Hits of the 70s and 80s are cool again, thanks to a light-hearted band that takes you where you really want to be…
SailingTakes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be Just a dream and the wind to carry me Soon I will be free – Christopher Cross, SAILING (1979)
Before Celine Dion‘s record-setting residency, it was often said that Vegas is where stars come to die. In 2023, it’s where they come to thrive, along with the songs that put them on the map. Sometimes those chart-toppers are better-remembered than the original artists, which may be why cover bands and tribute shows pack them in. Now you can add “Yacht Rock” into the mix.
If you’re asking yourself “What the bloody hell is ‘Yacht Rock’?”, don’t feel bad. It turns out that the term is relatively new…a rebranding of easy-listening hits from the seventies and eighties. A new name for an aging genre might seem pointless, but it immediately makes these songs sound a lot cooler than….brace yourself….adult contemporary.
Thanks to writer/actor/producer J. D. Ryznar, the “yacht rock” genre was created in 2005, giving new respect to the songs of Christopher Cross, Ambrosia, Michael McDonald, and Kenny Loggins. Yacht Rock branding even manages to restore the hip-ness of Rupert Holmes’ “Escape – The Pina Colada Song” (no small accomplishment).
While a number of yacht rock groups like The Windjammers perform throughout Las Vegas, Milwaukee party band The Docksiders has chosen Sin City to be their new port of call. After a brief stint at Rio’s The Duomo, The Docksders are now anchored at Downtown’s NOTORIETY. Showtime is every Thursday at 7 pm.
Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Docksiders is fronted by the dynamic, irreverent team of Erin and Kevin Sucher. Local entertainer Justin Michael Rodriguez provides a distinctly “Vegas” edge as the third main vocalist. How this soulful young singer, who performs in multiple bands (90’s Station, Live Music Society), has time to breathe is anyone’s guess.
Justin’s light-hearted confidence is a perfect match for the Suchers’ playful antics, making it feel like you’re amongst friends who make great music together. Really great music. So don’t be shy…you’re encouraged to sing along and get on your feet.
Both male leads were recently “Portnoyed” into Neal Portnoy’s famed gallery of Vegas celebrity caricatures. Considering the splash that The Docksiders has made in such a short time, one could reasonably expect to see Erin’s lovely face on a Portnoy ornament by this Christmas.
Captain Kevin Sucher has sailed into the Neal Portnoy Gallery…
Justin Michael Rodriguez is the newest crew member of The Docksiders
The trio is backed by a stunning band of musicians that make even the most well-worn chart-toppers sound brand new. Guitarist/vocalist Larry Esparza has a lengthy pedigree that includes A BRONX TALE, The Donna Summer Musical, and Jersey Boys Las Vegas. He even toured with Franki Valli & the Four Seasons. Esparza’s vocal skills absolutely shine on Kenny Loggins favorites like “Heart to Heart” and “This Is It”.
Larry Esparza (right) hits all the right notes for a Kenny Loggins medley
Rounding out the band are Chris Kollman on percussion, Clay Konnor on sax, Theo Merriweather on keyboards, and Anthony Jordan on bass guitar. A rapid-fire setlist of twenty-four songs covers everything from Toto and Fleetwood Mac to ABBA, The Doobie Brothers, and Lionel Ritchie. You might be surprised to discover how many lyrics you actually remember, from “Steal Away” (Robbie Dupree) to Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together”.
Music and the movies were deeply intertwined throughout the Yacht Rock era, giving us unforgettable soundtracks to films like Top Gun, Footloose, and Flashdance. The Docksiders takes you through some of the best moments from titles like Dirty Dancing and Grease (above). Just try to stay in your seat.
At roughly ninety minutes, The Docksiders doesn’t overstay its welcome or get bogged down in banter. The atmosphere of vacation frivolity is enhanced by a crackerjack bar and waitstaff. They’re decked out in nautical costumes and boast a galley loaded with specialty cocktails.
Tribute shows got a shot in the arm a few years ago when Elyzabeth Diaga brought QUEENS OF ROCK to the Strip. In my review, I bestowed “Queens” with my highest honor, and I’ll do it again right here. The Docksiders is absolute perfection and the most fun you can have on dry land. Every performer, every song, every nuance, and every moment is a treasure to discover.
THE DOCKSIDERS YACHT ROCK EXPERIENCE performs at NOTORIETY Live Thursdays at 7 pm through June 15th, then returns on August 17th after their summer tour. Audience members must be 21 or over. Tickets start at $25 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here.
NOTORIETY Live is located at 300 Fremont Street on the third level of NEONOPOLIS. Parking is available underneath Neonopolis. From 4th Street, enter the ramp just past Denny’s and take elevator to the 3rd floor.