If you think the music of Kenny Loggins, Hall & Oates and Michael McDonald is corny and mediocre as all get out, then stop reading this article immediately. In fact, don’t be anywhere near Lincoln Theatre on Thursday. That’s the night a group of musicians from Atlanta will come to town and do their best covers from most of those artists’ songbooks.
If you’re still reading this, then let us tell you about the Yacht Rock Revue.
Taking their name from “Yacht Rock,” the Internet comedy series that fictionalized the lives of these lite-FM stars and others, the seven-piece outfit goes from town to town, serving cover versions of many soft-rock, adult-contemporary hits of the ‘70s and ‘80s. “We didn’t set out to do this,” assures lead singer Nicholas Niespodziani. “This wasn’t our goal. We just kind of followed it to where it is now.”
According to Niespodziani, he and his future bandmates were doing a night of music called “ ‘70s AM Gold” at a club four years ago. The audience was feeling it. The band was feeling it. And, now, they go around looking to see if others will feel it. “At a certain point – I guess, 3 1/2 years ago – we were like, ‘Hey, this could actually be our day job. We should put a little more effort behind it,’ ” he says.
Yacht Rock Revue has put a little more effort into performing, to the point where they’ve built a small live-music industry in Atlanta. Under the parent-company name PleaseRock, the Revue has rounded up other cover bands, DJs and performers who are always available for parties, weddings and other functions. They’ve also assembled an annual Yacht Rock revival concert, which will happen next month in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. The show will feature the Revue backing up such soft-rock performers of the era as Robbie Dupree, Peter Beckett of Player and Larry Hoppen of Orleans.
“It’s definitely not a big goof,” says Niespodziani. “I think, you know, we take our jobs pretty seriously in terms of doing these jobs. I think that’s the difference. Like, there are a lot of other bands that try to do this music, but they either don’t have the musical chops or the discipline to really get after it. Because, you know, Steely Dan and Hall & Oates – it’s not easy.”
Niespodziani insists that many so-called, yacht-rock compositions are not to be scoffed at. “It’s very difficult to pull it off with all the complicated chords, the harmonies and that kind of thing,” he says. “Add to that they’re great songs. Well, some of them are pretty throwaway, like ‘The Pina Colada Song’ and things like that. But a song like ‘Say It Isn’t So’ by Hall & Oates or ‘My Old School’ by Steely Dan – like, these are really well-written songs that happen to also be songs that are good to drink fizzy drinks to, you know.”
Entertainment’s the thing
At the end of the day, all the band seeks to do is entertain their audience, whether by performing music by other artists or original material they’ve composed. (Their songs “Can’t Wait for Summer” and “Good Thing” are available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.) “I think what really connects this music to the audience is that the thing all these bands had in common is that they were making ‘good times’ music,” says Niespodziani. “It’s not music to be taken super-seriously. You know, it’s not like Michael McDonald was sitting down writing a philosophical treatise when he was writing his songs. He was making songs that were fun to listen to and they could help you escape from your normal day-to-day thing.”
But even with all the good times they dole out, the men of Yacht Rock Revue are dedicated in reviving the oft-ridiculed, oft-misunderstood genre that is soft rock. “The thing about the concept is we didn’t take it seriously at first,” he says. “But we always took the music seriously. That’s kind of our mantra: to take music seriously, but not take ourselves too seriously.”