Jam Cruise 14
Festival Experience Archive
for The Lot Scene by Parker
The Infamous Stringdusters - Dr. John & The Night Trippers - Marco Benevento - Dumpstaphunk - Cabinet - The Werks
Friday. Halfway. Jam Cruise Hump Day. Call it what you will, that’s where we were. After a day for many Cruisers spent exploring our port of Costa Maya or for others, like us, enjoying the resuscitative properties of pool and frozen beverage time, we were all ready to continue this madcap voyage of music and merriment. And first up in line for the evening were The Infamous Stringdusters on the pool deck stage. After their Pantheon Theater set the first evening the packed crowd assembled there were all ready for some more string band magic care of the Dusters. The boys opened things up for our departure from Costa Maya with Travis Book on the mic for “Señor” — apropos I would say given our locale. Really fine fiddle line from Jeremy Garrett on this one as well cementing our ears back into full bluegrass mode. The Dusters continued with the crowd-pleasing “Where the Rivers Run Cold” with its familiar and fantastic hard drivin’ chorus. Andy Hall and Chris Pandolfi’s instrumental lines and their interplay provides that blue bedrock foundation in this one and they certainly did so out on the pool deck that afternoon. I just love, love, love this band’s musical texture and they way they play with it for our entertainment. Next up they took “My Destination” directly into “Machines” which was quite the ride, musically speaking. Please take a look and listen:
We were all fond of saying “this doesn’t suck” in reference to a particular song or band experience while on Jam Cruise…a sort of rallying cry if you will. And there was just so, so much on Jam Cruise that didn’t suck. Including that “My Destination” into “Machines” right? “Peace of Mind” was next on the docket for us from the lads. “If I could leave one thing behind, a story for peace of mind.” Love those lyrics. Not a bad thing to be leaving behind whatsoever. Great, nasty good dobro solo from Mr. Andy Hall handed down during this little ditty. Then they had JJ Grey come out to join them for a drivin’ and bluesy “Mojo”. That soulful voice of JJ Grey filled with all the right kinds of attitude added such a wonderfully new dimension to the Dusters’ sound. But the boys in the band were not to be outdone, with Jeremy Garrett laying down some fiddle fun in fine fashion as well as Andy Falco’s iconic guitar playing. Back to the Dead vibe from their first show, the next song up was “Jackstraw” which they took to the mat and owned. That is a vibe they certainly know how to interface with very well, no doubt about it. Later down the set we got even more jammy cover goodness in the form of Phish’s “Free”, bluegrass-style, of course. And, hot damn, did it sound freaking amazing. The vocal harmonies were so tight as to be almost painfully good and Travis sounded pretty damn great on the lead as well. And to hear that oh-so-familiar guitar lick of Trey Anastasio being played on several instruments at once adds such a weight to the musical movement throughout the piece. Not to mention the lights above the stage flashing the word “Free” at all of us dancing like madmen and crazy women under the setting sun. Bravi, boys, no notes!! A little later on in the set Roosevelt Collier came out to join the fun with his fellow slide brother and friend, Andy Hall. The whole of them broke into “HC Funk” which ended up showcasing pretty much every member of the band and Roosevelt, of course, several times each before things were through. At one point, Collier and Hall had a slide guitar duet going on that was nothing short of mind-bending. It’s no wonder these two are increasingly better friends to the tune of recording an album together. Can’t wait to hear that one, right? “The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down” proved quite the crowd pleaser what with the entire audience singing along. Another fine cover choice. They finally closed the whole thing down with the sizzling hot instrumental, “Y2K”, with Jeremy Garrett leading things on his magic fiddle for us all. Certifiably insane amounts of energy was coming from that stage by the time the last note rang out. What an ending!! So, there you have it. The Dusters killed it summarily for a second time on the Boat this time around. Excellent work, gentlemen, excellent!! Thanks for all the amazing memories!!
Admittedly so, I had never seen Dr. John and The Nite Trippers before Jam Cruise. I, like many, was familiar with his name, legend, and some of his music, but sadly not as much I would have liked. So, it was a great get to have this man and his band on the Boat this year. Always fantastic to have some supremely fine New Orleans sound around. It was an eclectic mix of the good Doctor’s songs and covers — a perfect gumbo of music and mayhem into which to immerse oneself. And with all the fantastic piano stylings of Dr. John as well as the exquisite playing of his band, there was no reason to be unhappy on the pool deck that evening. Of note for me was the trombone playing and singing and general great energy of Sarah Morrow. What a perfect counterpoint to Dr. John is she!! One enjoyable cover they did was “Iko Iko”, a song known to each and every member of the crowd and a great sing-a-long as it were. Especially with a bit of “Shoo Fly” mashed up into the mix. We may not have set any flags on fire but the night was certainly ablaze with the sound of the Nite Trippers! Stanley Jordan came out for a couple of numbers to lend his immense guitar chops to the night’s awesome, as well. So glad that happened! Suffice it to say, incredible amounts of talent on stage all set long. Was definitely looking forward to hearing more of this act on the Boat!
