Kingston After Dark: Kingston’s yacht rock ship is coming in

Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for Julie and the Cruise Directors.

Do you like piña coladas? Getting caught in the rain? And have you ever wondered why this city, blessed with a fine marina for tying up your boat and then tying one on, doesn’t have a more passionate yacht rock scene?

Now the silky smooth musical answer to your nautically boozy prayers has arrived on the banks of the Hudson. Julie and the Cruise Directors’ Yacht Rock Extravaganza is a public event at Mariner’s Harbor on Friday, July 6 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. It will showcase a funny idea that became a reality for a Brady Bunch’s, or perhaps should I say a Love Boat’s, worth of local musicians. Bassist David Daw, who formerly played with me in a hard rock band called Antidote 8, stops by to issue us our straight-out-of-a-1970s-scotch ad blue blazer and captain’s hat and get us all on board. 

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Kingston After Dark: How did this project come about? Seems like a lot of fun. 

David Daw: Drummer Josh Peni and I have wanted to do a project like this for about 10 years now.  We did something years ago with Billy Ryker and Max the band 3’s merch guy but that fell apart after Max moved away. Josh and I are obsessed with the Yacht Rock station on Sirius XM [Editor’s note: So am I!] and wanted to do a project that would basically be able to play anywhere. The metal thing which is always fun was getting old and nobody seemed to come out for it except our families. There is actually a genre called yacht rock now and there is even a Youtube series about it. I have since made friends with Yachty by Nature who are huge out in Cali. They are pretty damn awesome! There is also a touring band out called the Yacht Rock Review. Really fun stuff. The Love Boat theme we use was a given as — of course you remember — I love to sing the theme for sound checks! [WPDH/Q103 DJ] John “Tigman” Rutigliano gets a shout out for helping us with gigs.

KAD: Are you operating mainly in the summer since it fits the music and everyone has families?

DD: We plan to be playing year round. This summer is tough for us because we weren’t thinking ahead and with nine band members and vacations, we literally had two open slots to play. Hopefully we can fix that for next summer as we love to play outdoors. 

KAD: Nine members? You’re like the Slipknot of yacht rock? Have you figured out how to fit everyone in stage?

DD: Yeah, I went a little crazy with this one. We had to in order to cover all the back up vocals and parts throughout these songs. Still not sure how we will all fit, but one way or another we will make it work. 

KAD: I just got tickets to see Sebastian Bach and Taylor Swift. Not together. But yeah, I remember you (no pun intended) liking everything from Melissa Etheridge to Maiden and of course you’ve played in bands ranging from Ivory rose to Antidote 8. Do you think people not being able to loosen up and like more than one style is a problem? I’m still mad we never covered Ratt’s “Nobody Rides For Free” from the Point Break soundtrack in Antidote 8 days. But seriously, as a bassist you’ve even played churches or opened for Dio’s band just by keeping an open mind. Did that help you get stoked for yacht rock fun? 

DD: First and foremost I’m still just as pissed as you that we never covered that song.  We do some Ratt in Heavy Metal Parking Lot, my other cover band, but still haven’t done that one. We are jinxed somehow. I have always loved all types of music and surely my years with Ivory Rose help me immensely with this project.

Actually Julie and the Cruise Directors is almost all of the Ivory Rose members. I’ve played with them over 20 years now. Michele Ferraro plays acoustic, Tammy Rose sings for us, Robert Kelly is our guitar player and John Garraffa is our keyboard player. Then we added my daughter’s best friend Kara Colevas on backup vocals and percussion. I have known her a few years and had no idea she could sing. This is her first time in a band. Pat Porpora on guitar, who used to play Ace in a huge KISS [cover] band. Bobby Weiss of Talon, Pajamazon, Rocket to Ruin,  Heavy Metal Parking Lot and every other band around town is our lead singer. I have been working with Bobby since Evidence Days with Jason Foster which was (cough cough) 30-plus years ago. And of course Josh Peni, who I have played with for many years, is our drummer. 

KAD: How many tunes can we expect? 

DD: We have a long set list. Close to thirty now and the list is growing by the week.  There are so many fun songs by bands like Ambrosia, Gerry Rafferty, Player, Looking Glass, Toto — of course, the king — Christopher Cross, Hall and Oates, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Jackson Browne, the Doobie Brothers and even locals like Robbie Dupree. The list goes on and on. And yes, we are seriously thinking about writing and recording some new yacht rock music. You have to understand that Ivory Rose was basically yacht rock, so it surely wouldn’t be out of our realm. Our idea is to have the gigs be more of a event. A fun night where everyone can sing along and dance and have lots of fun. Not just the typical hang on stage and play songs. There will be lots of audience interaction, some silly fun outfits and props and who knows what this bunch will come up with next. We are really looking forward to our debut and Mariners couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for us.

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