Yacht rock’s Boat House Row sails into Milton for sold-out show

Boat House Row brings yacht rock sounds to the Milton Theatre for a sold-out show Saturday. (Submitted photo)

Three years ago, Brian Anderson came out of the musical closet. He could finally admit he was a fan of yacht rock.

Significant “yacht rockers” include Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross, Steely Dan and Toto.

Boat House Row, a group of six musicians from the Philadelphia area, will perform the hits from those artists and more Saturday during a sold-out show at the Milton Theatre.

Mr. Anderson said five of the members of Boat House Row had spent 18 years together in a band which performed original music called Fooling April.

But when the Yacht Rock genre took off with whole channels on satellite radio and streaming services, it was time for he and his fellow band members to fess up.

“We had always loved this material going back years. We were not strangers to playing music together and traveling. And now that this closeted material had suddenly become mainstream cool, it was awesome. We didn’t have to hide anymore,” he said.

“We love Christopher Cross and we weren’t afraid to admit it.”

Members of Boat House Row, named after the Philadelphia landmark, don’t take themselves all that seriously however. Their 70s garb and mustaches of the period evoke memories of more than just the music.

They also have adopted stage names, many of which come from their middle name and the street on which they grew up. For example, Mr. Anderson, the group’s lead singer and piano player, goes by Kenny Trout.

There is the fun aspect of the band but Mr. Anderson says the tunes are difficult to master.

“There is nostalgia at the root of the music. But it’s not easy material to play. Many of the songs are rooted in these jazz layers and the harmonies are very polished. It’s really challenging material for a musician,” he said.

So what is yacht rock exactly?

According to the band’s website, “yacht rock is generally defined as the highly polished brand of soft rock that emanated from Southern California between 1976 and 1984. The term is meant to suggest the kind of smooth, mellow music that early yuppies likely enjoyed while sipping champagne on their yachts.”

“Everyone has their own opinion about what yacht rock is,” Mr. Anderson said.

“It’s always a challenge to get people to agree. Two comedy writers in LA came up with the term. People have wars over it on Twitter. I always have a classification of ‘Have you ever heard the song while sitting in a dentist’s chair?’”

The website Yacht or Nyacht classifies hundreds of songs to decide whether they qualify for the distinction. According to their statistical algorithms, The Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes” is the most yacht rock song there is.

Curiously enough, Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” isn’t far behind in the rankings.

Mr. Anderson said there are even disagreements among band members.

“There are songs that don’t necessarily fall into that category but they are huge crowd pleasers. And that’s where we really struggle to fill a two-hour show,” he said.

“We certainly stretch the boundaries with some Hall and Oates or something like that.”

The duo was certainly busy in the 70s and 80s cranking out hits but are from Philadelphia so they don’t qualify for the Southern California end of things.

George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” is another example of a song Boat House Row plays but doesn’t meet all of the qualifications.

“It has that soft rock feel to it so it’s close enough,” Mr. Anderson said.

And don’t confuse yacht rock with songs about sailing, getting away or vacations.

“People try to put songs like ‘Escape’ (The Pina Colada Song) or ‘Rock the Boat’ in there but they don’t qualify,” Mr. Anderson said.

“Hardcore purists would say they are not yacht rock. There’s a huge back and forth. It’s really interesting.”

Mr. Anderson said that when the band started, it was by word of mouth. But the crowds came pretty quickly to their shows.

“It’s been a steady climb until the rooms started to sell out. There are other bands out there doing yacht rock but we like to give the people something unique while still staying true to the genre.”

The key demographic for Boat House Row are people in their 40s and 50s but Mr. Anderson said they do attract other ages.

“We do see pockets of younger folks. The older people start having kids and then the kids get exposed to it through their parents after hearing it played in the house,” Mr. Anderson said.

“It seems like Michael McDonald has had this resurgence with millennials and current bands like Silver Fox are recreating the yacht rock sound. It’s pretty cool.”

The band Weezer’s cover of Toto’s “Africa” was a radio stable in the summer of 2018 as well.

For a theater show such as in Milton, Mr. Anderson suspects the band will go heavy on the ballads, which is good since that’s what the genre is primarily filled with.

