Saturday, September 29, 2012

End of Season

Yacht Rock closed out the season of Park Tavern shows last night with a very strong performance for about a thousand people.  Fun stuff, and we came out without any major disasters!

I can't help but think about how much better last night's show was compared to the last one of 2011.  You can recap that disaster HERE.  Peroni Night got the best of me.  Drunk blogging…not good.

We brought back a couple of songs that we haven't played in a while in preparation for the big show October 20 at the Variety Playhouse:  Purple Rain and Thriller (both albums played in their entirety).   Get your tickets now!

Late in the first set, we had three sax songs in a row in weird keys (for me):  LA Lindsay and Will it Go Round in Circles both in Ab concert (Bb on tenor), and She's Gone, which has the solo over the verse in B (Ab on alto) .  Why do those keys feel so awkward?  It's not like I never play those notes.

In the second set, we debuted the Isley Brothers version of Listen to the Music.  I played ten variations on the opening organ lick.  This one's fun to play.  I hope we keep it.

We're headed out to play the Georgia Theatre tonight--I'm pretty sure it's going to sell out again, so if you're reading this, you need to go get your tickets now.  See you there!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On a Parking Deck

Yacht Rock played one of our strangest gigs…we played some sort of tenant appreciation party for an office building in Buckhead.  9 AM load in.  Yuck.

The tent was supposed to be constructed at 7:30 AM, but as of 10 AM they were still trying to put it together.  It made for a throw-and-go.

We began at 11:30 AM…not much of a gig, but I can't imagine anyone getting too excited about eating BBQ on an incline of a parking garage, with seven polyester-clad guys playing seventies music at the top of the ramp.  Maybe that's how they imagined it.  If so, then it was a complete success.

belt loop

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nancy Grace Loves Me

I played a trio gig at CNN Center in a room that shares a wall with Nancy Grace's studio.  I was told explicitly by some giggly girl to please turn my saxophone down (still looking for the volume knob), because if Nancy hears saxophone (why me?), she'll come out and shut down the whole party.  Yikes!  This led to endless jokes about my volume knob and Nancy's love of half diminished chords (she likes tension), and later on, our shared affinity for Joe Henderson tunes.

We survived without Nancy cutting us down;  I plugged up the bell of my horn.  Whatever gets the job done.  The crowd was a good bit louder than us through the entire night--it turned into one of those "take the money and run" gigs, where our collective interest in playing ebbed and flowed.  That said, I felt really good about what I played.  Check it out:

 David Freeman Trio - September 25, 2012 by David B Freeman

I'm trying to focus on playing more vertically within each chord.  It's pushing me into some different places.  I think I like it.  I'm not explicitly arpeggiating each chord, but I'm more conscious of playing from chord tone to chord tone.  It's tough to explain.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Support the Arts!

Sometimes, supporting the arts doesn't mean writing a check.

Yesterday, one of my friends gave me the most amazing gift.  His family's grand piano, which they are not using, came to live at our house.    How cool is that?!

This marvelous gift allowed us to give away our upright to a family with kindergarteners who had just begun piano lessons.  May we all become better pianists!

Monday, September 24, 2012


My AM church gig was going really well until we got to the big song with the choir and the band playing full blast.  We train wrecked it over and over again.  It was so bad, it was like the train wreck in Presumed Innocent (and I, afterwards, ran from the gig like Harrison Ford).  Every time we got to the refrain, what I was hearing and what I was seeing from the conductor would be at least an eighth note apart.  Bad, bad stuff, and it happened over and over again.  Verses were fine, refrains were embarrassing.

We got a standing ovation from the congregation.  It must've been an amazing mix by Matt!

I went home, switched out gear, and headed to a Yacht Rock gig in Smyrna.  Weird…it was a block/neighborhood party;  there was a stage under a tent in a cul-de-sac.  I'd be curious to have heard the proposal at the homeowner's meeting.  Anyway, it turned out to be a good event with perfect weather.  We played really well.  It was super fun.

A really funny dog named Jackson hung out by the front of the stage when he wasn't chasing tennis balls.

Mark Dannells' amp died, but he lived.

The cops showed up, but no arrests were made.

Takin' it to the Streets and Baker Street were both on the set list.  That was cool.

We finished right at sunset (after two encores).  Load out was quick, and I was home twenty minutes later.  Can't beat that!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

¡Feliz cumpleaƱos!

