Friday, December 29, 2017

Blind Willie's

I played Blind Willie's here in Atlanta Wednesday night with Scott Glazer's Mojo Dojo, alongside Marla Feeney (tenor sax), Dave Yoke (guitar), and Marlon Patton (drums). It was good to catch up with Marlon, whom I haven't seen in months, Dave played some nasty guitar solos (in a good way), and I'd never met Marla before. As usual, I was a bit concerned about how rusty I would be reading charts and taking solos (since I don't do too much of that these days), but I was totally comfortable with both. We were rockin'!

Kenyon Carter was on this gig the last time I played it, and he recommended a clip on microphone instead of relying on the ol' SM-58 on a stand, so I tried it, and it made a big difference. The stage at Blind Willie's is just a little too tight to have Scott and two sax players across the front line, so being able to step back just a little and still keep in contact with the mic was a lifesaver. I'll definitely be doing that the next time I get this call.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Last Trips of the Year

Our final weekend on the road in 2017. More airports, more rented gear...

Thursday: Atlanta to New York City for a private gig.

Greg Lee looking dapper at the LaGuardia taxi stand

taxi ride

Our gig was a holiday party at the American Museum of Natural History. Pretty cool spot!

We were in the room with the blue whale suspended from the ceiling.

After soundcheck, we had a few hours to kill, so I went for a run around town. 27 degrees! Also, running down Broadway when all the New Yorkers are trying to go home? Not my best move.

This gig was a very easy one set. The crowd was ok--they weren't nuts from the first note or anything, but there was some dancing, and at least they weren't demanding specific songs. I think we finished around 10 PM, and as soon as I could get all of my gear packed up, we were on our way across town in taxis.

probably as close as I'll ever get to playing at the Blue Whale (it's a jazz club in LA)

Thanks to SIR for coming through with some more good gear. It made everything painless.

Friday: New York to Indianapolis.

The view from our hotel room--we could walk to the airport!

We made it to LaGuardia in good time, only to find that our flight to Indy was delayed two and a half hours by a mechanical issue with the plane. Uh oh! Time to order lunch.

In a panic, all nine of us attempted to jump to another flight leaving around an hour after ours. Nick and Pete made it, but the rest of us were stranded until our plane could be repaired.

One nice thing about the delay: enough first class people jumped on other flights that we all (except for Kip and Zach) got upgraded to first class! Pretty cool, but I honestly didn't know what to do with myself. I think I took just as many naps as I would have in the back.  

more de-icing, this time by the pros in NYC

Earlier in the week, Kip and Zach had driven the van and trailer to Indianapolis, deposited the trailer at Pete's mom's house, driven the van to the Indianapolis airport, and then flown to New York for our gig under the whale. Since Nick and Pete made the earlier flight, they took the van keys, drove to Pete's mom's house, grabbed the trailer, and headed to the gig. We took Lyfts directly to the gig, set up the gear as quickly as possible, ate, changed clothes, and played. A little hectic, but we got through it.

Nice crowd, of course. Enough people know us in Indy that it's an easy sell. The room was sort of a modern construction of a barn...looked beautiful, but didn't sound too great. Cool people, though.

Saturday: More Indy! Lots of time to kill before our gig at The Vogue.

I got up and went for a run. A bit chilly, and pretty windy.

We played a gig in this parking lot many years ago. Nice to hear that the sound guy that day has finally solved the issue of the microphones feeding back.

Main Street, Carmel, Indiana
In the early afternoon, we saw the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi at the IMAX Theatre at the Indiana State Museum. Lots of middle aged male virgins in attendance. If you knew me in 1982 you'd probably find this hard to believe, but I'm just not into Star Wars anymore. It's like running into your middle school girlfriend thirty years later. I'm not that into going to the movies either, so...I don't know what I'm saying...I guess this was better than sitting in a hotel room all day.

On to the gig! We set up, sound checked, ate, changed, and then it was finally time to play.

this one had been sold out for a month--the crowd was electric
Most of the gig was good, but I had a major blunder--in a panic, I couldn't remember if the Africa solo (when did these six measures become the bane of my existence?) started on Eb or F (I know it in two keys depending on whether I'm playing it on flute or EWI). I guessed Eb, which is wrong, and now that I can think about it logically, I'm an idiot--of course the transposed note would be the higher of the two. Anyway, the first three beats of the solo were a whole step too low, but the correct rhythmic and intervalic patterns, and somehow muscle memory rerouted me back on track by the end of the first phrase. Faaaaaaak. I have major suicidal thoughts approximately once per gig (but I can't!--everybody else in the band, and my family are depending on me to hold up my end of this!), and this was Saturday night's moment.

Also, my solo on Biggest Part of Me was a valiant effort, but I was excited and overblowing, and I don't think my ideas ever lined up to form the arc of a good solo. I must point out, for my own enjoyment, the quote from Michael Brecker's Fuky Sea, Funky Dew cadenza (the Heavy Metal Bebop version) in my cadenza. Thankyouverymuch. Small victory.

Here's the first set, in case you don't live in Indiana.

Sunday: Homeward bound. I sat down for lunch at home around 1 PM, right around when all hell broke loose at the airport. Thank god we made it back before that happened.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Some Things I Remember...

