Sailing the soundwaves with local yacht rock band

ugly yacht rock

A new music craze is sweeping the city, and the streets are being filled with cotton suits and dock shoes. But here’s the catch: the music isn’t new, in fact some might even call it old.

This craze has given a name to musicians who did not fall into any category. They aren’t soft rock; they aren’t disco, or new wave.  They are Steely Dan, Christopher Cross, The Doobie Brothers and more. They are… Yacht Rock!  And on Wednesday, November 26 at 9:00 and 10:30 you can catch all of these musicians live at The Spill!

Now I don’t want to mislead you, Steely Dan and Christopher Cross and the rest won’t actually be at The Spill on Wednesday, but a very talented group of musicians will be there and they will be doing a Tribute to Yacht Rock. These musicians are Dave Tough, Kelly McMichael, Daniel Banoub, and Marcus and Rico Browne.

“Yacht Rock is a style of pop rock that peeked in the late ‘70s early ‘80s that came out of California. It was associated with a sort of sophisticated jazz approach to rock music,” explains Tough.

For so long these musicians have been genre-less, often being clumped with either soft rock or pop. “It wasn’t defined and given a name until around 10 years ago,” says McMichael. Some would say that Steely Dan is the founder of this genre of music, and then after them people like Christopher Cross and Hall & Oates followed.

The Doobie Brothers jumped on board the Yacht only after members from Steely Dan, Michael McDonald and Jeff Skunk Baxter (who now works with classified information for the pentagon…interesting) joined the band.

What is fun about Yacht Rock is that though it may sound simple to the ear, these songs and this style of music is actually rather complex. “We decided to do a show together, doing a set of covers, and we wanted to find out a theme of covers,” Banoub says.

“We were basically already a Yacht Rock cover band, so then we added a few more Yacht Rock songs to make it official,” explains Tough when asked about why the band chose this genre of music to cover.

I had heard a rumour that when listening to a Yacht Rock cover band that it is likely they will not play songs by The Doobie Brothers, however Tough says that is not true of this particular cover band. “The attraction for us is that it is catchy and accessible but tricky to learn,” says McMichael.

“A lot of the Yacht Rock songs are really, really hard to play, and so you have to be strategic as a Yacht Rock cover band and not pick all of the most difficult songs. So I can understand why someone would start a Yacht Rock cover band and not play Doobie Brothers songs because they are really hard, so are Steely Dan songs.

So we pick one the easiest Steely Dan songs and put a lot of energy into learning a really hard Doobie Brothers song,” explains Tough.  One of the defining features of Yacht Rock is that it is really hard to play but it doesn’t sound hard to play.

You may think you don’t know any Yacht Rock songs, and then the band starts playing, and BAM! Turns out you actually know a lot of Yacht Rock songs, which is makes Yacht Rock a hidden gem among music genres.

“We have defiantly stretched our scope of Yacht Rock, because the definition is pretty limiting, what we have done is apply any general feel of soft rock, jazz influence to pop music and so we’ve included Bonnie Raitt and Fleetwood Mac,” says McMichael.

This show coming up at The Spill will be the bands second official show as a Yacht Rock cover band and it will cost $10 for the public and $5 for students, and there will be a surprise guest saxophonist.

For this performance audience members are encouraged to dress the part.  That means bring out those pastels, your cotton suits, and your dock shoes; “clothes that you would party in on a boat in the ‘80s,” laugh Tough and McMichael.

This show is about music, dressing up and escaping this dreary winter weather to sail the sound waves of Yacht Rock.

About Caleigh Boyle 32 Articles
Caleigh Boyle, double major in English Lit and Cultural Studies is passionate about the arts, words—both spoken and written—and can often be found at Chapters buying more journals than she needs.