Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New England

Yacht Rock played three gigs in New England this past weekend; Thursday night in Providence, Rhode Island, and then two nights at The Royale in Boston. 

Thursday: There aren't a lot of flights between Atlanta and Providence, so we had to go early, landing around noon. After lunch, there was still plenty of time to kill, so I went for a run. Chilly, but not freezing.

The gig was at a club called Fete Music Hall, and it seemed to be in a warehouse district, but that whole part of Providence looked a little rough. The gig was mostly a war of attrition--we were all pretty tired and fried from a long day. Even though the turnout was good for our first time here (286 in a room that could hold 730) and it sounded good, we were all ready to go to bed.

Video evidence of our gig:

Friday: Night one in Boston. A pretty slammin' gig! We had Keisha and Kourtney Jackson joining us as background vocalists, and Robbie Dupree came up to sing a few with us as well. Just over 800 in attendance, even though the gig was sold out--we're guessing that those 200 people stayed home to watch the Red Sox. That excuse is lame. We were finished by 9:30, and I was in bed in my hotel room by 11 PM, watching the game (didn't stay up for all eighteen innings, though).

You can hear just how loud the crowd is in this one:

Saturday: A Nor'easter hit New England, so today was a day of hiding in our hotel, waiting for the gig.

Night two was also sold out, and only hundred or so people failed to show. Another boisterous crowd and another entertaining gig. What else can I say? Boston was tremendous.


And this...

Sunday: Not a Yacht Rock gig, but I do want to mention that I killed it on my church gig this week--it was half classical/chamber music style stuff and half improvising, and I was all over it. I'm still enjoying the challenge of it, too.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday Night Football

Monday night (now a week ago), Scott Glazer's Mojo Dojo played at Elliot Street Pub, just blocks from where the Falcons were playing the Giants on Monday Night Football. The entire area was choked with cars, either parked or searching for parking. What a mess. I tried a lot near the pub, but turned away when the guy wanted $60. I ended up in a street spot about ten minutes away.

The band was Scott, John Sandfort on tenor, Nick Johnson on guitar, Nick Rosen on keyboard, Jon Chalden on drums, and me (also on tenor). Pay no attention to this photograph.

It was a little bit like Mardi Gras--the band set up on the sidewalk, people standing around in the street with drinks, obnoxiously loud tailgaters across from us, and a constant stream of jerseys into and out of Elliot Street. The playing was fun as always--Nick Johnson pretty much destroyed the other three of us who were also charged with soloing--and the hang was great. We finished just after 8 PM.

I walked back to my truck to find a $25 parking ticket, which is probably what I would've paid to park legally, so...there's that. It's annoying for a gig that only paid $75, though.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Mostly Buckhead

Buckhead is weird, man. Weird vibes. I don't get it.

Thursday night, I played a trio gig in Buckhead--strictly background music for some kind of corporate mixer. Maybe 200 people in the room, and several of them seemed to be going out of their way to stand as close to band as possible while holding conversations, all the while seemingly oblivious to us. Later in the evening, a man, armed with a small PA and a wireless microphone, shouted over us (and the indifferent crowd) instead of asking us to stop for his announcements. Very strange. Sometimes it feels like people don't know what live music looks like up close, so they treat us like furniture, or catering.

Anyway, enough about that. The gig was with Nick Rosen (keyboard) and Robby Handley (bass), and once again it's been way too long since I've done a jazz trio gig (maybe a year at this point), and I was anxious about whether or not I could remember any tunes and/or play over changes. Much to my surprise, things went very well, and I was actually really happy with what was coming out of my horn. It definitely helped to have such musically eloquent friends with me--Nick and Robby were great. Pretty easy gig, and the check was in my mailbox when I returned home. Boom!

Friday night, Yacht Rock played the Buckhead Theatre, just down the street from my Thursday gig. The ownership has done a lot to improve the sound of this room, but it's still not quite there--things are very boomy and noisy on stage. I heard that it was good out front, though, so that's good, though I think that's mostly because our front of house guy, Kip, is extremely good at his job.

We had a pretty good crowd--around a thousand people, I think--and they were pretty into what we were doing, but maybe not? It was tough to get a read on these people. We would get a pretty big reaction for a song, but it would completely die away before we could start the next, so...I don't know what that means. They were weird. It's Buckhead.

The setlist was a mix of regular songs, some Thriller album cuts, some that we brought back (Frankenstein, Tiny Dancer, and Sister Christian), and a new one (More Than a Feeling, featuring a killer vocal by Nick). Greg really nailed the vocals on Sister Christian. For me, it was a pretty even show, playing-wise.

