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Jam Cruise 11: A Fantasy At Sea

LIVE FOR LIVE MUSIC - January 14, 2013

When describing the experience that is Jam Cruise, there is simply no words that could possibly do justice to just what actually occurs during these five most epic of days and nights.  As this was my “virgin” cruise, I got to witness what all the hype was about with eyes wide open.  And I can now honestly say, after having my Jam Cruise cherry officially popped, that the hype doesn’t even live up to the reality of it all.  Between the music, the like-minded people, the beautiful ship, the wide range of incredible musicians on this one boat, the ridiculous collaborations and sit-ins that take place, the theme parties and costumed crowd, the accessibility of everything in general, and the sea of never-ending smiling faces….this is something out of a fantasy come to life.  You just can’t make this stuff up, even in your wildest of dreams.

So, it was with an over-abundance of anticipation that I boarded the same ship (the MSC Poesia), that some of my Live for Live Music brethren disembarked from merely hours earlier, as they had been on the three-day Holy Ship!! EDM experience (check out the review here).  The dynamic of the two festivals is completely different, but to each his own.  I got mine, and you got yours.  And I couldn’t wait to see what Jam Cruise 11 had in store for us this year.

It has to be said, first and foremost, that the attendees of this festival-at-sea are straight up professionals when it comes to partying.  Many have attended three or more Jam Cruises (“Once you go on one, you’ll never miss it again!”), and are so well prepared for everything that takes place.  Everything is laid out perfectly for Jam Cruisers, as Cloud 9 has this down to a science.  The theme parties give everyone a reason to dress up (and do they ever!).  We had a Zebra night, a Blue Lagoon Boogaloo night, a Cirque du Funk night, and a Spinal Tap night.  People went all out for these theme parties; it was truly a sight to see.  Jam Cruise quite literally hits hard on all cylinders, and we were ready for anything.  I think it’s safe to say that this year, Jam Cruise most definitely went to 11!

Here is a day-by-day breakdown of what happened on the ship:

Day 1 

After breezing through customs, getting on the ship, and settling in with a drink in hand, the Soul Rebels, the brass heavy NOLA funk outfit, gave us a proper send off.  A mix of originals, covers, and funk standards got everyone out on the pool deck to begin this epic journey.  There was quite a bit of roaming around between acts on the first night, as you are getting your bearings about you and discovering all of the nooks and crannies of the ship.  However, Brooklyn-based The Pimps of Joytime set was dripping with that “Janxtafunky” music; their set was high energy, dance-driven funk that got a packed Zebra Bar going.  And just prior to that, Kyle Hollingsworth of The String Cheese Incident played a solo set in The Atrium (which boasts a grand piano and a very intimate vibe for those wise enough to attend).  Unfortunately, with everyone being so excited and many seeing each other for the first time since last year’s cruise, it was quite loud and Hollingsworth’s set was drowned out by the noise.  A “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” did provide a nice sing-along, though.

Steve Kimock, Bernie Worrell, Andy Hess & Wally Ingram in the Teatro Carlo Felice (better knows as the Purple Theatre) was psychedelic and exploratory.  These seasoned veterans can make anything sound good; and it was great to see Steve Kimock’s son, John Morgan, playing drums alongside his dad.  Steel Pulse was an act that I had been waiting to see for years, and they did not disappoint.  And it’s tough to think of a better place to see them than on Jam Cruise, as they fit right in, and you could look around and see that many artists were amped to see them on the boat as well.

Big Gigantic‘s pool deck set brought the serious dance party.  It was interesting, as they had played for the Holy Ship!! crowd, stayed on the boat, and made a great transition over to the jam-centric crowd.  A little rain at the end of their set didn’t stop anybody from getting down, as it was quite the contrary, and it seemed most people got their rage on even harder.  The Jam Room on this first night was hosted by Dan Lebowitz of ALO.  Joining Lebowitz for this first jam session was a rotating cast that included Stanton Moore of Galactic, keyboardist Robert Walter, ALO bassist Steve Adams, and Tea Leaf Green‘s guitarist Josh Clark and keyboardist/vocalist Trevor Garrod, along with a horn section.  It proved to be a great first night, and an indication of the unbelievable collaborations that were still to come.

To continue reading Live For Live Music’s recap of Jam Cruise 11, click HERE.