Monday, May 31, 2010


Yacht Rock conquered Spinnaker last night in Panama City Beach.  The gig could not have gone better.  Kenny, the sound guy, was terrific, the crowd was good, the weather was nice, the load in/out was easy.  I dug it.  We played from 11 PM til 3 AM.  It sounds worse than it was.  I sweated more than I'd ever sweated on a gig.  By the end of the night, the leather pad on my neckstrap was spongy squishy wet.

Other than the bridge to Baby Come Back and a hiccup in Stayin' Alive, things went well for me personally.  The sound guy bumped me up so loud on a couple of sax solos, I'm sure I was heard in Tampa!  I dug it.  I sat in the dark (no light on my part of the stage), but I'd trade that any day for a sound guy that was paying attention.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Still Going!

So...let's see.  It's been a few days since my last post.

Wednesday:  we (Yacht Rock) had a big rehearsal in preparation for our upcoming two night stand at the Variety Playhouse.  One night is regular Yacht Rock stuff, but the other night is the Reagan Rock Prom, so we're spending our time learning lots of wretched early eighties stuff.  Yuck...stuff like Break my Stride and True.  We tackled eight tunes in about two hours.

Wednesday night I played a Rolling Stones tribute rehearsal.  That was pretty easy--a couple of solos and I was done.  It was deafeningly loud, though.  I bought a little Mackie SRM150 as a baby monitor (if you recall from my previous blog post).  It worked really well at throwing some sound back towards me.  Up against 2 guitars, bass, drums, and a keyboardist (plus vocals in monitors), I needed some help.

Thursday:  Yacht Rock night.  Evidently, it was fight night at the 10 High!  Some guy stepped on stage at the end of the night and Mark Cobb flipped out, demanding to know where our security guy was to stop the guy.  It turns out he was upstairs rolling around in the street with another security guy and some drunk--they were trying to hold him down until the cops showed up.  He'd taken a different drunk fighter upstairs, which is how he'd ended up there in the first place.
Playing-wise, things were pretty good.  I practiced that afternoon, so I felt really confident going into the gig.  Somehow, I overlooked Human Nature (which bit me in the butt), but most other things went pretty well.  I played a really horrible chord on Really Love to See You Tonight (instead of G minor for the first chord, I played A/G!), but other than that I was ok.  Bencuya recorded it.  I'm hoping it sounds better than I remember.

Friday:  A two gig night it was.

I loaded in to the Park Tavern for the Yacht Rock gig.  I set up and soundchecked and split.  At one point, I was playing Lonely Boy (of course), and the soundguy kept turning it up in the PA because he wasn't getting enough signal from me.  He moved me to a different line in the snake, and suddenly there I was!  He had the gain open all the way and the channel fader up all the way.  Needless to say, I was so loud that I bet Andrew Gold could hear me in LA!  My apologies to LA.  Anyway, I just kept on playing, indifferent to the damage the sound was causing my ears.

My first gig was a wedding in Tyrone, GA.  We (piano and sax) only played the cocktails and the dinner, and the a DJ took over.  I like the format!  That way nobody's expecting us to magically play dance music.

From there I boogied up I-85 to the Park Tavern to intercept a Yacht Rock gig already in progress.  They'd started with a Zepplin vs. Who Rock Fight, so I only missed around eight songs.  It was packed, though!  Very cool.  I played the last 45 minutes of the gig.

Saturday:  Yacht Rock played a wedding in Seaside, FL, in the Florida panhandle.  It was pretty cool.  We were in a tent between the hotel and the sand dunes--a really sweet setting.  The crowd wasn't that into it, but the band had fun in spite of them.  The gig was at Watercolor--where The Truman Show was filmed.  Mark Cobb was flipping the beat around at the end of the night (backbeat on 1 and 3), making me squirm with delight.

Sunday:  We are off until tonight, when we make our debut at Spinnaker in Panama City Beach.  My family is here on vacation with me, braving the oil!

I hate to say it, but I'm a bit nostalgic for Florida.  I lived here in middle school and high school, and I was happy to move to Atlanta and get away from all of this.  Coming back, I see so many reminders of those years.  I miss it much more than I ever thought I could.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kevin Smith's finest hour (and a half)

I played a short trio gig at the Loews Hotel in midtown this evening.  The group consisted of myself, Tyrone Jackson on keyboard, and Kevin Smith on bass.  I can't remember off the top of my head who the client was--I suppose it doesn't really matter.

We had a wonderful time, and though we all played well, I think Kevin has probably never played better on one of my gigs.  He was super groovy, had a great sound, and played logical solos.  Tyrone had an exceptionally good night too--we've played together for so long that he knows exactly the right thing to play.  He never fails to amaze me.  This was one of those gigs where I loved every second.  My dream would be for this to happen every time I played a gig.

