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The Yale Brothers – Photo by Joan Powell

Recently at LuLu’s North Myrtle Beach, my brother and I played Skynyrd’sFreebird.”

Interesting choice for a duo consisting of a piano and a guitar. Doesn’t the recipe call for three guitars?

No matter.

Early in the evening a couple of people shouted out “Freebird.” I am sure most people are joking when they shout that out at live shows because shouting out “Freebird” is a thing – so much so that a new response to the request – two middle fingers up with a “here’s two – no charge” – also became a thing.

But we did a short version of the song, complete with piano and guitar solos – and people loved it. I even did the little organ bit at the beginning before switching to piano. My brother sang.

It’s always fun trotting out songs like this – and it certainly helps when folks are surprised and tickled about it.

I also like the idea of playing snippets of other songs that people request. It helps to foster a feeling of connection and a sense of goodwill. In a setting like LuLu’s, it’s all about the experience.

Performing with Chris is always a good time. The fact that we are twins makes for an interesting vocal dynamic, and our harmonies are tight. This covers a multitude of musical sins.

Judging from the crowd at LuLu’s, I bet the season in Myrtle Beach is going to be a busy one. I only hope that common sense will reign supreme.

Check out the Yale Brothers Podcast. We’re having fun with it!

As my brother and I progress with our podcast, we’re finding our way.

27 episodes in, I believe that we are living up to the discipline it takes to continue the process. So far, we like the 30-minute episode format. I know we have the option to go as long as we want to, but in this world of immediacy, sharply declining focus and distraction, I don’t think marathon-length episodes are the way to go.

Does anybody really listen to all three hours of, say, Joe Rogan? Do folks just pop in and out of the Experience (see what I did there) whenever the urge arises?

The bulk of our podcast has been one-on-one, in-person conversations between us – trips down memory lane about growing up in Hollywood, original music and observations about our current lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We have included phone conversations with friends several times, and plan on doing more of that.

When we come to the end of the digital music archive, we will start to include live performances. Also, there is so much stuff on audio tape that a digitizing project is in order.

I am happy that folks say they enjoy listening to us and we are stoked that we finally got this thing going.

I cordially invite you to have a listen and let me know what you think.

Get the podcast HERE.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Just punch those keys…it’s advice I frequently read from bloggers who blog about blogging, especially Cristian Mihai from The Art of Blogging.

Like, punch the keys when? Before or after I have a solid idea? Do I punch them until I see the germ of a workable post? Is it like panning for gold?

I’m taking his advice and punching the keys now to see what comes out.

“Freestyling” like this, I have no idea where I am going – I’m simply punching the keys…

Is it possible to succeed at blogging without drilling down on a specialty – or can my specialty be blogging about the things and people I find interesting?

I love personal development-related content.

I have been sober for more than six years, and I have an endless supply of stories I can tell about this journey – before and after.

I was a single father for quite some time. I have adult twins. There’s a storehouse of gold “in them thar hills” also.

I am a man of a certain age. I used to toss aside mailers and periodicals aimed at those coming up on their “golden years,” but now the people in the photographs are starting to look more and more like me – and I finally realized not too long ago that my time on this planet is limited.

What happened to the immortality I took for granted as a youth? I could blog about that.

Seth Godin blogs constantly about finding one’s tribe, and Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans” concept resonates with me.

Is fragmentation a problem?

Politics? I fear the first time I publish a political post, the bots, trolls and haters will bear down on me with a vengeance. Because this is a fear, perhaps I need to do that.

Feel the fear. Do it anyway…

Aren’t there already too many armchair pundits with way more political expertise than I possess? Yeah, right. What I really mean is that nobody is more of an expert than anybody else. Some are just louder than others…

Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one, and yours stinks…

I have done a good deal of recording. Little did I know that there were so many echo chambers outside of a recording studio.

I share a podcast with my brother.

I have been a freelance journalist for many years, and enjoy working on personal profiles – getting to the heart of the folks I talk to. Everybody has a story – and I see no reason not to include them in this blog.

I have worked in the premium cigar industry for decades. Why have I not explored this at any length in my writing?

Should I podcast about podcasting? Blog about blogging? At this point, I’ll leave that to the folks who have been in the game much longer than I have.

I am also a working musician, but I thought I’d be a rock star with my brother by the time I was a young adult. I’m 57 now.

Let’s just say the consequences of the choices I made have come home to roost. Another rabbit hole to explore.

I have lived. I have learned. I have lost. I have won.

But I have also been profoundly lucky. Lucky to be alive. Lucky to be punching these keys.

