Monday, April 29, 2013

End of the Week

I woke up at 7 AM Sunday morning, drank a cup of coffee, put on a suit, and left for work.  I hope I  never do this more often than once a week.

I walked into my AM church gig to find it set up for the orchestra instead of the usual small group.  I wish I'd known I could have left three of four instruments at home!  Oh well…middle school level saxophone parts are easy on my brain first thing in the morning.

While we were rehearsing, I got a text message from a friend who works as a pilot for Delta.

My big excitement of the morning was when my tenor sax/T.C. baritone (treble clef) part was flipped over to reveal the B.C. baritone (bass clef) part.  That's an exciting transposition!  Change clefs and up a whole step!  I flipped it back over and went back to sleep.

We lucked into playing both services this morning, so double the money!  Yay!

In the afternoon, I somehow avoided taking a nap and instead ran errands and worked on stuff for a Tuesday morning rehearsal.  We're learning Bodhisattva (Steely Dan) for our show in Nashville this coming weekend.  I found this amusing anecdote about the part I am covering (from

This reminds me of a certain Arp Soloist you can hear on Countdown to Ecstasy. It was used for that melodic passage in King of the World but I am thinking now of the four part harmony in Bodhisattva that feels somewhat like for saxophones playing together. Now, the Arp Soloist was a small plastic keyboard that could only play one note at a time. It had on tiny plastic knob that you turned between your thumb and forefinger to tune the entire unit.

The only way to get four part harmony out of this synthesizer was to record four parts on four separate tracks, one at a time. By the time we progressed to the second of these tracks we could hear tuning problems. "I could swear I had it in tune," said Donald. "Maybe it's just certain intervals," said Walter, proud owner of a book by Hindemith on music theory. So we began tuning and patching bits and pieces of each part. Sometimes we returned to a previous part to repunch a note or two. The air grew thick, and Donald's fingers were getting sore from turning that little knob. This affected his performances so the each bit required more takes. He began saying "I'm gonna kill this thing" every time he had to retune. Then he started saying it whenever the tape stopped rolling.

Then it was done. The last part had been played and played back. The look on Donald's face was one I will never forget. He yanked the wires out of that Arp Soloist and headed for the door. We all followed. Outside the door was a hallway that led to a balcony and stairwell that let out on a courtyard down below. Donald threw the synthesizer down the stairs as hard as he could. He then chased after it and started jumping up and down on it. Several of us joined in with a few kicks and thumps. Roger got some alcohol from the studio and we proceeded to set the thing on fire! That [sic] we a warm glow.

That studio was in the same building as ABC Dunhill headquarters. It was therefore no surprise and no accident that the wreckage was discovered the following morning by some men in grey suits. Their response, however, was something else. It must have touched a raw nerve, because they had that twisted lump of burnt plastic framed and mounted on a wall with an engraved plaque. I don't remember the inscription but it said something about Steely Dan, men and machines. 

The drive to my PM church gig was pretty harrowing considering the rain, my bald tires, and the fact that I kept nodding off.  Somehow I made it, and managed to stay awake through the entire service.  I'd even go so far as to claim that I played well and my mix was pretty good!

I made it home, ate, and passed out on the couch while trying to watch the Braves game.  At 3 AM, I finally crawled into bed, where I laid awake for a half hour, trying in my head to play the eight bar sax solo to Hip to Be Square.  I couldn't do it--probably the reason I can never get it right at our gigs.

I nail it at soundcheck, though.

In other news, I've been listening a lot to the new Jeff Coffin album, titled Into the Air.  Great stuff!  Here's one:

Also, the latest Dave Douglas record Time Travel.  Go Matt Mitchell!

The record before that was the same group plus a vocalist, called Be Still.  I love that one too.

Big Yacht Rock shows at the Georgia Theatre in Athens this Friday, and our first Yacht Rock Revival in Nashville on Saturday!

P.S.  I am majorly procrastinating, thus the long post.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Yacht Rock finished off the weekend with a slamming gig at the Atlanta Athletic Club last night.  I have no idea what we were celebrating, but it was a rocking party.

We played this gig last year--we drove straight there from Nashville and set up on a stage in their tennis stadium.  Due to the weather, this year's event was in their indoor tennis facility.  Way better to me--no pollen, no rain, no direct sunlight.

Awesome gig!  The sound guys were fantastic (Hi-Gain Audio), the crowd was into it from the first note, the load in/out was easy, and we played well.  Plus, we played I Keep Forgetting AND Whatever Gets You Through the Night!  Why can't they all be like this?

We'll be back!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Anchorman and U2

Yacht Rock played the Variety Playhouse last night.  Pretty good gig!

