Monday, July 29, 2019


Thursday: Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Did you know they have an international airport there? It was...not very crowded. We hopped in two Lyfts. One smelled of cigarettes, one smelled of poop. I ended up in the poop car.

waiting for our ride
This was a tough travel day. I was up at 5:30 AM and out the door at 6:15 to make an 8:30 AM flight, which put us in Ft. Wayne at 10:30 AM. Then, lots and lots of hanging around. Fortunately, we were at the Sweetwater Amphitheater (Sweetwater is a mostly online company that sells music gear), so we hung out, looked at instruments and accessories that we didn't really need, ate lunch, and looked at our phones.

Finally, it was time to go--they even asked us to start early! A quick ride across the parking lot in their sprinter van.

Surprisingly, not too bad of a crowd. Five or six hundred--something like that--but it was a nice stage, great weather, and this aircraft hanger looking thing sounded pretty decent. Too bad we were a little rusty and a lot brain dead--I was functioning at about 70 percent.

Special shout out to the people who made their own yacht (which I signed after the show with a ballpoint pen).

Friday: From Ft. Wayne, we drove to Fishers, Indiana (an Indianapolis suburb), for a two night stand at Conner Prairie. Last year's gig was epic (reread about it here), and this year looked to be just as good. After a good night of sleep, I was optimistic.

our Indiana horn section: Clayton, Keith, and Vince

It was a pretty slammin' night. Somewhere around 5,000 people joined us. The weather couldn't have been better. The playing was good, particularly Mark Cobb's drum solo.

Here's most of my outro solo on Biggest Part of Me. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I was really frustrated with this one, as I was overblowing (and getting mad and blowing even harder, which is stupid), and I felt like I was just playing a bunch of garbage, and I was hoping somebody would shoot me so I wouldn't have to finish it. Listening to it now, it sounds pretty good, and I can hear my musical train of thought. Guess I should just let it rip and not worry about it.

Baker Street. Photo cred by someone in Mark Cobb's family

Saturday: Night two at Conner Prairie. I'd guess there were at least 5,000 people in attendance again. Another really good night, though maybe a little sloppy. Still fun, though. Pete's wife, Alyssa, came up and sang Islands in the Stream and Queen of Hearts with us. We also had the horn section, plus Keisha and Kourtney Jackson on background vocals.

Biggest Part of Me got cut from the setlist, squashing the opportunity to maybe redeem myself, but I did put together good solos on I Just Wanna Stop and Turn Your Love Around.

Baker Street was the second song of the encore, and some guy right in the front row had his phone on a selfie stick, which he held very close to me each time I was playing the theme. Not cool. I did my best to ignore it, though I knew it was there. 

After the gig, I ended up having to talk to him (he stood in front of the stage, bellowing YO BOSS! in my direction for nearly five minutes until I finally acknowledged him). He was really proud of his photography. He also wanted to know what it would take for me to give him my hat so that he could have bragging rights within his group. 

Some people suck, even on nights like this one. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Two Night Stand

Thursday: Unplugged. Right as we were beginning the first song of the evening, Lovely Day, I decided that instead of playing my parts on keyboard, I would play flute. That was a stupid idea.  I played a gig's worth of wrong notes in the intro, verse, and chorus. Fortunately, things got better from there.

The rest of the gig was fine. Monkeyboy didn't feel good about his playing, so Reeling in the Years was a much slower shuffle, and felt like it should've been a bonus track on Eric Clapton's Unplugged record.

Also, not actually part of the gig, but I took a decent organ solo on Heart to Heart at soundcheck.

Ganesh, holding it down on the drums
We left all the gear set up for Friday, which meant no load out and no Friday soundcheck, which was...really nice! I packed up my horns and split. 

Friday: It didn't occur to me until we'd already played the left hand column, but there wasn't much saxophone on Friday's gig. I'd guess that we played an hour and a half before we hit Reeling in the Years.

Other than that, it was a pretty regular gig. Home by midnight.

I forgot to take any pictures all night. This is the last note of the gig.

No Saturday gig, but I did play my church gig on Sunday afternoon, and somehow lucked into a good day of flute playing, one where I felt confident in my intonation and dynamics (often I am NOT confident in my intonation and everything goes straight to hell) . I even got a couple of compliments, ending the weekend in stark contrast to the musical hand grenade that began Thursday night. 

