Millions of viewers followed him through his quest for love with JoJo on The Bachelorette. Week after week he captured the majority of American female hearts with his hilarity, humility, humbleness, and harmony (a little alliteration for y'all right there!). Who am I talking about? Not the other fan faves, Luke Pell or Chase McNary, I am talking about the perma-grin Texan, James McCoy Taylor (yeah if I were him, I would definitely throw the McCoy in there too!). This past weekend I had the pleasure of heading out to Katy, TX to attend his release party for his album, Can't Stop.
Life and parties are always better with friends, so how could I not have my 2 best friends along for a perfect Saturday filled with music, beer, and boots? Plus I knew they would give me their honest opinions from opposing male and female perspectives. The album launch was held during Cotton Fest (I would use the term Fest very lightly) at Cotton Ranch in Katy, TX. Considering Taylor now calls Atlanta home, I loved the fact that he decided to do this among close friends, family and supporters of him while growing up in the area. Taylor promoted heavily on social media with a decent return on views and and likes. He also invited some of his fellow Bachelorette alum (Vinny, Derek, Wells and Chase) to hang out for the weekend and enticed fans to buy tickets with a Top Golf giveaway to hang out with him and the boys the night before the show. The overall idea and great feel was in place to make for a well executed event and although I enjoyed my Saturday, I can't say that everything was great in Katy that day.
Let's cover the bad first (it's always nice to end on the good right??):
Lack of activities and things to do-
This was advertised as a festival so we definitely wanted to be there early to check everything out. We are also a group of friends that does not get to hang out that often so we wanted to make the most of our day. However, upon arriving at 4 pm (the advertised "gates open time"), the venue was still setting up a few things and it didn't fully feel open yet. The activities options on hand were: Chicken Poop Bingo (just as interesting as it sounds), Face Painting (not open upon arrival), a Photo Op with James handing you a rose (not put up when we arrived) and a Top Golf Table where you could enter to win in a future contest at Top Golf Katy, give out your info for a discount code and cheap prize and also make a chip shot into a raised inflatable with a rubber golf ball (harder than you think). The Chicken Bingo area didn't even know what the prize was for winning so how would that entice me to hand over more money? Also on site was a bar, 2 food trucks, a "cooling tent" with no sort of cooling system and a few bar level and picnic tables. Oh...and horseshoes! they didn't advertise these but while we were walking by we noticed they were there and they definitely helped us pass a little time. I was really set up like a family reunion or BBQ but at least at those events, you know people and want to mix, mingle and catch up with them. For showing up at 4 and not having an opening act go on until 6:30-ish, I was hugely disappointed at the lack of entertainment. We were really forced to just walk around a little to check out the venue and sit and catch up with each other.
I love being outside despite the fact that I know how hot AND extremely humid it gets in Houston (I even worked on my tan a little while lounging by the lake at the event); however, having a couple of tents for shade just doesn't cut it. That combined with no fans or ways to cool off and lack of seating definitely started to wear on us by around 7pm.
I liked the local Austin singer that they found to open up (my hopes were originally that it would be Vinny since it was advertised he was coming down), but this fit the ambiance they were trying to achieve for Cotton Fest.I know....this is listed under the bad-right? So you know I am getting there....I just wanted it to sound a bit nicer. In all seriousness, I would have loved to review the openers music BUT his mic was SO low that I could barely hear him! At one point in time, He took a break in his short set list and I just assumed he was done until I looked back up and he was performing again. He didn't really speak to or excite the crowd prior to Taylor going on.
Of all things, do not go on 35 min late. Taylor was supposed to start at 8pm (as per advertisement and statements throughout the day but he was quite late on that stage considering there were not a ton of people there or any huge stage productions.
Um ok....I have a strong background in events, marketing and merchandising. I really left feeling a bit confused as to how there wasn't a simple inexpensive t-shirt on display (something clever would have definitely sold) and how was there not a CD at an album release party???? I did see part of the ticket tent was dedicated to some merchandise, but all I saw were hats for Cotton Ranch and some fake flower wreaths to wear in my hair if I felt like being a little Bohemian that day. Simple and easy way to make money and raise awareness to a cause (see next bullet point).
Lack of Overall Advertisement-
Taylor had a decent amount of social media interest however, Cotton Ranch fell short of the level of social push. I understand that they wanted a local Katy feel and he turned down a few venues to play at in Houston; however, it still should have been hash-tagged and advertised for ALL surrounding areas. When I saw the amount of likes and hashtags used on social, I was really surprised because I know even with blogging, that in it self can make a huge difference! ALSO, I am one to normally ALWAYS support charity and a good cause BUT I never saw on social media OR the event website part of the proceeds were going to benefit the Cotton Foundation for kids with Cancer. I don't really get why there wouldn't be information about the foundation on hand and an opportunity to donate more along with that aspect being advertised for the festival.