The Yacht Rock Schooner played the opening set, and sounded great.  They did some new tunes (You'll Never Find) and some oldies (Rosanna).  A problem with the front of house interrupted their set (FOH couldn't get the band in the PA).  Once they got it up and running, it sounded really good.

We played the Anchorman soundtrack again--previously, we'd learned it for a show at the Variety in January.  This time felt a little more uptight to me;  we might have played it better on this one, but I was kind of holding on like "I am NOT going to screw this up!" for the entire set.   It was good, but we were working at it.

I played about twenty bars of saxophone the entire night--the solo over the verse in She's Gone.  I think my mic was audible on stage, but I don't thing it was on in the house.  Hmm.  Maybe it was, but it didn't feel like it.

Monkey cussed A LOT during this set.

After the break, we came out and did our U2 set.  The people who dug it really dug it, but I'm not sure that the general Yacht Rock audience was into it.  As the set went on, people towards the back of the room started trickling out.  For whatever reason, the set never really caught fire--it didn't feel as 'epic' as it has on other occasions, so we had to kind of grind it out.  There were some cool moments--Beautiful Day was big, as was Where the Streets had no Name.  For the encore, we began with Vertigo.  Nick tossed handfuls of glow sticks into the audience--that looked neat.  He also worked a handheld par can light, circa Rattle and Hum.

Obviously, there's no saxophone in U2, and barely enough keyboard work to require two keyboardists.  I did, however, work the tambourine and shaker.

And away we go!  Next week's big shows--Georgia Theater in Athens on Friday, Nashville Yacht Rock Revival on Saturday!

May 3, Georgia Theatre (Athens)
May 4, Yacht Rock Revival (Nashville)
May 11, TPC Sawgrass (Jacksonville, FL)
May 17, Braves Game (Atlanta)
May 23, House of Blues (Chicago, IL)
May 24, Radio Radio (Indianapolis, IN)
May 31, Purple Rain at Park Tavern (Atlanta)
June 8, Park at City Center (Woodstock, GA)
June 13, Lincoln Theatre (Raleigh, NC)
June 14, NC Music Factory (Charlotte, NC)
June 15, Ziggy's (Winston-Salem, NC)
June 28, Park Tavern (Atlanta)
June 29, Yacht Rock Schooner Steely Dan Tribute @ The Strand (Marietta, GA)
July 8 Cape May Convention Hall (Cape May, NJ)
July 10 Brooklyn Bowl (New York City)
July 11 Mohegan Sun (Connecticut)
July 12, Power Plant Live! (Baltimore, MD)
July 13, XFinity Live!  Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)
July 14, The Hamilton (Washington DC)
July 20, Yacht Rock Revival at Chastain! (Atlanta)
July 26, Orange Peel (Asheville, NC)
August 23, Park Tavern (Atlanta)
September 27, Park Tavern (Atlanta)
October 19, Thriller at Variety Playhouse (Atlanta)
November 1, Music Farm (Charleston, SC)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Convention Bureau Gig

Yacht Rock played a short gig last night at the World Congress Center for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Short and sweet!  We played one ninety minute set.  Home by midnight.

Things started early in the day with an extreme load in--we had been instructed to enter through the loading dock, up the freight elevator, and around the ballroom.  Easier said than done!  I luckily ran into a couple of event coordinators who helped move my gear.  I still had to find my way back down to the dock, then drive around the block to the red lot.  The World Congress Center is that big.

It seems like I knew everybody at this event.  My friend Jeff Burnisky was the DJ in the ballroom (on a plexiglass platform lowered from the ceiling!), the photographer was Ross from Northlight Photography, and the great Tony Winston Trio was playing before us.  Plus, Matt Sheren (from my morning church gig) was running sound.

Once we found the stage, set up and soundcheck were quick and painless.  Greg Lee showed off some moves with his new bass.

There was enough time for everybody to go home.  Fried chicken, Ritz crackers, and tea for me.

So…back to the gig!  Before I left home for the second time, I reprinted my parking pass, gave it to same lady at the red lot, and she let me in for free again.  Awesome.

The gig was easy and pretty casual, and the sparse crowd enjoyed it, but not in a Park Tavern riot kind of way.  No encore necessary.  Yay!


I got the solo right on Get Out of My Dreams.  Better late than never.  On the whole, I played well, except for some gruesome chords in Lady and (of all things) the bridge of Power of Love.  Lowdown was back on the setlist after a prolonged absence--I love playing that one.

We loaded out through the B Building front doors onto International, saving us from a Bataan Death March of a load out.

