Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Road Trip

Off we go...the Yacht Rock Revue was in Nashville, Birmingham, and Atlanta last weekend for three more sellout gigs. No plane rides, though...how am I supposed to accumulate Skymiles in the van?

Friday: This was our first time playing a Top Golf, which is basically a two story driving range attached to a music venue. How these go together, I don't know, but the room sounded pretty good and the load in was not too bad.

This week, we added the Doobie Brothers' Minute by Minute, so we spent a fair amount of soundcheck trying it out. Here's my chart. It took a long time to sort out those voicings! Bill Payne (of Little Feat fame) played the synth stuff on this as well as What a Fool Believes. I think he has six fingers on each hand.

After a few swings at this one, we sound checked Magnet and Steel with our old friend Walter Egan, who sat in with us at the end of the show. Before we changed, though, we ate, and before we ate, we took a few swings. I am really bad at golf--like missing the ball completely bad.

Greg Lee takes aim

Zach demonstrates his unique swing

Pretty good gig! I think we ended up attracting a different (older) crowd to this gig, and they weren't as rowdy as we've maybe come to expect--they would actually get kind of quiet in between songs, which felt kind of weird! We played alright, I think--after a week, there's always a little bit of hesitation. I didn't feel a whole lot of connection to what we were doing. Anyway, looked good, sounded good, felt pretty good. I'll take it.

photo cred: Meaghan Farrell

Saturday: The day started at noon, as we only had about three hours to cover between Nashville and our next stop, Birmingham. We had an equipment failure (broken snare drum stand), so the first stop was a Guitar Center. Monkeyboy was excited.

Kip bought me a shaker that looks like a banana.

So...Birmingham has been good to us! Tonight we were set up in the big room at WorkPlay, which holds about 900 people (they oversold it on this night--by fifty tickets!). Big room, big stage.

The guard dog Cheeto (with her ears dyed red) was relaxed...

...after pooping in the middle of the room.

I know--gross. On to the gig! This gig was a little better in terms of our connection to the audience, our own performance. Minute by Minute was a little rough at the beginning, but once we got into it, I think we all dug in a little more than last night. The only hiccup in this evening's show occurred when we returned from intermission and the local lighting guy did not--we played almost an entire song with no stage lights. Oops. Other than that, a good time was had by all.

photo by Zach Wetzel

Sunday: We drove back to Atlanta in the late morning, arriving for an early (1:30 PM) load in for the Team Hidi/Giving Kitchen event, a fundraiser that raises money for restaurant workers in need. We've played this annual even six years in a row, and it's a nice, easy gig for our friends at home. Also, it sold out--our streak continues!

After load in and soundcheck, we hopped into the van and drove back to get our cars and go home, since we would have most of the afternoon off. Ya know what sucked, though? I left my keys on stage, so when we drove back to midtown, I had to bum a ride from Kip and Zach BACK to venue, and then BACK to my truck before I could go home, burning a precious hour of doing nothing at home. Ugh. Not my best work.

The gig was a piece of cake, though (even though that room sounds bad), and the rain had stopped before we finished, so let's do it again next year! Home by 10:30 PM.

Monday, January 22, 2018


Only one Yacht Rock gig this week, but we had to go a long way to get there: Park City, Utah. We performed at the Sundance TV party for the Sundance Film Festival.

Salt Lake City/Park City got a foot of snow the night before our arrival.

I had no interest in the festival (the hipsters are thriving in independent film), so I walked a couple of blocks up the hill to escape the crowds.

all hail the heated driveway

SLC 2002

I stayed outside for as long as I could, and then headed back to the HQ. At that point, they were about begin another event, so I ended up sitting in the hallway outside the restrooms until it ended. Also in the hallway: a display with bags of "bark THINS." I ate three bags. Major tummy ache.

So...finally! Set up time on this tiny stage. Most of the gear worked (guitars and drum pad did not). Also, the in ear monitor system that we ordered did not make it on the truck, which meant that somebody probably had to drive a hundred miles an hour to Park City to get it to us in time.


We played from 9:30 to midnight, local time. Everybody loved us. Except for the jet lag and the tiny stage, it was an easy gig.

This was my first flight with the new custom foam for my fly date alto/EWI case. Sad, but I think it's beautiful.

After a few hours in a hotel room in Salt Lake City, we headed to the airport for the long ride home.

pre flight de icing 

no snow!

Friday, January 19, 2018


I had the opportunity to play with the Atlanta Latin Jazz Orchestra this past Thursday night at Venkman's. It's a cool band comprised of some of the most excellent horn players in Atlanta, and the rhythm sections are always stellar as well.

Unfortunately, the charts are very difficult, and I wasn't able to be comfortably prepared, so parts of this gig were painfully bad for me. I needed a few more days to really digest the parts, so...I don't know. I sucked in some parts, and I was embarrassed that I was screwing up surrounded by twenty of my contemporaries.