The first twenty minutes of the gig were played to an empty room--I guess the guests were still in meetings.    Good for us!  We could hear each other, and the result was a really relaxed performance.

After our set of an hour and a half, we ate off the buffet, which ended with some crazy chocolate dessert.

The parking was free--did I mention that?  What a gig!  Not bad for a Monday.

Here's the audio:

Here are some photos:

my new suit!

the room

my friends Tyrone and Kevin


Saturday, May 22, 2010


Last night (Friday), I did a wedding with Yacht Rock at King Plow.  I arrived determined to avenge myself for Thursday night's fiasco, and I must say that things were much better.  Neither song got me, though Stayin' Alive is still very confusing at the end.  I knew where I was (I was reading my chart), but I could have easily been pulled off course.  You Should be Dancing was fine--back to normal for that one.
I got in a couple of good sax solos last night.  Both horns felt good and I was directly in front of my monitor, so I was really comfortable.  We began the gig with Reminiscing, and right before we went on Bencuya dared me to quote Hava Nagila in my solo, which I did-twice! but he never acknowledged it.
After the gig Greg Lee gave me some unnecessary B.S. comments--something to the effect of me being exceptionally slow at packing up.  Hopefully Greg can figure out a way to scale down my setup so I can finish sooner.  Another option would be for him to shut the hell up.

Today I played a wedding with Yacht Rock Schooner at the Botanical Gardens.  An early gig!  Wonderful!  A couple of us played the wedding ceremony (flute, guitar, piano), wilting (dressed in all black!) in direct sunlight.  From there, I moved on to the cocktail hour where I played saxophone in a quartet (sax, piano, bass, and drums).  Both of these were fairly easy.  We then had a scheduled hour long break for lunch, which was bizarre--usually people have the "we're paying you too much money for you to ever take a break!" mentality.  Affairs to Remember has new vendor meals, and though it was still the cold chicken breast, fruit, and a brownie, it was not bad.  They had some beans with jalapenos which were really good.  Also, the entire container is biodegradable.  Much better than the all plastic containers they used to use.

I think we ended up playing about an hour and a half of Yacht Rock in the Day Room (which looks remarkably like a high school cafeteria).  After that, it was a race--who could get out that fastest!  I was home by 5.
That room is really horrible--hard surfaces everywhere.  When we soundchecked, the guy running sound decided to only put vocals in the PA.  Once we started playing, however, it was apparent that I would never be able to hear myself (or be heard) over the crowd and the band, so he put a microphone in front of me and ran it through the monitor (just a little bit--I really never got enough).  It helped, but I get the feeling that only the few people directly in front of me heard any saxophone.  I don't remember the sound man ever walking out in the room once the crowd arrived, so once the noise and the body count went up, things changed drastically.  To confound my fears, I went across the room during a song in which I did not play, and could only hear vocals, drums, and bass.
Once again, I wish that I'd brought some sort of speaker as a monitor.  Every time that happens, I curse myself because I can't hear.  I need something to bounce my sound back towards myself.  Otherwise, I end up overblowing and playing poorly.  I guess when I eventually get around to it, Greg Lee will give me crap about bringing that, too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

(Not) Staying Alive

Last night at the 10 High was Yacht Rock at full strength.  For the past few months, I think at least one person in the band has been out on any given Thursday.  We're back!

We were sailing along quite well until the end of the first set, when two Bee Gees songs leapt up and bit me in the butt.  The first was Stayin' Alive, which appears to be a simple song--I don't think it's much more than F minor, Bb7, and Eb.  The form is really weird, though, particularly later on in the song.  There's a tag after the second chorus, and then after the third chorus it does a similar (but different) series of tags, every other one being longer.  To further complicate my problems, I'm playing the brass part on EWI and the string part on keyboard, and during those tags it jumps back and forth.
All of this is a bullshit excuse, anyway.  I failed miserably regardless of the reason.

Immediately following my own little disco Hindenburg, we went into You Should Be Dancing, which should have been fine because we've played that one a good bit, but the voice in my head was still flipping out about Stayin' Alive, and I couldn't get my head into the next song.  All I wanted to do was get off the stage.

I was pretty furious through the break and most of the next set.  In two songs, the gig went from something I was excited about to something from which I wanted to run away.

After the gig, Pete came by to ask about all the things I messed up, including a couple of gacked notes (the high F# in Who Can it be Now? being the usual suspect;  if I had a setlist in front of me, I could tell you every mistake that I made).  That was a fun conversation.  It certainly does wonders for my confidence.

