Everyone who goes on Jam Cruise has their moment. They come at different points on the trip depending on the person, but mine came an hour ago on the Pool Deck where Brock Butler performed an impromptu two-hour set as the sun came up with a fiddle player named Ellie Labar. As Brock sang the most powerful It Starts Where It Ends, it hit me that I was as close to being in a musical utopia as I’d ever get. Over the first three days, Jam Cruise 8 has delivered it all from laughs to tears to a massive amount of incredible music.
[Photo by Justin Boose]
Day three started on a down note when we pulled into Ocho Rios, Jamaica along with a rainstorm. JC8 attendees made the best of the situation and explored the town or went off on excursions in rain gear. We all made it back onto the ship around 5PM for a set of roots reggae courtesy of John Brown’s Body. Over in the theater, the Hot Buttered Rum guys hosted Rock Star Karaoke. Those Jam Cruisers who wanted to sing a song simply put their name in a hat and HBR guitarist Nat Keefe would pick one out at random. Some tunes were trainwrecks but others were wonderful such as a tight version of Use Me sung by Higher Ground staffer Mikey.
After a quick changeover on the Pool Stage, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe held court for about a thousand Jam Cruisers. Karl D’s new songs have a powerful rock edge that fuses oh so nicely with the funk. If funk wasn’t your thing, you could while away the evening hours down in the Zebra Bar for Adam Deitch’s electronica-tinged Break Science project or in the theatre where Railroad Earth was holding court.
READ ON for more from Scotty on Day Three of Jam Cruise 8…
Railroad Earth’s set in the theater was among the best of the weekend thus far thanks to Todd Sheaffer’s heart-felt delivery and the gorgeous music his band mates were laying down. With each passing song more and more folks descended upon the theater to catch Railroad Earth’s set and it didn’t seem like anyone was disappointed.
Time goes quickly on Jam Cruise and all of the sudden it was time for the late night sets. Lotus meshed rock with untz on the Pool Deck, Kras’ Chapter Two showed off guitarist Eric Krasno’s immense skill set in the Zebra Bar and Kyle Hollingsworth rocked out with his solo band in the theater. For a person with ADD music tastes such as myself, you could bounce from set to set with ease often in just a few minutes. There’s no such thing as getting bored on Jam Cruise.
You may have heard of the famed Jam Room and everything you’ve heard is probably true. One random group of killer musicians after another took the Jam Room stage and blew it out, often times with little spoken communication between the performers on stage. Skerik and Mike Dillon kicked things off with some evil grooves before Stanton Moore and George Porter Jr. joined the action.
At this point, we were approaching 4AM and there was no end in sight at the Jam Room. Zach Deputy, the ultimate showman, hopped up along with Brock Butler and a bass player and drummer Deputy and Butler hadn’t met yet. It didn’t matter to any of them as Brock called out changes and the other musicians followed for tasty versions of Superstition and Use Me (yes, another Use Me). In my quest to catch Brock Butler performing every song from Graceland across the ship, we were treated to a hot and heavy That Was Your Mother that had a Zydeco flair. Deputy and Butler each tore into their solos and I’m convinced they are brothers from other mothers.
When we reached 6AM, I decided I needed to head to the Pool Deck to watch the sunrise. As streaks of red shot across the clear sky it truly felt like heaven. There was no lack of revelers to share the experience and after the sun came up I decided to grab a bite to eat and call it a day. My plan worked perfectly until I stumbled across Brock and his female fiddle-playing friend.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Brock’s and catching his solo sets was at the top of my list of must-see moments. What a stroke of luck that I got an extra two hours of Butler delivering one emotion-filled song after another. I was able to cross the title track to Graceland off my list and it was a beaut – complete with backing vocals courtesy of myself and the other Jam Cruisers in attendance. Those who had instruments busted them out and helped accompany Brock as he reeled off the best mix of covers ever including Black Water, Wildflowers, Long May You Run and a Naive Melody blow out that ended things about 40 minutes ago.
As I said, my moment came during It Starts Where It Ends. Off of P Groove’s Live Love Die album, It Starts Where It Ends takes you through every emotion in the course of five minutes and I experienced them all listening to Brock play as we pulled into Grand Cayman. Those of us who were still up knew we were watching something that happens once in a lifetime and exchanged knowing glances with each passing minute. It’s now 9AM and I’m going to take the chance that nothing will happen musically for the next few hours and get some sleep, but knowing Jam Cruise I’m sure I’ll miss something amazing. There’s always something magical happening on the boat.