This is the summer of soft rock



The Doobie Brothers
  • The Doobie Brothers

The gauntlet — the gentle, down-filled, pina colada-scented gauntlet — was dropped when The Doobie Brothers and Peter Frampton challenged Beyonce and Jay Z for the top concert spot on Sunday, July 20. While the Doobies and Frampton take Champions Square, Beyonce and Jay Z will take the neighboring Superdome. It's either a scheduling coincidence or a house-packing booking strategy, with titans of hip-hop and yacht rock meeting to do battle. Either way, the message is clear (kind of): Herewith begins the summer of soft rock.

A few days later, on Saturday, July 26, Steely Dan headlines the UNO Lakefront Arena. And on Monday, August 18, Toto (of "Hold the Line" and "Africa" fame) celebrates its 35th anniversary with "An Evening with Toto," presented by New Orleans FM radio's soft rock king, Magic 101.9.

Meanwhile, along the Gulf Coast casino circuit (a reliable stronghold of yacht rock legion of yesteryear), the Yacht Rock Revue — which bills itself as "the music you listen to at the dentist's office while getting your teeth cleaned" and "single-handedly responsible for the reunion of 6 out of 7 members of the band Starbuck" — performs Saturday, August 2 at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi, Mississippi. Air Supply performs two whole nights July 25-26 at Hard Rock Live, and Boz Scaggs — who performed at the 2014 Jazz Fest — also is at Hard Rock Live Saturday, August 16. And the mashed potato-mouthed soul king himself, Michael McDonald, performs at Island View Casino on Saturday, September 13.

Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" has been crowned, reluctantly, the song of the summer in 2014, while just two years ago, we all were giving into the simple pop pleasure of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" as 2012's song of the summer. What happened to us? "Fancy" has been No. 1 for six whole weeks. Six. Six of them. A month and a half. Rather than champion a garbage can to the summer song throne, why not look to our elders? They already are filling up a local concert calendar near you. I made an exhaustive primer for all things yacht rock, soft rock, AM radio pop, etc. It's an instant nostalgia machine — for me, morning commutes in my mom's car listening to adult contemporary format radio in the early '90s. For you, a doorway into a world of possibility.

Oh, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & "Young" gave us a superior version of "Fancy" on The Tonight Show. CSN headlines the Saenger Theatre on Saturday, August 23.

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