Summer of Smooth Tour

Yacht Rock just finished our longest tour to date, with a stretch of eight shows over ten days.  The final show happens this coming weekend in our hometown of Atlanta at the big Yacht Rock Revival at Chastain.  For most of this particular stretch of gigs, we brought with us several of the famous guys:  Robbie Dupree, Walter Egan, Elliot Lurie, and Bobby Kimball.  Traveling with these guys has been an experience like no other!

This was also our first tour with a crew--Kip Conner and Hans Furman as our sound guys.  It made a HUGE difference.  The sound was consistent from night to night (allowing for different acoustic situations), and they also did lots of the driving and loading and unloading of gear.  Worth every penny to me!

Friday:  Mercy Lounge in Nashville.  A great show in a great room!  The Mercy has lots of vibe, and when we play there, lots of people.  I'm pretty sure this one sold out.  We played well--off to a good start!  Special thanks to Daniel Morrison from the Schooner for sitting in with us.  We love Nashville.

Saturday:  we drove up to Indianapolis to play a wedding under our pseudonym Constantly Awesome. The set list was very little Yacht Rock, and much more Springsteen, Mellencamp, Beatles, Skynyrd, AC/DC, etc.  For me, this is always a weird gig.  Most don't have saxophone, and I'm generally not up to speed on a particular part to play, so I kind of hang out and try stuff.  Sometimes it's tambourine, and sometimes it's the wrong chords.  Whatever.

We played an amazing room called the Indiana Roof Ballroom.  The only other time I was in this room, I was still in college--someone hired me to play in a big band for a commercial that was filmed there.  The place has been around for almost a hundred years--in its prime it hosted national and regional big bands who played for dancers.  It's beautiful and sounds great.  Quite a treat for us to perform here!

Sunday:  travel day.  Our hotel in Indianapolis was also hosting an Amway convention, and the elevators were clogged both at check in and departure.  Monkey and I walked down seventeen flights of stairs with our luggage.  Not fun.

Across Ohio and then across Pennsylvania we drove.  Western Pennsylvania means Deer Hunter to me.  Eastern Pennsylvania means Witness.

Our lodging was a house/cabin in the woods south of Harrisburg, lined with the world's largest collection of beer cans.  I slept on a futon in the Pacific Rim room.  Weird as hell.

Monday:  we continued on until we reached the southern tip of the New Jersey shore--Cape May.  It's a quaint little town with a modern convention hall.  They have a summer concert series, and we had the privilege of opening for John Ford Coley.

It was a nice little room with a good sized stage.  Our set was just under thirty minutes long--right when we'd really locked into the sound of the room, we were done!  For this gig, Robbie Dupree joined us.  He's a very cool guy.  We hung out with him after the gig at a nice Mexican restaurant, where he fed us story after story about his adventures.  Definitely a  "I can't believe I'm sitting here" moment.

Here we are playing Steal Away.

Here are some other videos from our show.

We spent the night at the Inn at Cape May.  It's an old Victorian hotel that is said to be haunted;  an upgrade from the beer cans, though.

Tuesday:  we headed up the Garden State Parkway to New York City for a day off.  Nice!  As in the past, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Soho, right on the edge of Chinatown.  A great place for a day off!  I ran some errands, got some exercise, and helped get the van into a parking lot.

One place that I really wanted to see was the 9/11 Memorial.  It's mind blowing.  I had to leave--the spectacle of it became too overwhelming.

I ate supper in Little Italy;  the only guy in a tiny restaurant right at closing, listening to Harry Connick Jr's version of Winter Wonderland off the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack.  Later on Our Love is Here to Stay from the same soundtrack came on, and the waiter and I in unison sang the triplet lick that ends the sax solo.  Weird, but very cool.

Tuesday night I went to Small's and checked out some music.  Great to see a packed jazz club at 1 AM!  I was going to stay and play the jam session, but at 2 AM it still hadn't opened up, so I split.

Wednesday:  after lunch we headed to Brooklyn for our show at the Brooklyn Bowl.  For this show, we had Elliot Lurie from Looking Glass (Brandy) and Robbie Dupree.  Walter Egan (Magnet and Steel) was supposed to fly up from Nashville to join us, but his flight was cancelled due to bad weather.  They were all in the second set--the first set was like a giant Dave feature, with big solos on Biggest Part of Me, Africa, Maneater, and LA Lindsay.

Special thanks to the pocket of guys out in front of me for demanding Baker Street.  Sorry it didn't happen.  Next time!

Brooklyn's own Elliot Lurie at the helm

Thursday:  We headed up the east coast to the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut for our next show.  This was the first one with all four guests--Walter made it, and we also brought in Bobby Kimball from Toto.

This stage sounded good, and the casino crew was helpful in every way (in contrast to the Brooklyn Bowl crew).  These guys brought out gear in for us, and brought it back to the trailer at the end of the night.  Very nice guys, too.

I liked playing here a lot.  The room didn't have much reflection, so the stage was kind of dead.  It didn't get too loud or boomy.   One weird thing--the Wolf's Den (where we played) was surrounded by mechanical wolves on top of posts, about as high up as telephone poles, and they would occasionally all start howling, even if it was during or in between songs.

Afterwards, we hung out in a pub on the premises--a Boston firefighter (Artie, which sounds like Ottie) who came down to see us with some of his friends kept buying us beer.  Bobby Kimball showed up, too.

Friday:  we drove all day from Connecticut to get to Baltimore for our next show.  It was a long day--I think we were in the van for almost eight hours.  This show was in kind of an alley between bars (outside of Rams Head Live, where we've played before).   We noticed that the banners advertising our show said we were the Yacht Rock Venue.  Umm…

This stage was much more difficult--it was kind of like playing in an canyon between the two buildings, with a glass roof over the top.  Ouch!  Not the best acoustics for amplified music--kind of sounded like a train station.  Still, we had a pretty decent crowd.  Monkey played his ass off, particularly in the first set.

Saturday:  the ride to Philadelphia took about two hours.  I didn't get back from the YMCA in time to ride in the band van, so I rode with the guests.  It was uneventful.

Philly's gig was in the sports complex, in between Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Eagles) and Citizen's Bank Park (home of the Phillies).  Not too bad, though a thunderstorm passed through right after load in and brought everything to a halt for about forty-five minutes.

As we waited to begin, the advertisements on the big screen said we were comprised of members of Toto, Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, and the Doobie Brothers.  Not quite.

Robbie's watching us

Other than the humidity and the distraction of a giant video screen showing the Phillies game, this was a pretty good show.  Mark Cobb's playing was on fire.  Awesome stuff!

Sunday:  the band van just about died on the trip from Philly to Washington DC.  Somewhere in between, we rented a uHaul truck to bring our trailer--it was just too much weight to get up the hills.  The van muttered along at around forty miles and hour.

The Hamilton is a great room to play.  Everything about it is cool--it sounds good, it looks good, the guy who runs it is really cool…it was really nice ending to the tour.  We were back to the same set that we played at the Brooklyn Bowl (this time with Walter).

Great show all the way around.  If it didn't sell out, I don't know how they could've gotten more people in there.

Monday:  the van needed new O2 sensors (and possibly some other things), so we left Pete, Monkey, and Hans to stay until it was repaired.  The rest of us (except for Kip, who flew home) drove the "guests" van back to Atlanta.  We all hope our gear is back in town in time to play the CBS Better Mornings show Wednesday morning.

Don't forget!  This Saturday!

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