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BY: JChameleon of Yacht Rock Toronto
I have put together this list of key elements that can make a song Yacht Rock and boat worthy. Having some of these makes a good case for the boat and not having enough can leave a song docked in the Marina.
These are not my rules, these are the guidelines as set out by the creators of Yacht Rock (JD Ryznar, Hunter Stair, Hollywood Steve Huey & David Lyons) as they laid theme out in their influential podcast Beyond Yacht Rock podcast that has run for the last 3 years. I have simply compile these elements.
Yacht Rock Elements
1. The Doobie Bounce – The Doobie Brother Sound w/Michael McDonald – The lilt that occurs when the piano plays a percussive rhythm, while the bass plays on beat one and then rests leaving space for the rhythm section, before coming back in on beat three. In essence the bass plays a line often based around the kick drum pattern. This formula was established on the iconic yacht rock song “What a Fool Believes,” and has gone on to be copied thousands of time is the genre.
2. The Log Line – The Kenny Loggins sound - Folky roots with a jazz sensibility and a powerful vocal delivery
3. The Hold The Line – The Toto sound - How hard you can rock before it’s too hard in yacht rock.
4. The Cross- Fire – The Christopher Cross sound – Soft vocal delivery with strong guitar solos
5. Personnel Matters – The yacht rock sound is often achieved by a core group of session musicians who played on countless hits during the era. Songs without notable personnel can still make the boat if the sound is right.
6. Jazzy sophistication and/or r&b elements – Yacht rock has been described as nerdy white guys trying to do rhythm & blues. It is the inclusion of jazz or rhythm & blues, which distinguishes it from typical soulless soft rock.
7. Studio Polish – Yacht Rock occurs during the finest years for audio technology and was recorded in expensive studios during the analogue era (1976-1984). After 1984 most studios are using digital technology and the warmth is lost.
8. Musical Arrangement must take precedence over lyrics – Song arrangements need twist and turns and enough breathing room for the technical chops of the players to shine through. This is why singer/songwriters often fail to make the boat.
9. Campfire music doesn’t make it – Songs cannot typically be acoustic guitar driven or simple sing-song material.
10. Sailing and tropical references - Just because a song mentions boats or the tropics does not automatically mean it’s yacht rock
11. Key Instruments – Electric piano & electric Guitar, and sometimes sax.
12. Fools - Lyrical content is often about a fool either lost in love or out of love. However sappy love letter lyrics typically don’t work. (Except in Yacht Soul*)
13. Yacht pocket – Tempo range is about 80-110 bpm
14. Instrumental have the ‘Peg’ it. – Instrumental yacht rock songs are possible, but they have to work harder to overcome the lack of lyrics. They have to be pretty amazing and almost perfectly yachty.
15. Strings - Overuse of sappy string arrangements will get you kicked off the boat.
16. No Too Confident - Can’t be overly confident or sultry, unless it’s yacht soul* (See number 12)
17. Era - Due to production techniques the era is 1976-1984, songs outside this range can be considered if they really nail the sound. Songs before 1976 are referred to as ‘proto-yacht’ those after 1984 are referred to as ‘fire keepers.’
18. Drum machines and synths - These are acceptable if they support the song and feel organic.
*Yacht Soul – A subgenre of yacht rock in which an African American funk, pop, or r & b singer is backed up by a yachty sounding backing band, which is often populated by and/or produced by yacht rock session musicians. (Ex. We’re In This Love Together – Al Jarreau, produced by Jay Graydon)
Tattoo and Hank Justice
Tattoo is no stranger to Yacht Rock. He has attended over 1567 concerts in this genre. His vast array of Concert T Shirts is evidence of his passion for the soft rock sounds of the 70s and 80s. Deriving his name from the fictional character played by Herve Villachaiz on TV's Fantasy Island , Alex Lopez ( his real name ) has been in the DJ circuit for many years specializing in Kareoke events.
Hank Justice ,( Salty Hank ) a member of the Volksmusik group has been DJing in popular Miami hotspots for many years and has recently embraced the Miami Yacht Rock lifestyle. His technical expertise and photographic skills enhance the image of our events. We are honored to share the Deck with such distinguished individuals.
Update: As of August 2019, Tattoo is no longer part of Yacht Rock Miami
Jupiter, Florida that is
Our presence was required at a very Private affair, in fact so private we can only post a few pictures, and had to sign a privacy disclosure with our clients. Of course we" Dropped it like it's Yacht " and the guests went crazy over our varied selections throughout the evening. A fine performance by the Captains if I do say so myself, we even took the Volkswagen for more eye candy ( as if we were not enough ) Here are a few memories.
