Sail away with yacht rock in Hoyt Park
By Terry L. Wilson
Scripps Ranch resident John Perkins is the drummer and creator of the band High Tide Society that performs yacht rock, a style of soft rock music that hit the airwaves in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
High Tide Society will perform on Aug. 14 in Hoyt Park in the Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park free summer concert series.
“Yacht rock is a phrase for a style of music created by a group of guys in Los Angeles that grew up listening to music by Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins and Hall & Oates. Their hits were constantly being played on pop radio back then,” Perkins said.
“One of the guys in the L.A. band made a joke and said, ‘This is the kind of music we should be listening to on our yacht.’ They all laughed and the moniker ‘yacht rock’ was born.”
The band from Los Angeles aired a series of 12 five-minute yacht rock videos on YouTube that found a tsunami of fans. And that didn’t go unnoticed by Perkins.
“People started watching the yacht rock clips on the Internet. That created a cult-like following that grew into a large fan base,” Perkins said. “It didn’t take long before other musicians saw yacht rock’s growing popularity and they jumped on board. Now the genre has grown to where there are a lot of bands doing yacht rock tributes. I started my band, High Tide Society, in 2014 by putting an ad in Craigslist, looking for musicians that wanted to do this kind of material, and that’s how I formed the group.”
Most of the soft hits from those eras were mastered in studios with all the expensive toys required to produce a hit record. To reproduce that kind of quality in a live concert requires a potpourri of instruments beyond the average concert.
“That’s why we are an eight-piece group,” Perkins said. “We don’t use tracks. Sometimes we may even use two keyboards, or two horns. It’s more mouths to feed, but we do whatever it takes to create something as pure as it sounds like it was done in the studio.”
Perkins and his yacht rock musicians were riding a wave of success until they were beached by COVID. They kept the music alive using the Internet, Skyping performances and rehearsals.
“We had a lot of projects lined up for 2020 that all went away when COVID hit,” Perkins said. “Then things started picking up after the lockdown. In 2022 we have done between 35 and 45 shows so far. We are getting jobs from major corporations that are having nautical theme parties based on the term yacht rock. It’s become a pop culture thing to do in 2022.”
Like most musicians, Perkins has other “gigs” to keep him busy when he isn’t behind the drums playing with his group.
“I put other bands together, too,” Perkins said. “I produce various music tribute projects and I have a small marketing agency as well. I do websites, payment processing, create logos and create social media marketing through my other company, Brand Camp.”
The upcoming Scripps Ranch Symphony In The Park concert on Aug. 14 will mark High Tides Society’s second appearance on the Hoyt Park stage.
“We played here (Scripps Ranch) in 2018,” Perkins said. “I live in Scripps Ranch and we love being able to
perform in front of a hometown audience. We’re going to be doing late ’70s and early ’80s pop rock, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the concert.”
Symphony In The Park’s concerts begin at 6 p.m. and end at 7:30 p.m. For additional concert information or to support the program with a donation, visit symphonyinthepark.org.