A twenty-ish year old girl came up to ask me about my flute and getting a good sound, and I wandered off for a good five minutes talking about eBay and European headjoints and Jeffrey Kahner (principal flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra) before I realized that the correct answer was just "It's a Yamaha flute." Sorry!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

This Week in Yacht Rock History

Yacht Rock took to the road again July fifth, headed towards the Atlantic Ocean. This trip was the reverse of last year's (read about that one right here).

Friday: We played a country club/beach club place in Sea Island. This is the same gig we did last year where they set up a stage in the dunes between the club and the beach.

But first, saxophone repair! I put a new cork foot on the palm key D. No more wad of tape underneath it.

dazzling work, if I do say so myself
Ok, back to the gig. This one's a little annoying. The location isn't ideal, and sand gets in all our gear because the grounds crew is constantly driving tractors behind the stage, stirring everything up (and they don't care enough to go slow).

There's also this thing where the crowd doesn't seem to know how to act at a show--are they supposed to clap like it's the symphony, or lose their minds like it's Beyonce, or is it somewhere in between? Or maybe they so rarely see a band where everybody's playing an instrument and it all sounds good, and they kind of stare like kids watching the animatronic band at Chuck E. Cheese. Whatever it is, the vibe is weird.

the view off the back of the stage
A little over an hour into the festivities, we had to take a pause when the lightning got a little too close and too frequent. Here we are comparing weather apps on our phones.

This felt like it was staring us down, so we hopped on stage, played about five or six more songs, and quit, with the thought that if the weather turned ugly, we'd need time to pack all of our gear up, but also to load it into the trailer and get the van and trailer off the beach.

Saturday: Onward to Charleston for a sold out show at Music Farm.

First up: these bananas are green, like as green as the day they were picked in Ecuador, like Go Green! Go White! green. They've got maybe a week before they're gonna be edible. Strike one, Music Farm.

Music Farm is kind of like the Park Tavern in Atlanta--there's plenty that doesn't bug me, and I think the staff is happy we're there, and the crowd's big and we're all making money, but the venue kind of can't help but shoot itself in the foot (green bananas, stage lighting, green room, and the sound of the room). They care, but not enough to solve any of these problems.

at least they spelled Revue correctly this time

I don't know, maybe I was still grumpy about the previous night, but I just never could get going on this one.

Sunday: Myrtle Beach House of Blues. Another late check/short drive kind of day. Another House of Blues.

Like pretty much every HoB, this one had a nice, big stage, and things sounded good (especially compared to the two previous nights). Also like every HoB, it had the weirdo, burned out staff. Do your best to ignore them (they will do the same to you!)!

Anyway, around 800 in the room, I think, but maybe half those were from ticket giveaways, so...for the most part, everybody seemed really happy, but I'm sure there were people there who just ended up there on a Sunday night and were NOT INTO IT. I'm talking about you, teenage girls with your arms crossed the whole night. Your parents loved us. On the whole, I say this was a surprisingly good gig.

Very excellent to have Mark Cobb back on board, even in this very special outfit.

Finger update: almost back to normal!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Schooner Sub

I subbed with our friends the Yacht Rock Schooner for a daytime gig on Tuesday. This one was some sort of beach themed lunch party. Really hot. Nobody wanted to be outside. It appeared that most people came out, got their food, and then retreated to the air conditioning.


I did what I could. The Schooner uses a saxophonist in addition to the two keyboard players (on this gig, I was only playing saxophone), so I played some horn parts along with one of the keyboardists playing the horn parts...I think? It wasn't always easy to hear.

Also, I was on my spare set of saxophones for this, and my tenor had not one but two loose screws that caused all sorts of chaos until I could get it back together. It was the arm that holds G# closed, and the arm over the upper F cup, in case you're wondering. Because of their close proximity, I'm betting I banged that part of my horn on something, probably months ago, and it's just now showing up.

Anyway, except for the heat, it was pretty painless. They served us BBQ for lunch, so I ate the granola bar I keep stashed in my car.

during the gig

Let's do a finger update! Since the infection opened and the swelling began to recede, things are better. I should be pretty close to normal by this weekend.

Monday, July 1, 2019


Three days in Florida is plenty.

Wednesday: We flew to the Florida Panhandle to meet up with our gear for a cancer benefit show. This place we played was a little weird. The keg urinal, for instance. Nick wanted to know if it would turn his pee into beer.

And the three giant Yamaha mixing consoles, one of which was in pieces behind the building.

