Re-entering the real world after Jam Cruise 8 has been fairly painful. Luckily, all of the memories from the trip have kept me smiling. The weirdest part has been the “land legs” sensation that makes me feel like I’m still on the boat. Thursday, the final day of the cruise, continued the trend of amazing music and fantastic “only on Jam Cruise” experiences aboard the MSC Poesia.
[All photos by Dave Vann]
The day started bright and early with a set of funk on the Pool Deck from Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes that was lightly attended. By this point of the cruise, most folks were sleeping in – but that didn’t stop Marc Paradis and his band mates from delivering a fun set. Shortly after noon, the beautiful and angel-voiced Liza Oxnard showed off her solo songbook on the Solar Stage under the bright sun. When Hot Buttered Rum kicked off their second set of the weekend on the Pool Deck at 1:30 most Jam Cruisers had woken up, so the area was filled with revelers ready for some tasty bluegrass. Hot Buttered Rum gave the people what they wanted and everyone on deck was dancing the afternoon away.
Zach Deputy, who won the “Up All Night” award later in the day, was the second solo artist to play the Solar Stage on Thursday. Deputy mixed originals and fun covers throughout the set, continuing to impress with a hearty smile that could brighten the darkest day. The next set came from Steve Kimock’s Crazy Engine on the Pool Deck which ended with a gorgeous cover of the Grateful Dead’s Stella Blue – just one of many misty-eyed moments of the final day. Melvin Seals’ sparkling organ runs mixed so well with Kimock’s searing guitar tone, I was glad to finally get a chance to see this ensemble in such a beautiful location. Guests for this set included Robert Walter, Skerik and a rapper who I couldn’t identify.
READ ON for more on the final day of Jam Cruise 8…
As you can probably tell from my previous journals, catching Brock Butler’s acoustic sets were near the top of things I wanted to see. The Rev’s final set of the weekend didn’t disappoint as he dropped one out-of-left-field cover after another including Float On by Modest Mouse, Teardrop by Massive Attack and Living Life by Daniel Johnston. Brock also performed wonderful versions of his own Sweet Oblivious Antidote and Lately Here Though during the hour-long set.
For George Porter Jr’s Super Jam, the legendary bassist invited what seemed like every musician on the boat up to help him bring the funk to the Pool Deck. From Karl Denson to Jeff Coffin to Robert Walter to Maceo Parker, tons of performers switched out between each song including the powerful Just Kissed My Baby, Fiya on the Bayou sequence that brought things to a close. After Porter’s set, the organizers of Jam Cruise took the stage for a hilarious awards ceremony that saw Gumby (R.I.P. Art Clokey) take the prize for Best Costume, Mikey from the Higher Ground take the Wookiest award and Murph of STS9 win the Biggest Winner at the Casino title.
The 9PM slot brought another tough conflict for me – Zappa Plays Zappa vs. Sexual Chocolate featuring KDTU. I caught a bit of each including an intense Enchinda’s Arf (Of You) from Zappa Plays Zappa and a tender as fuck cover of Christopher Cross’ Sailing by Sexual Chocolate that followed a raucous Soulfinger. The Sexual Chocolate set came off rather well considering the dozens of musicians on stage and Karl D. didn’t miss any opportunity to yell “Sexual Chocolate” in between songs.
I headed back to the Pool Deck after the Feelin’ Alright Sexual Chocolate finale and enjoyed the final few ZPZ songs. Dweezil was clearly freezing his ass off and didn’t seem that psyched to be on Jam Cruise. Regardless of how he was feeling, Dweezil was kind enough to poll the audience on whether they would like to hear Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy or I Am The Slime for an encore. The titles of both songs got huge ovations, so Dweezil and his band played them both. I was bummed to see Dweezil escorted back to his room by security as I didn’t see many Jam Cruisers bothering musicians. I’m sure he would’ve made it back to his room unscathed by himself.
Following Zappa Plays Zappa’s set, a red carpet was rolled out on the deck for the ship’s Costume Contest. The theme of the evening was Funk & Formal so there were plenty of cruisers sporting their funkiest apparel. DJ Logic, Adam Horne (HBR) and Brock Butler kept the one-liners coming as they were the judges and announcers for the Costume Contest. With each passing contestant the costumes got crazier and crazier; I don’t know how Gumby didn’t win.
The late night sets belonged to Galactic, Mike Dillon’s Go-Go Jungle and Lotus for the final night of Jam Cruise 8. I bounced between the sets but spent most of my time in the Jam Room where guitarist Fuzz was hosting. Fuzz was the only Jam Cruise Jam Room host to play the whole night and he kept switching the vibe from funk to rock to passionate folk throughout the evening. The action started with a number of the Montbleau Band guys on stage for a plucky Rocky Raccoon featuring Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) and Laurence Scudder (Ryan Montbleau Band) dueling as well as a stellar cover of I Wish.
Other musicians joining the action in the Jam Room at various points of the final night included Rob Koritz (Dark Star Orchestra), George Porter Jr., Brock Butler, Fuzz’s wife – Carrie, Jans Ingber (Motet), Joey Porter, Nigel Hall (Chapter 2) and Louis Kato (Chapter 2) among others. Shortly after Porter Jr. took the stage, Brock caught his attention and gave him some instructions. Butler gave the other musicians a heads up during Kato’s drum solo, so I knew something special was happening. The drum solo ended and Brock started up a cover of Paul Simon’s I Know What I Know. I’ve been mentioning my intent to see lots of Graceland songs all week long and it couldn’t have worked out any better. I had spoken with Butler earlier in the day about the divide between the funk and rock musicians on the boat, so it was amazing to see the gap bridged in the final moments of the cruise.
[Fuzz, George, Brock & Kato - I Know What I Know by ScottyB]
Around 5AM the music on the boat came to a close in the Jam Room as well as in the Disco where Murph of STS9 was throwing down. The final hours before disembarkation were spent with friends saying goodbye.
Earlier on in the cruise, I met the most amazing group of jam fans ever who have thrown the Awesometown Festival in the past. These girls and guys welcomed me with open arms all week long and when I said farewell to them at 6 in the morning they all gave me a huge round of applause in honor of the end of my first Jam Cruise – I’ve never felt so much love. The beauty of it is that we get to do it all over again next year. Jam Cruise 8 was the best week of my life and I can’t see missing another one. Is it January 2011 yet?