Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Busy One

I managed to survive another crazy weekend, and there are only a few days at home before I'm gone again.

Friday:  Yacht Rock returned to Nashville.  We've been selling out the Mercy Lounge the past couple of times, so we moved downstairs to the larger part of the venue:  the Cannery Ballroom (the Mercy is about the size of Smith's Olde Bar, and the Cannery is about the size of the Variety Playhouse).  Cool.  We loaded in, set up, soundchecked…usual stuff.  Definitely a bigger, better stage.  The room is L shaped.

Before the gig, we ate at a Thai food truck around the corner.  I had the red curry with pork.  Very good.  I could have eaten two.

The gig went pretty well.  We played I Keep Forgetting, one of my faves, and we went through a string of fun sax features (Whatever Gets You Through the Night, Your Mama Don't Dance, Careless Whisper, and Baker Street).  The crowd was pretty into it.  Coming back from the intermission, the vibe changed--I don't think the we ever got to the same shared energy with the audience.

Some turd got on stage at the end of the night, but the monitor guy was quick to launch him back into the audience.  Also, Greg Lee yelled at some jackass in a panama hat at the front of the stage, who responded by throwing twenty dollar bills at us.  Alcohol...

My tenor reed died, and thus my altissimo.  It made the F#s at the top of the Who Can it Be Now? lick almost impossible.  My batting average for that note in the song was low enough to get me sent to the minors.

Load out was slow.  The final numbers were around five hundred, which would have been good in the Mercy, but in a thousand person venue like the Cannery, was just ok.  The thing that killed us, though, was the production costs--upstairs, it's around $150, but downstairs it's almost $2,000.  Ouch.  That killed any profit off this gig!  Back upstairs we go!

Saturday:  We spent the night in Smyrna--no hotel rooms were available in Nashville.  We got on the road a little bit late.

Bencuya drove away from a gas pump with the hose still in the side of the van, but we suffered no damage (the gas hose took the brunt of it).  Oops.

Chattanooga has a nice place to stop for lunch--the 212 Market.  Good stuff.  I had ravioli.

We rolled into Atlanta and went straight to our next gig--a spring party at the Atlanta Athletic Club.  They had a tented stage set up in their tennis stadium.  Not a bad place for a gig!  The only drag was that the sun was blazing on my corner of the stage--it cooked me and my equipment.

This gig was ok.  I was tired, I guess, but I just couldn't really get into it, and the stage sound kind of crushed any enthusiasm I had.  The front line monitors had a lot of stuff in them, and each wedge was cranked to the point of feeding back.

Some drunk bitch (it's always going to be a female, isn't it?) decided that we needed a chick in the band, so she invited herself on stage.  At first I thought she wanted to play cowbell or tambourine, but nobody would give in to her, so she just stood in the corner.  I got a quick picture during Footloose.  I wish we'd had the monitor guy from Nashville come and throw her off the stage.

She spent about a half hour after the gig going among the band, trying to convince us to add her on, though we were never able to determine what exactly she could do.  Loading out gear was definitely not on her list of talents.  Drinking our rider, perhaps?

Also at the end of the night was a pushy lady who demanded to hear Brick House (which we don't play).  I hope at some point we no longer have to deal with stuff like this.  It really kills gigs when you have a handful of people who want to tell you what you should be doing.

I got home, unpacked my gear and clothes, packed my stuff my my church gig, took a shower and got in bed at 4 AM.

Sunday:  Two hours later, I was up and trying to get out the door to go to Cumming, GA for a church gig.  Bryan Lopes and I played the same song we'd played at Gwinnett Church a few weeks ago.  This one was at Browns Bridge.

Easy stuff (one song in each of the services), and we got to hang out.  Wayne Viar was playing drums, so the three of us traded stories.  The song went fine, but spending time with two of my favorite people was extra cool.

Home, then straight to bed.  I got up and made my second church gig.  Kind of a light band--three vocalists.  It was a little rough sounding, compared to the previous week.  I didn't anything worth talking about.

