Sunday, January 8, 2017

Georgia Theatre

The forecast for Friday's trip to Athens for our show at the Georgia Theatre was grim--from the looks of it, we could possibly tiptoe out there in freezing rain, play to almost no one, and then creep home in a snowy apocalypse. Fortunately, none of that was the case!

We left Atlanta around 4:15 PM, and once outside the city, didn't encounter too much traffic. Load in was fairly painless, and we were set and ready on time, leaving us plenty of time to ponder how many would show up to witness the event.

I was really shocked when we walked out on stage--over 900 people were in attendance! We had a really relaxed, easy show, even faced with reworking the setlist because Nick was sick. We also had Ganesh Giri Jaya subbing on drums. 100 or so minutes later, we finished with a two song encore, and it was over.

It was raining as we loaded out, but I guess we were far enough west that it wasn't freezing, and we made it back to Atlanta in good time. There was ice on the trees in the city (a few of the guys had to pick up a big tree limb off Mark Bencuya's car so he could get out), and my truck frozen shut. We divided the gear and went our separate ways, and I didn't encounter any sleet until I was almost home. However, when I pulled into my garage and began to grab my gear, my cases had frozen in place in the bed of my truck, and I had to break them free so that I could get them inside!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

NYE 2016

We made it through another year! Once more, Yacht Rock played New Year's Eve on a stage built over the ice rink at Park Tavern in Atlanta. The event had 2,000 people show up--it had sold out earlier in the day! We loaded in around 6 PM, and even without the audience, it was already pretty warm under the tent. By the time the crowd had arrived, it was as warm as a summer show.

This gig had Ganesh Giri Jaya on percussion and vocals. An excellent addition!

All in all, I had a very good show--no great disasters or mental lapses to speak of. I had a good solo on Waterloo, and I made it through Careless Whisper (quick story on that--it was recorded on tenor, but at a slower speed, so now it's in an awkward place on the horn). Everything else was cool until midnight--we played Auld Lang Syne in F, and instead of playing C to F as the first notes of the melody ("Should auld"), I played C to F# and then slid down to F, like a nice big grace note. Ouch! Happy new year? We finally stopped playing (thanks to the noise ordinance) around 12:15 AM.

It seems particular to Park Tavern that as we put away gear, dressed in our regular street clothes, we have to stop and deal with questions about when the next set will commence. I'm not sure how it could be more obvious that we are finished for the night.

The rain that had begun to fall around 8 was still coming down after midnight, but fortunately had scheduled loaders to assist in dragging gear up the hill. Home by 1:45 AM. Boom.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Mojo Workin' and Sittin' In

Wednesday: I was invited to play with Scott Glazer's Mojo Dojo, a monthly gig at Blind Willie's celebrating Scott's love of soul and blues. The band members rotate--this month, it was Micah Cadwell on guitar, Randy Hoexter on keyboard, Justin Chesarek on drums, and Will Scruggs on bari sax (I played tenor). The two saxes thing worked incredibly well with the songs Scott chose, giving it that buzzy old school sax thing without getting in the way of the vocals.

Every time I play this gig, I'm anxious on the way there. To some extent, I worry about sight reading charts in front of other people. My greater fear is the soloing situation--every solo spot is high volume and high energy, and after three or four songs, I've got nothing new to bring to the table! For whatever reason, this particular gig flowed really well, never got too loud, and every instrument didn't solo on every song. Way better!

We were fortunate to have warm weather and a nice full room, too. Great gig.

Thursday: Nick asked me to swing by Venkman's and add a little saxophone to his duo with Tim Smith. They mostly play Beatles stuff, but on this show, they dipped into a little David Bowie. I sauntered out of the green room and straight to the microphone to play on the end of Changes, then stuck around to play on Young American and the Beatles Oh Darling!

I'd never played Changes before, but (like probably everybody else in the western world) I'd heard it a million times! David Bowie is the only listed saxophonist on the album, so I'm assuming that's him. It might explain why it kind of stutters.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Bonus Show

Yacht Rock played a local Atlanta show this past Friday at Venkman's, this time with Peter Stroud subbing on guitar. It was a pretty loose night, carrying on just a touch of the old 10 High silliness, and Stroud did a great job learning the material.

I'm trying to remember anything else...we got new in ear monitors, but my right ear doesn't seem to seal very sax solos felt kind of lame...

Set 1:

Set 2:

Friday, December 23, 2016

ALJO at Venkman's

I got to play with the Atlanta Latin Jazz Orchestra last night at Venkman's. It was a huge gig for me because of all the really heavy players in the band--guys I admire from afar (the internet!) were all packed on the stage. Even hanging in the green room was kind of intimidating! They're all out of my league.

