Songs For A Dance With Brooks 'N' Yoder

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Brooks 'n' Yoder opened their set at the Rye Bar and Restaurant "Last Dance," a tune Floyd Cramer had a hit with in 1960, and a couple immediately took to the dance floor.

"Sir, was that the song or were you requesting me to save the last dance for you?" Don Brooks asked when the song ended.

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Dave Yoder on Bass

"A request," came the reply, amidst laughter.

David Yoder and Brooks traded lead vocals throughout the set.

Yoder sang lead on a jazzed-up version of "Don't Rock the Jukebox".

His vocals were higher, like Willie Nelson's, when he sang "All of Me".

During "Peaceful Easy Feeling" his voice was Dylanesque.

Brooks' mellow baritone carried "The Christmas Song" and "The Wonder of You".

They have arranged Marty Robbins' "A White Sports Coat (And a Pink Carnation)", with a clever, fun, cha cha beat.

The duo achieves a strong, rich harmony that often sounds larger than two vocals.

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Don Brooks on keyboards. They share lead vocal duties.

It is not pre-recorded tracks. They don't use them.

It is not the drum machine they have affectionately nicknamed "Al."

When Brooks and Yoder combined their talents two years ago, they placed a high priority on a quality, finished product.

Their recognizable song list begins in the mid-twentieth century and includes oldies, standards and country tunes. Their music brings dancers to the floor and is easy to listen to over dinner or a drink.Their professional backgrounds give them a deep knowledge of music that enables them to handle most requests.

Whether they perform in tuxedos, Hawaiian shirts, country attire or semi-formal wear, they dress to suit the venue.

Yoder listened to county music the first 10 years of his life.

"Then the Beatles came out and I thought man, that's what I want to do," Yoder said.

His grandmother brought him a chord organ with push button chords on one side and keys on the other.

She put cardboard over the fan that "blew like an accordion."

"It wasn't long before I figured out, I could push my knee up on that cardboard and get a wah-wah sound," Yoder said.

He taught himself to drum with a drum on his legs.

He played all kinds of air guitar and air drum games with his cousins.

During his high school years in the early 1970s Yoder formed a band.

"Some guys and I kind of all showed up in my back yard. We played 30-minute songs at parties and no-one sang," Yoder said.

Post high school, they shortened their songs, added a singer and hired out around Tempe and the East Valley as The Brother Blues.

A decade later, Yoder's band was The Buffalo Blue Chip Band.

"We were the first band to play at Graham Central Station and we were the opening act for Leon Russell and Hank Williams, Jr.

Music was Yoder's mainstay, the masonry trade his back-up job.

Brooks was five-years-old when he started playing the piano. As he grew up, he admired Jerry Lee Lewis for his skills on the ivories and Elvis Presley for his singing style.

In 1972, Brooks started playing with Valley band Impulse.

"I enjoyed it, but it got to where we only played Top 40s and we wanted to play more oldies so in 1974, we changed our name to Yesterday," Brooks said.

The band performed Valley gigs at Mr. Lucky's, Fifth National Bank, The Playboy Club and The Band Box.

By day, Brooks worked at a drafting table.

"You have to have some way to feed your hobby," he said.

Brooks continued as Yesterday's keyboardist after he moved to Payson in 1985.

Yesterday had a two-year gig and was the final band to play Payson's Swiss Village Lounge (at what is now Best Western.) The lounge closed in 1995.

Yoder, the self-described "Arizona boy -- we still put mustard on our hamburgers here" and "New Jersey rock and roller" Brooks, met professionally when Yoder joined "Yesterday" as a drummer in 2004. (Yoder came to Payson in 1984.)

One day while loading instruments into the truck for the long Valley commute to gigs Brooks told Yoder, "Let's work on some material and actually practice as a duo."

The idea was to play more local gigs.

"He had to convince me it would work," Yoder said.

That was two years ago.

Jan. 4 and 5 Brooks 'n' Yoder perform next at the Rye Creek Bar and Grill in Rye. Music starts at 6 p.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Contact Brooks at (928) 474-9623 for booking and schedule information.

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