Off-Ramp host John Rabe talks with Landon Beard, lead singer for Harbor Party, which plays yacht rock every Tuesday night at Rockwell in Los Feliz.
Yacht Rock: Another name for the adult-contemporary musical movement in the late 1970's and the early 1980's. It was defined mostly by its smooth sound. Popular Yacht Rockers include: Kenny Loggins, the Doobie Brothers, and Steely Dan. — Urban Dictionary definition
Talk about your guilty pleasures. Some people watch old McMillan & Wife episodes; others read Jackie Collins novels. Me? I like Yacht Rock — music that comes from a simpler and possibly better time. If that floats your boat, too, slip on your Topsiders and join Harbor Party late Tuesday nights at the music club Rockwell.
I caught what turned out to be Harbor Party's first performance. After the show, I talked with lead singer and co-founder Landon Beard, former backup singer for Frankie Valli, who hails from the port of San Diego. "We figured out it's specifically a genre of music that was written between 1978 and 1984. Tends to be your Hall & Oates, Kenny Loggins, Toto, Christopher Cross, Michael MacDonald, who were brilliant songwriters."
Beard says he got hooked to yacht rock listening to his dad's music when he was only 6-years-old, and he admits that yacht rock might seem "fluffy" at first. But Harbor Party — most of whom are elite USC music grads — find the tunes "super, super tough."
A lot of music now, he says, is about solo singers and a brand more than an act. There's something to be said for when that musicianship was still so strong. "I mean, when we're really picking out things, there are 4, 5, 6 parts on certain songs. It's a blend, it's harmony still."
Why is it called yacht rock? "I actually don't know who coined the term but I think it's so apropos. It's sad to say, but it's like white people in boat shoes."
Spoiler alert: Beard does not own a yacht, and he can't even sail a boat. But the music of Harbor Party is smooth sailing.
Harbor Party is playing the late set (10 p.m.) at Rockwell every Tuesday night. The band also includes Alex "Huntington Newport" Ellis, backing vocals; John Schroeder, guitar; Jack Kovacs, bass; Dan Reckard, keyboard & sax; and Ben Rose and Sam Brawner, drums.