WATCH NOW: Kenosha native Chris Kollman sails Vegas with ‘yacht rock’ band | Local News

Chris Kollman does not own a yacht.

But that didn’t stop the Kenosha native from playing drums with “yacht rock” band the Docksiders.

And now the Milwaukee-based band is heading to Las Vegas for a year-long residency.

So what’s a nice guy from North Kenosha doing in a yacht rock band?

As he explains, Kevin Sucher — the three-time Grammy nominee who is the band’s owner/manager/vocalist — formed The Docksiders in 2017.

Prior to this, Kollman – who had played many tracks by Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith and Rush in various bands – had no idea what this softer “yacht rock” was, but he enjoys “the smoothness of the music – the fat, the grooves – and their variety. It all makes playing this music a lot of fun.

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Tony Orlando helps

The Las Vegas job came after the band recorded songs in their “Studio Sessions” (which can be found on YouTube).

One of the songs the band recorded was “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”, a huge hit in 1973 for Tony Orlando and Dawn.

One of the songwriters, L. Russell Brown, “heard our version somewhere and played it for Tony Orlando, and they both got in touch with Kevin (Sucher) and befriended each other”, Kollman said. “Tony came to Milwaukee last January and performed four of his songs with us at the Pabst Theater which was great fun. He loves the band and helped us connect with people in Vegas. And that’s how it all started. »

Vegas, baby!

The group’s residency at the Rio Casino begins at one year, broken down into 40 weeks of work, with 12 weeks off, split sporadically.

During that time off, the band “will go to other cities to perform, like we do now,” Kollman said, speaking from Colorado where the band just wrapped up a few gigs. “We will play private events and of course we will have free time and family time.”

While in Vegas, band members receive a monthly stipend for living expenses, “which we can use wherever and however we want,” Kollman explained. “Four of us in the group have decided to live together and will be residing in a furnished Airbnb, going month-to-month for a year.”

The Docksiders will make their Las Vegas debut on September 8, as will Kollman.

His first trip to the mecca of gaming and desert entertainment will be as a working musician.

And he couldn’t be more excited.

“It’s exciting to play in the entertainment capital of the world, or at least one of them,” Kollman said. “Even though I haven’t been there, I know there’s a lot going on. It’s exciting to be able to play there and meet who I’m going to meet.

Playing in Vegas also means his family, including his girlfriend, Terri, are planning visits.

“Unlike me, a lot of my family and friends have been to Vegas and love it,” he said. “Some haven’t been in a while, so now they have a new reason to go.”

Yacht rock success

At their shows, “we do our best to hit the yacht rock staples and play what people want to hear,” Kollman said.

“People really like to hear Michael McDonald songs, Christopher Cross, Toto, Steely Dan songs, ‘Escape – the Pina Colada song’, ‘Baby Come Back’ and ‘Biggest Part of Me’ songs are all popular .”

As for why the cool, soothing sound of yacht rock is so popular, Kollman said part of it has to do with nostalgia.

“Because we all know the songs, it takes us back to that time. We remember the good times and our youth,” he said. “People who attend the shows always have a smile on their face. It’s music that feels good. »

Life on (and off) the road

While playing with the Docksiders, Kollman still retains his “day job”, which he can do remotely.

“I work for Northwestern Mutual in IT as a software engineer,” he said. “Fortunately, they know what I’m doing and support me. My managers love the band and have either gone to a show or are planning to come, and they allow me to continue working remotely.

The hardest part of touring with the band “is leaving loved ones behind and not being there for everyday life with Terri and my daughters, Casey and Jamie. Luckily, they’re in college and getting away from it all.” come out very well.

His overall goal — even after decades as a musician — is still “to get better as a drummer. Now that I’m going to play more regularly, hopefully that helps. I can’t wait to see what doors it will open and see what it will bring.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the big amphitheaters and arenas,” he said. “There’s something about these great shows that excites me so much. There’s always such a cool energy, especially when the lights go down, and that moment before the first notes. Very cool.”

While joking about hitting the big time, Kollman said that even with all the band’s success, he wasn’t looking to become a yacht guy in his spare time.

“I’ve always heard that it’s better to know someone who has a yacht than to own one yourself.” (Spoken like a practical Kenosha kid.)

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