I turned 57 on July 8.

Yikes!

I take comfort in the fact that my twin brother is also 57. I’m glad Chris is still around. I love him.

In the above photo, I’m inclined to believe I’m the three-year-old on the right.

We’re having fun doing the things we said we wanted to do. One is a longstanding passion of ours – playing music, while another is something we have procrastinated about for far too long – podcasting. And whether or not it’s complete shit, I’m still writing.

By the time I publish this post, episode five of the Yale Brothers Podcast will be up and running also.

When I was younger, I couldn’t get my head around the concept of mortality. It just didn’t make sense, all of that “here today, gone tomorrow” stuff…

Maybe that’s because I believe we live forever.

Is there a name for people who believe that we will live forever – that we don’t come back as a piece of celery and start all over again through a generations-long cycle of self-improvement or self-realization? I should look that up.

Some say we asked to come here. Could that be true?

Maybe we didn’t ask to come here. That could be true, too.

One of my dear friends seems to think that if I make the wrong political choice, I will have to answer to my maker for my “mistake.”

I say that all depends on what you believe, thereby setting up your own reality in the afterlife. If you believe you will have to answer for your mistakes, political or otherwise, you have set up your next reality.

But I don’t think making a political choice matters in any way once we depart this mortal coil. Somehow, all of that would become meaningless.

Of course, I could be wrong. But the cool thing about this is that nobody else on this planet knows what’s going to happen either.

But what about singing in a heavenly choir for all eternity – praising The Lord forever and ever without ceasing?

What?

For some, that could be a definition of hell.

What if you found yourself wedged in the middle of that celestial chorus with no way out – like being stuck in the middle of Times Square on New Year’s Eve when you realize you have to go to the bathroom…

just give up and go in your pants…?

I don’t want to sing praises 24/7 in an endless loop through the ages. Wouldn’t a “thank you” every now and then be sufficient for whatever entity created us?

Another friend of mine, in answer to my question about what he had been up to, told me that he had been living at the foot of the cross and hadn’t seen me there.

I told him I was over on the Catholic side.

I was raised Catholic – and I haven’t been to Mass in years, but I thought that was a fairly good rebuttal.

I wouldn’t presume, as Salieri said in “Amadeus.”

That’s a good statement, right there.

I am grateful to be living, loving and learning as I go – and I still have a lot of work to do. Maybe, when the lights finally go out, I will have picked up a Golden Ticket or two.

I wouldn't presume.

Seth Funderburk, Roger Yale, Don Colton, Chris Yale at the Tuna Shak in Murrells Inlet

Last week, The Yale Brothers played a series of shows along the Grand Strand – a 60-mile stretch of coastline in my neck of the woods sometimes lovingly (I hope) referred to as “The Redneck Riviera.” We started at House of Blues Myrtle Beach, which is technically in North Myrtle Beach within a retail, dining and entertainment complex known as Barefoot Landing. The next night found us at our twice-a-month booking at LuLu’s North Myrtle Beach – also at Barefoot Landing and one of three sprawling eateries owned by Jimmy Buffett’s “crazy sista” Lucy Buffett.

The next day, we headed out to The Wicked Tuna in Murrells Inlet – more than 30 miles south. We played the inaugural Wicked Wishes event to benefit Make-A-Wish South Carolina – and later moved across the parking lot to the Tuna Shak, where we closed out the evening.

What made these three gigs special for us – besides doing our part for a great cause on Saturday – was that we got the chance to see old friends, meet new ones and hang out with other members of the music community. Gigs don’t usually happen that way.

Thursday’s stint at House of Blues was the first of our fall restaurant shows there. We’ll be doing every Thursday through December fifth in the early evening. We enjoy the positive vibe and the camaraderie from House of Blues staff, and we’re happy to call many of them our friends. And it’s always a bonus to see our brother for life, sound man Bill Allen. Fortunately, he was mixing on the deck for the Rich Johnson Band. Met Rich for the first time – and said hello to Mark Billings – another House of Blues sound man and friend, who was on the other side of things, playing drums for Rich.

Bill Allen Doing His Thing – House of Blues Deck, Myrtle Beach

It’s always great to return to LuLu’s for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the venue has its own PA in place – so it’s frontline-only at this colorful and happy spot on the Intracoastal Waterway. Over our engagement, we met some really wonderful and positive people – and reconnected with our friend Travis Ladd, who runs the retail side there. LuLu’s is in the process of building out an expanded retail space, which will benefit the business in a couple of ways; more room for merch and additional dining space.