Friday, April 27, 2012


The Yacht Rock Revue played a gig for CREW (commercial real estate women).  It was a party for their thirtieth anniversary. about a party on a Thursday night?

I think they set some kind of record for use of the word "empowerment."  Definitely the word of the gig.  For most of the women at the party, it probably meant professional success.  For a few, however, it was license to be a pushy, egotistical bitch.  We had a couple of women--one who almost flipped out because we wouldn't let her play tambourine, and one who was sure she could make the party better by joining us on stage for a song (to sing I Will Survive, of all things--empowerment!).  They were so relentless in bothering us, it pretty much ruined the gig for us.

To make matters worse, we had a moron running sound.  I don't think we made it through a single song without a microphone feeding back.

We did our fastest load out ever.  Thirty-five minutes after the gig, we had everything loaded into the trailer.  Off to Nashville!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Augusta Trio

I had a trio gig last night…in Augusta.  I got a call a few weeks ago asking if I was available.  Yes!  Send me the details!  The reply included the times, attire, and the address for the Augusta Country Club.  Boo.  You could've mentioned that.

It wasn't a big deal because the gig was really fun.  I guess the client had specifically requested a trio of sax, bass, and drums…weird.  Sonny Rollins fans?  The State of the Tenor?  Whatever.  It was cool with me.  When I first did jazz gigs as a leader, I did a bunch of these, but it's been many years since then.  I think I played differently--it was hard to not to ear Sonny in my head.

This trio had Jeff Williams on bass, and Justin Varnes on drums.  I hadn't seen Justin in a couple of years.  He's playing better than ever.  It was great to catch up with him.

The gig finally ended after I got a little out on Ju Ju.  The drunk sunburned guy looked right at me and said, "You can stop."

Here's the audio.  Check it out!

 Augusta Trio by David B Freeman

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Busy Weekend!

This has been a crazy weekend.  I only made it through by sleeping today away (in between church gigs).

Friday:  the first big Yacht Rock gig at the Park Tavern this year.  We held the Reagan Rock prom there.  The years before this were held at the Variety Playhouse, and both were pretty colossal efforts in learning songs, scripting the show, doing the decorations (for the record, I never had anything to do with scripting or decorations, but the learning songs part was still really hard!).  This year's event was super easy in comparison;  show up, host the party, have a good time.  Probably the same number of people turned out as previous years, too.  I think we nailed it.  Thanks to everybody for joining us!

Everything went well;  I can only think of a couple of bad spots for me--a few butchered chords in I Wanna Dance with Somebody.  My alto felt great--I keep hoping to find a video of me playing more than a few seconds of Careless Whisper.

My tenor was ok.  It has a leak.  I'm also still in the bad habit of chomping down on the mouthpiece and overblowing.  Chalk it up to my fear of being flat.

Anyway, the gig went great!  Super fun.  The only hiccup we had was that we played past 11 PM and they shut the PA off on us.  Esther took it personally.

As I was packing up, some chick called me over (you can probably already guess how this goes)…

     Chick:  Where are y'all going next?  I wanna party with you!

     Me:  I'm going home and going to bed.  I have a gig in the morning.

     Chick:  Where?

     Me:  A Catholic church.  I'm playing the confirmation mass.

And I walked away.  Evidently, she tried several band members, but no one wanted to go party.

One more video…

…and you can hear my string part after the solo.  I'm in the mix!

Saturday morning:  Up way too early to go play a church gig.  I made use of the extra church gig by doing a little piano microphone experiment.  I put a Shure Beta 98 in the middle (clipped to the frame) and a dynamic vocal mic stuck in one of the holes in the frame.  Those two, with the Stupid Barcus Berry Pickup, sounded pretty good in my headphones.

I guess I played pretty well.  We didn't really play that much considering we were there for almost two hours.

The archbishop celebrated the mass--such a cool guy!  Very entertaining and engaging.

Saturday evening:  Yacht Rock was hired to play a bar mitzvah.  Super expensive gig.  I don't think we've ever been hired for one of these before, but this was a repeat customer (the parents, not the kid).  The set list was mostly Beatles and party songs with a little Yacht Rock thrown in--not a whole lot for me to do.  It was cool, though--gave me lots of time to people watch/check out the super hot women.  It was unavoidable, and the pictures I surreptitiously took of these women have been deleted off my phone--I swear!

