A tradition started by the late musician B.E. Taylor will be coming to an end during this holiday season, as his son B.C. Taylor conducts the final “Feel The Love Of Christmas” tour next month at four tri-state locations including a Dec. 21 date at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“This will be an experience you don’t want to miss, and a night you’ll never forget,” B.C. Taylor posted on his Facebook page regarding the Dec. 21 concert at the KCAC, as well as gigs in Pittsburgh, New Castle and Wheeling, W.Va. “Come feel the love with us, one last time!”
The Dec. 21 concert is part of Renda Broadcasting’s 40th annual Teddy Bear Fund drive that benefits IRMC Pediatrics at Indiana Regional Medical Center as well as UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
“They’re going to do a lot of songs that haven’t been done in a long time,” said Mark Bertig, vice president and general manager for Renda’s four Indiana-based radio stations in Indiana, including “fresh stuff (fans) haven’t witnessed in Indiana before.”
In its 39th annual appeal, through April of this year, the Teddy Bear Fund raised $108,000.
“That show was a huge part of the Teddy Bear Fund Drive,” Renda Indiana Director of Operations and Programming Jim DeCesare said. “Certainly we brought in a lot of money from schools and other organizations, (but) if we don’t have a Christmas show next year, it is going to be a huge void we are going to fill.”
B.C. Taylor is a Wheeling native who now is based in Nashville, Tenn. Bertig said his decision to end the tour “has a lot to do with his career and how it is tracking in Nashville.”
“It was a tough choice for him,” DeCesare said. “He would really make time to come back and make this Christmas tour. Not that he didn’t want to do it, he was so proud of his dad. Now that his father is gone, in a way, it kind of frees him up to pursue his own dreams and his own career.”
DeCesare said B.E. Taylor meant a lot to his son. The elder Taylor’s career included secular and Christian rock.
On one hand, he worked with such artists as Donnie Iris and Emmy award-winning composer and musician Jamie Peck.
On the other, he had the house band for the old “LightMusic” program hosted by the late Tom Green and syndicated nationally from Cornerstone TeleVision’s WPCB-40 in Wall, Allegheny County.
It also included performances dating to the 1980s in Indiana.
“We played at the student union probably two or three times, then when our album came out on MCA Records, we were on a college tour with Donnie Iris,” B.E. Taylor said in a December 2015 Gazette interview, “We played just about every single college, all the way out to Gannon, to Clarion, and every place in between. But we played IUP in the gymnasium. We opened, then Donnie came out, and then both bands were on stage for the encores.”
And the Taylor family has other talent as well.
“Dan Taylor, B.E.’s brother, is an amazing vocalist,” DeCesare said. “He used to do the sound checks for B.E.”
And often sounded like his brother was doing the sound checks, the Renda programmer recalled.
As has been the case since B.E. Taylor’s first Christmas concert here, S&T Bank is sponsoring B.C. Taylor’s concert.
“They came on board in the beginning (in 2012),” DeCesare said. “Todd Brice, then president of S&T Bank, took the leap of faith and said, ‘yes, we will be the presenting sponsor.’”
KCAC, the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling, Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh and the Scottish Rite Cathedral in New Castle were where B.E. Taylor brought his “Voice of Christmas” tour in 2012, followed by return visits in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
It was a unique voice, a unique style. “Taylorized,” as DeCesare and others put it.
“When Bill (B.E.) would hear a song, he didn’t hear them the way we hear them,” the Renda programmer said. “He heard them in a different way, and that’s what his style or kind of Taylorizing those songs came from, the way he heard them in his head.”
There also were plans for a 2016 concert in Indiana.
However, after B.E. Taylor’s death on Aug. 7, 2016, to complications from brain cancer, the tradition was interrupted.
“The year that B.E. died there was not a concert, yet the stations were still able to deliver a significant check thanks to the generosity of the people and businesses of Indiana County,” Bertig said.
Still, the Renda general manager said, “when B.E. passed it left a void for all of us, first of all from a standpoint of friendship.”
In a bid to fill that void, two musicians who performed with B.E. Taylor, Jeff Jimerson (and his band Airborne) and guitarist Ricky Witkowski, stepped in for a December 2017 concert at the KCAC.
Then B.C. Taylor, who had played the drums for his father’s band, brought “Feel The Love of Christmas” to the KCAC in 2018.
“Bringing it back after a hiatus, it was a challenge,” Bertig said. However, “the feedback we got was fabulous on last year’s show so we’re hoping people will come back this year.”
DeCesare said the younger Taylor brings his own version of “Taylorizing.”
“B.C. has developed kind of a style of his own,” the Renda director of programming said. “He’s still developing but he has that independence or that streak in him from his father that says, ‘Do it the way you want to do it.’ I see him as kind of an independent spirit. It will serve him well going down the road.”
The Renda general manager conceded that ticket sales so far are “a little slower than we’d like.”
Still, Bertig said. “We feel blessed that we’ve had people support us.”