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Sept. 11 probably isn’t the easiest day for an entertainer to take the stage, but Taylor Hicks says he’s excited about any date that finds him performing on the Gulf Coast.

“I’m really excited about getting back down there,” the singer says of his upcoming appearance Friday at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. (Tickets for the 8 p.m. show in the Beau Rivage Theatre are $19.95 and up. Call 1-888-566-7469 for information or to order.)

“There’s a lot of significance to that date,” Hicks says. “I think I will handle it differently.”

One obvious place to turn: “Nineteen,” a song about a young man who gives up life as a budding football star to join the Marines after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He’s the boy next door/ He might have carried your bags at the grocery store/ He’s somebody’s son in a hole with a gun in a foreign land/ Tryin’ to hold on to his American dream at nineteen

The song is one of the stronger tracks on “The Distance,” the independent album Hicks released in March. Friday’s show will be Hicks’ first appearance on the Gulf Coast since “The Distance” came out — so, needless to say, he’s looking forward to seeing fans and old friends from the days before he rocketed to fame by winning “American Idol.”

His goal on “The Distance” was to deliver variety, and he says that’s true of his live shows as well.

So, while tunes like “Nineteen” and the album’s title track have a somber feel, there’s also plenty of good-time music. Hicks says fans have taken particularly well to “Seven Mile Breakdown,” a song with a rough-and-ready roadhouse feel.

For him, he says, it’s a throwback to the days when he paid his dues in bars,
restaurants and nightclubs in Baldwin County and the Florida Panhandle.

Curiously enough, he says, the song has gotten some play on country stations.

“I’m new to the format,” he says, but it’s an avenue he might explore further on his next album.

For now, Hicks continues to live a double life. He continues to star as Teen Angel in a touring production of “Grease,” working in concerts along the way. This makes for a sometimes grueling schedule. Friday’s show in Mississippi, for example, is a one-night detour smack in the middle of a “Grease” run in Houston.

“If you’re willing to work 24 hours, somehow in this business there’s an opportunity to do it,” he says.

Note: “Grease” runs in Houston until Sept. 20, then moves to the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center for shows Sept. 22-27. Hicks will perform music concerts at Birmingham’s Workplay Theatre Sept. 25 and 26; according to Hicks’ site, the Sept. 25 show is sold out.


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