The band, which began as a lark in 2007 playing covers of songs with a particular “smooth” pop/rock sound by acts like Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, now sells out big theaters nationwide and in Atlanta has performed multiple times at Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park.
He said he can now focus more on the band, recording a second album of original songs and setting up a big summer tour in 2023. The band is playing a concert at the Coca-Cola Roxy Dec. 17 and will honor the Talking Heads at The Eastern on Jan. 13, 2023.
Niespodziani and Peter Olson, both founding members of Yacht Rock Revue, decided in 2015 to open Venkman’s in Old Fourth Ward as a hedge. “Yacht Rock Revue was just starting to be a real viable business,” Niespodziani said. “We didn’t know how long it would last. Was this just a fad? The types of places we were playing were much smaller compared to now. Nobody in our world had done anything like this.”
The 400-person venue was also a restaurant and they said it was a challenge to make it work with no prior experience in the business.
“A restaurant is like a factory,” Niespodziani said. “It’s customer service. We studied the business but we had to make a lot of mistakes first. We eventually cleaned those mistakes up, but the pandemic happened.”
When they re-opened in 2021, they revamped the menu with a tapas focus and changed the venue’s layout. Unfortunately, regaining the momentum they had in 2019 and 2020 was challenging, he said. The venue, which isn’t attached to major companies like Live Nation or Zero Mile, also had a hard time booking national touring artists, he noted.
Among the acts still booked before Venkman’s closes include a group celebrating Stevie Wonder on Nov. 17, two concerts by Yacht Rock Revue’s cousin group Yacht Rock Schooner Nov. 23 and 25 and R.E.M. cover band The REMakes on Nov. 26. The final show will be a jam session led by Al Smith on Nov. 27. (Tickets are available at Venkmans.com.)