Cover bands are a dime a dozen in Atlanta. They do ’70s disco, ’80s metal, ’90s grunge, tributes to Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi.
Then there’s a sub-genre that has been oft-ignored: late ’70s/early ’80s K-tel friendly soft rock. Core artists include Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross and Captain and Tenille. Most of this stuff even B98.5 won’t play anymore in their regular rotation.
But members of the local band Y-O-U in late 2007 thought it would be a lark to have an offshoot group specialize in this arena under the name Yacht Rock Revue.
Now it’s actually pretty successful. They perform every Thursday night at 10High in Virginia Highlands. They grooved at the Dogwood Festival this past spring. They sang “Silly Love Songs” to the buzzed crowd at the Dunwoody Beer Festival last weekend. They’ve even done weddings.
“It’s taken a while for me to get into Christopher Cross and Ambrosia,” said lead singer Nick Niespodziani, the youngest member of the eight-piece band at age 30. “I dig it now. Compared to any other covers, this one is more fun.”
He feels this brand of music “is not self conscious. It’s not artsy or hip. It’s escapist. It makes you feel like you’re on a yacht.” The most popular songs so far, he said, include “Rich Girl” by Hall & Oates, “Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs and “Brandy” by Looking Glass.
His persona on stage is nonchalant and mildly obnoxious, too. In a white captain’s uniform, he resembles a thinner version of Gopher from “The Love Boat.” (Adding to the goof factor, the band even sold 20 captain hats on stage purchased at cost from Psycho Sisters in Little Five Points and sold for $10 each to the happy drunks in the crowd.)
“We appreciate your tepid response,” Niespodziani said after the band played Elton John’s “Little Jeannie.” “Tepid is good. Too much reaction and you’ll rock the boat. And that’s bad.”
Drummer Mark Cobb, who came up with the concept, said he’s amazed how many women who weren’t even alive in the late 1970s sing along to all the words to the songs.
The indie rock part of Niespodziani feels “a little evil” making money off such cheesy music. “Sometimes I feel like I’m part of the problem, not the solution,” he said. “There are already so many clubs that focus on covers, not originals.”
At the same time, Niespodziani justifies Yacht Rock’s existence by saying “anything that enables us to be creative and spend more time doing what we love to do [as Y-O-U] is a win for us.” At least to his face, “I’m surprised how few people snicker at us.” Then he paused.
“If I weren’t in this band,” he mused, “I think I’d be a hater.”
Here’s video I took of them performing “Takin’ It to the Streets” by the Doobie Brothers last Saturday at the Dunwoody Beer Festival:
If you want to learn more about the band and hear samples, check out their site www.pleaserock.com.
TBS ponders axed “My Name is Earl”
Turner Entertainment president Steve Koonin told the L.A. Times that Atlanta-based TBS might consider saving “My Name is Earl,” an NBC show that was axed this week after four seasons due to sinking ratings.
“We like the show very much; we’d definitely look,” Koonin told the Times at the Turner upfront in New York earlier this week.
“Earl” repeats already air on TBS Monday nights. Last week, it averaged a respectable 1.3 million viewers. Cable, though, tends to be more frugal than broadcast. Can they afford the price to pay for new episodes of “Earl”? We shall see soon enough.
“Idol” ratings huge in Atlanta
The “American Idol” finale Wednesday, in which low-key Kris Allen overcame bombastic early favorite Adam Lambert, brought in huge numbers locally. The show drew 749,000 viewers in Atlanta and 29 million-plus fans nationwide. That’s down slightly from last year. The Tuesday performance show attracted 618,000 viewers (compared with 393,000 for “Dancing With the Stars” finale.)
Save Paste magazine campaign halfway there
Decatur’s hip music magazine Paste recently announced a fundraising campaign to save itself from extinction in tough economic times. So far, the response has been strong, with $170,000 raised as of Thursday, according to a Paste magazine press release. The goal is $300,000. A donation gets you more than 120 tracks of music from acts such as Cee-lo, Neko Case, Yoko Ono and Emmylou Harris.
790/The Zone offers $50K to Vick
The media is now battling to get the first interview with Michael Vick since the football star left prison earlier this week.
790/The Zone, never a radio station to shy away from publicity, has offered $50,000 to Vick (to be given to the Humane Society) for the shot to talk to him first. Radio station spokeswoman Leslie Smith told Buzz she has not heard back from Vick’s agent.
Smith knows the offer is a long shot since plenty of media organizations with more clout and cash are vying for his attention. But she said it would be a “huge publicity boost” for him to do something for charity. (Then again, it would be an even bigger publicity boost for the Zone.)
Actor-director Richard Benjamin is 71. Songwriter Bernie Taupin is 59. Singer Morrissey is 50. Singer Johnny Gill is 43. Model Naomi Campbell is 39. Singer Donell Jones is 36.