The members of the Richmond band Three Sheets to the Wind are serious about putting on a good show, but it's their easy-breezy outlook that separates them from the pack of other performers. "We get a kick out of being the wedding band for people who hate wedding bands," says Topper Dandy, the group's manager. "Yes, we have an over-the-top ridiculousness, but the difference is that we're in on our own joke."
The six-year-old group has a unique angle – covering songs from the '70s and '80s, which Dandy describes as "diet rock." Think Steely Dan, Toto, and Hall & Oates. Indulging in a combo of nostalgia and all-things-sailing, the anything-but complacent crew is particularly busy in the summer, thanks to weddings, reunions and out-door festivals. Dandy says the band enjoys interacting with its audience – often bringing brides and grooms up on stage – and that the band always tries to live up to expectations.
"Yacht rock is the greatest music ever during a unique point in history," he says. "We aren't afraid to blow it up and have a great time."
The ad we printed is a parody of the famous (in advertising circles) "Think Small" Volkswagen print campaign from the '60s. The copy of the original basically recognizes the notion that the innovative look of the Volkswagen "bug" has become comfortably recognizable, but that the experience of driving one is still unique. We feel the same way about our little yacht rock band in that we aren't so much of a novelty to Richmond audiences as we were when we started six years ago. That said, we're still having fun, and we're still grateful that Richmond is still in on the joke with us. Stick with us, RVA! The band is sounding better than ever with the addition of Mister JC Cool on sax. We've got so much more we want to share, and we hope you'll slip into that familiar feeling leisure suit, and check us out again soon!
he drops What A Fool Believes in the set, and we just about lost our minds! That story really has no relevance to the rest of the Ship's Log post, but it's the only way to link Three Sheets to the ATCQ song Award Tour--the title of this entry. (New York, NJ, NC, VA..)
So here we are on the ninth day of January, and your pals in Three Sheets are already reminded how continually blessed we are to have so many amazing people supporting us on our smooth musical journey. We are grateful for all the clients who chose to book and review the Wedding Band For People Who Hate Wedding Bands on WeddingWire in 2014. We are also proud to be recognized for the fourth year in a row as a Top Wedding Vendor by the editors of Virginia Living magazine as well! If we were to reverse our longstanding opposition to the predatory wall plaque manufacturing industry, we would buy a plaque that looked like this:
And if you think that we're going to take these recognitions for granted, and not resolve to continually improve the performance, technology, and overall show-goer experience in 2015, that what a fool believes! From all of us to all of you, thanks for continuing to support the little yacht rock band that could!
For a book's acknowledgements to be complete, a writer must thank those who have helped the composition, and accept responsibility for any remaining errors. In this blog post, we'd like to shine the light (as it were) on our top-notch Stage Crew for all that they do to have us look and sound our best, while acknowledging that any wrong notes played during the show are entirely the fault of either attempting too many high kicks while playing guitar, or by being distracted by the Sheethearts in the front row!
Any crew acknowledgments have to start with AC Fader--an integral part of our touring crew since the heady days of our Third Thursday residency at Republic. (In pace requiescat.) For the past four years, AC has not only mastered the art of the roaming, sports jacketed, iPad sound engineer for corporate events and weddings, but has also seamlessly integrated our in-ear monitor system with various front-of-house consoles at theaters and concert venues including The Jefferson, The National, The NorVA, and The Hippodrome (as shown below). Although in most cases, the band travels with a self-contained sound and lighting package, AC's ability (and flexibility) have been proven again and again. His tap tempo skills on vocal delay effects are legendary in certain circles (our van), and he has subbed for Danny Marnier on drums as well. Add to all that, he is finishing up the final mixes on our relatively-soon-to-be-released double live album, cheekily and tentatively titled Sold Out!