It was us (for the adults), a DJ (for the younger humans), the Georgia Tech pep band (playing Hava Nagila), sushi rollers, a room where there was a guy custom airbrushing Chuck Taylors, chicken and waffles, lots of alcohol (for the adults), a congratulatory video featuring Dick Vitale and the Atlanta Hawks among others…you get the idea.  It was a big party.

We played You're So Vain with a guest singer, and I did very well on the piano part, if I do say so myself.  I've come a long way, baby!

Stephen 'Steak' Shapiro tried to sit in with us on Glory Days, but didn't know any of the words.  He looked like he knew what he was doing, though.

Some chick invited herself up to play maracas with us on Africa and embarrassed herself without our help.

Sunday:  Up again for a church gig.  Easy stuff--I know what to expect these days, so it's no biggie.  Read the charts down a couple of times, then go upstairs and do it for real.  I swapped out my main tenor with my backup horn.  Much better.

My evening church gig went pretty well.  I left the 98 off, but mixed the vocal mic inside with the Stupid Barcus Berry Pickup, and I think it sounded pretty good.  The vocals sounded good, and my flute face was good.  Yay!

Stay tuned!  More to come this week.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Our First/Last Gig at the Trolley Barn

The Yacht Rock Revue played a fundraiser event at the Trolley Barn last night.  Right off the bat, we were confronted with the "barn attendant" and his decibel meter-- 90 db is the limit in that room.  Go over 90 and the client pays a fine.  Check this out:  if you want to host your event there, you have to put a deposit down to cover the 90 db fine;  the dude checks the SPL during the event, and when you're over the limit, the Trolley Barn keeps your deposit.  Nice scheme.  So…no carpet (hardwood floor), high ceiling, windows, steel beams…great place for a band.  Before we started playing, the crowd was (according to my SPL app) at 75 db.

I think we ended up doing the best we could for as long as we could.  It was kind of amusing for a while because everything sounded silly, but we couldn't keep it there forever.  Late in the night, the volume went up a bit, but the dude seemed cool with it.  In fact, I never saw the dude or the decibel meter.

That said, the gig went by quickly and painlessly.  We played three sets, but it didn't feel like a marathon by any stretch.

Also, they had Fox Bros. BBQ.  I ate two plates of food.

Home by midnight!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Trio Gig!

I had a trio gig tonight with Louis Heriveaux (keyboard) and Kevin Smith (bass)--a quick two hour dinner and awards thing.  We were background noise.

It was great to have a jazz gig--a chance to to stretch out and really play.  That said, I never got in a groove--it's been a month since I played a jazz gig, and I'm way out of shape.  I tried;  I just couldn't get it going.

I guess my one victory was that I played reasonably in tune on soprano tonight.  Big surprise--I put my mouthpiece in the right spot (the place on the cork where I normally end up) and left it there, instead of not trusting myself and pushing the mouthpiece further and further down.  Way to go.

Here's the audio from the gig if you'd like to listen:

 David Freeman Trio-April 17, 2012 by David B Freeman

Monday, April 16, 2012


Not much of a Sunday…once again, I was told not to show for the AM church gig (boooooo).  The PM church gig went pretty well, though I've had it with the sound of the piano in the PA.  It has a Barcus Berry pickup--sounds like crap!  I think it's time to experiment.  At the very least, I'm going to put a dynamic mic in one of the holes inside.  The pickup has no beef to it!  The church has a really great sounding grand piano, and the pickup makes it sound like it's mic'ed with a 57 on the ground 10 feet away.

As far as playing goes, I did kind of go nuts on one song last night.  The harmony made sense and I knew it was in three, but as soon as I started playing, I kind of lost my place, which I think worked out OK.  I got a little wild in kind of a Branford way, and once I was out there I just kept going.  Somehow, the vocals came back in, but I couldn't get out of what I was doing.  I just kept going over the top of them until the song tapered to the end.  Oops.

