Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Park Tavern, Darien

Another weekend with the Yacht Rock Revue. No Saturday gig, which was weird, but also nice to be home for a change. I think we all looked at it like it was a weekend's worth of work with a little gap in the middle. Besides, with flying home on Monday and then playing a gig on Tuesday, everybody's just trying to keep up.

Friday: Back at the Park Tavern! This used to be our big gig of every month in the summer, but now it's just "where are we this Friday." We have this date in May and one in June, and I think that's all our schedule will allow.

We played three new ones on this gig: Jackie Blue, Shakedown Street, and Lady (by Styx--not to be confused with the Little River Band song or the Commodores song or the Kenny Rogers song). I really like Jackie Blue--it's fun and the vibe is cool; Shakedown Street was unexpectedly enjoyable; Lady is pretty over-the-top, but definitely a 70s classic. The rest of the setlist was pretty much our standard stuff these days.

We had a decent crowd for this one--maybe six or seven hundred people? Not a slammin' sellout by any means. Maybe it was the holiday weekend, or school had just let out this week, or the Atlanta Jazz Festival was cranking up, or we were supposed to get rain...who knows. This group wasn't bad at all, though, and it didn't seem any miserably drunk people while I was loading out. Easy gig. Plus, home by midnight! I can't say that very often. 

Sunday: Airport time! The highway was very pleasantly quiet this morning. "Nobody's in town this weekend," I thought. Turns out, they were all at the airport, and everybody was acting like they hadn't flown in fifteen years. Major traffic jams at the check in, the security, the gate--the kind of annoyance that makes you want to push old people and little kids out of the way. 

This crap carried over to the plane. The main cabin had three seats (A, B, and C), the aisle, and then three seats (D, E, and F). My seat was F. A couple got on the plane after me, and their seats were D and E, except that instead of a seat, D was a jump seat for a flight attendant, so the Dude decided he was going to sit in C. Then his girlfriend/wife asked if I would switch with the Dude because she's a nervous twit and hates to fly and all this crap. Fine. I'm half asleep. I sit in C, Dude sits in F. Five minutes later, a huge, muscular guy shows up and says his seat is C, and I say, "Cool. My seat is actually F." The Dude in F jumps up to sort this out by calling the flight attendant. The flight attendant sends him to the gate person, who is apparently standing in the jetway. All I want to do is go to sleep. 

The Dude and Muscles go to the front, and according to the Dude, the gate person basically tells him to go sit in his seat and shut up, so he's all worked up--the gate person was rude to him. Muscles sits in F. I'm in C. Dude sits in the jump seat. Flight attendant quickly nixes this. The dude whines, the girlfriend whines--"Why did Delta sell me a seat that doesn't exist?" Fair enough. The flight attendant finds them two empty seats two rows back. I go to sleep...


...only to be awakened an hour later by a flight attendant, trying to get Mr. Muscles' attention in seat F: "Mr. Freeman? Mr. Freeman?" Out of REM sleep I stumble and tap the flight attendant--"I'm David Freeman." "Oh! We at Delta want to thank you for flying with us and congratulate you on your Platinum Medallion status." Cool/godfuckingdamnit. Please--NEVER do this to me again when I'm sleeping. Seriously. Sleeping on the plane is how I got to Platinum Medallion. My status should say "ASLEEP."

Onward--we landed at LaGuardia, and a van drove us to Darien, CT for a birthday party in a tent next to a house. Incredible house.

Darien is apparently pronounced Dairy-Ann. It should not rhyme with Marion. Got it.

I had another crappy Fantom keyboard--the pitch bend joystick was weird, the high G# was broken, and the thing didn't read my card, so I had to upload my settings from my laptop. The lower keyboard was a pretty nice Nord stage, but I'd much prefer a Nord Electro. At soundcheck, Zach had to do a lot of extra work to find some open frequencies for the in ears. The sax line went bad right before we started, too. Once we got up and running, though, things were fine--it was all easily tolerable for one gig.

Lots of time to kill before our first set, so I went for a run, this time on a route suggested by the birthday boy. It was a very quiet day.

The house where we'd set up was right on the water, with a long pier right across the street. Check it out. Super cool.

the crow's nest patio outside of our green room

our green room

we watched Jaws and Jaws 2
When I started playing, it looked like we were going to mostly be ignored, with most of the party congregating around the bar. However, people gradually made their way over, and by the start of the second set, we had a everybody's attention. It turned out to be a nice gig, and we played two encores before shutting it down. 

None of the three new songs made it on to the set list, though, which is disappointing. I was hoping we'd at least play Jackie Blue a few more times.

The van was waiting for us when we finished, and drove us all the way back to Queens. We spent the night in the hotel almost across the street from LaGuardia. Monday morning, we hopped on the plane and headed home, thankfully without any seat swapping or mention of Delta medallion status, and I slept for as much of the ride as I could.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Northeast, Part Two

Back to the Northeast to complete our run of shows up there.

Thursday: First stop, NYC! We were supposed to be back at Irving Plaza, but there was some sort of mix up in the booking, so we ended up at the Playstation Theater in Times Square. On the one hand, cool--bigger room, bigger stage. On the other hand, Times Square...

Pictures from my pre-gig run...

Not a bad gig, by any means. The room felt kind of sterile, but we still had a pretty good crowd (in the 500-600 range) for a Thursday night in a part of town populated by tourists. I'd have no qualms about coming back here. Plus, any time a crew moves the gear for you, I am thankful (or maybe it's the other way around--any time we have to drag our own gear, I'm not so thrilled). A solid warm up for the weekend, let's say.

