Summer Tour, Part 1

Yacht Rock is in the middle of a pretty big (for us) east coast tour.  Here's what's happened so far:

Wednesday:  we left Atlanta and drove all damn day to Washington DC.  Lots of driving, napping, and talking.  We made a lunch stop somewhere in the Carolinas, which turned out to be great. Most of us hit a Whole Foods.  I bought twenty bucks worth of fruit and two slices of pizza.

We stopped in Richmond for supper at a place called Millie's Diner--super good food and cool people.  They had those at-the-table-jukebox-selector things.  Thelonious Monk was on there!  I played both--Monk's Dream and Trinkle Tinkle.

The band spent the night in the same crappy hotel that we had stayed in on a previous trip.  Our room smelled like they'd bombed it with five gallons of carpet cleaner.  Bad stuff.

Thursday:  one nice thing about staying at the same hotel is that we knew where to go for coffee.

More driving…eventually, we made it to the Lincoln Tunnel, where we encountered a ton of traffic.  For a minute, it seemed like the air conditioner in the van had had enough--no more cold air!  It came back to life once we started moving again.

First gig of the tour!  Canal Room in NYC.  We've played here before--good sound, bad electricity.

Our special guest for the first set was Robbie Dupree.  Yes!  We played Steal Away and Hot Rod Hearts with him.  Before the show, we all went next door for pizza.  How cool is that?  We hung out with Robbie Dupree.  It's kind of mind blowing that this sort of thing happens to me now.

He sounded exactly like Robbie Dupree, by the way, and he said we sounded exactly like the original recordings.  Very cool.

At soundcheck, I had one of those crazy moments where everything coming out of my horn was perfect--the sound was right on, it felt good, and every note was the right thing to play.  This happens maybe a couple of times a year, and it's sort of scary because it feels like I can do no wrong.  Magical stuff.  By the time we got through into the gig, it had started to fade a good bit, but at soundcheck I was the best sax player in NYC (which is saying something).  It was a freaky feeling.

We had a good crowd--I think a hundred and fifty people?--in the Canal Room.  Not bad!  I'd love to keep this as one of the places we play.

Towards the end of the night, the most amazing thing happened.  Some crazy drunk girl in yellow pajama pants jumped up on the stage in front of Dannells, and STAGE DOVE over his monitor!!! Holy shit!!!  At a Yacht Rock show? Fortunately, some guys caught her--she didn't hit the floor.

After the gig, I tried to congratulate her.  She asked if we were all wearing wigs.  Yes.  We're all bald.

Friday:  we got up and found some coffee.  Due to problems at the Canal Room Southampton (where we were supposed to play Friday night) our gig was cancelled, so we ended up with the day off in NYC.  Coolness.

I had previously ordered a couple of alto mouthpieces from a mouthpiece maker in Queens named Sakshama, and the day off afforded me the opportunity to pay him a visit and try some of his stuff.  How cool is that?

The trek from Chinatown to Jamaica Queens took about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Quite a haul!  I found the little house where he has a room.  He has a bed, a desk with a computer, and some bookshelves, and that's about it!

I tried his Dukoff copies first.  Both were very good.  Neither is made of the silverite--Sakshama makes his out of bronze.  I was really digging those.  The other mouthpiece I'd requested was a copy of a Guardala studio alto mouthpiece.  That model was not ready, but he let me play his real Guardala that he uses as his model.  Wow!  Two of these, please!  Awesome mouthpiece.

Once we'd dealt with the alto, I tried his copy of my tenor mouthpiece (a Guardala MBII).  His played at least as well as mine.  I took that one off my horn pretty quickly so I didn't fall in love!

Since the alto pieces weren't ready, I asked if he might be able to reface the mouthpiece I'm currently using (a Cheong Guardala copy).  He agreed to work while I waited.

Here's something dumb (maybe):  since I had a few hours to kill, I left both my alto and tenor at this guy's house and just walked away.  Stupid?  Maybe!  I couldn't believe I was doing it, but I did it.  I walked around Jamaica, talked to my mom on the phone, and ate Indian food.  Three hours later, he called, saying it was finished.  I tried it.  It's way better than it was.  Success!  He flattened the table (one of the main problems with it) and opened the tip.  It actually isn't very far off from his Guardala.

I made it back to the hotel a little after 10 PM.  Quite a day!  After a quick shower and change of clothes, I jumped in a cab and rocketed up to 44th and 8th Ave to see the Yellowjackets play at Birdland.  Super cool.

I think the Yellowjackets are really cool.  What they might lack in almost-out-of-control, firey playing (I guess I'm mostly talking about Mintzer), they make up with pretty amazing compositional skill.  The slick quality of their sound hides just how heavy their stuff is.  If you've ever seen a lead sheet for one of their tunes, you know right away how good the players really are.  Good stuff.

I lucked into a great seat at the end of the bar, which afforded me a great view of the stage, and also put me on the route from the stage to the dressing room.  Bob Mintzer shook hands with me after their set.  I'm golden!

Saturday:  Peter and I hit the coffee shop again before the van headed south.

We rolled into Baltimore pretty early.  Parts of the city were without power.  I walked around the little mall where we were playing (Rams Head Live) and came across a couple of street musicians.  This is (and you're going to have to trust me here) two guys playing You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker.   Good luck.

Rams Head Live is super cool!  It holds 2000+ people.  We had maybe 200, so that was kind of sad, but the stage was huge, the room was huge, and the sound was good (and the redhead was there).  I hope we can come back with a better crowd.  I bet the heat and the lack of power really squashed us.

We met lots of cool people who really enjoyed our show.  The end of the night featured a wild fistfight which ended with one guy in a puddle of his own blood and a massive cut over his eye.  The lesson?  Don't take photographs of another guy's wife.

Sunday:  we got up late, packed all our gear in a storage unit in Baltimore, and flew home.  Right around the time we hit baggage claim in Atlanta, I realized I'd left my keys in my gear in Baltimore.  Ugh.  Thankfully, my wife was able to help me out.  I went straight to my church gig, which went pretty well.  Good to see them again.  I played some really horrible stuff on the last song, but my mix of the sound was pretty good.

A couple of days to do laundry, and then we fly out again!  This is lots of fun!

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