Channeling Elton at LuLu’s North Myrtle Beach

Just across the way is the Crooked Hammock Brewery Stage – an open-air spot boasting a rotating lineup of local bands. Competitive spirit aside (we have a running gag that LuLu’s should turn their sound up to 11 to overpower what’s coming from across the street), it was a real treat to discover that Sunburst Radio was that night’s offering.

Sunburst Radio is made up of guitarist Ed Dennis (a longtime friend and Chris’ former bandmate), Ken Thomas (another longtime friend and drummer), Kim DeCosta (keyboards) and Terry Cohen (bass).  The band plays a mindful selection of FM radio hits with some surprises along the way – including a great rendition of Split Enz’s “I Got You,” which the band reprised in their last set because he knew Chris loved the tune.

We scurried back and forth from our spot to their spot to try to catch a song, and vice-versa. In the midst of this frenetic activity, we also caught up with more friends.

The Myrtle Beach area is funny that way. Despite the millions of tourists coming to visit during “the season,” you’re bound to run into people you know – especially out and about in the fall and winter.

WICKED WISHES

Wicked Wishes was the first full-blown event on the Grand Strand for Make-A-Wish South Carolina, and although we were slated to play for an hour at one o’clock, we stayed for the duration. The event was a organized by the folks at The Wicked Tuna, Banton Media, Sandpiper Entertainment, iHeart Media Myrtle Beach, Sweetwater Brewing Company, Tito’s Handmake Vodka and more.

In all, the benefit raised more than $18,000 to help grant life-changing wishes to critically ill children.

We had fun sharing the bill with the Kevin Nichols Band and the Jebb Mac Band, and I was happy to know that our old friend Seth Funderburk was on board, running sound for the event. Seth is a renaissance man and is an organizer for both the Waccmaw Getaway Festival and the IrieSun Reggae Festival. He’s also part of the South by Southeast Music Feast – a charitable organization dedicated to providing music education for young people.

Adam Dellinger from GATOR 107.9 was emceeing. He has been very supportive of The Yale Brothers, and it’s always great to see him.

Got to reconnect with Phil Jackson of Surf Dreams Foundation and sax player extraordinaire Don Colton.

Thanks to Hayley Himmelein at Banton Media for thinking of us. It was great to see her, along with Tyler Caldwell and their son, Kai, who is growing like a weed.

Finally a grateful shout-out to BJ Craven of Sandpiper Entertainment for securing our spot as well as for the after-party gig at the Tuna Shak.

What a memorable three days in the life!

The Yale Brothers

As another tourist season ends in Myrtle Beach, I am happy to report that I have been busy with my twin brother, Chris Yale, in our musical work as The Yale Brothers.  The fact that we played more shows than last year in different venues is heartening – and I want to continue that momentum. A big “thank you” to the management of these spots – and a grateful shout-out to everybody who came out to support us.

As we mention in our bio, we’re working to recapture the spark that we ignited long ago – specifically when we were just 14 – writing, recording and performing for the first time. We made a pact to start a band on par with KISS or Aerosmith with two our best friends in Miami as we were finishing up what is now considered middle school. The plan was to secure our instruments over the summer of 1977 by hook or by crook (well, at least wheedle our parents into securing them for us) and reconvene at the beginning of ninth grade.

Chris and I planned on begging our father to buy us a drum set and a keyboard while we were visiting him for the summer in Hollywood.

The good news was that dad came through. He bought Chris a Pearl drum set (of course because Kiss drummer Peter Criss used one) and for me, something called a KORG Poly Ensemble P. I wanted an Arp Odyssey, but that’s a story for another day.

Our band, with the uber-pretentious working name Iron Cross (hey, what do you want – we were 14-year-old boys), never came to fruition because of a life-changing event in our lives: We also asked our father to let us stay with him permanently, and after some intense conversations with our mother, he said yes. I plan on going more detail about those early years at a later date.

Long story short for now, Chris and I came of age in Hollywood – playing music as a duo and later in several iterations of bands there, most notably our last one there, Rogue Alley.

My brother has been on The Grand Strand since 1992, and I’ve been here since 2005. After a ten-year stint in the local classic rock cover band Sick Stooges, of which I was a founding member – I’ve been working with Chris exclusively over the past few years. The end game is to do play out even more next season and head out of town for gigs, devote some time to writing and recording – and to finally get our podcast up and running.

Our out-of-towner at Lower Left Brewing Company in Charlotte was a blast – and we plan on doing it again soon.  

We enjoyed playing at Fork’n Links on the South End and at The Hot Fish Club in Murrells Inlet. Hopefully, we’ll be at both of those great spots again soon – and the Surfside Sunday Serenades show was a hoot.