And we had an opener--an older guy with an acoustic guitar and a drum machine. He was pretty good, except that some of his chords were weird (he seemed to have a fear of diminished chords, among other things). The green room was so small/terrible that we ate dinner out in the main room, so the guy had to play at least half his set to seven judgmental musicians.

Our set was ok. The room didn't sound too bad, but the crowd was a little weird--some people in the room seemed to be having too much fun, and some people looked at us like we were singing in a foreign language. The vibe didn't fit the nature of the event.

Also, they had cameras that broadcast onto TVs on the wall (and behind us), and it was distracting watching yourself on a half second delay, but it was also hard to look away.

We got out of there and crashed at our hotel for a few hours before the next day's travel. The hotel didn't have enough rooms for us, and so Nick and Pete stayed at a hotel ten minutes down the road.

Thursday: Here's a weird one. We (the band) flew from the Panhandle to Sarasota WITH A CONNECTION IN ATLANTA! and then rode from Sarasota to St. Pete in two cars.

We left the hotel at 7:45 AM. The van and trailer (and Kip and Zach) left at 9 AM. We beat them to the venue by a half hour. Whyyyyyyyyyyyy did we flyyyyyyyyyy?

Anyway, I had a good lunch--some kind of veggie wrap thing.

Around the time that I walked back in, load in had begun. At this venue, they stack things on a forklift and raise them up to the stage. Bencuya probably wouldn't like to see his keyboard on the bottom of this stack.

It's always weird when the venue misspells the name of the band. It's REVUE. 

Expectations weren't too great for this one--right around 500 tickets sold, and it was outdoors in Florida in late June, and bleah, but it wasn't too bad! Pretty great crowd, and the heat wasn't too bad. Turned out to be a good Thursday night.

Check out the statue that lives in the lighting booth at night. For a while when I was packing up, I kept waiting for him to finally move before I realized it wasn't a real person. Wonder what that's all about?

Looks kind of like Lee Sklar out there.

The cork foot behind my palm key D finally disintegrated, and I used a bunch of strips of gaff tape to try and build up a some material to keep the key from opening too much. If my saxophone ever gets off the road, I'll actually have a chance to repair it!

Friday: Next stop, the Florida Theater in Jacksonville! We drove to this one (and left the hotel at a much more comfortable 10:30 AM). In spite of our wanting to believe that Jacksonville is a dump, this theatre was really beautiful. What a cool looking place!

When we arrived, Pete, Nick, and Greg immediately got in a car and went to do a radio interview, so the rest of us had some time to kill before load in. I went for a run down along the St. Johns River.

We had a pretty incredible first time in Jacksonville! This theatre sounded great, and the crowd was really into it in spite of the fact that there was no standing room. Very cool.

Saturday: Homeward! Up a little too early yet again, but this trip is over. Jacksonville's airport is actually really nice, too.

My nasty finger. This gets gross, so you might not want to look at the pictures.

During Wednesday's gig, the middle finger on my right hand was sore at the tip. Not so bad that I couldn't play my keyboard parts, but...almost. I assumed it was because I'd jammed it the day before. It was a bit swollen around the nail.

Wednesday: some swelling
Thursday was significantly worse in terms of pain and swelling. I started leaving out some notes in voicings, or trying to finger them differently to avoid using that finger. My finger swelled wide enough that it wouldn't fit between the black keys on the piano. I couldn't press on the keys without pain, so I arched my fingers so that my fingernail would hit the key instead of the fleshy part of my fingertip.

Thursday: fatter finger

By Friday, I knew I was in trouble. It was clearly getting worse. I tried icing it, which instantaneously quadrupled the pain. Even cool water was excruciating. The gig this evening was extra tough, because now it was starting to affect my saxophone and flute playing as well as the keyboard stuff. Even the EWI, which has no actual moving keys, was difficult to handle. It really hurt all the time now.

Saturday afternoon, swelling was super bad on one side of my fingernail. It finally occurred to me that this was not because of jamming my finger. Instead, it was an oncoming infection from a torn cuticle the previous week.

Saturday was brutal--I gobbled ibuprofen like candy, and I woke up in serious pain every couple of hours, and my entire finger had ballooned up.

I accidentally hit it on something Sunday morning, which was indescribably painful, and opened the wound and began to release some of the swelling.

Several warm saltwater soaks helped draw out some of the blood and puss.

Made it through my church gig without it oozing on anybody.

Gross, but the healing is underway. Antibiotics start tomorrow!