Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Two Plus One

 This past weekend's events: 2 Yacht Rock gigs (in two cities), and a Beatles birthday party.

Friday: We played some kind of private event for a bunch of good looking people (women) at Buckhead Theatre. Seriously--one of them (women) looked like George Clooney's wife, but with fake boobs. They got drunk, we was fun!

Now that Buckhead Theatre is trying to be a real music venue, they have loaders to drag our gear in and out. If only they could solve the parking...

We had Jason Nackers on drums for this weekend. Excellent job. I thought he nailed it tonight.

Saturday: On a couple of hours of sleep, we flew to Indianapolis for a benefit for a private school.

photo by Zach!

This one was backlined, and the gear was good. The production...not so good. The lighting...not good at all. Light bars and zip ties is not a lighting rig!

I tried to go for a run after soundcheck--there's a nice path that follows the path of the river.

Unfortunately, it was mostly blocked with water. I eventually quit this idea and ran to downtown Indianapolis and back. The rain held off until three quarters of the way through, which means that I got pretty wet.

I think that we should include a color chip in our rider so that we get bananas that are currently edible. These still have a week to go.

The gig was dark (thank you lighting person) and kind of boring. Not much energy from the crowd, and the in ear system didn't sound very good. We dragged our way through it, and felt fortunate at the end of the night to be able to get up and walk away from the gear.

Sunday: We flew back early Sunday. Much like the day before, I slept for the entire flight.

This evening's show was a version of our Beatles band, this time celebrating the music of George Harrison on what would have been his seventy-fifth birthday. Mostly it Nick and Tim Smith, and then the rest of the Yacht Rock guys filled in around them at different points of the night. On top of that, we had Peter Stroud and Benji Shanks on guitar, and Gaurav Malhotra on percussion, and Lauren Staley and Jason Morrow of Whiskey Gentry singing and playing.

This gig was the most fun and relaxed out of the weekend. I sure do miss playing our Beatles shows.

Here's video if you want to check us out:

Since you can't hear any of my keyboard parts and can only sometimes pick out my sax stuff, let me assure you that everything I played was perfect, and I knew all the words to My Sweet Lord.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


I played another Dave Matthews Band cover gig Tuesday night with Dustin Cottrell and The Laymen--though I guess it wasn't really the Laymen since the other half of the duo was unable to play either DMB gig. Anyway...Dustin on guitar and vocals, Marla Feeney on violin, Billy Gewin on bass, Sam Owens on drums, and me on saxes.

Velvet Caviar opening the show
Once again, the attendance was terrible (fewer than ten people in the room the whole night), which is too bad, because we kind of killed it. This was a much better combination of players (especially Sam on drums, who grabbed much more of the right vibe and parts--splash cymbals? yes! playing the form? yes!), and overall, we were just a bit more confident having survived the first gig. Billy did a great job playing bass and contributing harmony vocals, and I could hear Marla this time. I'm not a DMB fan, but this was fun.

New song for this one: Tripping Billies.

Colorado and California

Big trip time! The Yacht Rock Revue was out for over a week, with our initial foray into Colorado, a private gig in San Francisco, and then gigs in San Diego and Los Angeles (and a clunker in Vegas).

Saturday: We flew from Atlanta to Denver. Our gear had left earlier in the week, and Hans (driver of the gear) handed off the van and trailer off to us at the airport.

"We've landed on Hoth!" said Zach, after we touched down in the midst of a snowstorm. I've never seen that much snow at an airport before, but I guess if you travel through this airport, you get used to it.

another thing I've never seen: baggage claim for skis!

Mile High Stadium

Our first stop (after hitting the dispensary--Colorado has legal weed now) was the Gothic Theater in Englewood. It reminded me of the Vogue in Indianapolis, and holds approximately the same number of people. Bigger dressing rooms, though!

Surprise! Our first gig in Colorado, and we came within twenty people of selling it out (1030 in the room). How'd that happen? Who knows, but that's pretty cool. We played pretty well--Minute by Minute was still a work in progress, but we added Hold the Line-one of my favorites that we've tried to play in the past.

Here's video of the show:

After the show, we drove on to Boulder to spend the night.

Sunday: The next stop on this run was (obviously) Boulder. But first, we had most of the day to kill in this really cool town.

I went for a run. The altitude didn't seem to be a big factor, but there was lots of slush and still slippery snow.

On the way back, I stopped to meander through University Bicycles, the largest bike shop I've ever been in. If we're back here again with time to kill (and no snow on the ground), I might have to rent a bike.

Lunch: vegan pizza from Whole Foods. Lots of veggies and no cheese...

...and then a stop at another bike shop. Lots of cyclocross bikes here.

So...Boulder Theater. Nice room, big stage, plenty of dressing rooms (this time with heat!). We didn't knock it out of the park with the attendance, but it was solid--a couple of hundred people on a Sunday night is pretty damn good.

Monday: Off to Aspen, but before that, another run. It was too cold to go outside, so I ran on the treadmill.

hell no

the view from our hotel room
The ride to Aspen was beautiful, weaving through the mountains, in and out of the snow. The weather seemed to be completely different depending on which side of the mountain you were on.

At one point, we were crawling up a hill in a heavy snowstorm, and I wondered if we'd make it to the show.

Finally, we arrived at the Belly Up in Aspen. Despite it's small size, it's a legendary venue, hosting acts such as:

Widespread Panic, John Prine, The Flaming Lips, Jane’s Addiction, Thievery Corporation, The Raconteurs, Ben Harper, B.B. King, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Pitbull, SEAL, ZZ Top, Chris Isaak, Gomez, G Love, Bassnectar, John Legend, Damian Marley and Nas, Stephen Marley, Lucinda Williams, Snoop Dogg, TiĆ«sto, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Wyclef Jean, Ice Cube, Umphrey's McGee and many, many more.

