Sixtyfourwest, best known for their late night party sets and extensive song selection, is hitting its stride and spreading its fan base. Starting off as coffee-house musicians while at the University of Kentucky, guitarist Bill Yackey and singer Aaron Weaver knew the group needed more.
The two found their niche in bar scene in Lexington and Louisville, KY, playing weekly while steadily building up their fan base and set list. It is their song selection, in fact, that keeps people coming back. Like the perfect jukebox, Bill & Aaron incorporate classic 80s and 90s tracks into a set list of Top 40 and originals. It’s no surprise to hear Ryan Adams, followed by Journey, then finish up with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
The group’s popularity on campus earned them invitations to play at some of UK’s largest fundraisers and events, as well as numerous Greek parties and functions.
Being classically trained musicians both chorally and orchestrally, the two don’t let the bar and party scene get in the way of making great music. As a cappella and choir veterans, there is no lack of powerful harmonies in their songs. In stage settings, the group incorporates percussionist Chris Burgess and often features Aaron playing the cello in addition to Bill’s acoustic guitar.
That Nashville Sound had a chance to sit down and chat with guitarist and vocalist Bill Yackey about the duo.
That Nashville Sound- What brought you to music in the first place?
Bill Yackey- We have both been involved in music for as long as I can remember. Aaron’s parents are both choir directors, and his dad taught us both in high school. Aaron went to school on a cello scholarship, I’ve been playing piano since 5th grade and taught myself guitar in high school. We both were in the University of Kentucky choir and a cappella group. I could probably fill an entire page talking about musical things we’ve done up until this point.
TNS- Describe your music- what's the mission behind the music?
BY- Everything we do is based on having a good time. And that’s what music really should be about, right? I think I’m happiest when I’m playing in front of people, and if I can pass that feeling onto others, I’ve completed that mission. Notwithstanding, the music has to be good in order to resonate with an audience, so that’s when the real work comes in.
TNS- What might people be surprised to find out about you?
BY- Probably our extensive choral backgrounds – we’ve sung together (literally next to each other) for more than 13 years. It’s funny, the same songs we sang in a cappella groups at sorority houses in college we cover as a band. Every now and then we have to remind each other to “breathe before this phrase,” or “we’re going sharp on this one note.” I feel like a lot of people just get up there and sing. With us, it’s more cerebral than that. And I think it pays off.
TNS- What kind of music are you listening to? What's in your iPod?
BY- It changes every day of course, but there have been some albums that have really changed the band over the years, Carencro – Marc Broussard, Only By The Night – Kings of Leon, and For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver. Right now, I can’t get enough Company of Thieves and Paolo Nutini.
TNS- If you had a crystal ball and looked forward five years, what do you see for yourself?
BY- Well, we both have jobs and lives outside of music, so I’d like to see myself getting a promotion at my day job. Music-wise, I’d like to see us play bigger and bigger venues. Louisville has some really good opportunities and festivals all year long. Its not a bad place to get a start as a band. I’d also like to see us expand – there’s a lot of things you can do with 5 or 6 people that you can’t do with 2 or 3.
TNS- Quick questions… Favorite Hobby?
BY- I’m big into golf, weightlifting and social media stuff. Aaron likes soccer and basketball, and of course our favorite pastime is partying with friends.
TNS- Record stores or downloads?
BY- I’ve turned into an iTunes addict, sadly. I still support the last great record store, Ear-X-Tacy on Bardstown Rd. in Louisville. Heaven help us if anything were to happen to that place.
TNS- Favorite food?
BY- When Aaron and I eat together it is usually at one of the following places: El Nopal (Mexican), Qdoba, Little Caesars, or Subway (where we have both crafted “masterpiece” sandwiches).
TNS-West Coast or East Coast?
BY- Mid-west ride til’ we die.
TNS- Nickname for your guitar or other instrument(s)?
BY- I used to have a Washburn, my first guitar, that I called “Ol Trusty,” mainly because I beat the hell out of it for like 7 years. Now we just call the Taylor “The Taylor.” Aaron’s cello is called “Lady Chocolate.”