I kind of wish I'd recorded it because I fell into stream of consciousness playing so quickly that I really wasn't aware of what I was doing.  Maybe next time!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


The Yacht Rock Revue played 106.7's birthday bash in Suwanee last night.  Great show!  Good for me that I sucked the least on the gig that mattered the most this weekend.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I played really well!

The Yacht Rock Schooner opened for us.  They sounded terrific.

Our two sets (played chronologically from 1978-1985 went really smoothly.  Everybody played great.  The sound on stage was good.

There was a dog named Honey backstage.  I took pictures to show to Reggie.  He didn't care at all.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I never did figure out for whom we were playing last night.  The Yacht Rock Revue did some kind of auction/charity event thing last night at Summerour.

This gig went much better than the previous night's blanks.

All the excitement (for me) came in the second set, when the batteries in my EWI died in the first song.  I just swapped them out for what I thought were fresh ones, so I must have a bad one in there.  Anyway, pretty significant panic.  I was able to limp through the first tune (Africa) by turning everything off whenever I wasn't playing.  Once we got through that, I quickly stole the four batteries in my sax mic transmitters and put them in the EWI.  Whenever I needed to play saxophone in the second set, I would take the two batteries out of the wireless MIDI transmitter I have on the EWI and put them in the sax transmitter.  It wasn't too bad--I just had to plan a couple of songs ahead so I would be ready to do the battery Chinese fire drill in between songs.

I'm thinking about stashing a pack of AAs in Monkey's amp.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spaced Out

The Yacht Rock Revue played our (somewhat) regular 10 High gig last night.  This gig isn't paying nearly what it used to produce, but it's still giving us a couple of extra rehearsals.  We have a pretty big show coming up a week from tonight (Friday), and the opportunity to screw these songs up in front of a smaller crowd is appreciated.

My amp died while I was soundchecking…scared me for a second, but it turned out it was a bad power cable.  I swapped it with the cord from my top keyboard, and it was steady, but then my Fantom would turn off randomly whenever someone came near.  So…bad cable.  I broke out my spare.  Problem solved.

We started out pretty well, in spite of the very thin crowd.  Somewhere towards the end of the first set, I started spacing out.  I was playing, but not paying too much attention.  I wandered around on break (went upstairs and watched baseball), and the first half of the second set, I was mentally NOT THERE AT ALL.  The strings on the chorus of I Want to be Your Lover?  Not in the first chorus--I just watched go by, and it kind of clicked--hey dumbass, it'd be great if you'd play.   Oops!  OK, I'm back…no I'm not.  I missed the flute entrance to Lowdown.  Same thing--I stood there thinking, why is everybody already playing? (it's stacked entrances--bass, guitar and rhodes, flute, then the first verse).  I totally missed it.  I will say that I played a pretty rippin' flute solo.

The rest of the gig floated by.  I don't think I screwed anything else up, but I wasn't paying attention.  Duuuuuhhhhh…

Exciting news…Hans confirmed my suspicion that Heart Attack and Mr. Heart Attack (center of the last picture above) are swingers.  Yuck!

Monday, April 9, 2012


I got shut out of my AM church gig yesterday…they were doing some kind of more traditional service with a chamber orchestra ($$$$!), so no Dave.  Boo.

My PM church gig went well, though my soprano reed did not rise from the dead.  It's done.

Friday, April 6, 2012

First Time in Months!

The Yacht Rock Revue conquered the 10 High last night.  Even though it's our regular Thursday night gig, all seven of us haven't been on stage together there since mid December.

It was a great gig--the most fun you can have at the 10 High.  We never got bored, the crowd was responsive (even though it looked from the outset like we'd be smothered in douchebaggery), Heart Attack didn't have one (she did eat a bowl of fries in between cigarettes), and everybody played pretty well.  There were some rough moments (I sucked real bad on the stupid Wham song), but nothing to kill the vibe.  Good show.

We had a couple of guests…a guy named Adam Johnson (friend of Dannells') sang Hold the Line, and Jeremy Stacey (of Sheryl Crow and Noel Gallagher fame) got up and played Hey Nineteen with us.  Both were really good.

