What's in the Bag?

Yacht Rock took the old folks out for a spin in the northeast last weekend--along with us for this trip were Robbie Dupree, Matthew Wilder, Ronn Moss and Peter Beckett of Player, and Ambrosia.  We did four nights in the northeast beginning in New York and ending in Massachusetts, Thursday through Sunday.  All part of our summer tour.

A running joke for this trip involved the bag of Ambrosia's organist Chris North, who pulled a computer bag with him wherever he went--even on stage.  It never left his side.  The rest of us (outside of Ambrosia) fixated on what it might contain.  Chris wouldn't say (not that any of us would dare to ask him).  We hatched a complicated plan to swap it with an identical bag while he was mid-solo, but we need to zero in on what brand and model he is using.  What's in the bag?

Thursday:  We flew to La Guardia for our show at Irving Plaza.  Our gear left Atlanta Tuesday afternoon so that the van and trailer could pick us up at the airport.

The Great Bencuya

how NOT to lock your bike
We were early to load in, which afforded us ample time to go eat (a burrito place nearby that turned out to be a Chipotle in disguise) and hang out in Union Square Park.  Unfortunately (?), we picked a spot where all the crazies and drug addicts congregate.   Quite a show before the show.

Security was tight at the venue (there was a shooting at a concert there in May), so all gear and people were searched and sent through a metal detector.

Set up and soundcheck was the usual thing.  We checked with Player, Robbie, and Matthew.  When we finished, Ambrosia set up around our gear and checked their sound.  I popped over to the Whole Foods to pick up some fruit and salad for the night and ran into a friend from college.  How random is that!

photo cred:  Matthew Wilder's Facebook page

Our show went pretty well, considering all the gear on stage and everybody's nerves on the first night.  For the encore, we attempted to have all the guests sing Purple Rain.  Some guests were better prepared to sing their verses than others!  Anyway, check it out--Nick saves the day.

nice gig poster

Friday:  New Jersey!  We spent the night in Short Hills, NJ.  Almost another "home town" gig for me--I lived for three years in Chatham Township, a mere four miles from our hotel (which my dad's former employer, Prudential, built), and eight miles from the venue.  We even had time to walk across the street to the mall where my family used to shop.

This evening's show was in Morristown, NJ at the Mayo Center, an absolutely beautiful room.  So much space, such clean electrical power, so many dressing rooms...much different from the night before.

Sonny Rollins was here.  Dig it.

There were a couple of creepy stalkers hanging out at the loading dock when we arrived at the venue.  They appeared to be fans (of the real guys, not us), and when they found out that the old guys were still at the hotel, they made a beeline there and camped out in the lobby.  The stories about these aggressive autograph seekers was pretty wild ("You have to sign it in blue sharpie, not black!").  It turns out that they weren't fans so much as memorabilia dealers, collecting signatures and then selling on the stuff online.  Interesting!

We sound checked some different tunes with each of our guests (Robbie's Saturday Night, Matthew's Lightning Rod, and Player's Silver Lining), though we didn't include them in the show.  The encore became Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop, with the guests only singing on the choruses.  Much better.  You can watch a video of it here:  https://youtu.be/iRcte48YPWY

On this show, Ambrosia played their six song set in the middle of the show, basically filling in the intermission with music.  It was very cool to watch them from side stage.  Three of the four original members are still with the band, and they've still got it.

Our sets were equally good (and well received).  This was my favorite show of the four.

A little bit of Break My Stride:  https://youtu.be/p-6wqOHafMg
A little bit of How Long:  https://youtu.be/WJvN7wODmcw

Kip said afterwards that this was one of his favorite rooms in which to mix.  Considering all the places he's worked around the globe, that's saying something!

There was an extended meet and greet after the show, with more autographs required of the guests and also of us.  Some dude showed up with homemade glossy pictures of Yacht Rock and the old guys.  Nobody (no female bodies) asked me to sign their boobs, though, which is always a bummer.  I drank a beer.  This is the news.

Saturday:  Long Island.  We'd tried to play this outdoor event last year, but the threat of rain moved us indoors to the high school auditorium.  This year, the threat of rain moved us indoors to the high school auditorium.