I played a latin jazz/salsa gig with Jerry Fields last night at a mansion behind the governor's mansion.  Nice place!

The gig was super easy.  Lots of soloing over simple forms and standards.  I heard that the guy wanted Ricky Martin…I'm not sure if that meant Ricky Martin songs, or Ricky Martin the guy.

The gig had Jerry on congas, Nelson Vega on bongos on vocals, David Ellington on piano, and Chris Riggenbach (with whom I'd never played) on bass.   He was great!  We were also visited by about a dozen slugs during the first set, which descended from the vines above us.  They were everywhere--I accidentally stepped on a few;  Jerry squashed one on his phone.  By the end of the second set, they were gone.  I don't think we killed them all--they just went on their way.

Ellington and I joked around through the entire gig…just like we always do.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Coke Trio

I had a little trio gig at the World of Coke--background music for a corporate dinner thing.  They wanted to speak, too, so I brought my meager PA (two speakers, two sticks, and twenty-five feet of cable).

Upon arrival, I learned that it wouldn't just be remarks for the crowd--they were presenting awards, so the PA got really complicated really quickly.  We were in the atrium;  the band was situated on one landing, the podium on the other (stairs between us), and the audience down on the floor.  Yikes!  Forty-five minutes to come up with a solution, test it, and get set up to play music.  The distance between the speakers, plus the distance up to the landing were a major concern.  I finally got it sorted out by daisy-chaining my speakers.  Glad I brought a boom stand as a place to keep the microphone.  This was not was I was expecting.

OK, so that was settled…here's the audio from the gig.  It's Tyrone Jackson on keyboard and Kevin Smith on bass.  I felt really good about my playing tonight.

 David Freeman Trio-September 20, 2012 by David B Freeman

We played for an hour, and I finally declared a break--no one from the client's camp would give me any kind of timeline for the event.  The break worked out to be about right, though--they were ready to get started.  I got the important old white guys set up with the microphone…one of them actually asked me to turn down the echo!  I wanted to say, "Unfortunately, we are in a room of glass and tile, built like a four story bucket.  There's nothing to eat up the sound.  It's an acoustical problem I cannot solve for you.  Please forgive me, the World of Coke, and the city of Atlanta."  Instead I barked, "IT'S THE ROOM!!!" Oops.  At least I didn't cuss.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Organ Quartet!

I had the pleasure of playing the Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta awards dinner last night, as I have the past four of five years.  I'm getting the hang of it!  It's very cool for a corporate gig--the feed us, comp the parking, know their show, etc.

This year, I decided to change things up a little and do an organ quartet instead of piano, bass, drums, and saxophone.  The band for the evening consisted of Randy Honea on guitar, David Ellington on organ, and Marlon Patton (with a broken left leg!) on drums.  We'd never played in this combination before.

The quartet played a half hour for dinner, seven walk-ups for the big award winners, and one tune to send them away.  I didn't record the walk ups or the last tune, but here's the dinner part:

 David Freeman Quartet - September 19, 2012 by David B Freeman

Good stuff!  See y'all next year.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Gigs

I did both my church gigs--kind of a rarity due to other gig commitments.

Senior audio genius Matt Sheren made me sound extra awesome on my AM gig.  We had our usual hymns this morning before the two big songs of the morning, one of which happened to be an instrumental featuring the horn section.  Within that, I had a big honkin' solo, and Matt made sure it sounded really good.  I hope that next time the church will hire a spotlight operator.

In the second big song, the band was playing really well until we came back to reprise the song.  The vocalist went one direction, the rhythm section stuttered, and the horn section splintered.  The congregation just sat there.  Not what we were hoping for.  Oops.  Back to earth.


The ol' PM church gig was lightly attended by both band and congregation.  Two singers, piano, hand drum, and me.  I had a good reed and good flute face, and played pretty well.  Actually, everybody did well.  Yay for us!

Back to Normal

After last night's abomination, Yacht Rock was back to normal last night for a wedding at Callanowolde.  Billed as Constantly Awesome, it's the same personnel, but the set list incorporates Beatles tunes, 80s stuff, Stones, Springsteen, Zeppelin--a little bit of everything we know.  It was fun, a nice break from the 70s stuff.  Plus I got to fool around on the gig--I played rhodes on Wonderful Tonight and organ on Sweet Home Alabama.  When else would I ever get to do that?