Here are some audio for my Eighties girl:

 Careless Whisper by David B Freeman

 True by David B Freeman

It's funny to hear people singing as loudly as the band.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sweet Water, but Not on my Keyboard

Soooooo…Yacht Rock played a benefit for the Atlanta Humane Society, held (just like last year) at the SweetWater Brewery.  I like dogs, so yay--fun gig.  There were several ladies walking around with dogs. I got lots of weird looks for encouraging their animals to "quick!  go get in my truck!"

Things were fine.  We loaded in, set up, soundchecked.  We ate their food (they had chips and salsa=yay!).  We played a set--sounded good.  We played another set, and you could see lightning off in the distance.  Hmm.  We decided not to play the last forty minutes of the gig because the weather was closing in on us.  The Humane Society was cool with that.

A couple of drops and we started to pack up.  Before we could get much further along than that, it started pouring!  Aggh!  The stage is covered, so we had protection, but the rain was blowing in from the front of the stage.  We moved everything as quickly as we could to the back of the stage.  Our cases, which had been stacked outside of the stage, were pretty wet, but we got everything on stage was quickly as possible.

It looked like we were managing ok, and then the roof began to leak!  A pretty good stream of water started, almost directly on my keyboards.  It managed to soak all of my cables and pedals.  I got my horns put away and my laptop covered, and Pete scrambled to get both my Fantom and Nord into their cases.  It was chaos for a few minutes.

The rain eventually let up, and I got everything in the truck.  When I got over on the interstate, the roads were totally dry, but a few miles down the road I got another blast of thunderstorm.

All of my equipment is laid out on the dining room floor.  Tomorrow I get to see what's working and what's not.  Fun!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pretty Good Sunday

Actually, it was a really good Sunday.

My AM church gig is beginning to make sense.  Maybe I'm getting used to the new format, but the big horn section songs don't feel as weird as they did.  It also makes it easier for me with instruments--I know it's just going to be tenor and clarinet, so I'm not going to drag my other stuff to the gig.

One thing that was a drag yesterday morning:  getting off the elevator and hearing the band already playing.  It turns out that the band leader wanted to start at 8 instead of 8:30 (when I showed up), but he didn't tell anybody, so as people started filtering in, they had to dive into rehearsal.  Nice.

We're off the "all black" clothing thing, which is totally cool with me.  I'm not a fan of that look, especially when fewer than half the musicians are actually doing it!

From my church gig, I drove to Dallas, GA for a quick recording session.  Some guys had recorded the Rolling Stones' Can't You Hear Me Knockin', and they needed someone to provide the saxophone solo.  No sweat.  Time to drive out there:  40 minutes;  time in the studio (from the "Hi, I'm Dave" handshake to the "Thanks for having me" handshake:  15 minutes.

It was a home recording set up--two rooms in a guy's basement.  I was in one room with an expensive mic, the control room was on the other side of the wall.  There must have been some kind of limiter on the headphones, because the mic was so hot, I could hear my stomach gurgling, and when they'd talk to me, I could hear well, but when I played, there was no sax in my ears, and the overall mix was really low.  I guess it wasn't a big deal--I could still keep in time, but it just sounded kind of weird.  Anyway, I blew through it and that was that.

My PM church gig was the normal thing.  Palm Sunday!  Every time someone would mention Judas Iscariot, all I could think of was the Branford tune.

The vocals sounded good, and no complaints from anybody.

Here's one more from Saturday night's gig:

 I Can't Go for That (Yacht Rock Revue) by David B Freeman

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rhodes Hall Wedding

Yacht Rock played a wedding at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta last night for a couple of .  If you've ever been there, you know there's no room for a seven piece band.  Fortunately, the weather was perfect…almost everybody ate supper on the front lawn, and the band was set up on the porch.  Nice!

This was a super easy gig.  Two sets…we played from about 7:30 til 10, with a break in the middle.  Everybody played well.  We're getting the hang of it!

Here's last night's attempt at Maneater.  I almost got it right.

And the crowd goes wild!