Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Midwest Tour

Yacht Rock returned to Atlanta yesterday after spending last weekend working our way up to Chicago and back, with stops in Louisville and Indianapolis.  Along the way we saw lots of family, friends, corn, and our phones.

Thursday:  The longest drive of the trip--we drove from Atlanta to Indianapolis.  Nothing much to report.  The corn is tasseling nicely.

We stopped in Louisville to meet up with Greg's old bandmate Peter Searcy and eat (at Ramsi's).  After dinner entertainment was provided by magician Manny Ehrlich.  88 years old and still going!

We spent the night in Carmel, Indiana.  It was here that I discovered that I had failed to pack any underwear for this trip.

Friday:  Underwear inside out day.

We continued on to Chicago, passing through northwest Indiana's wind farms.  Still really cool to look at.

Lunch at Don Pablo's in Lafayette.  Russian roulette with Mexican food.

Our gig was in Chicago Ridge (a southern suburb of Chicago) at their local festival.  It had kind of a carnival vibe to it, complete with rides, deadly food (brats and funnel cakes), and a crew of Ditkas working the stage.

There was a possibility of bad weather coming through, so we opted to set up our gear after the first band had finished.  We piled most of it up on the back of the stage.  Mark Cobb preset his drums in the trailer.  We had time for a short photo shoot.

Once the previous band finished their set, we had an hour to throw and go.  Guess what?  One of my sustain pedals died.  Ugh!  On the first gig of the run!  Fortunately, I had an emergency pedal.  It works fine, but it can be difficult to feel it with my foot.  

Our set was pretty good.  I liked the stage sound a lot--it was loud, but because of the size and the fact that we were outdoors (the stage was covered, but there were no walls on it), it wasn't muddy sounding.  

Security Ditka really liked my saxophone playing.  He did nothing to acknowledge my existence all day, and as soon as we came off stage, he was all over me.

Amazing weather (and no storms), by the way!  I don't think it ever made it to 80 degrees.  When we finished our show, it was 72.  In July!  Wow!

At our hotel after the gig, this was happening outside my window.

Saturday:  Underwear regular side out day.

We headed out around lunch time.  Just as we were leaving, we got a call from the Ditkas saying we'd left a bag on stage last night.  We got there as our friends from Blackberry Smoke were setting up for their show that night.  Brandon Still has a sweet keyboard rig--he's only a clarinet away from making Bencuya's heart burst.  

I am jealous not only of the gear, but also of the tech setting everything up while he lounges on the bus.  

Britt Turner gives it the bird while Brandon's tech does back breaking keyboard labor

the rig!  plus a picture of a Ditka 

The trip south to Indianapolis was uneventful.  More wind farm, more corn, more staring at our phones, more of the Don Pablo's in Lafayette.

Dustin (Bencuya's sub for this trip) takes it all in

Our gig in Indianapolis was at The Vogue--a cool place to play for all of us Indiana University grads. This one was a little underwhelming numbers-wise;  we sold it out last time, but this time we were a few hundred people short of that.  Blame it on the rain that came through about an hour before we started, and also the recent violence in the Broad Ripple neighborhood where the club is located.  Boo.  It was also mentioned to me that the Brickyard race was the next day, and it was one of the last weekends for families to go on vacation before school cranks back up.

Still a fun night, though, with 465 friends and family members in attendance.  The stage seemed bigger to me this time, though the sound was just as loud and muddy.  

One weird thing that I've never felt before--a cramp!  My side cramped, like side stitches, during my solo on Biggest Part of Me.  

Good news in the rest room, though!  They installed a door on the only stall!

I still dig playing The Vogue.  We'll be back!

Sunday:  Inside out day.

We very gradually made our way to Louisville with stops in downtown Carmel and Columbus, as well as a pass through Seymour while listening to John Cougar Mellancamp.  What's up.  

downtown Carmel has its own kind of fake people

Louisville was kind of deserted on a Sunday, but the room (and the surrounding buildings downtown) was old but beautiful.  The Mercury Ballroom!  

Love this place!  The crew helped us load in and out, the stage was a good size, the sound was really good.  Plus, they have a dog named Turtle!