Anyway, it was fun, and we all played really well.  Good stuff.  We played How Sweet it Is.  I've never transcribed David Sanborn's solo, but I can pull most of it out of my butt.  One of these days I'm going to nail it down.

Things are starting to heat up, calendar-wise.  Stay tuned for so more jazz and latin stuff.

A Horse, of Course

Yacht Rock played the Hope Flies Catch the Cure 2012 benefit at the Mason Murer Gallery.  I'm pretty sure we've played this gig before.

Man…we were really sloppy.  Not a good gig by us, for sure.  I mean, the acoustics made for a difficult situation and there was a $60,000 picture of a horse behind us, but we sucked real bad.  It was the kind of gig you run away from.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Enjoying the Weather

Yacht Rock had a couple of outdoor gigs this weekend.  Fortunately, the heat of the summer is finally beginning to dissipate, so they were both pretty comfortable.

Our first show was a wedding in Birmingham, AL.  Our set up was delayed by passing showers as the cold front moved through, but things eventually dried out and we soundchecked.

The reception was easy--I'd guess 125 guests--and the bride and groom are big fans.  The evening was pretty nice, even though the mosquitos were pretty intimidating.

We ended the festivities with Born to Run (one of the groom's favorite songs).  I hadn't played it in over a year, but it seems like that song is burned into my brain.

 Born to Run sax solo by David B Freeman

We drove back to Atlanta on Sunday, headed straight to Stone Mountain for the Yellow Daisy Festival.  More easy stuff--one ninety minute set in pleasant weather.  A week earlier, and we'd all have drowned in our own sweat.

We played well, though Dannells had a little cussing fit after he broke a string, which forced him to play his slide guitar (with the really high action) for the remainder of the gig.  Things sounded good on stage, and I could hear myself in the PA on the saxophone stuff.  Once again, we finished with Born to Run.

This was a great weekend!  Three successful gigs in a row, and it looks like the calendar is revving up for the next couple of months.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back at Smith's

Please Pleaserock Me (Yacht Rock plays the Beatles) was back at Smith's Olde Bar for the first time in a long time.  It's good and bad--yay because public shows feel like we're a real band (as opposed to a group of guys who make money at wedding receptions and corporate banquets), but boo because the load in at Smith's sucks real bad.  I'm glad I don't have to drag my Yacht Rock gear up and down two bouncing flights of rusty stairs.

We loaded in really early (2 PM), but finished early (4 PM), so that Butch Walker could set up and play a show in front of our show.  Sounds like Atlanta music royalty.  His show was slammed, though.  I got back to Smith's a little after 9 PM, and I could hear the crowd from the bottom of the aforementioned stairs.  The whole room was a hot and stinky mess.    It took about three hours for it to finally cool back down.

Our show finally got rolling around 10:30 PM.  The first set went pretty well.  We added in two new ones--Happiness is a Warm Gun and Rain.  We also played our original, Can't Wait for Summer.  It felt really weird, and then it dawned on me that this was only the second time I've ever played the song in the context of a horn section (the other being with Jordan Shalhoup on the last night of the 10 High).

The second set got a little wild.  We began with our third new one, Live and Let Die.  That was pretty good--it got me wondering how often somebody plays piccolo at Smith's Olde Bar.  After that, we played Strawberry Fields Forever.  Halfway through the song, the onstage power went out, which reset all the keyboards and killed the bass for a second.  Dannells' amp wouldn't come back on--the particular quad box into which he was plugged was on a bad breaker, evidently.  So as the song was supposed to be boiling up to a climax, it instead broke down to just drums.  Uhhhh…

Strangeness.  Next up was Penny Lane.  Paul Poovey aced it.  More piccolo for me.

We followed that with Whatever Gets You Through the Night.  Yay for me!  Around this time, I realized the crowd just wasn't that into us.  A pretty lukewarm reaction.  It felt like it was too hot to leave, so they just stood there.

The rest of the night was easy.  Nothing else to report.  We forced an encore on the audience even though they weren't screaming for it.

Down the stairs we go…

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back at It

Weird…I had an entire week without any gigs.  I tackled a bunch of projects around my house--damn near killed myself--and got plenty of exercise and practicing.  I need to go back to work so I can get some rest!

My AM church gig went pretty well.  Things were reasonably organized and actually went pretty smoothly.  No problems.  We even had a monitor!

My PM church gig was also pretty easy.  No sweat.  Good flute face.

Sorry I don't have much to report…stay tuned.