Cool tunes, too! I was glad I'd practiced the charts ahead of time, because I'm not a very good sight-reader and some of the music was really difficult.

A few moments from the week of prep:

1. As is the case with most horn parts in Latin music, there's lots of very pointed articulation. My tongue bled a little...

One night I was practicing, and in between songs, the Bb key fell of my horn. Woah! I soon discovered that the post had come unsoldered, and several of the side keys were barely hanging on.

I made it through the night with a new rubber bands, one holding the post flat to the body, and the other pushing up so that the rods would still rotate. My repair guy put it all back together the next day.

 Anyway, the gig went great and I'd love to do it again.

Here's some Facebook Live video in case you missed our show!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Last Trip

One last trip out of town for Yacht Rock--a couple of days in Indianapolis and then a quick return to Atlanta. Behold!

Thursday: We flew to Indiana for two shows, one public and one private. The first was an evening at The Vogue, our midwestern home away from home. 

It was a bit on the cold side when we arrived.

I don't miss icy sidewalks.

The Vogue show was pretty great. We came within a hundred people from selling it out (on a Thursday night with tough weather!). A week later, I can't recall any specific moments of greatness--just good vibes all around, on and off the stage.

A few of my favorite post-gig tweets...

Friday: After sleeping late, we took a field trip to the movies for a midday showing of Rogue One, the new Star Wars movie. Good stuff! I was glad to see fewer of the already established characters--bringing in Han and Leia on The Force Awakens felt a little like they were sucking up to the audience.

Anyway...back to work! Friday afternoon, we loaded into a restaurant for a holiday party in Carmel.

Our exciting green room situation.


This party was about what you'd expect--nothing too exciting, though the drunk people lingering at the end of the night were pretty annoying.

While we were playing, Indianapolis had been covered in a sheet of ice. Not good for load out, not good for drunk people. The interstates were closed, meaning we had to crawl back to the hotel on smaller roads. The van and trailer left that night for the next gig (south of Atlanta!), and they had to wander south until almost Columbus, Indiana, where the roads were finally clear enough to resume highway travel.

Best of luck to the guys laying tile at the hotel. When we arrived Thursday afternoon, they were installing new tile in the lobby. Friday morning, they tore it all out (and jackhammered the grout off to get back to the concrete slab), and put more tile down Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, they probably (hopefully) couldn't get there to mess with it.

Saturday: We went to bed late and got up early for a flight back to Atlanta. The ice made things exceptionally difficult--our plan of taking taxis or uber to the airport took an extra half hour just to get a vehicle to the hotel, and then (because the roads were still icy), the travel to the airport took nearly an hour.

We eventually made it, with only minutes to check our bags in before the cutoff. To the gate! Unfortunately, one of the two security checkpoints for the airport was closed, and everybody was funneled through the open one. I didn't make it through the metal detector and had to go through the hands-up screener thing, but they had to recalibrate it first. After clearing that, I had to wait for the TSA guy to go through my backpack (the bananas were suspicious?). Finally, I ran back to the other terminal. We were the last guys to get on the plane. I was really glad I wasn't trying to fly with saxophones--that would have been a nightmare.

We returned to Atlanta around lunch time, giving everybody an hour or two to regroup before we headed south to Lagrange, GA for a wedding. Easy stuff--the second worst of it was hanging out in the green room for a few hours before we finally went to work.

Ganesh subbed on drums

The worst of it was after our performance when the DJ kicked in, which inspired a pretty frantic load out. I drove Nick (who spent the entire weekend in some sort of gastric distress), so we ran like hell to get out of there.

The cake was great, though, and the room/barn was beautiful. Yay gig! Home by 12:30 AM.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Special + Tampa

A couple of shows last weekend...the annual Yacht Rock holiday show and an out of state wedding. Let's begin again...

Friday: The big show, the Yacht Rock holiday spectacular. We played to a packed room (within a hundred or so of selling out!) at the Variety Playhouse. I had a pretty good show with the exception of a couple of sloppy moments (i.e. trying to dance, play bari sax, and read a chart on an iPad proved more difficult than it was at home). We used a horn section on about half the songs (Rob Opitz, trumpet; Bryan Lopes, tenor sax; Richard Sherrington, trombone).

Things started in a panic when I walked out on stage and found that the receiver for my wireless microphones was receiving signal. I checked all three horns--none of them were on! Quickly I moved to another frequency and synced all three of my mics.

