Break out your linen pants, your pastel shirt and your best pair of boat shoes. Johnson County is going yachting.

We may be hours away from even a reasonably large body of water for proper boating. But that doesn’t mean that local residents can’t look, feel and party as if they’re spending an evening on the sea.

All you need is the right state of mind.

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That’s where Yacht Rock Revue comes in, bringing the easy-going sound of the ‘70s alive. The seven-piece band have built a nationwide following paying tribute to the soulful vocals, grooving guitars and pop-ready beats of artists such as Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates and Christopher Cross.

The band will take the stage at Mallow Run Winery at 7 p.m. July 29. Even in the middle of the Bargersville countryside, it won’t be hard to imagine cruising on the waves, a glass of bubbly in hand and a breeze ruffling the wide lapels of your leisure suit.

To get people in the mood, lead vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Nick Niespodziani helped unveil the magic behind the yacht rock sound.

How did you get turned on to “yacht rock”?

Our drummer and I worked at the same insurance company, and he had this mix that he’d listen to called, ‘The Dentist Office Mix.’ We used to blast it from our cubicles to try and annoy the other people who worked with us. To our chagrin, it did not annoy them. They actually loved it.

What was it about this music that people really gravitated toward?

These are songs that everyone knows the words to, but they aren’t sure who the band is. Plus, there is something about the music from that era, it’s so immaculately produced music. It all sounds amazing; this was the time of real studio excess. The lyrics are all kind of good-times lyrics, not trying to make any social or political statements. They’re just fun tunes.

How did that develop into a band?

It started when we lived in Indiana. Five of us went to (Indiana University), and we were in an indie rock band. We were doing OK, but we were in our late 20s, we had songs in some commercials, we did some tours but never really made a living doing it. We were all kind of moving off in other directions, and then I suggested we do a show of this Dentist Office mix.

How did that go?

We did it once, and people kept wanting more and more of it. Next thing we knew, we’re getting an office and hiring people to work for us and quitting our jobs. It spun out of control, in a good way.

Coming from an indie-rock background, was it difficult getting in the mindset to play this type of music?

I could be an artsy snob about it, but when I really take a step back and have some perspective, my job is to make people happy. And everywhere I go, people are excited to see us and ready to have a good time. That’s not a bad way to get through this world.

Once you decided to follow this direction, how did you put together the look that goes along with it?

That’s been a very organic process. We did the first show, we didn’t have our look together or anything together, honestly. As it started to be successful, we just kind of watched to see what the crowd was into. We dressed up for one of the early shows, and people seemed to like that. We started doing the side-to-side dance, coordinated it, and people reacted to that.

What was it like experiencing that unfold?

It gave us this freedom; we didn’t have any of our own ideas about what this needed to be, the crowd could dictate what songs we chose and what we were going to do. We react to what people want.

Having ties to Indiana University, what’s it like coming back to Indiana to perform?

It’s one of our favorite places to play. When we left for Atlanta, it was like we were heading off to make it. Now, we kind of have, in a totally different way than anybody expected. It’s cool to come back and not be playing to 15 people in Broad Ripple like we used to.

For people who haven’t seen you live before, what can they expect?

They can expect smooth sounds, their faces will probably hurt from smiling. It’ll be Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Steely Dan, Hall & Oates and a lot of artists they forgot about. They’re going to have a good time. Even people who are super-snobby about it, which is what I would have been before, will come away with a new respect for the music.

If you go

Yacht Rock Revue

What: A loving tribute to ’70s light rock such as Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, Chicago and others.

When: 7 p.m. July 29; doors open at 6

Where: Mallow Run Winery, 6964 W. Whiteland Road, Bargersville

Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free and do not need a ticket.

Information: Blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged. Food trucks will be on site, and picnics are welcome, though no outside alcohol will be allowed.

To buy tickets: mallowrun.com/yacht-rock-revue

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.