One Eyed Jacks
Friday, April 20 at 9:00pm
Yacht rock was not initially a term of endearment. It was actually a pejorative term used to describe what is, in my opinion, some of the best music from the late seventies and early eighties. The phrase was intended to stigmatize a number of the “more elite” soft rockers from the period. Interestingly, the name for the genre was not coined until thirty years after the music it refers to was produced. To me, the name is virtually irrelevant. You can group Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins, and The Doobie Brothers together and call them whatever you want for all I care.
However, what I do care about is that they have made some incredible music and a number of my all-time favorite songs. This is why I enjoy the New Orleans based band, Where Y’acht, who does a wonderful job replicating the sound and feel of these classic artists. While I’m not a fan of the term, I can’t help but appreciate the band’s name, combining the genre with one of New Orleans’ most well-known colloquialisms.
Where Y’acht has taken their favorite songs from the period and tried to master them. This is no joking matter for them either. They’ve got a full seven-man band to produce all the magic. The group even tries to dress the part without being too ridiculous. Most importantly, they do a great job of recreating the electric piano, catchy guitar licks, harmonies, and smooth vocals that are all trademarks of the genre.
As lead singer and pianist Adam Campagna put it, “It’s got to feel smooth.” When I read about their performance of the Rupert Holmes classic, “Escape (Pina Colada Song)” I knew they were a band for me. They’re a guaranteed crowd pleaser and a wonderful excuse to bust a move on the dance floor.
Republic New Orleans
The Lone Bellow
Saturday, April 21 at 7:30pm
The trio that is now The Lone Bellow met at a small diner in Brooklyn, NY. They constitute everything that’s right about Americana and Indie-folk music. All aspects ranging from the harmonies to the instruments, the lyrics, and the authenticity are everything you could ask for and then some. No, unfortunately, there’s no banjo but a mandolin is pretty close. The group burst onto the scene in 2013 with their self-titled debut album that quickly rose up the Billboard 200 charts. Here’s a live performance of my favorite song, “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold”:
It’s not difficult to understand why the three have had so much success. Brian Elmquist can absolutely shred on the guitar and Kanene Donehey Pipkin is a multi-instrumental virtuoso. The band is tied together by lead vocalist and guitarist Zach Williams. What’s even more impressive is Williams is a self-taught guitarist and didn’t learn how to play guitar until well into his adult life.
The tight knit harmonies are the most crucial aspect of the band, but one cannot overlook Williams’ songwriting. The lyrics are taken from a journal that he would write in while he and his wife dealt with an injury she sustained following a horseback riding incident. Thankfully his wife has recovered and now we all have the wonderful music of The Lone Bellow.
They have released two albums since they came out with The Lone Bellow, neither of which has disappointed. Their second album, Then Came the Morning, was an even bigger critical success than their debut. Yet, I believe it is their most recent album, Walk Into a Storm, that is their best to date. Walk Into a Storm has taken everything they do best, the harmonies, powerful performances, perfect tempo, and the stories, and made them better. What’s not to like about that?
Here’s their album Walk Into a Storm, released in Sep. 2017:
Tuesday, April 24 at 8:00pm
I know this is looking ahead to next week, but I like these guys so much that I had to include them. Go jump on the tickets now. The four members of the band, Jack Stratton, Theo Katzman, Woody Goss, and Joe Dart met at University of Michigan’s music school. It didn’t take long for them create Vulfpeck. The idea behind the band should give some insight into the musical genius of this crew.
Jack Stratton founded the group in 2011 on the idea that Vulfpeck could be a German version of U.S. session musicians of the 1960s. Stratton came up with this idea after reading an interview with German producer Reinhold Mack. It’s ideas like these that wouldn’t seem to work for the normal band but have done wonders for Vulfpeck. My favorite example is Vulfpeck’s Sleepify album. The band created a ten song, silent album on Spotify in 2014 that they received over $20,000 in royalties from. As a result, the group played around the U.S. on a free admissions tour. How awesome is that? I’m a big fan of Spotify but everyone has to appreciate gaming the system every once in a while. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, right? Now, let’s get down to the music.
Vulfpeck is as good of a funk band as you’re going to find today. All of the band’s musicians played in Michigan’s rhythm section, the ideal precursor for a perfect funk band. Joe Dart dominates on bass while both Stratton and Woody Goss play keys, rounded out by the multi-talented Katzman on drums. The quartet comes together on some nice harmonies but also includes a number of outside vocalists that add to the funk. My favorite is the addition of Antwuan Stanley on their song “1612.” I apologize in advance if you’re at work but this one will get you moving. That can be said for just about all of Vulfpeck’s funky delights. They’re a must-see Tuesday night.
Listen to Vulfpeck’s top hits and watch their live performance of “1612”:
Looking forward: Next week I’ll have a full Jazz Fest preview for you. It’ll include my top must-see artists for both weekends. As always, it figures to be an awesome two weeks. Thank you to the groups that have reached out to me recently and keep them coming in!
Alex Abramson is a writer for NolaVie who is a student at Washington and Lee University when he’s not in town listening to music, attending his brother’s sporting events, and updating his playlist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send your thoughts, any recommendations, and info if you have live music playing at your venue.