An increasingly familiar face to the Crew is our lighting designer, "Hippie" Alex McArthur. A veteran of national tours as the LD for Dr. Dog, Mike Stud, and others, Hippie Alex is responsible for the images above--both for the photography and for the lighting design. Just as we count on AC to integrate our touring sound gear with existing gear at venues, Alex does the same with lighting. In the pictures above--taken during last Thursday's corporate holiday event--you'll notice existing venue-installed fixtures in the ceiling as well as our truss totems, anchor lights, and moving lights which are part of the enhanced lighting package™ we bring with us when budget allows. You'll also notice that the lights on the venue's Christmas tree appear in various stages of brightness in the series of pictures above. "Why wouldn't we plug the Christmas tree into the stage lighting system?", Hippie Alex asked rhetorically while plugging said tree into said lighting system.
To AC, Alex, and to Guy Centennial, Enrique Pickelle, Bobby Bravado, Patrick Klotsofletters, Stan O'verboard, and to all the other unsung touring and local crew members who have rolled cases, engineered sound, and done your best to make us look and sound our best on stage over the years, you know you guys are the champs!
For the fifth year running, Three Sheets to the Wind celebrated its successful partnership with The Massey Alliance--the young supporters of the Massey Cancer Center with another sold-out fundraiser. Over 800 tickets went for $50 each to help the night raise more than $50,000 for cancer research. As Walter Ego likes to say, "We put the 'mellow' in 'melanoma research.'" We are grateful for the chance to give back to such an amazing organization, and want to thank the sponsors, the staff at Massey, the volunteers with the Massey Alliance and everyone who came out to support the cause. Cheers!
All photos are credited to JFord Photography
Tag yourselves in the complete Facebook album here.
The copy below was originally published in Richmond Magazine's August 2014 "Best & Worst" issue.
BEST LOCAL BAND
Three Sheets to the Wind
Richmond's favorite yacht rockers have won this category for three years running [Captain's Note: If you count the year Three Sheets won "Best Band That Always Gets the Party Going," this makes four-in-a-row!]. They've even played for Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M., although they didn't know it at the time. Drummer Danny Marnier notes that they performed an R.E.M. song--"It's the End of the World as We Know It," by request--and later saw Stipe, who silently nodded in their direction.
2. No BS! Brass Band
3. Black Girls
We are extremely grateful for everyone who took the time to vote for our little yacht rock cover band! We will gladly renew our pledge to reach new heights in tongue-in-cheek musical showmanship!
So as long as the subject has been raised, it might be fun to relate the Michael Stipe story in more detail here on the Ship's Log:
We were in NYC in March of 2013, playing a birthday party at The Wooly, a soda-counter-converted bar in the former Woolworth's Department building downtown. Somehow we fit the band on the postage-stamp-sized stage, and played to a great crowd of yacht rock folks who "got" what we were doing. I recall that we also played Pulp's "Help the Aged" as a special request for the birthday boy. Anyway, the scene was cool--good low-level lighting, excellent cocktails, half party room, half lounge. We're playing our usual repertoire when someone asks us whether we play any R.E.M. tunes. Well, it so happens that we are R.E.M. fans--Danny and Topper especially so--and have, from time to time, played "It's the End of the World as We Know It" at private events because even though it's not yacht rock, it's a fun song from the '80s. We play the tune; Topper probably got most of the lyrics correct, and we think nothing of it until after we're done.
It was only then that we learned the truth--Michael Stipe was, in fact, in the room.
We were so pumped at first! I mean, THE Michael Stipe is at the party! After about a minute, however, we realized what we had done.
We had played (Shiny Happy People excepted) probably the least cool R.E.M. song to play in front of Michael Stipe. #facepalm. We worried whether the people who knew he was there thought we were playing it in order to get his attention. Then we wondered whether the song requester was trying to set us up all along. We suddenly all felt very uncool. I mean, why couldn't we have played Gardening at Night or something really obscure?