Drove to Yonkers after the show. Didn't get lost. It's a lot further from the city than I thought it would be.

Friday: Woke up and drove four hours to Boston for our show at The Royale. This one has been sold out pretty much from the week tickets went on sale.

The Royale "marquee". Not impressive.

We were a little light on time, so the pre-gig run was short--basically a lap around Boston Common and back. The weather was excellent.

Col. Robert Gould Shaw--ever see Glory?

somewhere down the road is Cheers-I'm disappointed that I didn't know that when I was running

G. Dub

one for Beth
Boston was predictably crazy, as people were losing their minds by around the fifth song in. As Monkeyboy put it, every song after the first few felt like an encore. It was a really good, berserk show.

The only downside to this place is that they have a late night DJ thing, so you play until 9:30 and then you have an hour to clear the stage, which is a bit of a hustle. Once again, though, there are dudes to move the gear from the stage to the trailer, so it's not a major drag. Maybe a minor drag.

The next time we will play here, we're doing two nights, and we're wondering if we can figure out a way to leave our gear set up.

Saturday: Back down I-95 to Brooklyn. Five hours in the van. Yuck.

We set up and sound checked at The Bell House for a wedding, and then had hours to kill.

The pre-gig run was chilly and wet, and I was sore from sitting in the van too much. Since we were pretty deep into Brooklyn, I tried to run to the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever (86th and Bay 20th Ave), but it was a little too far away. I got as far as 86th and 3rd Ave before turning around.

On this trip, I've been ordering take out for dinner (through the Yelp app). Thursday was Indian food, Friday was Thai food. Saturday, back to Indian food. It's working out really well to pick it up at the end of my run.



This wedding wasn't too painful. Mark Cobb was playing some super hip shit, and that kept me engaged a little more than I might've been on a gig like this.

Nice to see a more diverse crowd, too. Most of our weddings lean towards skinny blonde women and rich looking white dudes, but this one looked like you'd think a bunch of thirty year old people in Brooklyn would be--all creeds and colors represented. Very cool.

We moved our own gear on this one. Not as much fun as "Oh look! The trailer's already loaded and we can leave!"

Sunday: Four hours down the road to Washington DC for our gig at The Hamilton. Another sell out--tickets went on sale for this one midway through our previous gig, and by the time we'd finished, more than half the room was sold.

Trouble at load in--someone was mixing TONS of concrete in the underground loading dock and pumping it up to street level for god-knows-what, and Zach had to do some especially bad ass maneuvering to wiggle the trailer into a good position for unloading.

The local crew guys from the venue (our friend Danny and his assistant) helped drag in the gear, so I guess that's an acceptable compromise.

No time for a run before this one. I needed a day off anyway.

Good show! Watch it here:

There's an above average sax solo at an hour and twelve minutes in. Check it out.

Tickets went on sale for our next show (November 11) right before we hit the stage, and when we finished the encore, they'd already sold over 400 of the 660 tickets. We're pretty popular here.

Monday: And then we flew home. I had a cup of coffee before I got on the plane, and was so wired on caffeine that I could've flown alongside.

Tuesday: How about one more? We reassembled (with Ganesh subbing for Pete and Jason Nackers subbing on drums for Mark Cobb) in Atlanta for a mid day corporate party. Thank god it was a short gig--two thirty minutes sets. I couldn't have done much more.

Monday, May 14, 2018


It's been a quiet week. The band flew to Austin Saturday for a wedding. More of the same stuff here...

I watched the documentary Pearl Jam: Let's Play Two, which intertwined footage of the band's two nights at Wrigley Field and the Cubs' 2016 season, ending in their seventh game World Series victory.  Excellent! I highly recommend it, even though hearing the hits off their album Ten temporarily rendered me a pile of depressed Gen X mush.

Lots of time to kill in Austin--we finished sound checking just after 5 PM and didn't play until 9, so I tried to go for a run. Unfortunately, it was 90 degrees! Slow going, but I got it done.

waiting for the bats to come out

SRV. 5'5" in real life

And the backline...we got some of the same gear that we had the last time we were in Austin. Different/rusty keyboard stands, and one of the Nords (Bencuya's bottom keyboard) was a crappy sounding Nord 2. The top keyboards were, unfortunately, the same, which meant that I ran into the same problem that I had the last time--the Fantom would not recognize my compact flash card, so I was not able to load my settings. Agh! Last Thursday, I saved a backup onto my laptop, though, so it wasn't a big deal to move that onto the keyboard--I'm an expert at it now. Didn't even break a sweat!

What else, what else...Ganesh subbed for Nick and Jason Nackers subbed for Mark Cobb...the crowd was, once again, full of beautiful women...the song that we learned by request, When the Going Gets Tough by Billy Ocean, sucks and I hope I never hear or hear myself play it again...we walked to our hotel from the gig...the Delta agent at the Austin airport ticket counter recognized us--"Oh, it's you guys again!"...jeez!

The flight home the next day was uneventful.

I watched 12 Strong, a movie about the first US soldiers in Afghanistan following September 11. It's very Hollywood, very predictable. Don't bother watching it. I was mad at myself for getting all the way to the end. Learn from my mistakes!

We're headed back to the northeast this week to reunite with our gear--dates in NYC Thursday, Boston Friday, a wedding in Brooklyn Saturday, and Washington DC on Sunday. Upcoming dates are here.