Okay....after all that, you are like...."how can there be anything good about the day?" OR you are thinking that I am just a whiny b*tch. Either way, keep reading to the good and form a full opinion later.
The Good Stuff:
James McCoy Taylor-
I decided to start with the best. Taylor is everything you think he is and so much more. His personality and laugh are absolutely infectious. He is humble, kind and family oriented. Besides being a little loud for my normal liking, his perfection on paper definitely translates in person. What did I like most? Hard to say when someone is so family oriented and truly has a love of life and friends. He is just so appreciative of everything that has come his way and it shows.
The Other Bachelorette Boys-
I was actually very impressed with how nice all the guys were that night. Wells is an absolute sweetheart and even rocked a charity shirt for animal rescue (as seen in my photos) while hanging out with fans at the meet and greet, in the crowd and MC-ing a little on stage. Derek was shy yet an utter sweetheart. Vinny.....hmmm....he was actually my biggest surprise of the night. "Vinsane" (as he goes by) is awesome to talk to and so personable with EVERYONE (he is also super cute in person in case any of you get to meet him).
Beer and Food-
The beer was well priced for an event (I had to throw this in because I am a Texas girl!) and I have no complaints at all with my brisket tacos : )
Absolutely perfect for this event and many others. They even have a basketball court and baseball field (that sadly I was not allowed to play on. Definitely worth checking them out at http://www.cottonranchevents.com/home.html for any event needs you might have (This is not a paid advertisement. I just really loved the venue and it has a lot to offer).
I will say that I really compliment the fact that the Meet and Greet was handled well. It lasted long enough to make it worth it (and you could go in the AC and since there was no other cooling system outside, this actually made it worth it just for that alone), there was a free food appetizer buffet and plenty of space so that you weren't bumping into everyone. They did a little Q/A and fun candid and honest commentary on stage and then opened things up to a mix and mingle type setting where fans (mostly young early 20 something females) could take their selfies (would have been good to have a custom hashtag or Snap Chat filter for this part) with the boys and chat with them. All the guys tried very hard to chat with as many fans as they could and take tons of photos to ensure everyone had a great time. I didn't put this on the bad because it wasn't enough for its' own bullet point, but it would have been nice to see them conduct meet and greet more towards the beginning and leave an opportunity for the guys to interact with all the other fans a little more. Could have easily had them on stage telling a few stories or playing a few games to interact with the crowd before the opening act performance. Also, this could have opened up the air conditioned space to all traffic at that time so that people could get a break out of the heat and sun.
Music and Performance-
Overall Taylor did an excellent job entertaining the crowd and making everyone feel welcomed. I was in an area next to his mom and family and it was nice to step back and watch how much love they had for him. A sense of pride was fully present to watch him start to live his dream. Taylor showed great love for the state of Texas and his hometown, Katy. He had no problem answering a bit more Q&A and telling some behind the scenes Bachelorette stories to bring everything full circle and relate to newcomers of his music. Another common theme through his performance was his love and thanks to God and his Christian faith. I always admire anyone who can be true to themselves on stage and express their love of God regardless of what others might think in the audience. Taylor's performance was a mixture of fun and sentiment (a la taking a page out of Sam Hunt and Luke Bryan's musical presence).He started his performance off with a multi-generational collaboration of the men in his family and it was...for lack of better words....so damn cute! Between that, bringing mom on stage to thank her and hand her a rose (there were penty of those present throughout the night), incorporating the other Bachelorette guys that were there and mixing in some unique covers like Led Zeppelin and Ginuwine, it made for a great first stepping stone into the world of stage performing. I do wish Taylor had sang more songs off his record since it was a CD release party and I was looking forward to hearing a lot of songs off of it, but one of the songs that he did sing, is definitely one that will be added to my music list. His song Woah had all the makings of a hit of a hit and I hope to hear it on the radio soon.
In general, I enjoyed my Saturday with friends, music, and James McCoy Taylor. His persona made the whole day worth it but there are definitely a few things I would change before they host the next Cotton Fest. Everything made for a nice day, but there were so many missed opportunities to make this event even greater, more entertaining and bigger. It made me a definite fan of Taylor and I look forward to watching him smooth out his "bar-type" performance into something a little more stage ready on a vocal level. His CD is worth a listen if you haven't check it out already and my HIGHEST recommendation is that you follow him on Snap Chat @jimbonator89 because the boy is hilarious. I am not sure that anyone can have a bad time with Taylor, and that should make for a promising career.
Your Feeling Like "Woah" Blogger
@ Cotton Ranch....Where is the mechanical bull y'all promised me on your website advertisement for the event??? I don't like false promises ; (