A furnished tent was set up behind the theater with potted plants and a buffet table for after the concert.

"I'm gonna stop talking and start singing because I think that's what you bought tickets for," Hicks said.

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