...and Some Things I Do Not. It was a tough couple of days.

Thursday: The work week began with a Thursday morning gig. If you're a normal person, being at work at 9 AM isn't that horrible, but for me, that was pretty rough; with traffic, it took me an hour to get there.

The gig was some sort of 80s party, and we played two sets between 12:15 and 2:45. Afterwards, we loaded the gear back into the trailer and went our separate ways. I sat in traffic for an hour. I got home, sat down at my computer, and woke up in the dark. I remember pretty much nothing else about the gig.

Ganesh subbing on drums 
Friday: In spite of the winter weather closing in on Atlanta, we headed to the airport for our flight to the west coast.

It was the first time I've ever seen de-icing in Atlanta. It makes you wonder how much practice the dude with the hose gets at this. First they spray the orange stuff, and then they spray the fluorescent green stuff. Did Nickelodeon choose the colors?

Our gig was a corporate Christmas party in San Francisco, and the location was a very cool venue called Bimbo's 365, a place with a very hip, Rat Pack sort of vibe. You could easily picture Dean Martin coming around the corner here.

In between soundcheck and dinner, I went for a run along the bay.

The gig was pretty good, I thought. I liked the backline gear that I ended up with, things sounded good in my ears, and there was an excellent dancer in a red dress that kept us awake (the gig was between midnight and 2:30 AM, Eastern Time). I even had a good sax solo on the outro to Africa, something we don't do very often these days.

We took three taxis to the hotel by the airport. After a quick shower, I crashed. This photo was taken at 12:32 AM, and I was asleep seconds later.

Saturday: My alarm went off at 4:05 AM, and Greg and I were in the lobby ten minutes later. By 4:45, we were in the San Francisco airport for our flight back to Atlanta.

I crawled into the plane, got in my seat, and passed out, waking up only when the pilot announced that we were on our initial approach into Atlanta (around thirty minutes out).

Back in Georgia, we dispersed to get our cars and then headed to Venkman's for not one, but TWO sold out holiday shows--an unplugged set and a regular electric set. I felt surprisingly good for both--I guess that was just enough sleep to carry me through, though I did start to get kind of brain dead in the middle of the second set. Both performances were solid/low anxiety.

7 PM show:

10 PM show:

And we're not done yet! See you at the airport this week!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Of all the "touring" that Yacht Rock has done in the past few years, we had yet to make a pass through the New Orleans area--we'd come as close as Biloxi on a random gig a few years ago, but a string of a shows had yet to line up. I was therefore pretty excited when these dates were added to our calendar--New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and a wedding to cover the bill!

Thursday: The flight to New Orleans wasn't too early. Once we arrived, there was ample time to park the van at the House of Blues and walk around the French Quarter.

The veggie po' boy that I had for lunch was not good--basically a fistful of olives, lettuce, and shredded cheddar cheese, which I drowned in hot sauce.

This is the smallest House of Blues--the capacity is somewhere around 840--that we've played. I think we had around a quarter of that for an audience, thanks to some generous ticket give-aways. A pretty good first effort, I guess.

We played pretty well--there was a little bit of rust from not thinking about this stuff for a week, but we had a good time and got through it without any disasters...except for my delay setting on the Maneater solo! Whoops! "Somebody messed with my presets," as we would say. Normally, the answers in the sax solo are generated by my effects pedal, set to whole notes and a single feedback. Post-solo analysis revealed that it was set to whole note triplets (how is that even possible?), so the delay was an extra second and a half late. Whatever. It was painful. Technology bites me in the ass again.

Friday: Pictures from my morning run.

abandoned naval complex

I was really excited to run across Doreen, whom I'd only come across on the internet. Equally exciting in person! She can really play!

Our gig for the evening was at The Varsity Theatre in Baton Rouge, a gig I thought would be a random one time gig, kind of like the place we played in Raleigh, North Carolina once or twice, never to return.

Instead, we were surprised to find a good sounding room with an enthusiastic crowd, and the band responded with a great show! I'm sure we'll be back here the next time we make this trip.

Saturday: A couple of pictures from my morning run. I tried to make it all the way down St. Charles  to the Audubon Zoo, but I ran out of time.

Our final gig on this run was a very late wedding in New Orleans, so several of us killed time at the National World War II Museum, which was spectacular. I spent most of the day there.

48 star flag

Around 5 PM, I made the walk across town to the Roosevelt Hotel where we were playing.

The Roosevelt Hotel has amazing Christmas decorations, and it seems like half of Louisiana was in there trying to get the perfect photo for their holiday cards. It's really something to see. I'm probably in the background of a few pictures, asleep in a chair.

Here's a Southern Living video showing the process:

So...the gig! The thing that was mostly paying for this entire trip! We played two sets beginning at 10:15 PM. Ouch. I was really tired from the day's activities and spent the whole night watching the clock.

The bride and groom ended the night with a Second Line parade--the hippest, most New Orleans way to say good night.

The holiday gigs overall better than the previous few years. We've got a couple of corporate things later in the week, and then holiday shows at Venkman's on Saturday night. Stay tuned!