This is the first time Boat House Row will play the Milton Theatre so they will probably stick with the main hits of the era. Mr. Anderson said when the band plays a venue a few times, they start rotating in some deeper cuts.

“We want to keep them coming back. That’s for sure,” he said.

For those who don’t have tickets to Saturday night’s show, don’t fear. They will play the Bethany Beach Bandstand on July 4.

‘Just Like Janis’

Also at the Milton Theatre Thursday at 7:30 p.m., “Just Like Janis” features Cat Manning as Janis Joplin and the guitar talents of Billy The Kid Thoden playing the parts of Joplin guitarists, Sam Andrew and John Till.

The show takes an audience through a musical time machine starting with Big Brother and the Holding Company, going through her Kozmic Blues Band and landing with the Full-Tilt Boogie Band that were on her last tour and album.

Tickets are $24-29. Purchase them online at www.MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038 or at the box office at 110 Union St.

Pedals, Pipes and Pizza

Friday at 5:30 p.m., the American Guild of Organists, Southern Delaware Chapter will be hosting a Pedals, Pipes and Pizza event at Avenue United Methodist Church located at 20 N. Church St. in Milford.

The purpose of this free gathering is to introduce piano students to the organ — particularly the church organ and how it is used. The target audience is students age 6 and up. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend as well.

Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. A light pizza supper and refreshments will be served. For more information or to register for the event, contact Jon Rania, dean of the local chapter, at 302-245-1881.

The American Guild of Organists is a national organization which promotes the organ as the king of instruments, and helps to support those who play it and aficionados of it. The local chapter here in Southern Delaware is made up of members from Kent and Sussex counties. For more information about the chapter visit www.agosouthernde.com or email info@southernde.com.

Possums present play

Possum Point Players open their 2020 season with the stage adaptation of the iconic 1967 film, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Show dates are today, Saturday and Sunday and Feb. 7, 8 and 9 at Possum Hall, 441 Old Laurel Highway in Georgetown.

Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.. Tickets are $20, $19 for seniors and students, and may be purchased at www.possumpointplayers.org or by calling the ticketline, 302-856-3460.

A resident of Fenwick Island, director Les Ferguson has assembled a cast that represents five communities from central and southern Delaware. Dulcena Kemmerlin, Jill Lewandowski and Pamella Taylor are from Milford and Bruce Ricketts and Dick Pack are from Lewes. Arthur Paul and Gina Shuck live in Dover, Steven Perry lives in Rehoboth Beach and Abigail Porter is a Seaford resident.

Mr. Ferguson said he is enjoying his first experience directing with Possum Point Players. He praised his “great cast” and is extremely pleased with the volunteer support in the designing and building of a set that takes the audience into the dining room and out onto the veranda of the wealthy Drayton family.

In the play, Christina and Matt Drayton are the comfortable, liberal parents who are expecting a nicely done steak dinner, but they get a white-hot surprise instead. Their independent daughter, Joanna, brings home an educated and accomplished African American, John Prentice, Jr., who very recently became her fiancé. Their surprise and mixed feelings are matched by that of the fiancé’s parents, Mary and John Prentice, Sr.

“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” is suitable for general audiences. There is some adult language.

Possum Hall is at 441 Old Laurel Road, Georgetown.

Oscar shorts

Finally, the Rehoboth Beach Film Society will be offering several screenings of the Oscar nominees for Best Live Action Short Film, Best Animated Short Film, and Best Documentary (Short Subject) Film, beginning today.

Screenings for Best Live Action short films are 4 p.m. today, 7 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Monday and 4 p.m. Thursday.

Screenings for Best Animated Short films are 7 p.m. today, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Screenings for Best Documentary Short films are 2 p.m. Sunday and 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Admission is $8 for members and $11 for future members. Customers are encouraged to purchase tickets online. If seats are available, tickets can be purchased at the theater, starting 30 minutes prior to each screening.

For more information and tickets, visit rehobothfilm.com. Cinema Art Theater is at 17701 Dartmouth Drive, Lewes

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is the horror film “Gretel & Hansel” and the suspense-thriller “The Rhythm Section.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the John Cena comedy “Playing with Fire,” the romance “Last Christmas,” the sequel to “The Shining,” “Doctor Sleep” and Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen in “The Good Liar.”