A few songs later, Lopes' music stand came crashing down off the riser and in between my horns, throwing his music everywhere! Once again, I had to call time out and get things reset.

A little video of the evening...

Yay! The gig's over! I packed up, went home, unpacked, repacked, and went to bed.

Saturday: Up and off to the airport, headed to Tampa, Florida for a wedding. Not too shabby. The weather was mid 70s during the day (we were outside next to the water).

Overall, it was a pretty painless gig. Before the second set, however, Bencuya's Nord developed some sort of problem--no sound from the outputs! I gave him mine and we made it through to the end. All kinds of fun. I skipped the afterparty in room 907. She was too crazy.

Sunday: Fly home. I watched the end of a movie I'd started on a flight last month.

A few more public gigs before the end of the year:

Thursday, Dec 15: Yacht Rock Revue at The Vogue (Indianapolis)
Thursday, Dec 22: Atlanta Latin Jazz Orchestra at Venkman's (Atlanta)
Friday, Dec 23: Yacht Rock Revue at Venkman's (Atlanta)
Wednesday, Dec 28: Scott Glazer's MOJO DOJO at Blind Willie's (Atlanta)
Saturday, Dec 31: Yacht Rock Revue at Park Tavern (Atlanta)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Beatles Sandwich

The flurry of gigs continues...this past weekend, Yacht Rock played a Beatles show Friday, a private Yacht Rock gig Saturday, and a private Beatles show Sunday, which meant overlapping gear, charts, and people. So...

Friday:  We haven't played a Beatles gig in a while, but there wasn't anything new, so it was a little rusty, but not too bad. At any rate, my parts are really easy, so half the challenge is in paying attention to which songs require my presence, and which do not. I play lots of tambourine (which broke not once, but twice!).

It appears that Facebook Live is something we're going to take advantage of from time to time. Here's our show:

Saturday: Yacht Rock at the Georgia Theatre in Athens for a private gig! The sound in my in ears was exquisite. I almost wanted to kiss our monitor guy. Not really (sorry Zach), but the everything was dialed in to perfection, and I had a good night because of it. Even the drive home in the rain was no big deal.

(the green rooms are five flights above the stage level)

just in case
Sunday: Birthday party Beatles show at Venkman's. Almost the same as Friday night, though the crowd was significantly older. They liked it, though!

photo by Mrs. KDC!

There's a big show coming up this weekend--our annual holiday show at the Variety Playhouse. You can check out a little of our rehearsal from earlier today (Tuesday), also on Facebook Live!

Monday, November 28, 2016


Saturday night, the Greg Lee Band opened for John Driskell Hopkins at The Vista Room. Better sax solos than the bullshit I played with Sazerac. I guess I made up for it with some questionable keyboard playing on this one.

My apologies that this isn't more exciting, but there are a couple of Yacht Rock shows that demand my attention:

1. Yacht Rock plays the Beatles this Friday night at Venkman's. We're using Justin Powell on trumpet for this, and so I'm busy sending him pdfs of everything he'll need.

2. The Yacht Rock Holiday Special is a week from Friday, and the powers that be want a horn section, so I'm massaging old arrangements to make sure they work and writing new ones for a couple of songs we're adding to our repertoire. Big fun.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Maaaaaan...I really needed this one to be awesome, and it was. Sazerac is a New Orleans inspired band made up mostly of Yacht Rock guys with a four piece horn section of Rob Opitz (trumpet, flugel), Richard Sherrington, (trombone), Gary Paulo (bari sax), and me. Damn! Super fun--this was a killer gig. My horn arrangements sounded great, if I do say so myself! Can't wait to do it again.

A couple of videos, courtesy of Jim Ramsdell!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Turkey Eve

We played two shows Wednesday night--an "unplugged" show and then a regular show, both of which featured a small mini-set of songs by Robbie Dupree. All in all, pretty good! By the end of the second show, the crowd had partied too hard, and we loaded out through a couple of puddles of vomit in the parking lot.

Set 1:

Set 2:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Where Are We?

Another weekend on the road with Yacht Rock, with stops in North Carolina and Washington DC.

Thursday: Our original schedule had us in Greensboro, NC for a show Thursday night, but as of Wednesday, no tickets had been sold, so the venue requested (and we gladly accepted) that we cancel the show. Greensboro hates us; it has always been this way.

Therefore, our trip to Washington DC became a regular old van ride up I-95, with lots of questionable food choices. This gas station hot dog was topped off with an evening meal at Hooters, which does not have vegetarian meal choices (as you might imagine).

