Jhe the music takes you on a journey, as the ocean mist and cool breeze brush your face.
The craft is a yacht. The stereo plays textured tracks such as “Sailing”, “Ride Like the Wind” and “Africa”. You sing because you can’t help it.
Yacht rock has officially docked in Vegas. This music was once known as “easy listening” or “soft rock”, with infusions of soul, disco and smooth jazz. The subgenre has coalesced under a friendly, airy title. The music lends itself to costumes, encores and generalized groove.
Vegas yacht rockers include:
— The Windjammers. The loaded lineup of A-plus players are based in Las Vegas and have built a clientele primarily at Station Casinos venues. Those shows are on hiatus as the band secures dates with (appropriately) Royal Caribbean International. The band also performed in the Bootlegger Bistro’s Copa Room.
— The Dockworkers. The national act moved to town and began the city’s first yacht rock residency on September 8 at the Duomo music club in Rio. The Docksiders play at 6 p.m. every day (on Dark Fridays and Saturdays) in an open-ended run.
– Yächtley Crëw, another national band and pioneer of yacht rock culture, plays six dates over three weekends at Kaos at the Palms from November 18-19 through February 24-25. in Kaos on July 1 and 2.
— Yacht n’Roll. Another very capable band that played several dates at Arizona Charlie’s Decatur and Boulder, most likely returning to the Rush Lounge at the Golden Nugget in October.
Additionally, touring band Yacht Rock Revue headlined a healthy crowd, estimated at 75% capacity, at the House of Blues in August.
And among the superstar headliners, Christopher Cross plays The Pearl at the Palms on Friday night. Cross should be on the rock yacht Mount Rushmore, winning Grammys with yacht rock songs before there was even an end.
Taken together, yacht rock is a busy cruise line in Las Vegas. People who play it say the nostalgia is at the heart of its popularity.
“There’s almost this rule, like the 40-year rule, where if it was popular 40 years ago, it’s going to be a hit right now,” says Jerry Lopez, founder of The Windjammers, a spin-off from the legendary band of Vegas Santa Fe. horns and the horns of Fat City. Lopez brought this group to Las Vegas in the mid-1970s.
“People who remember when this music was in the Top 40 now have discretionary income,” Lopez says, “and they remember when they were the coolest. It all starts there.”
The Windjammers performed uncovered shows and paid shows. The band opened at Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort in January 2020, just before COVID hit. They regularly fill the room, whether there is a cover or not.
Lopez has worked in Las Vegas since Santa Fe’s first “real” gig at the Mint on Fremont Street in 1975. He says of that time, “We were a Top 40 band, and this music was Top 40 back then. So we understand the hardware.
Even so, Lopez adds, “I’ll be honest with you, I really wasn’t sure it would work. I knew the rest of the guys who rode it loved it. And I assumed, because of that, that other people who go out and support live music would like it too.
Kaos on the seas
Palms Entertainment VP Crystal Robinson-Wesley said bringing in Yächtley Crëw was more than a cool shot. It was a healthy business.
“It’s the hits of the 70s and 80s, and it really builds on our core clientele,” says Robinson-Wesley. “What we found out is that they know all the words. It’s very recognizable tunes, great music, and that’s what people are looking for. It fits really well with who we talk to on an average day.
The Cross booking at Pearl also tapped into the rock yacht demo.
“Absolutely,” says Robinson-Wesley. “I’m telling you, we had to expand our seats, he’s been so popular. We’re really excited about it.
Yacht around the Dock
Also off the Strip, The Duomo at the Rio took over the city’s first rock yacht residency along with The Docksiders. The group was signed by industry vet Damian Costa, late of Caesars Entertainment.
The Docksiders are musically formidable, led by entertainment industry veteran Kevin Sucher, an accomplished producer, artist and tour manager who has worked with David Foster, Tony Orlando, Stevie Wonder and Gwen Stefani.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) September 27, 2022
The Docksiders wear Vegas-inspired sequined blue boat jackets, captain’s hats and white pants. Videos of songs from their set list play at the back of the stage and on the monitors on either side.
A Docksiders show is designed as an ocean and musical adventure. Fittingly, one of the Docksiders’ yacht rock anthems is “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes. The experience is an escape from the news of the day, from the antagonism, whatever negative vibrations might be outside the club’s doors.
“This music is so representative of a simpler time and a time that just for me personally had a lot less stress,” Sucher says. “These songs have kind of been the soundtrack to our lives.”
Sucher’s band expanded the horizon of yacht rock by including several songs by female recording stars, in particular Olivia Newton-John, sung by Sucher’s wife, Erin. “There are hardly any female artists, maybe a handful,” Sucher says. “Maybe Carly Simon with ‘You’re So Vain’, but not other aspects of her catalog. A few Linda Ronstadt, Yvonne Elliman, who vacillates on the disco side. So we showed a little of creativity.
Uniform pin call
Yacht rock became the advanced version of adult rock in the mid-2000s, thanks to the “Yacht Rock” video series, which traced the fictional lives of soft rock stars from the 1970s to the early 80s. attracted a massive audience when SiriusXM launched Yacht Rock Radio in 2015.
The YachtOrNyacht.com website has also been instrumental in consolidating the yacht rock culture. If you really want to slip into scuba gear for a deep dive, the site goes on to categorize and list hundreds of yacht rock songs.
“There are songs on this website where you’re like, ‘Who is this? What is this?’ Then you listen to it and you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. I get it. That’s totally the vibe I want,” says Phillip Daniel, aka Philly Ocean from Yächtley Crëw. “These songs are so well produced. Back in those days when you had many of the same session musicians on multiple songs, the songwriters, the producers were all very experienced pros.
Audience members may feel a slight breeze in these shows, but playing yacht rock properly is a task.
“Music production at that time was mostly done by live musicians. There was very little, if any, digital sequencing or electronic equipment in use today,” says Lopez. “It was all done by humans, and most of those humans were really, really good musicians.” Windjammers and The Docksiders sing live, without backing tracks. As Lopez says, “To do it justice, to add all the nuances and minutiae that go into this music, it takes real talent.”
Sucher says yacht rock today is where classic rock was two decades ago. “I think it’s the beginning, and it’s just my gut feeling talking, but I don’t think yacht rock is going anywhere,” he says. “Actually, I think it’s only going to get stronger.”
Lopez is ready for any change in the tide.
“Once in a while I stir a bit, then get on the board and surf,” he says. “I just keep riding with the waves.”
John Katsilometes’ column airs daily in Section A. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.