Shamrock with Yacht Rock Revue kicks off Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans early this year with the ultimate U2 tribute experience on Sat. March 3 at Park Tavern at Piedmont Park. The event, featuring one of Atlanta’s most popular classic rock cover bands, kicks off at 2 p.m. and live music starts at 4 p.m. with special guests Saturday Night Beaver presenting a glamorous stage show that celebrates the artists that brought sex appeal to popular music such as Rick James, Rod Stewart and George Michael. Then U2 tribute band Uno Dos Tres Catorce performs followed by two sets by Yacht Rock Revue. Drink and eat up with an ultimate Bloody Mary bar, green beer and plenty of hearty fare. ATLRetro caught up with two of the six members of Yacht Rock Revue, Nick Niespodziani and Peter Olson to find out more about the Gaelic goings on and what it’s like to step into the shoes of so many classic rock icons.
What do you have planned for March 3? Will it be an all-U2 show?
Our plan starts with Irish Car Bombs. Then Uno Dos Tres Catorce – starring Bueno and the Wedges. I play Bueno, everyone else is a version of the Wedge. Then it’s a long block of soft rock in our Yacht Rock Revue persona. Actually two long blocks. That’s a lot of music, especially after doing Led Zeppelin IV and Dark Side [of the Moon] last night at the 40 Watt and Sgt. Pepper’s tonight at Smith’s.
Yacht Rock Revue does so many specialty shows from Beatles tributes to Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon played in sync with WIZARD OF OZ at the Strand last fall. Fans of different bands can have high levels of scrutiny, so what do you do to prepare in general for gigs that focus on a specific band? And what will you be doing to prepare for stepping into the shoes of Bono and The Edge?
Each of the shows requires a totally different approach. It’s a lot like being an actor in the theater. Led Zeppelin is the guns-blazing action star. Yacht Rock is the like-able bad guy in an ’80s movie. How do you play Prince and MJ without coming off as a perverted prick who can’t dance as well as those guys? How do you pay tribute to the Beatles without coming off as a smarmy mop-top wanna-be? These are the questions that challenge us at our job.
U2 is the unironic one-dimensional sci-fi hero. It’s not much of a stretch for me to play the self-righteous, self-aggrandizing social activist role of Bono… since it’s basically who I am in real life, without the religion and millions. Their music definitely gets your adrenaline pumping. Vocally, it’s a real workout. So I’ve been increasing my throat push-up regimen in preparation.
Is there a particular U2 song you are especially looking forward to playing live?
We’ve never done “Pride” before, and we’re trying it this year. It’s impossible to sing, so we’ll see how it goes. It seems especially appropriate to play it in the home city of MLK.
What’s your favorite tribute show you’ve done so far?
Purple Rain and Thriller was pretty epic last year – we had a 25-person choir in purple robes singing all of the backing vocals. We’re all big Prince fans, so taking on that album for the first time was a very fulfilling challenge. And then we played Thriller in Storm Trooper outfits.
What’s been your most challenging gig?
The most challenging gigs are the ones where the music isn’t the reason people are there. We’re spoiled, in that every time we play a show in public we get so much positive energy back from the audience. When we get into some (not all) of these corporate event situations and we don’t get that vibe back from the crowd, it becomes a lot more difficult to do our job.
Queen’s “Night at the Opera” versus Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814.” Also, some of our guys have a project called “Dwight Snake” that re-envisions White Snake’s best tunes through the lens of Dwight Yoakam. I can’t wait for that show.
How do stay fresh while working with classic cover material?
We always try to put some of our own stank on the tunes – it’s the only way to make it happen. The key is not to treat the music with kid gloves, you’ve got to smack it around and roll with it in the dirt. We treat these tunes irreverently, as if they’re our own songs. That’s the attitude that makes the music and the show compelling.
What are your parameters in terms of what qualifies as a Yacht Rock Revue song?
Whatever we say goes. And it can’t be written by Jimmy Buffett.
What’s the story behind how Yacht Rock Revue get started?
We were doing a variety show at the 10 High called the Surprise Party where we did a different show every week, including classic albums, comedy, our own original material, etc. We thought a ’70s AM Gold Show would be hilarious. It was spearheaded by our drummer Mark and our guitarist Mark. I didn’t even know half of the songs. And now it’s the joke that keeps on giving, as the saying doesn’t go.
St. Paddy’s Day is still coming, so do you have plans for any more U2-inspired shows?
Not this year – Park Tavern is the only one. So catch it whilst thou can.
What else does Yacht Rock Revue have planned for this spring?
We’re recording a studio album, mixing a live album, planning more national-scale tours, launching another Summer Series at the Park Tavern, and cloning ourselves.
What question do you wish someone would ask you but nobody ever does? And what’s the answer?
Q: Where’d you get your boots? A: I’ll never tell.