Friday: We continued up the east coast. This day's lunch stop was at Saucy's BBQ in Petersburg, VA. Once again, not a healthy vegetarian meal to be found.

Getting into Washington took much longer than we had planned--the traffic was particularly devastating on a Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving. We were over and hour late, and the load in/set up/soundcheck was a sprint, particularly for Kip and Zach.

The show was great, though, once everybody was able to relax. We had a sold out crowd, good vibes, and good sounds. In lieu of an encore we played an extra thirty minutes for extra money--I think this particular show was tied into an event somewhere else in the building.

Saturday: I forgot to shut the curtains.

This day was unusual in that it was a travel day back to Atlanta, which meant that it felt like Sunday. We flew home from DC, went home for a couple of hours and then headed to Druid Hills for a benefit for Pete's (and Greg's) children's preschool.

This was not an official Yacht Rock show--more like forty-five minutes of playing some stuff without our gear (which was on the way home in the van and trailer).

The big stars of the show were Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls (who also has a kid enrolled here) and Pete's wife Alyssa, who did an excellent job singing with Emily and us.

The room was acoustically difficult! Eric Toledo crashed through a version of Proud Mary with us, and I don't think we or he could hear where were in the song.

Sunday: I didn't get to play the penny whistle solo on Closer to Fine Saturday night, but I did incorporate into a couple of solos on my church gig. Multiple keys = multiple bonus points.

This week...

Wednesday:  Yacht Rock Turkey Eve show at Venkman's in Atlanta--an "unplugged" show and a regular show, both with special guest Robbie Dupree.

Friday:  Sazerac at The Vista Room in Decatur, GA. Horns and New Orleans flavored vibes.

Saturday: Greg Lee Band at The Vista Room, opening for John Driskell Hopkins.

One more thing...two long time Atlanta friends, Phil Smith and Jon Chalden, have a drummer's podcast, and a couple of weeks ago, Phil interviewed one of my college buddies, Ryan Brown, who now plays with Dweezil Zappa. Check it out! Great stuff to hear from Ryan about his career so far.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Quickie in the Midwest

Last weekend, Yacht Rock played a couple of gigs in the midwest. Go!

Friday: We flew to Indianapolis to meet the gear. Being seated directly in front of the engines seemed like it would be horrible, but I was so tired that it didn't matter.

 So, Indiana in mid November...

Our gig for the evening was a banquet/benefit for the hospital in Columbus, Indiana (hometown of Pete and Nick).

The dinner was hospital food! Or maybe it was hotel food, so they brought us hospital food instead, but either way, it was pretty gross (and not vegetarian friendly), so I posted for a small salad and six bananas.

The evening was pretty easy--our two sets were shortened to one ninety minute set, and I don't think it even went a full hour and a half. Unfortunately, this one never gathered any energy on the dance floor or the stage. Pretty low wattage.

Saturday: We slept late and headed for Chicago at noon. The drive is four or five hours, and it feels like it takes all damn day. It certainly doesn't help when you get to Chicago at 4:30 and it's DUSK! and by 5 PM it's DARK. I spent much of the afternoon in a Benadryl induced fog, so it didn't matter that much. Hence, no pictures of the Northern Indiana wind farms.

This venue is fantastic--easy load in, big stage, and two dressing rooms.

These two photos may or may not be me. There was lots of time to kill after soundcheck.

This gig was the opposite of the night before. Great energy from the crowd (which was over 600 people--excellent considering that the venue was over by O'Hare and not in the middle of the city), and the band was ON FIRE from the first note. Awesome night on stage.

We also broadcast the first set live on our Facebook page. It looks to still be up, so you can check it out (outstanding audio provided by our man Zach Wetzel of Athens Sound):

By the time we'd loaded out and headed to our hotel across the street (hell yeah), it was around 2 AM, and we were scheduled for a 8:25 AM shuttle to the airport. Ouch! Another nap on an airplane.

A few more good shows are coming up--Yacht Rock is at The Hamilton in Washington DC Friday, November 18, and at Venkman's in Atlanta November 23 with special guest Robbie Dupree.

After Thanksgiving, Sazerac returns to the stage with a set at The Vista Room November 25 (I'm particularly excited to hear my horn arrangements played by Rob Opitz, Richard Sherrington, Gary Paulo, and myself!). The Greg Lee Band is at The Vista Room November 26, opening for John Driskell Hopkins.

Assuming we all live through that, Yacht Rock plays the Beatles at Venkman's December 2, and some of us will play a set of the Rolling Stones after that?! More horn arrangements by yours truly! Come hear it!