Karmel Knocking Around on a yacht…rock…joining Yächtley Crëw

You know, when I was in radio I worked as a DJ at a number of stations and I had come to be familiar with many genres. Most genres I liked, I had a pretty wide range of music that I listened to. And there were a couple of genres that I didn’t like, and there was a small range of music that I was “forced” to listen to. Most of what I enjoyed listening to, and most of what I was playing for my audiences (thankfully), was what was known as Top 40, Pop Music, most of which has roots in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

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One genre that I hadn’t heard of is something called yacht rock. So when Melissa approached me and said that Jenna wanted to know if we wanted to go to a yacht rock concert in Atlantic City, naturally I asked, “What the hell is yacht rock?”

Yacht rock apparently became a “thing” when the term was used for the title of a 2005 YouTube series documenting the lives of a fictionalized group of American pop stars from the 70’s and 80’s. SiriusXM has an entire station (311) dedicated to yacht rock. It came to be associated with such easy rock music and is captured perfectly by Christopher Cross’s song Sailing which lends itself to the mystique that it’s created, and why you will see fans wearing captain’s hats and other “sailing attire” to the performances.

Yächtley Crëw was performing at Harrah’s in Atlantic City, right in Jenna’s neck of the woods. After learning about yacht rock, and seeing what some of the songs on the set list were going to be, I was a bit dubious about Melissa’s and Jenna’s interest, and curious to see if they would even know the songs. I was actually looking forward to the experience. And it truly WAS an experience.

Immediately upon entering Harrah’s, there were people walking around with captain’s hats, cabana wear, sunglasses (indoors), and sipping tropical drinks. It almost appeared to be the way you see people attending a comic con event or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, when everyone comes to the venue all dressed up for the event.

Welcome aboard!

Okay…well is this concert…or show? Because that is the real question.

Are we calling them members of the band, or performers?

Mike Nesmith once said of the Monkees: “The critics would say, ‘You guys aren’t real.” And I said, well define your terms.”

Here are the names of the individuals on the stage:

Philly Ocean lead vocals; Sailor Hawkins on drums; Tommy Buoy on lead guitar; Baba Buoy on bass; Stoney Shores on keyboard; Pauly Shores on saxophone; and Matthew McDonald on keyboards. I might be mistaken, but it seems like the guy on keyboards doesn’t fit the part?

Fit the part…so that was the question I had when I spoke to Philly Ocean, when I asked him if it is a show or is it a concert?

“It’s a little of both, actually,” he told me. “Because we are not there to just play the music…we are there to engage the audience.”

So you have to wonder if you are being fooled…or is this a real band in front of you?

The truth is…they’re good…they’re VERY real and damn good.

Ocean is a real treat with a wide voice range to cover the vast array of songs on the play list.

Cover? Well, other than a song or two that may be of the original nature, they are covering so many of the popular songs from the 70’s and 80’s…songs like Ride Like the Wind by Christopher Cross; Maneater by Hall and Oates; Reeling in the Years by Steely Dan; Come Sail Away by Styx; Baby Come Back by Player; Afternoon Delight by Starland Vocal Band; Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet; Kokomo by the Beach Boys; Magic by Pilot; Lido Shuffle by Boz Scaggs; Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty.

Ocean, of course, stands front and center, and not only does his voice lend itself to the brilliance of the show, he has a presence that is engaging and welcoming. But he is not alone. All of the other members of the ensemble bring their own personalities and gifts to the show, and each get their time to shine solo.

Philly Ocean with Jenna!

The “wow” moment for me, and apparently for the rest of the audience as well, was when they did Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. It’s always been a sentimental favorite of mine, because of the song’s words and meaning. And because I always associate it with my dad, because it always seemed to be playing on the radio as we were on our way to work together when I was a teenager, in the months before he passed away.

But if you are familiar with the song, you are aware of the saxophone solo. It’s iconic.

Well…Pauly Shores’ sax solo was indescribably amazing. He played it flawlessly and with so much flair and energy. He actually started out on stage and somehow moved about the audience, even ending up on the second tier in the back. Absolutely no words would do it justice.

Pauly Shores doing the sax solo of Baker Street!

“We all came from original bands,” said Ocean. “And we each obviously had an innate love for this kind of music. We realized that no one is playing it and it IS so good. It may be less glamorous but there was obviously an audience for it. And we love that has become this sort of phenomenon.”

Phenomenon is right. There is a Sirius XM channel dedicated specifically to the genre. And the audiences pack the venues and dress the part, and sing right along.

“The audiences know all of the elements…they know the words, they know the chords, they will know if we miss something,” said Ocean. “The songs ARE so well known, and we love that, especially in these times, that people have a place to go and experience the music that they can relate to and share in the experience.”

So don your cabana wear, put on your captain’s hat, and perhaps even some shades, but whatever you do, don’t miss the boat. Be sure to catch the show.

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