Today I'm trying to get Stayin' Alive in my head.  I think I've got it (but do I really have it?  if somebody else flinches, will I follow them?  this remains to be seen).  Dealing with this means that I'm not practicing ceremony music for tomorrow's wedding ceremony.  Not good.  I need a week to reload.

We're playing a wedding reception tonight.  I've got to get my head together quickly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

I'm back from Las Vegas.

The first night we were there, we stayed up really late drinking.  Somewhere around 3 AM local time (6 AM to me), I was convinced to go get my horn and crash the dueling pianos bar in our hotel (New York, New York).  Here's video:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Night Belongs to Andrew Gold

Dear Andrew Gold,

Today I played two gigs.  The first was a Please Pleaserock Me/Yacht Rock Revue at the Dunwoody Beer Festival.  Just like last year, we had to deal with some on again/off again rain, but the crowd dug our stuff and we dug the crowd.  It was super hot and muggy.  I did my best to stay hydrated.  About the only problem I can think of is that I couldn't see if some of the lights were lit up on the side of the EWI.  Outdoor gigs are like that.
Here's the pile of gear I took with me:

After that, I boogied up to Suwanee to play with the Yacht Rock Schooner at the Wild Wing Cafe.  It was there that I performed your hit song Lonely Boy (I played the piano part) to the best of my ability, and if I do say so myself, I nailed it.  I am sure you would have dug my playing on that tune--Bencuya, G Lee, and Kevin Spencer noted my skills.
The performance was one of my greatest musical accomplishments;  I felt like I should have taken a victory lap around the bar draped in an American flag.
From there on, it was normal Yacht Rock stuff, but excruciatingly loud.  It sounded like this picture of me looks:

You get the idea.
Anyway, thanks for the tune.  I hope to play it again soon (before I forget it).


Friday, May 14, 2010


Thursday was a big gig day.  Here's all my gear that I needed to get through the day (minus clothes):

Gig #1:  I played saxophone at the Omni hotel downtown for people getting off buses.  Here's the drill:  bus pulls up, I play saxophone, they walk into the Omni, I stop.  Repeat as necessary!

Gig #2:  I played a House Live gig with Jeff and Steven.  This gig was a tough one--we (Steven and I) need to "fit" into the tracks that Jeff is playing.  Unfortunately on this gig, the client asked us to keep the volume super low.  I couldn't really hear much of the track (neither could Steven), so I it was more or less the two of us playing for each other and trying to make sure we were in time with the track.

Gig #3:  Yacht Rock!  Yeah...awesome!  The crowd was terrific, and the band played like we were actually pretty into it.  Kudos to Mark Dannells, who really ripped it up last night.  He said that he's finally getting back on some sort of regular practice schedule, and it sure sounds like it.  He was on fire!

Also noteworthy at this gig was the fact that the beer tub girl reported a male and female having sex next to her.  This would be approximately ten yards directly in front of me.  Yacht Rock will do that to you!

Tomorrow night, I get to play Andrew Gold's Lonely Boy.  Faithful readers will recall how much I dig this song.  I get to play the piano part.  How awesome is that?!  I've got to get it right, though, which means I've got some practicing to do.  Gotta hold up my end...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trio mp3s

Last night I played a quartet gig with Tyrone Jackson (keyboards), Joseph Patrick Moore (fretless bass), and Marlon Patton (drums).  An awesome musical experience and a very easy gig!  I couldn't have asked for more from those guys.  Unfortunately, my recording device ran out of batteries about four minutes into the gig, so there is no record of how terrific the band was, save for about three minutes of the first song.

The only damper on the gig was that someone walked through the parking garage breaking into cars last night, including Joe's jeep.  They grabbed a bag containing charts he needed for upcoming gigs with Earl Klugh and Bob James (AGH!!!!), but the security guys found his bag in another part of the garage.  Evidently charts are of no value to burglars.  

I finally cut up the audio from last Wednesday's trio with Louis Heriveaux (keyboard) and Kevin Smith (bass).  The mp3s sound like this:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Another Whirlwind Weekend

Saturday morning, Peter, Bencuya, and I met at Mark Cobb's house (at the insane hour of 6:30 AM) to gather our equipment and ride to Amelia Island for a wedding reception.  We scooped up Nick at the Jacksonville airport.  Good thing we had some down time before the gig--we napped HARD.
The wedding reception was very easy.  We were playing under the name Constantly Awesome, with myself added on as an extra player.  I more or less functioned as lead guitar, which meant that by the end of the night I'd taken saxophone solos over songs like I Love Rock and Roll, Talking in Your Sleep, and Highway to Hell!  Here are some pictures from outside the venue.

