Kevin Winter, Getty Images T.I. and Lil Wayne are teaming up once again, only this…
- Posted on May 28th 2008 3:00PM by David Chiu
First aired in 2005 on the Web television network Channel 101, 'Yacht Rock' lovingly spoofs those artists, including the Doobie Brothers and Christopher Cross, who defined that era of radio-friendly hits coming out of southern California. It takes place takes place between 1975 and 1984 and focuses on Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins (played respectively by series' co-creators JD Ryznar and Hunter Stair). The two wrote songs together, such as 'What a Fool Believes' and 'This Is It,' and McDonald had also worked with other artists from that community.
"These were great pop musicians," Ryznar, who also wrote and directed the series, tells Spinner. "They knew what they were doing. They worked and lived in a community of great musicians."
Long after its ten-episode run ended in 2006, 'Yacht Rock' still remains a popular cult hit with over 900,000 downloads and counting. And now comes the 'Yacht Rock' "tour," in which the episodes will be screened on selected dates before a live audience in New York, Minneapolis, Detroit and Muskegon, Michigan. Ryznar and the cast are scheduled to make appearances at the screenings. "We're up and around walking and hanging with everybody, and they can ask us all the questions they want in person," Ryznar says.
"I think the series has the staying power it does," said "Hollywood" Steve Huey, music critic and 'Yacht Rock' host, "because JD really mastered his storytelling technique. [It's] what makes the show something more than just a random collection of pop-culture references."
The musicians in 'Yacht Rock' are not depicted as laidback like their hits, but as artists with overly exaggerated and tough personalities. For example, a streetwise Daryl Hall and John Oates challenge Loggins and McDonald to a songwriting contest in an alley. "It helps to get people's attention when you turn their expectations on end," Ryznar explains.
The series also includes the actual hit music by those musicians as well as some of their obscure songs. Ryznar, 30, says he never listened to this music when he was a kid. But that changed when he was in college listening to Steely Dan. "Once you get into Steely Dan," he says, "you can't get enough."
Naturally the series has attracted the attention of some of the real-life "yacht rockers" such as Toto's Steve Porcaro, and Hall and Oates. "It's a weird feeling," Ryznar says. "What do I talk to them about? 'Thanks for not suing me.'" Adds Huey: "I hope ultimately it's clear that we really enjoy this stuff, because otherwise why would we have bothered to learn that much about it? "
Over a year after 'Yacht Rock' ended, Ryznar and Co. made a special episode that went online this past January. It told the story of Kenny Loggins' 1984 smash 'Footloose' that involves a scheming Jimmy Buffett. (Actor Jason Lee makes an appearance as Kevin Bacon). There is a chance that a new episode could be made but Ryznar says: "Now I have to buckle down and make a living. It takes me a whole day of preparation to do two hours of writing every day."
Aside from riding his new bicycle and working on his hot rod, there is one thing that has recently piqued Rzynar's interest. "I just got really excited about Al Jarreau," he says of the jazz vocalist, whose video for his 1983 song 'Mornin'' is on the 'Yacht Rock' blog. "[Members of] Toto played on his albums."
Yacht Rock Screening Dates:
May 31: Brooklyn, NY
June 7: Minneapolis, MN
July 2: Detroit
July 5: Muskegon, Michigan