Monkey kisses this pathetic PA goodbye
Big show tonight at the Variety Playhouse tonight!  Come see us play most of the Anchorman soundtrack and an entire set of U2!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Don't Drink the Grog!

Yacht Rock had a nice little show Monday night, doing our Beatles tribute (Please Pleaserock Me) for a foodie event at the Buckhead Theatre.  As I've said before, the PPRM gigs can be hit and miss with me because there's not always much to do, especially when things lean more towards the earlier stuff that doesn't involve horns.  I end up with tambourine, cowbell, and hand claps.  Gotta love the load in, though;  here's my gear for the night.

This one turned out to be fun;  I guess I was in the mood to play a gig where I had almost no responsibility.  We did play Whatever Gets You Through the Night (I was sure it was going to get cut, but no!).  Mostly I just hung out and watched the other guys.

Some guy afterwards tried to convince Nick and me that lead singers and sax players get all the women;  bass players and drummers are screwed, he said.  Riiiiiiiight.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Soprano Time

Ahh, Bryan Lopes,  I love you so.  Thanks for putting my soprano sax back together in time for me to play my church gigs today.  Both AM and PM gigs were heavy on the straight horn.  It would have been a drag dealing with my leaky horn for another week.

The AM service was good.  The church was struck by lightning Friday, and it blew out some of the audio systems in the sanctuary.  That meant no monitor for me, but the playing was good, so no biggie.  I did a couple of things on tenor, then soprano for a hymn, clarinet for a hymn, the soprano for the big song of the day, which was cool because there were some nice spots for me in the intro and the breakdown.

My PM service was fine, but nothing particularly exciting.  I played a lot of soprano on this one, too, but the band seems to be getting quieter every week, and it's harder and harder for me to hear the piano.  I could use a monitor, or else I may cut back to just flute.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prom at Park Tavern

Yacht Rock began our summer concert series at Park Tavern last night with the Reagan Rock Prom.  Midtown was packed all afternoon (mostly because of the Dogwood Festival), but we still had a good turnout.  It didn't sell out, though that was probably good because the tent never got so packed that things got out of control.

We played I Keep Forgetting again.  That in itself made the evening.

Our second try at Kokomo got a better reaction than our first.  Here's my transcription of the solo.

My worst moment of the night was the Get Out of my Dreams solo.  This must be a comped solo--there's no place to breathe!  About halfway through, things got a little loose, and I kind of fumbled rest of it.  By the measure:  yep, yep, yep, oops, yep, fuck!, dammit!, ok.

We've got a busy week ahead:  Monday night at the Buckhead Theatre, a private event Thursday, Friday at the Variety Playhouse, and a private event Saturday.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Springtime at Summerour

Yacht Rock had a show at Summerour Studio--Springtime in the City, which is a benefit by Peachtree Presbyterian for the Adaptive Learning Center.  For us, it was also a good tune up for tomorrow's big show at the Park Tavern.  Nice, easy gig with a good crowd and easy load in.

Two great things about this gig:

1.  We got to play I Keep Forgetting.  I love to play that one--it's one of my favorites, but unfortunately it's a tough one to sing, so we play it three or four gigs a year.  Such a hip song.

2.  We are debuting a couple of new Reagan Rock tunes this week.  One is Get Out of My Dreams (Billy Ocean) which is passable, though at 1988, it's pretty late in the genre.  The other is the Beach Boys Kokomo.  It's a pretty crappy song.  Also a 1988'er.  The band is pretty divided about this one--I think we all agree that it's pretty bad, but split as to whether or not it's so bad that it's good (another way to think of it is:  yes, it's bad, but we're going to make it sound so good that the crowd will love it anyway).

Here are the songs in the second set.  Let the pictures speak for themselves!

Raspberry Beret
My Life
What a Fool Believes
Get Out of my Dreams
Night Fever
I Wanna Be Your Lover
All Night Long
Call Me Al
I Want to Dance with Somebody

So, maybe it doesn't prove anything--it WAS the first song in the set.  Still, I felt immense satisfaction.  I'll just leave it at that.

What else, what else…

An eighteen wheeler flipped on I-75 just south of Delk Road.  It took me an hour to make it to my gig.  The ride home took just over twenty minutes.

We had a stage at Summerour.  Usually, we're just on the floor.  Stages are better--it makes for a nice boundary between the crowd and the band.

Greg Lee showed up with a brand new bass rig!

That's a Traynor head and Bergantino cabinet.  Also check out the new bass synth pedal.  There was a new Sunburst P bass, too (not pictured).  Nifty!

Mark Cobb was particularly inventive tonight, which made for a fun night for me.  Good stuff.  I dug it.

See you tomorrow at Park Tavern for the Reagan Rock Prom!