ART!  I didn't do this, but I know who did.

green (class) room

This gig...Matthew and Robbie were the only guests on this show, so we were able to include more of their songs in each one's segment.  For Matthew, we debuted his new song Lightning Rod, with me on Bencuya's organ part (which was exciting/terrifying because I'd never given any thought to the chords) and Bencuya on clavinet.  It made the song groovier.  For Robbie, we played Saturday Night again (better than the previous night), and his version of I Only Have Eyes for You.  The crowd ate it up.

For multiple reasons, this was my least favorite show of the run.  Reasons!

1.  The room was very dark (though you can't tell from my photo below, which is when they kicked on the lights during the encore) and very quiet, and it felt more like a sound stage than a show.  I think the audience liked our show, but they were sooooo subdued that there was at least sixty seconds of dead silence in between every song.

2.  I fiddled with my monitor mix a bit at each of the previous two shows, and by this night I'd kind of given up, having had Zach turns different things up and down...I had the balance totally out of whack, and I used this gig to listen to it and decide what adjustments needed to be made tomorrow.  In the mean time, though, I didn't like my mix.

3.  The lighting company took up a ton of room on stage with their stuff, and it felt like we were unnecessarily jammed up towards the front of the stage.

4.  The load in sucked.  Up the front stairs of the school, down the aisle of the auditorium, and then up the steps onto the stage.  At the end of the night, reverse this process.  Oh yeah--it's going to be raining pretty hard when you're carrying gear down the steps outside.  Good luck.

5.  I needed to poop.

Everybody up for the encore!

Sunday:  Salisbury, Massachusetts.

We spent the night in Connecticut, and then headed north of Boston Sunday morning.

The previous evening, we'd taken possession of Mark Bencuya's latest possession.  It's a Roland Juno-60 synthesizer, circa early 80s.

Spend thirteen minutes of your life checking out what 1982 sounded like.

Here I am sleeping behind the Juno.  If I ever become a competent keyboardist, this could be my album cover.

photo cred:  The Great Bencuya!
Lunch in Worcester, Mass, or Woostah if you're from Massachusetts!  I was greatly disappointed not to hear anybody with an over-the-top Massachusetts accent.

not my beer

In my continuing lean towards vegetarianism, I ordered a veggie fajita salad, which didn't taste like much.  Going veggie at a Mexican restaurant never works.  I made it through about half of this.  It made it through all of me in about twenty-four hours.

For the record, I did not eat the radishes.

Parking lot dog.

So...onward to Salisbury, Mass!  The venue was right on the ocean, which was cool, except that the waves crashed against the green room windows at high tide.  Low tide for load out:  stinky.

We had another autograph seeker waiting at this venue, and once again he was seeking signatures and photographs of the old folks.  He followed us in and stayed for all of soundcheck, and it appeared that he video recorded the entire thing, which was...a little weird.  The guy was front and center, so I presume that he was given permission to record things like Matthew's new song, which hadn't even been released to the public.

By the way, it's now out.  Here's what it sounds like:

Ronn making a rather off color speech while Peter tunes up

This was a pretty good show.  We followed the same "Ambrosia sandwich" format that we'd used in New Jersey.  The crowd was a mix of quieter small town New England types and "we're gonna get wasted and yell a lot" Boston types.  Definitely an improvement in enthusiasm over New Jersey.

I gave Zach my in ear adjustments, and my monitor mix sounded like a frickin' radio station--it was perfect.  Maybe a radio station where my parts a little bit louder than they should be.

After the show, we loaded Ambrosia's rented equipment into our trailer so that Kip and Zach could deliver it on their way through New York.  Their gear plus our gear made things very tight, so we put our suitcases in the old folks' van.

Here we are sitting in the lobby of our hotel at 1 AM.  The old people stopped for food and didn't get it to go.  Kip is not taking it well.

Monday:  We went to bed around 2 AM?  Got up at 6:45 AM to head to the airport.

Here's the wing.  Immediately after this, I fell asleep and basically snoozed until we touched down in Atlanta.

The day doesn't end there, though.  I went home, ate, and drove almost two hours to make a 6 PM rehearsal for the Serenbe Playhouse (in Palmetto, GA, about an hour south of Atlanta) production of Miss Saigon.  The rehearsal lasted five and a half hours (with two ten minute breaks in there).  All sight-reading.  My brain melted.

This week!  Some corporate stuff in and out of town, and then the big show in Huntsville on Saturday.

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