We had a great night! I think the room was (by the numbers) half full, but it didn't feel half empty, and people were digging it. I wouldn't be surprised if it sold out the next time we come through here.

Tuesday: We spent the night at a hotel in Snowmass, with rooms, as Monkeyboy put it, "made out of spare parts."

By far, the strangest thing in this room was the vintage "artwork."

A well hung family

Onward! We flew a regional jet to LAX. Most of us were upgraded to first class!

The Aspen airport is surrounded by mountains, so we went all the way to the end of the runway, gunned the engines, and just cleared the ridge at take off.

Very pretty views once we were aloft.

From LA, we turned north and flew to San Francisco, landing on a perfect afternoon in the Bay area.

We each had our own hotel room for the two nights we were in town to play a corporate party (same people who took us to Greece last year). Sweeeeeeet! Two blocks away from Fisherman's Wharf.

I set out on a run. My first thought was to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, but I got there a half hour after they'd closed it to pedestrian traffic for the evening.

I worked my way back the Presidio. (Meg Ryan never looked better than in The Presidio)...

...through the Palace of Fine Arts (built for the World's Fair to show the world that San Fran was back from the earthquake of 1908)...

...back across the city...

...down Lombard Street...

...up Telegrah Hill to check out Coit Tower...

...down the hill to the Transamerica Building...

...and back out to the piers along the bay.

I was tired. Two burritos for dinner, and I crashed.

Wednesday: I slept late and then went for a walk around the Wharf.

Alcatraz in the bay

also, this bird in the bay

tulips for Beth

We had a mid day load in/set up (backlined gear for this show--our van and trailer were in route from Aspen to San Diego). Pretty good gear from SIR San Fran (the guitars were not so good, though).

We had the afternoon off, so I went for another run, this time exploring a different part of the city.

First, I went by The Fillmore....

...and then the hill (Alamo Square) from the opening of the TV show Full House...

...then past City Hall...

...and this sweet Mustang...

...and the turnaround for the trolley. Pretty cool.

The gig this evening was a bit of a snoozer--two hours in a dark, cavernous room. Easy enough, I guess, but not the manic energy we'd experienced at our recent public shows. We finished around midnight, packed up, and headed back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep.

Thursday: Surprise! The fire alarm went off at 1:40 AM. I think I'd fallen asleep around 1, and we had to be in the lobby at 5:45. This sucked. Everybody outside!

We were almost immediately sent back inside. Somebody had burned something in the lobby's snack shop microwave. However, the two guys manning the front desk had a lot of trouble turning off the alarm. For maybe ten minutes after I'd crawled back in bed, a different alarm went off, with the request from the front desk to disregard it (he kept saying something like "please return to your daily business," which I think must have been a mistranslation).

Zach's solution

So...5:45 AM. Off to the airport for a flight to San Diego, connecting through LA. Greeeaaaat. We did get upgraded again, which was cool. I slept for the entire flight.

the Bay Bridge in San Fran

front row seats

LAX had stress relief dogs that you could pet while you were waiting to board. What a sweetheart!

leaving LAX

I woke up when we touched down in San Diego, and actually didn't feel too bad. We passed Jason Nackers (who drove the gear from Aspen) at the gate, hopped in the van, and headed to the gig.

We played The Music Box in San Diego. Great sounding room, though I think the giant video screen behind us gave off a lot of interference--every sax solo had issues with the microphone dropping out, and there was plenty of static to dodge. Still, the crowd was pumped (our second show EVER in San Diego, and the first in years).

We had a little bit of time, so I went for a short run around the bay.

Fun night. I like this place. It feels like it will be sold out the next time we play here.

After the show, we drove about an hour out of San Diego, making the longest day even longer.

Friday: Across the desert to Las Vegas.

Tonight's venue was another "Top Golf," but unlike the one in Nashville, this show was not in a separate room--it was up against a giant video screen, and we looked out at about fifty TV screens and the actual driving range. Very distracting.

I went for the customary pre-gig run.

This was our weirdest show of entire run, but the idea of playing a public gig here doesn't make much sense--everybody that works in Vegas is in the entertainment/service industry, so who's around to check us out on a Friday night? I think sixty people showed up. The entire set was a grind, and I was distracted and disinterested. Also, we were basically outside, and my hands got colder and colder as I sat there. Glad to be finished with this one.

We stayed in the Tropicana (woo? no.). Only in Vegas is there a line twenty people deep trying to check into a hotel at 12:30 AM, and the guys at the counter couldn't have been much more inefficient.

Saturday: Headed back to L.A. for the grand finale of this trip.

The big gig of the week was a sold out show at the El Rey, a super cool art deco theater. This place looked and sounded great--a perfect compliment to our music.

Since this is L.A., we had several friends sit in--Robbie Dupree (Steal Away) with Brian Ray (Etta James, Paul McCartney), Matthew Wilder (Break My Stride), Elliot Lurie (Brandy), and Peter Beckett (Baby Come Back). This was the most important gig on the run, and fortunately, it was the most exciting. We crushed it.

Brian Ray's SG

It was an amazing night.

Here's Peter Beckett doing his thing.

And here are a bunch of professional photos from the show:

After the show, we headed to our hotel by LAX. When we walked in, there was NO ONE AT THE FRONT DESK FOR NEARLY 10 MINUTES! Finally, some doofus employee came out of the elevator. He completely screwed up our rooms. Total moron. I thought Nick was going to strangle him.

We slept for a couple of hours. It didn't matter because we were finally going home!

Sunday: Our flight was delayed. All of the people in this picture got on the plane. I slept for two thirds of the trip. It's good to be home. The end.