Great gig!  Nick changed the set list up a little bit for this one.

The crowd may have been small, but they made up for it with their enthusiasm.  We played not one but TWO encores, and ran away downstairs to avoid a third!

Monday:  Regular side out one last time.

Monday felt like Sunday all day.  Where are all these people going on a Sunday?  The drive home from Louisville was uneventful, except for the lunch stop in Nashville at a taco stand that was just a kitchen with a window to the parking lot.  Walk up and order.

We listened to a box set of blaxsploitation music on the ride.  It felt like Bencuya was in the van with us.

We're in Biloxi Saturday night at The Golden Nugget.  Come find us.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Atlantic Station Tennis

Yacht Rock played for a tennis tour event at Atlantic Station last night.  Another tennis stadium?  We played one in DC for the Fourth of July a few years ago and almost died from the heat (and lack of enthusiasm).  This one wasn't nearly as bad.

We loaded in at 9:30, set up in a small tent perched in the corner of the stadium (kind of like a spot where ESPN would be set up to do their show in between matches).  A couple of hours to set up and soundcheck and then we were off until the evening.

The match ended around 8:15 PM, and we hopped up on stage to play.  Sort of like when we played the Hawks game, the crowd mostly didn't seem very enthusiastic about sitting there some more, so the stadium emptied out at a steady pace during our seventy-five minute set except for maybe a hundred and fifty people.  That'd be my guess.  Tough to say.

Not a bad, gig though.  Sounded fine (Kip on sound), help loading gear in and out, and one set.  Pretty good for a Wednesday.

We're headed out to the midwest this weekend.  See us in Chicago Friday night, Indianapolis Saturday night, and Louisville Sunday night!

Monday, July 21, 2014

2014 Revival

The 2014 Yacht Rock Revival was this past Saturday at Park Tavern on the edge of Piedmont Park.  If you weren't there, you missed the best one yet!  The weather was terrible earlier in the day, but cleared off enough to make it a very special evening.

This one was by far the easiest one for me.  Three contributing factors:  1.  We don't add much new material these days, so the band songs (without the original artists) were the same stuff we've been doing for a long time;  2.  we've played with most of the original artists before and most of their songs we repeats;  3.  the new songs that were added had no saxophone and almost no keyboard.

Pablo Cruise opened for us with a seventy-five minute set.  Good stuff and great playing, with plenty of chopsy stuff in between their big hits!   Pretty cool guys, too, though  I wonder if there was some sort of contest among the four of them to see how many times they could insert the word "fuckin'" into their banter between songs.  They said it so many times that they began to sound like little kids learning to cuss.

Our set was excellent.  Fun all the way through, and no disasters.  We even had fireworks during Maneater and Africa, courtesy of a party elsewhere in the park.  Everything ended right on the dot at 11 PM.  Perfection!

Congratulations to Nick, Pete, Kristen, Kip, Nackers, Rebecca, and the whole Pleaserock crew for another awesome event!  Also, thanks our outstanding guests Pablo Cruise, Walter Egan, Peter Beckett and Ronn Moss of Player, Robbie Dupree, Jeff Carlisi of .38 Special, and Gary Wright for performing with us!

with Walter Egan

with Peter Beckett and Ronn Moss

with Jeff Carlisi

Walter Egan watching from the wings


My Sunday night church gig, by comparison, was not this exciting or entertaining.  Also, there were no fireworks.  Such is life.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


All of the special guests are in town for the big Yacht Rock Revival, and yesterday was our best opportunity to get together and play through everybody's songs.

First up was Jeff Carlisi of .38 Special:

Nice to see Monkeyboy's Les Paul, which doesn't make it out to very many gigs.

After Jeff, we had a visit from Peter Beckett and Ronn Moss of Player:

We've finally nailed down the arrangement of This Time I'm in it for Love.

After lunch (Antico pizza!!!), we got together with Walter Egan to check his songs:

Gary Wright arrived later in the afternoon, so we rehearsed his songs in the evening.  Bencuya got louder and louder throughout the day, and by the time we hit Gary's last song, I couldn't hear anything else.

It's going to be a great show!