Las Vegas

Sunday morning, Yacht Rock flew from Indianapolis to Las Vegas for a weeklong corporate gig (same one we did last year) for Home Depot.  For most of this, we functioned as the backing band for a half dozen employees who took turns fronting the band at the store managers' meeting.  At the end of our stay, we also performed two sets of yacht rock.

Oddly enough, we had a layover in Atlanta.

Atlanta's airport has some nice restaurants, especially in the International Terminal.  Nick led us to Ecco.  I ate this, which was really good, but had me shitting like a goose by the time we landed in Vegas.

(photo cred:  Mark Bencuya)

The view from my room in Mandalay Bay, Saturday night at dusk.

Sunday morning, we headed off to rehearsals.  The horns for this gig were me, Rob Opitz on trumpet, and Rich Sherrington on trombone.

(photo cred:  Peter Olson)

My plan to use iPads for charts worked incredibly well. Updating charts on my laptop and then emailing them to our tablets took minutes.  Yay technology!

I'm curious as to why I ended up with a condenser microphone (a Shure 44) and the other two horns got Sennheiser 421s.  Does everyone know who much I hate 421s?  Did I mention that last year?  I wonder.

Big excitement of the afternoon:  a pigeon flew into catering and had himself a feast, mostly of raw vegetables and condiments.

(photo cred:  Mark Bencuya)

Sunday night, we went to see Ringo Starr perform at The Palms.  It was a really good show.  Funny thing about a rock show at a casino--started on the dot at 7:30 PM, and ended at exactly 9:30 PM.  No encore.

(photo cred:  Peter Olson)

The rest of the band was Todd Rundgren on guitar, Richard Page (Mister Mister) on bass, Greg Bissonette (David Lee Roth) on drums, Warren Ham (Kansas, Olivia Newton John, Donna Summer) on sax, inaudible keyboard and and inaudible hand percussion, Steve Lukather (Toto) on guitar, and Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey) on organ and piano.  The whole band was fantastic;  Ringo was pretty incredible.

(photo cred:  Peter Olson)

Monday:  more rehearsal.

Rich kept up to date on the college basketball brackets.

Monday night, Rob invited us to tag along to see Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns, a local band with a really slammin' horn section.   Trombone, two trumpets, and three saxes.  The rest of the band was guitar, bass, drums, two keyboardists, and two vocalists (plus the guitarist and one keyboardist sang).

Good band, but a horrible mix.  The front of house guy evidently can't hear high frequencies anymore.  Unfortunately, I can.  Dude!

Tuesday morning:

My daytime view.

More rehearsal.

In the afternoon, we moved over to the arena for our first chance to see and hear it.  Playing in a venue like this never gets old.

The Great Bencuya on organ.

An added bonus of using an iPad for charts is that you can read your book (in this case, the Herbie Hancock autobiography) once you've memorized your part.

 Wednesday:  more rehearsal.

And more reading my book...

Thursday:  Show day!  We were at the arena for one last run through, and then the show.

Awesome gig!  The band nailed it, and the stars were really excellent.  All that prep and rehearsal for a twenty-five minute show!  It was super cool though.  I'm glad we could be a part of it.  Our horn section (Rob, me, and Rich) had a great time and played flawlessly, if I do say so myself!

(photo cred:  Rob Opitz)

The coolest thing this year:  everyone in the audience downloaded a special app that responded to ultrasonic sounds embedded in the track that was playing during our set.  Every phone would change color and pulse to the music.  From the stage, it looked incredible.

After our Home Depot set, we headed out to the pool for two sets of yacht rock (with horns!).  I wrote fifteen horn arrangements for this part of the gig.  The band sounded great, but the crowd didn't care.  Ultra indifference.  On more than one occasion, we had to stop to let a group of Polynesian dancers and drummers finish their little presentation on the beach.  I guess they didn't care that we were also trying to perform.  Weirdness.

Anyway, the horns sounded great.  I was really pleased (and no major arranging errors in my charts!).

Pete took this photo while I was out front soloing.  My right leg sure looks weird.  Pretty lame solo.

(photo cred:  Peter Olson)

It was all over at 8:15 PM.  Plenty of time left for gambling (Rich taught me how to lose $10 on roulette)!  

Post gig hang:  a little Sinatra (literally, a short Sinatra impersonator).

From here we moved upstairs to a bigger party with an open bar.

Friday:  Ugh.  5:30 AM lobby call for the long flight back to Atlanta.  It was good while it lasted...can't wait to hear what we're doing next year!

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