When people come together with a common goal, anything is possible! That’s been the philosophy of NESP (The New England Soul Patrol) since its' founding in Portland, Maine in September 2006. This organization started as a regional group supporting the music and artistry of Taylor Hicks. However, the reputation of the NESP has grown beyond the boundaries of the New England states. Taylor Hicks fans from all over the country have now joined in the organization’s unique ways of celebrating the charitable giving inspired by Taylor himself.
NESP is well known for their boundless enthusiasm, much like the energy shown by Taylor Hicks. At Taylor’s concerts, the NESP is often spotted waving glow bracelets as they dance and sing through the entire show and encouraging Taylor’s youngest fans, whom they affectionately dubbed the “Tayter Tots”, in the same show of support for the Soul Man. These Taylor Hicks enthusiasts have even showered Taylor, his band, and his crew with gifts designed to make life on the road a little more fun. Perhaps the most “famous” gift was a specially designed acoustic stool that made its appearance on stage with Taylor as he performed across the country in 2007.
But the NESP’s generosity has not stopped with Taylor Hicks. They were brought together by their mutual love for Taylor’s music, but what they soon discovered was that they also shared a desire to help others. And so, with that in mind, NESP began "Sharing Our Soul," a program that supports worthy charities.
Tossing Mullets for Charity….Taylor Hicks said that only happens in Alabama!
The New England Soul Patrol writes about one of their first fundraisers, which supported Studio By The Tracks, a Birmingham, Alabama based organization that garnered attention from Taylor Hicks himself, and provides arts and other activities for persons with autism:
“One of our early NESP events was held last April before Taylor’s show in Hampton Beach, NH. The Hampton Beach Mullet Toss was the brainchild of two of our founding members, Margaux and Amyrebo. It was based on the Florabama’s mullet toss for charity, an event that has become synonymous with Taylor Hicks throughout the Soul Patrol community.
Participants purchased a package that consisted of a string of purple Mardi Gras beads, a colorful plastic fish, and a t-shirt designed by NESP’s co-founder and webmaster, Tricia. The t-shirt included a fish graphic design drawn by a Studio by the Tracks artist, making it an even more special memento of the occasion.
The day began with 6 inches of snow in most of New Hampshire. We gathered at the Happy Clam, a Hampton Beach bar, for our pre-mullet toss party. There wasn’t much snow once we got to Hampton Beach, but it was wet, cold, and very windy. While partying at the Happy Clam, a cameraman and reporter from WMUR Channel 9 interviewed Tricia and her daughter as well as Aging Hippie and her husband. Tricia ended up on Channel 9 news that night, and the NESP story was part of a piece about Taylor Hicks that appeared on NH Chronicle in May. This TV news magazine article included both Tricia, her daughter Cassie and Aging Hippie!
Wearing the mullet toss t-shirts and donning the purple Mardi Gras beads, 20 hearty souls braved 30 degree temperatures and a stiff wind to throw “mullets” for distance on the beach in front of the casino. As we hit the beach we could hear Taylor’s pre-concert sound check. Once we were all gathered on the beach and in full mullet toss mode, the music stopped. Were we being watched? As the wind blew and our hands froze, we tossed those fish as far as we could. The winner was “Mr. Duff” who beat Tricia by just a hair! Once the toss was over and we began to disband, sound check started up again. Hmm, curious! At the meet and greet later in the day, our public relations representative, Karen, brought Taylor a “mullet” to sign and told him about the Mullet Toss. He smiled and acknowledged that he had heard about it!
From the sale of the mullet toss packages, raffles at the Happy Clam, and the auction of a Taylor Hicks autographed framed graphic of the fish design, our first NESP fundraiser netted $420 for Studio by the Tracks. But more importantly, for the first time, we displayed the creativity, fun, and friendship that propelled us to do more."
“Sharing Our Soul” from the beginning
The NESP charitable efforts began a year ago with the sale of the first Soul Patrol Christmas ornament, with the proceeds benefiting The New Orleans Musician’s Clinic. Since that time, local charities have reaped the benefits of the efforts of the NESP, as they sought out charities in the New England locations where Taylor Hicks performed and provided them financial support. Their fundraising methods have included selling water bottles, mouse pads, pins, koozies, and glow bracelets as well as conducting online auctions for autographed items signed by Taylor Hicks.
“Sharing Our Soul” in the future
The NESP is proud of their first year’s success, but does not want to stop short and believes there is much to be accomplished. As they head into another year, NESP will continue to share its' soul and live by the credo, doing well by doing good.
If you’d like to learn more about NESP, please visit one of the following sites:
Written by Liz and Tricia, NESP
Edited by Tina (DidNotExpectThat)
Tags: Taylor Hicks, American Idol, Soul Patrol, Taylor's Angels