Saturday afternoon, we all drove up to the mountains to play a wedding reception at a winery. The weather was really beautiful in the afternoon. 

super cool VW bus/photo booth

Unfortunately, once the sun went down, the winds started whipping through the tent (at one point, it nearly carried away the catering tent just outside of the reception). The first set got colder and colder, and by halfway through, most of my fingers were numb, which made playing saxophone and EWI interesting, to say the least. On the break, my hands thawed out and the catering people shut one of the tent flaps, and we survived a second set that ended just before midnight. Immediately following was one of our fastest load outs, and the seven of us raced back down 400 with the heat on.

Sunday afternoon, I was back in Buckhead, this time a little south of the Theatre to play my church gig. Mostly flute, but I gave 'em some piccolo for the last song. Cold again, though my fingers didn't go numb this time.

Church musicians are a different breed altogether, with their own humor and eccentricities--it's like playing in the pit for a religious theatre show...I'll just leave it at that.

Monday, October 15, 2018


I had two gigs this past weekend; Thursday night, I played with Rob Opitz's Atlanta Latin Jazz Orchestra, and Saturday night was a Yacht Rock gig, though different because we had several subs. I guess that I should mention my third gig of the weekend as well--I've been back in the church gig scene.

Thursday's gig with the ALJO was their monthly show at Venkman's, and we all squeezed onto the stage and hammered out complicated big band charts. Fortunately for me, I got the set list a week and a half before, so I'd played this show ten times before the day of the show, and was therefore very comfortable with all the syncopations and awkward licks. I held down the bari sax/bass clarinet chair for the night, a nice change of pace from my other gigs. The band is stacked with some of the heaviest guys in town, so there is understandably A LOT of solo time, but the charts are really hip, and the band crushes it. Check out how well the ensemble plays together.

Though the camera has trouble focusing, here we are!

Saturday's gig is was a repeat customer from the previous year--a benefit for mental health facility. I wasn't sure what to expect, though, because we would be missing Mark Bencuya, as well a Nick on the front line. Scott Sheriff came down from Nashville to sub for Bencuya, and Keisha and Kourtney Jackson subbed for Nick, and the set list was duly shuffled to accommodate the different voices. I wondered if the crowd would be disappointed, but everybody was cool. The first set was a pretty tame, almost corporate vibe, but everybody came forward to dance at the beginning of the second set, and it got pretty wild (as wild as you can get in the Atlanta suburbs). Done by 10 PM, home way before midnight. Perfect weather.

As I mentioned, I'm back on the church gig thing after a year and a half out of it, and I'm liking it so far. It's an afternoon gig, it's all on flute, it's mostly just reading charts, and nobody cares what I did the night before. I'm using it to keep my flute playing together.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Three In a Row

Three gigs last weekend.

Thursday: We played a fundraiser for a recycling center in Atlanta. The usual corporate gig level of energy and enthusiasm. Pretty painless, and we finished at 10, so I was home by 11:30 (which was amazing).

I'm a big proponent of recycling, and this fundraiser was aimed at helping a center which handles hard-to-recycle stuff (paint, tires, styrofoam, weapons grade plutonium, etc). While this is all super awesome, it was extremely disappointing that there was no recycling bin in the band's dressing room, which means that all of this more common and easy-to-recycle plastic is probably going to the dump.

Plastics are now in the food chain, people. It's a serious problem.

Friday: Country club party. Another low energy easy one. This one ended at 10 PM as well, and we had some grumpy dancers. Evidently they messed up their scheduling, and they should've done 8:30-11 instead of 7:30-10. We'll try again next year.

Saturday: Off to Athens for a sold out show at the Georgia Theatre!

Finally, a gig with an audience! The Georgia Theatre is a great room--they've finally got the sound issues fixed. This was a particularly excellent crowd, and Kip really nailed it on the sound.

Here's the show. Looks and sounds as great as it felt on stage.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Two More

Two more gigs to finish out this week.

Friday: We played The Fred (the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater) in Peachtree City for the third time, and for the third year in a row, we had rain. The crowd persevered, though, and it stopped just in time for us to begin.

This was not our usual show--for one thing, we had Ganesh Giri Jaya on drums, plus a horn section of Rob Opitz, Sam Skelton, and Wes Funderburk. Additionally, we played an entire first set of Beatles songs, something we haven't done in a few months. Everything turned out great. Good gig.

Saturday: Our Saturday gig was a private party in Louisville, so another airplane ride, another tent, another pair of backline keyboards. This was a good one, though--the backline was excellent, the tent sounded pretty good, the weather was just about perfect, and the crowd was into it. All in all, it made for a pretty easy night.

pretty dog halfway through my run
country club gig=brushing and mouthwash
The roughest thing about this gig (other than some dipshit Lyft drivers) was the tiny tent where we hung out--comfortable for four, very tight for nine. Plus, lots of mosquitos. Cell reception was fine, though.