HOUSTON – There’s a popular saying that “it’s all fun and games until the cops come out,” but for Nicholas Niespodziani and his band, Yacht Rock Revue, the fun was over before they had to call 911.
PREVIOUS: The band has its equipment trailer stolen after playing Fort Worth
During the last weekend of April, he and his rock band performed with legendary guitarist and singer Kenny Loggins in Fort Worth, Texas, and the show went great, Niespodziani tells me in an interview. However, the fun and excitement was cut short after their trailer containing thousands of dollars worth of tools was stolen outside their hotel overnight.
“We walk off stage and we’re just buzzing; everybody loves life,” she said. “And then, you know, we go to our hotel, and I wake up this morning, the next morning to like 15 messages in a discussion about the theft of our trailer.”
“I was just like, ‘Is this a joke? Is anyone just trying to shed some light on this after, you know, such an epic night?’ and it turns out not,” continued Niespodziani. “One of the guys in our crew came downstairs at like six in the morning and he was getting his coffee and he looked outside and saw that the trailer was missing from the van. And you know, it was parked right in front of the hotel where you could see it, it was crazy.”
As common as the theft of instruments, Niespodziani and his bandmates took the necessary precautions to ensure their belongings were properly stored and protected, but to no avail.
“These guys were super professional that they did it,” she explained. “I don’t think it was their first time stealing a trailer as…we had several mechanisms in place, they were able to cut the hitch locks, slide the transmission into the van, pull the van forward like 15 feet in way to get everything they had in there to hitch the trailer to their hitch and take off from there.
There were even AirTags placed inside the instrument cases, but they were removed and thrown away.
“They had some kind of AirTag detector because we had a few cases that had AirTags in them and they were able to figure out which cases had airtags and discard them in a different location,” Niespodziani added. “We found our saxophonist’s sax in the middle of the street in this Fort Worth neighborhood where they had emptied it. There was literally a saxophone in the street and then the AirTag next to it like – it was very advanced. I didn’t even know that I could do that sort of thing.”
All told, Niespodziani estimates $150,000 worth of the tools and trailer were taken. However, sentimental estimates of the stolen object are priceless.
“It’s so much more than just dollars,” Niespodziani noted.
“There are guitar straps that my father hand-beaded for me on all my guitars,” he continued. “There was a custom guitar that our guitarist Monkey Boy just got, he’d waited six months to order it from the custom shop with all the specs he wanted – exactly how he wanted it and all the digital stuff, there’s all these presets that we created, that we won’t be able to recreate on the next set of equipment.”
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Adding even more stress to the Atlanta band, the same day their instruments were stolen, they were scheduled to perform in Houston, Texas.
“We were playing a concert in Houston, which was a fundraiser for a cancer research charity,” Niespodziani explained. “And we’re looking at the program, like ‘how do we make this show happen again?’ You know, we don’t want to let all these people down and be a drag on the charity.”
Luckily, the band made friends with strangers through Paul Beebe of Houston-based Disco Expressions.
“I got a call from a number I didn’t know, so I didn’t answer, but then I got a message; it was from one of the road managers for [Yacht Rock Revue]he said. ‘They were trying to scramble to get equipment and get down to Houston and everything to play this gala, and so we said we’d be happy to help because it’s a tough situation to be in.’
“They say, you know, ‘not only can you use our stuff, but we have a studio and we have all this equipment that you can use if you need to’ and just everything we needed,” Niespodziani added. “They were immediately there for us which was great.”
Beebe noted how common it is for musicians’ instruments to be stolen due to the difficulty of recovering them and a lucrative crime for thieves.
“Equipment is hard to track down; there’s a lot of equipment out there and if it can be sold easily in the market, it’s expensive,” he explained. “Guitars can cost thousands of dollars and amps can cost thousands of dollars. It’s easy to sell it at a pawn shop or online or anywhere; it’s very easy to buy it around and it’s worth a lot of money.”
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There are some steps musicians can take, however, to try to prevent theft of instruments or at least recover them.
“Make sure you have your serial numbers on all your gear, especially guitars, they all have serial numbers on them,” advised Bebee. “And you can report those serial numbers. And sometimes you get something back for it.
“I have a friend who had a guitar stolen from his car here in Houston, and he reported it to the police, and he appeared at a pawn shop, and recovered it,” she continued. “So you can get it back, but if you have no way to identify your gear other than ‘it’s a Fender Strat’ then you’re going to be out of luck.”
Regardless, Niespodziani and the rest of YRR are patiently letting the Fort Worth Police continue their investigation. In the meantime, they are continuing their shows and taking alternate steps to give fans a wonderful experience; demonstrating true artistry through improvisation.
“We’re lucky because we’re not just an indie rock band, right?” he said. “For example, if it had happened to us 10 years ago, when we were still putting our feet under our feet, it would have been a huge blow. But we are, we are lucky because we have reached a point where it can take a hit like this and still be able to play all of our shows”.
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That’s why Beebe also stressed the importance of supporting local artists and live music.
“It’s a special thing,” he said. “You can watch TV anytime, you can’t see a band everytime.”
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Niespodzian echoed similar statements adding that while he’s been encouraged to start a GoFundMe or find a way to raise money and recover from their tragedy, he just hopes more people come to see them do what they love.
“I would say if you want to support us come to our shows, we are playing with Kenny [Loggins] in Austin, and in Houston later this fall, or summer, maybe, and then we’ll headline a show ourselves in San Antonio,” he concluded. “Just get some tickets to our shows, and if you see any really nice guitars on Craigslist, it doesn’t look like they should be there (laughs).”
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The band posted a full list of the nearly 250 stolen items on their comments page in a Facebook post, which are also listed below:
To learn more about Yacht Rock Revue and purchase tickets, visit their website. You can also learn more about Disco Expressions at their website.