While the first day of Jam Cruise was fun and featured some terrific music, Day Two took things to a whole new level. No matter where you looked, artists were jamming with each other in configurations that you’d never expect. The day was relentless as the MSC Poesia was motoring down to Roatan, Honduras.
Chicago’s Cornmeal kicked things off on the Pool Deck just before noon to a surprisingly large crowd. Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee provided the first sit-in of the day by joining Cornmeal for a segment that included a cover of Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets that the ensemble nailed on every level. There was even a tease of Terrapin thrown in for good measure.
[Photo by Dave Vann]
If anyone read my Jam Cruise Journals from last year, you’ll probably recall how much I enjoyed Brock Butler’s performances. Brock was all over the place yesterday starting with a solo set on the smaller Solar Stage which featured a dream setlist that started with a cover of LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends followed by the PGroove classic It Starts Where It Ends and Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. Under sunny skies and in 80 degree weather, Butler also treated cruisers to a Phosphorescent cover and his own The Weather and the Wait as well as Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Soles of Shoes. The PGroove front man even showed off his freestyle skills during DMX’s Crime Stories.
READ ON for much more from day two of Jam Cruise
As soon as Brock stopped playing, the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars marched the length of the Pool Deck on to the stage for the first of many “is this really happening?” moments. Next up on the Solar Stage was one of the best sets of the day – Jennifer Hartswick. JHa started off by performing a few Van Ghost tunes with Michael Harrison Berg, Allie Kral of Cornmeal and Butler. A few of the New Mastersounds boys joined in at the end after a mesmerizing Dawes cover that led more than one of the assembled mass to yell “No Shit!”
[Photo by Adam Kaufman]
Dumpstaphunk followed on the Pool Deck and were joined by Lettuce/Some Cat From Japan/Jam Cruise 8 MVP Nigel Hall and – shocker – George Porter Jr. The famous Meters bassist always makes his presence felt in every sector of the boat and yesterday was no exception. Zach Deputy has one helluva 2010 and you could sense his growth during his first performance on the Solar Stage. Cummins added some Moog to Zach’s originals after Karl Denson blasted some sax earlier in the set.
Another highlight from Day Two was the Some Cat From Japan set, which featured a ton of sit-ins. Whether it was Bob Weir joining in for Watchtower or Eric McFadden tearing shit up on Little Wing, the Hendrix tribute band had friends galore on stage with them during the nearly two-hour show on the Pool Deck. Tony Hall led the Jam Room on Day One and on Day Two he lent his vocal prowess to a scorching Them Changes with Some Cat. Guitarist Scott Metzger was clearly reveling in the moment and seemed to kick his playing up a notch from its normal ridiculous level.
Each day on Jam Cruise, one keyboardist gets a 45-minute set on the gorgeous grand piano set up in the ship’s atrium. On Day Two, Marco Benevento got the call and tackled some of his best material including Sunny’s Song, Real Morning Party and a cover of My Morning Jacket’s Golden. I always love these intimate performances as did Marco’s daughter Ruby, who nearly stole the show with her smiles.
The West Coast contingent took over the Zebra Bar during the evening with a short set by troubadour Nathan Moore leading into an action-packed ALO session. ALO energized the crowd with their cover of A Fifth of Beethoven and a sit-in from unannounced special guest Roosevelt Collier of the Lee Boys. From there, it was off to Scaring The Childen, where once again Steve Kimock kept things interesting by adding sizzling lead guitar to the mix. Jack Straw in particular featured a sly, slinky solo, which brought Kimock to his feet showing rare emotion.
I must admit, I’m not the biggest Galactic fan, but they kept things interesting throughout there set thanks to various guest spots from Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley, Ivan Neville and a killer rendition of Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ featuring Taylor Hicks on vocals. Hicks has been making friends a plenty on the boat with the American Idol’s willingness to sit-in on everything and anything.
[Photo by Jeremy Gordon]
Other guest spots on Day Two included Maceo Parker with England funksters The New Mastersounds and nearly every New Orleans musician on the boat joining in at some point during the JoJo’s Mardi Gras Band performance. My eyes at this point were on a bigger prize – two and a half hours of God Street Wine. I’ll have a full review of GSW’s crusher of a set at some point soon, but highlights included guitarist Lo Faber telling the story of how the NYC-based band rose up through the ranks in the ’90s and landed on Jam Cruise all these years later, a four-song Bob Weir sit-in (Book of Rules, Dark Hollow, Race Is On and Dear Prudence) that was straight out a dream from my mind when I was 16-years-old and an incendiary Feel The Pressure -> Driving West, Mile By Mile -> Epiphany -> When She Go segment.
You could’ve knocked me over with a feather as the old saying goes. Here’s a look at the GSW setlist…
Set: Princess Henrietta, R U 4 Real?, Fortress of Solitude, Cheap Utah Blues, Diana, Book of Rules*, Dark Hollow*, Race Is On*, Dear Prudence*, Feel The Pressure -> Driving West, Mile By Mile -> Epiphany -> When She Go, Better Than You, Waiting For The Tide -> Hellfire -> If I Can Dream
Over in the Jam Room, Stockholm Syndrome’s Wally Ingram was leading things with Collier, Butler, Danny Louis, Porter and Stanton Moore among those holding court. While the action finished at all the official venues at 5AM that didn’t stop Brock from playing another three hour sunrise set in which he took requests from the 40 or so fans gathered around him near the pool including Rainbow Connection, the Theme to Super Mario Brothers and the Fraggle Rock theme song. Not to be outdone, Zach Deputy threw an impromptu set of his own once Butler finished.
I’ve just spent a while laying out the highlights of Day Two and there’s still so much I didn’t get to cover and so much more I want to explain in depth. That said, I don’t want to miss anymore music so I’ll aim to cover a few sets in more detail (Brock, JHa and GSW) at a later time. Last year’s Jam Cruise was the best week of my life and yesterday may have even raised that bar. Jam Cruise is a music lovers dream come true and I’m eating up every moment of it.
In case you missed Scott’s Day 1 recap, you can get caught up right here