Yes we did. The First ever Yacht Rock Party is now one for the history books. Back in the day . we used to get together at someone's house , throw a bunch of records on the carpet and proceed to hear cuts from each different record. Admiring the artwork, and studying the liner notes on the sleeve as if we were cramming for a final exam. This would describe our Sunday afternoon perfectly, then and now ( minus the carpeting ) The Casino Miami was host to The Yacht Rock Party organized by Captain Juan Luv, Tattoo, and myself . The " Party" began at 4 with a few curiosity seekers who sat waiting to see what this " yacht Rock Thing " was all about , slowly people creeped into to the main area , getting comfortable and ordering their drinks. At first the selection was a mixture of deep and classic Yacht hits from such artists as Pages, Seals and Croft and Eddie Rabbit. Everyone was on board and they all knew where this boat was headed. Dressed in our uniform of the day ( Hawaiin Shirts , Captain's Hats and Aviator glasses the crew would venture into all tracks within the Yachtski Scale. Our good friend Nick Roche , broke in with a few Karaoke songs to provide an additional element of " Yachtiness" to the evening . Performing Michael McDonald's Yacht Anthem " What a Fool Believes" and damn good I may add.
The audience reaction to this music was overwhelming . The requests were on point and we were pleasantly surprised on how knowledgeable everyone in attendance was with our format. Yacht has docked in South Florida and we are glad that we were able to raise awarness of the great sounds to all our shipmates. See you on the next Voyage!!
Everybody is asking, What is Yacht Rock?
Everybody is asking, What is Yacht Rock?
In a nutshell it is Soft Rock from the 70s and 80s. Artists such as The Doobie Brothers, Toto, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald and hundreds of other artists you've probably never heard of. It's a laid back sound , ranging from Ballads to Mid Tempo tracks with a common " Smoothness" The playlist is dictated by those that coined the phrase " Yacht Rock" The term "Yacht rock" did not exist while the genre was active .In part, "yacht rock" refers to the stereotype of the yuppie yacht owner, enjoying smooth music while out for a sail.
On Sunday September 16, 2018 4 PM join Captains Juan Luv and Captain G for the first ever Yacht Rock Party in South Florida at the newly renovated Casino Miami ( Formerly Miami Jai Alai) 3500 NW 37th Ave, Miami, FL 33142 A relaxing afternoon of conversation with a smooth soundtrack . Check out Eddie Ganz's Podcast for more " Yacht-ucation " Yacht Rock Show
Miami gets a taste of the Soft Rock Vibe
Casino Miami is host to a variety of events during their week. This last Sunday I was privileged to spin on " Smooth Grooves Sundays" A popular local Jazz event. The event starts at 4pm and showcases talent from around the city including Award winning saxophonist Ed Calle. On this particular Sunday I was on the decks on DJ duty . Jazz of course was the focus, and I was surprised on how well it was complimented by Yacht Rock. The crowd was very enthusiastic requesting many songs of the period, some "Certified " Yacht and others not. What struck me the most was that there is a audience for this music in this town dominated by Electronic Dance Music and Caribbean Flavored Dance rhythms. Of course Michael McDonald was high on the list of requests for the afternoon , but I also discovered a taste for Jim Photoglo " Fool in Love with You" " his most successful song, reaching number 25 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
It was an interesting collection of fans of Soft Rock. I was joined by Captain Juan Luv of www.yachtrockmiami.com and Alex Lopez ( DJ Tattoo) Nelson Castillo and Corky Zeledon all avid fans who contributed input on the evening's selection. Overall , it looks like we are on to something , breathing life into a genre we thought had faded. The Fans are there in South Florida , now our next task is to spread the word and find those fans that want a musical alternative. Find the Yacht Rock Party Miami Group on Facebook and Instagram
Soft rock singer/songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and producerKenneth Clark Loggins was born January 7, 1948 His early songwriting compositions were recorded with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970, which led to seven albums, performing as the group Loggins and Messina from 1972 to 1977. As a solo artist, Kenny experienced a string of soundtrack successes, including an Academy Award nomination for "Footloose" in 1984. His early soundtrack contributions date back to the film A Star Is Born in 1976, and for much of the 1980s and 1990s, he was known as "The Soundtrack King". Finally Home was released in 2013, shortly after Loggins formed the group Blue Sky Riders with Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman. His hits can be found on virtually all Yacht Rock Music lists.
We just docked after a long day of taking in a beautiful south Florida day on the Yacht. At first we we thought we wanted to fish a little , but the chef had prepared a delicious Seared Tuna Ahi Steak and his special Black Forest Ham Croquetas and we decided to stay on deck and listen to a little Christopher Cross . Capt. Luv and myself had a brief discussion as to Christopher Cross's Best song , he favored " Sailing " and I was partial to " Arthur's Theme " although at the end we played both while enjoying an Arturo Fuente Opus X BBMF . The conversation quickly turned to Captain Luv's pet project " Future Yacht" as he introduced me to the music of one it's brightest stars ,Benny Sings The terms AOR and Yacht Rock are often used to define his sunny 70’s and 80’s melodies. But it’s not all retro: Benny’s happy-sad songwriting, late ‘90s R&B beats and buttery production shape a sound bringing to mind the soundtrack to a just released indie comedy. Click on these links to Discover his music. Benny Sings - Realize Loving is Easy