Sunday morning we piled into the van and drove the six hours back to Atlanta so we could play the Sandy Springs Festival.  It was awesome!  Probably three thousand people showed up to a really nice outdoor venue and soaked up every note.  The weather was perfect, and the sound was right on the money.  You can see a cool set of pictures here.   Here's a picture of Jack and me after the gig.

This week I have to solve two equipment problems.  On Thursday night I discovered that my wireless MIDI unit for the EWI was not functioning.  I'm not sure what is happening--both sides (receiver and transmitter) have power, and the lights are flashing like the signal is good, but nothing is happening.  Yesterday my effects pedal for my saxophone was not putting out any signal.  It powered up fine, but the outputs were dead.  God only knows what's wrong with that thing!  I played the gig yesterday with the sax going direct and a long MIDI cable.  No big deal.  Right now, issues like this are never ending.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Long Time Coming

It's been a week since my last post, faithful reader(s?), so please accept my apologies.  I have been super busy.

Here are the highlights:

Monday, April 26, I did a four hour trio gig with Louis Heriveaux (keyboard) and Kevin Smith (bass).  We were on the patio outside of Opera (DJ was inside).  Unfortunately for us, that meant that we played the smoking section of the gig under and open-sided tent!  Yuck.  It was also a cool spring evening in Atlanta, so I had some pitch problems and Louis' hands got cold.  Here's the audio evidence:

Forty-five minutes from the end of the gig, the client came by and extended us another hour.  Ouch!  We were on fumes by then.  Listening back, there's some good playing, though.  Other than pitch, the other problem we had was that the crowd liked to talk to us, sometimes during songs.  We were appreciative of the fact that they were listening (and loved what they heard), but come on!

Tuesday, April 27, Yacht Rock played a Roller Disco Party at Masquerade.  We pulled out all the BeeGees stuff and a few other disco-oriented gems.  We played and all the twenty-somethings rollerskated in tight shorts and high tube socks.  It was pretty cool.  I liked this gig a lot.  Some pictures:

Wednesday, April 28, Please Pleaserock Me played at Smith's Olde Bar.  We had an ok turn out.  I'm not sure why this one hasn't taken off quicker.  People who hear us love it and they know it's the Yacht Rock guys, but the massive crowds have not shown themselves as of yet.  We played pretty well.

Thursday, April 29 through Monday, May 3, Yacht Rock was on the Kid Rock "Chillin' the Most" cruise. Similar to the Rock Boat, it was lots of hanging out and drinking.  We played two one hour sets over those five days.  The destination was supposed to be Grand Cayman, but we ended up going to Nassau, Bahamas, instead due to weather.
I can't say that I really dug any of the bands on the boat.  It was a mix of heavy metal and rap/rock--not my thing.  The crowd was a mix of older biker chicks (dark tans, lots of tattoos), strippers, a few confirmed porn stars, and men to match.  Not my crowd, either.
Here are some pictures:
It's worth watching the video made by all bands on board to thank Kid Rock and Sixth Man (the organizers of the cruise).  We're the last thing on there.  It's worth watching.  Do it for me.

Monday, May 3, Yacht Rock and Please Pleaserock Me played 500 Songs for Kids at Smith's Olde Bar.  For the Beatles, we played Hard Days Night.  I contributed cowbell on the bridge, and played it very well if I do say so myself.   For Yacht Rock, we ended up selecting November Rain.  I was given the task of playing the string part.  I was terrible.  Do you hear me?  TERRIBLE.  Easily my worst performance with Yacht Rock in well over a year.  I severely embarrassed myself, so when the gig was over, I threw my keyboard in the case and ran out the back door.  I really hated myself that night.

Tuesday, May 4, Yacht Rock played a private party at Peachtree Tavern.  I redeemed myself.  Everything went well.  Ganesh Giri Jaya subbed for Nick.  We were all very smooth.  Pete, Dannells, and Cobb helped me load out.  Dannells said something like "We don't want to leave you here!"

Wednesday, May 5, I played a trio gig with Louis Heriveaux (keyboard) and Kevin Smith (bass).  Kevin showed up really late--five minutes before the doors were to open (instead of the hour before like I'd asked).  I can't believe that he continues to screw up this much.  Pretty soon I will be at the point where I can't use him anymore and it won't be because of his playing--it'll be because he can't get his ass out the door at the right time.  I don't think he realizes that when the client is standing there asking me if we're ready to go, he's making me look really bad.
Anyway, mp3s will follow in a forthcoming blog post.  I have yet to edit them.

Thursday, May 6 was the return of Yacht Rock to the 10 High.  We had a terrific crowd which inspired me.  I played a couple of really good solos, probably because I got a chance to play that afternoon.  It really makes a difference!  Kevin Spencer subbed for Nick and Ganesh subbed for Cobb.  This was one of the best gigs I've ever heard Ganesh play.  He was on all night.