You can catch us twice a month at Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s through the end of the year and in the restaurant at House of Blues Myrtle Beach every Thursday evening from October 31 through December 5. We’re participating in the Wicked Wishes Benefit for Make-A-Wish South Carolina on October 12 at The Wicked Tuna in Murrells Inlet.

As they say down here, “Thanks for a great season, y’all!”

FAVOR - Concert of Hope

My friends at the Grand Strand chapter of Faces and Voices of Recovery – or FAVOR – are working tirelessly to remove the stigma attached to those in recovery, and I have always loved their mantra: “We do recover.”

The advocacy group recently moved into a new space in Myrtle Beach, located at 4953 US 17 Bypass South.

According to executive director Nicole Criss, FAVOR recently took over operations for the Refuge of Hope transitional house in Myrtle Beach.

“It’s a house on Third Avenue North,” she said. “There are 12 or 13 guys living in it, and we were officially given the OK from the landlord to take it over.”

The recovery house had plans in the works to present an event at Chapin Memorial Park, called Concert of Hope. By default, according to Criss, this is now a FAVOR event.

“They already had that in the works, and they needed a 501(c)3. They wanted us to umbrella the event as well,” she said, adding that proceeds would go to FAVOR to be distributed where appropriate.

The Concert of Hope will take place on Saturday, July 21 from 11 am to 10 pm, and will feature Christian artists such as Josh Paul, Charles Scarlette and Doug Corum – with a special appearance by pastor and author JP Miller – and more.

Happy to say that The Yale Brothers will be performing from 4:15-5:00 pm.

FAVOR will be selling raffle tickets for $10. First prize is $500 cash. Other prizes include gift cards for restaurants, zipline, golf, and more.

For more information about the wonderful work being done by FAVOR, click HERE.

FAVOR - Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Rog - Liberty

I realize that the term blogfade has not yet made it into a proper dictionary – and I am not altogether sure what the term means to me.

For a few years, I have been staying true to my intention here by writing about the random and the relevant. But I am horrified – well, maybe just a bit troubled – that my last blog post was in October of last year. That was more than six months ago.

I appreciate the fact that a few of my friends have taken the time to read some of these posts, and I want to be sure to correct course by posting regularly.

I need to treat this blog like I do my writing assignments – and I can benefit from an editorial calendar and a little discipline.

I’ll be back.

Don’t let my blogfade fuel your schadenfreude.

Here’s a clip from a recent House of Blues show with my brother… a song called “It’s Not Love,” written when I had no real idea about love…

 

 

 

Yale Brothers by Buzz Berry

[Above photo: Buzz Berry]

Thursday marked the final performance of The Yale Brothers‘ winter engagement at House of Blues Myrtle Beach – in all, 22 shows from 5:30-8 p.m in an intimate setting on the stage inside the restaurant.

After committing to the gig as a solo act, my brother Chris agreed to join me on these. I couldn’t have been happier, figuring this as a good way to hone our craft weekly in the same room, and cultivating our audience as we went along.

[Above performance photos: Rob Grindstaff]

Chris still gives me a hard time about the fact that the marketing promos and menus were printed with my name only – but deadlines are deadlines – and hopefully all was forgiven when he saw that The Yale Brothers appeared on the electronic marquee out on U.S. 17.

Yale Brothers HOB Sign

The cool thing about this gig was that we were able to deliver a combination of thoughtful covers as well as originals. This is always ideal, so in addition to great stuff by Faces, Elton John, Tom Petty, Radiohead and Johnny Cash, for instance, we enjoyed introducing our material – songs like Chris’ “Famous Last Words,” “Roll Away the Stone” and “Castaway” to my twisted ballad, “It’s Not Love” and Stax/Volt soul-inspired “Is That What It Is.”


Here’s our cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” [Video: Brendan Wright Images]

Many of our friends came out to see us – some more than once, and for that we are grateful. That was above and beyond. We also made the rounds of the tables and introduced ourselves to people who just happened to be in there for a meal or a drink – and made new friends.

The vibe at House of Blues is unmatched, and the kindness and camaraderie we enjoyed with staffers was astonishing. Thank you all for making us a part of the family.

[Above: Chris with Show Marketing Manager Megan Ramhoff / Brand Marketing Manager Dawn Temples Knopf kicking off a Hopped Up Tap Takeover]

Moving forward, The Yale Brothers plan on writing and recording, playing select shows – and finally getting our podcast up and running.

Stay tuned for details about next winter.

Yale Brothers HOB Water Tower