The angst quickly dissipated into laughter, however, as we remembered we were being paid to play yacht rock in New York, after all. As we joked around and rolled the road cases back to the Steely Van, Stipe and friend walked right by the bus. No one said a word. Perhaps, in view of what had happened, it was all for the best.
Our clients embrace Yacht Rock to varying degrees. Some love the music, while others go a step further to incorporate nautical imagery into their decor. Lauren and Phil, however, went the distance. We got to know this stylish couple quite well in the year leading up to their wedding as we kept running in to them everywhere we played! Despite their being stalkers of the first order, as well as being unsettlingly tall and elegant, we became big fans of theirs from minute one.
Not only did they hire America's #1 Tribute to Yacht Rock, they had their reception at Norfolk Yacht & Country Club--a wonderful venue staffed by friendly folks we've enjoyed getting to know the past few years. You'll also notice in the excellent Echard Wheeler images below that picking Captain Max out of the sea of Captain's hats is a little more difficult than usual!
Though we'd like to take all the credit for the smiling faces herein, we're proud to share it with our gracious hosts, the excellent team of professionals involved, and with Phil's aunts' baklava. What a treat!
We see a lot of nautical themes at the events we play, but we have to tip our Captain's hats to VOCUS. Their reception for participants of the Demand Success 2014 conference featured a bar with an anchor-shaped ice sculpture, portholes and working fish tanks, with nautical signal flags lining the boat-inspired event lighting.
Although Adrian Grenier passed on our invitation to sit in--or maybe just didn't get Topper's message at the hotel--we had a blast playing. And perhaps due to the enthusiasm at the open bar, we were cheered on to perform a half hour of overtime, and even got the hashtag #DemandThreeSheets to show up as "trending" on twitter for a few minutes locally. We were told that last bit by one of the conference attendees, and we've chosen to take her word for it. The energy was so good that night, in fact, that patrons of a nearby bar were subjected to our a cappella renditions of yacht rock classics long after the Steely Van was packed and parked.
We'll have to add some of these pics to our Pinterest page, once we figure out how to do that.
All photography below is the property of Matt Ryb Pictures.
The readers of STYLE Weekly sure have been good to our five-years-and-counting experiment in yacht rock. This marks the fourth year in a row for our writing a grateful blog post / thank-you note to everyone who took time to write our name in as BEST COVER BAND! We'll let you in on a little secret here: we never thought we'd get here even once, much less four years in a row! Having said that, we happily share this honor with all the kickass voters who--like us--have a slightly unexplainable love for '70s soft rock. We are all in this thing together, and we thank you from the bottoms of our (empty) cocktail glasses!
The five of us who make up the core of the band--messrs. Marnier, Pockett, Ego, Dandy, and Power--want to shine the light on our front-of-house sound engineer, AC Fader, and our CEO of merchandise, Amy Gold. Their underrated offstage efforts play a critical role in our continual striving to create a showgoer experience that is second-to-none. We'd also like to recognize the killer musicians with whom we have shared the stage this past year. We are proud to raise our (now refilled) glasses with The Rounding Cape Horns, JC "Mr. Casual" Kuhl, Bobby Bravado, Swabby Steve, Admiral Hal F. Power, Guy Centennial, and Tico Rubs! Cheers, y'all! This next round's on us!
BEST RICHMOND COVER BAND
Three Sheets to the Wind
SECOND PLACE: Honkytonk Heroes
THIRD PLACE: Rosie Soul and the Rock and Roll Cowboys
They may not have coined the term "yacht rock" which refers to the easy listening hits of the '70s and '80s -- but the leisure- and lady-loving characters in Three Sheets to the Wind are one of the country's best living yacht rock groups. From their swanky sailor's outfits to their oh-so-smooth vocal delivery, Three Sheets stokes the fires with such artists as Loggins and Messina, Hall and Oates and Steely Dan, making the women swoon and the men drink heavily."
reprinted from STYLE Weekly Best of Richmond, 21 May, 2014