Here's video of the first set:

Dave Matthews with The Laymen

photo cred: Chadwick Hunter
I began playing professionally in the mid 1990s just as the Dave Matthews Band was becoming popular, and yet, in those twenty plus years, I have never been called upon to play a Dave Matthews song (not entirely true--years ago, I got called to play a random gig with a Dave Matthews Tribute Band, but I was unavailable) until 2018. I would've thought people would be calling me constantly, since the gig is all four saxophones plus flute and I own all four saxophones and a flute, and then I thought, maybe I haven't gotten called because nobody's playing these songs because maybe nobody wants to hear them?

Anyway, my friend Dustin Cottrell has a group called The Laymen (with another church musician friend of his), and they opted to use a full band for this DMB show. We played at the Red Light Cafe on a snowy night that maybe affected our attendance--there were maybe ten people there, but difficult to say because most of the people watching the first band were involved in the DMB show, and vice versa when we got on stage.

Anyway, I now have good sax/flute charts for The Best of What's Around, What Would You Say, Satellite, Typical Situation, Ants Marching, Jimi Thing, So Much to Say, Crash Into Me, and Two Step if any other sax players need them. Here's an example--they're good enough that you can probably skip rehearsal.

Northeast Run

Last weekend, the Yacht Rock Revue headed back out on the road for a weekend in the northeast. Sold out crowds and weird weather abound.

Thursday: Our first show of this run was at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware, a beautiful venue that was recently renovated and reopened in 2011. We flew into Philadelphia, drove to Wilmington, and grabbed a quick lunch before setting up our stuff. Mark Bencuya, Monkeyboy, and I found a local deli to our liking.

I had enough time to squeeze in a run before the show.

ice in Brandywine Creek

Market Street in Wilmington

This was a really good first gig of the weekend. The room sounded great, the crowd was surprisingly good (350 people was comfortably full on the floor), and we played well. Little Lies by Fleetwood Mac was added to the setlist this week, a song that half of us hated to hear, but it's fun to play, so I think we're keeping it. All in all, a pleasant surprise in Delaware.

After the gig, we drove an hour and a half into New Jersey.

Friday: On to Boston!

lunch stop somewhere in Connecticut
We played the Royale in Boston--this gig was a little nuts. The gig had been sold out since before Thanksgiving (1250 people!), and they were just about foaming at the mouth by the time we hit the stage. Some guy climbed on the stage (and may have stage dived/crowd surfed after that). There seemed to be a cheering section for me that erupted as soon as I stood up for my first solo (special thanks to the guy who brought a pink inflatable saxophone as a prop). Later on a conga line formed and tried to bum rush the stage (luckily thwarted by Kip just as they reached the bottom of the stairs to the stage). Awesome energy from everybody in the room, though.

The only (kind of) downside to playing the Royale is that they had some kind of late night disco/dance party, so we had to stop playing at 9:30 so we could clear the room by 10:15. It was a little weird to push everybody out and rush us down the elevator so quickly, but then on the other hand, an early night is nice, too.

Here are a couple of video highlights, via our super fan Brian Liss:

We didn't get food before the gig (we were an hour late to load in), so afterwards, we went to a restaurant and gorged ourselves.

Saturday: Woke up in Natick, Mass to high winds and falling temperatures. New York City bound!

Tonight's show was a sold out performance at Irving Plaza (1100 people in this one). We also were tasked with breaking in the new PA that they'd just installed. Also...holy shit it's cold.

The tiny, tiny, tiny backstage bathroom. This photo is actual size.

Set 1:

Set 2:

photo cred: Kip Conner

Robbie Dupree and Matthew Wilder sat in with us on the first set. When we returned from the break, it felt like our audience was too tired or too drunk or something--the enthusiasm of the first set had worn off.

photo cred: Zach Wetzel

Sunday: NYC to Washington DC to play The Hamilton. Our third sold out show (600 people for this one) in a row. Good stuff again from the band and the crowd, though we had a little bit of second set lag from the audience again. The Hamilton is a jewel of a place to perform.

Here's a super slick move by The Hamilton--at intermission, they put tickets for our show there in the spring on sale and announced it to the crowd. By the time we loaded out at the end of the night, all of the seating (half the room) had already sold out. More places should do this--such a smart move!

In spite of hand cream, gloves, and...pockets?...my hands dry and crack in the winter. This particular split opened up the day before we left for Wilmington, and was still killing me when we finished in DC. This happens to be the exact spot where my thumb touches a piano key. The second set of the Hamilton show was incredibly painful.

Monday: Flying home from Reagan International. One of the prettiest airport concourses in the country (spoiled only by the kiosk selling MAGA shit).