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Jam Cruise 6 | 01.04 – 01.09 | Florida
Now in its sixth year, this traveling circus has definitely developed into the most unique, wild and open backstage party our scene has ever known. Jam Cruise is where drinks flow like the mighty Atlantic, artists are more accessible than a Hunts Point hooker and the motion of the ocean only adds to the rock & roll. For almost six days, roughly 1,500 fans set sail from Fort Lauderdale aboard the MSC Lirica with stops in Roatan, Honduras and Cozumel, Mexico, in addition to roughly 19 hours of music a day. Col. Bruce Hampton summed up Jam Cruise perfectly: “This is the only festival in the world where you can go see reggae, blues, jazz, rock and everything there is.” Laughing, he continued, “And still being 23 years old, go get drunk and go to your cabin instead of driving home and paying seventy bucks for a ticket.”
Day 1 – Friday, January 4 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Unofficially kicking off on January 3 with a pre-party by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at Ft. Lauderdale’s Culture Room, JC6 officially set sail with a spirited set by Soulive around 7 p.m. on Friday. Recently returning to their original trio framework, the Brothers Evans (Neal and Alan) and Jam Cruise veteran Eric Krasno kicked out the soul-funk, dirty jazz and rock they’ve become known for.
Kraz filled us in on what he’s been up to and what’s ahead. “A lot of my time is spent doing the production work for the Fyre Dept.,” he says. His production credits are something he brushes off in passing but it should be noted that he’s worked with some of hip-hop’s top acts including Talib Kweli. “We’re doing remixes [for] a lot of artists on Interscope,” Krasno continued. “We recorded a Lettuce record last February, and we are getting ready to finally release that.” But, most interesting to fans, and Kraz himself, is some forthcoming solo, acoustic material. “I’ve been working on my own solo record for a long time, but I’ve finally come up with a solid plan. I picked my favorites and I’m doing an EP that’s going to be called Kraz and the Royal Family.”
Immediately following Soulive’s performance, the reminder that this was a sailing festival became painfully apparent as one had to decide between a solo set by Warren Haynes, The Motet in the Lirica Lounge, or the maiden voyage (pun intended) of The Everyone Orchestra including anchors Jon Fishman, Steve Kimock, Jeff Coffin, Jamie Janover and Tanya Shylock (Mountain of Venus). Much like the ebb and flow of the blue water in the ship’s wake, I decided to drift wherever the current took me, catching a few songs from each set, knowing that if I missed anything, I’d probably be sitting next to the musicians at breakfast the next morning and could ask about the performances.
Shortly after midnight, Dark Star Orchestra conjured up the spirit of Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead in their recreation of a 1978 show. It appears that perhaps Garcia’s spirit has been resting in Davey Jones’ Locker for the last 12-plus years. I caught a taste of “Scarlet” > “Fire” before realizing there was another living legend playing upstairs: Toots Hibbert. Toots and the Maytals’ performance was solid but somewhat oddly placed at 1-3 a.m., so I decided to focus my energies until sunrise on the most surreal, amazing and truly powerful setting of this floating festival, The Jam Room. A step up from years past, this year’s room was a complete circle that put the musicians directly in the center of the fans. It was also a no-holds-barred, steel cage match, or “drunken brawl” as Kimock dubbed it, for every musician who stepped into the ring.
To read more recap from Jam Cruise 6, click HERE.