And then it was down to the Black and White Room for another act I’d be seeing for the first time: Marco Benevento. It’s amazing the amount of music I haven’t yet seen when I think about it. Which seems preposterous given my job. However, there’s a first time for everything and this was mine seeing Marco do his solo act thing. Walked into a very chill piece immediately hit with keys from Mr. Benevento himself. This developed into a pure rock feel with moderately heavy guitar driving home the chordal framework as the piano worked over the top. So far, so good…was really enjoying what I was hearing. Nice to take a step back in overall frenetic energy, too. Again, I say, a marathon of sprints. And it pays to remember this fact! Later on the sound developed into a groovy, driving, kind of trippy phase showcasing the obvious musical versatility of the ensemble on stage with Marco as well as his very own. Very danceable music and people definitely took it upon themselves to oblige. We bathed in this unique and mellow dance hall energy for awhile but the creep took hold of us and we were off to the front of the boat for some more funk. Excellently good time with Mr. Benevento — will be looking for him to come around soon and often.
We were like maniacs that night, flying around the Boat trying to catch as much music as humanly possible. But that’s part of the fun of Jam Cruise, right? Now it was Dumpstaphunk again, this time in the Pantheon Theater. We walked right into a wall of sweet funky sound, horns delightfully in our faces as we instantly smiled away in joy. “Meanwhile…” was about halfway through as we took our places in the balcony and began to dance along with the assembled multitude. Maybe it was because we were inside this time or maybe because they were just bringing it, but the sound was so huge in the Theater for their set. Big, bold, and beautiful. And the fact that they had Roosevelt Collier sitting in on “Meanwhile…” was pretty damn tight, too. Helluva rendition of that song! So much energy…damn! Later down the set we got a personal favorite of mine, “Dancin’ to the Truth”. Just oozing with funk and attitude, this one never fails to tickle the funky bone. Plus, who doesn’t want to dance to the Truth? Amazing keys work from Ivan Neville here, too. Not to mention Ian Neville on guitar. My word, so good! We finished out the set with Dumpstaphunk laying it on nice and thick and on the level. But it was time to fly away once more…back to the Black and White Room for a bit more Cabinet in our lives. Thanks for all that funky ass funking funk, Dumpstaphunk. Knew we could count on you!!
After a stop at the food area for some more, what is it now? French fries and pizza? That’s right. You’re getting the hang of this. So, after some base needs were met, we were back in the Black and White for some more bluegrass twang all up in our business. The Cabinet boys made the distinct choice to tear it up again with a number a great selections for us. Thankfully, so, right? “Oxygen” was one such number — it sounded album perfect and featured a tight fiddle solo from Todd. So far, so superb. Next they invited Chris Pandolfi from The Infamous Stringdusters out to jam a little banjo alongside the band for “Nashville Blues”. Double banjos? Panda and Pappy? You bet your boots!! This was one rockin’ little number that had us all with feet a-tappin’ and bodies dancing to the beat. Then it was time for Cris Jacobs and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass) to join in the fun on a swinging version of “Ain’t Gonna Work”. Really nice addition of Cris on guitar for this one as well as Anders on dobro. In my opinion, one can always add some dobro to the mix. Later on down the set we got another personal favorite of mine, “Old Farmer’s Mill” — always one for great energy and excellent musicianship. And this time was no exception. Amazing fiddle stylings from Mr. Kopec as well as banjo badassery from Pappy Biondo. Jay Cobb Anderson joined them on stage for “Poor Man’s Blues” and a blistering hot version, too. Damn was this some hard drivin’, fast pickin’ from the get go! Incredible guitar work from both Mr. Anderson and Mr. Coviello as well. Hell, they all sounded amazing, what can I say? This was probably the fastest I’ve ever heard them play this song, too…what sizzle! My goodness! Finally, how about a Dead cover from these PA boys? “Loose Lucy” translated perfectly into this set and this setting. We were all very thankful “for a real good time” about that point. Lovely choice for us, lads. Thanks a billion! And thanks for an incredible set…again. Cabinet: another one of those bands that you should always endeavor to see if you can. They just make it so very worth it!
We got back up to the Brews at Sea Stage long enough to catch a bit of Ohio’s own The Werks. This was only my second time seeing the band (I’m sensing a theme for me for this Jam Cruise, no?) and, since I had dug their sound the first time around, I was jazzed to see what I could. They had Anders Beck and Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass on stage with them as we walked up and embarked upon this straight rock’n’roll jam instrumental. Very groovy, very danceable. And a great rock sound. Later on in the set they covered “Thus Spake Zarathustra (2001)” and it was pretty damn righteous. They jammed. It. Out. And I mean it. Seriously good music. But that was also the signal of our late night creep to commence. And so we did, and did in style. Another incredible day of music at one of the very best festivals on the planet. And, unbelievably so, there were still two days to go!! Unreal, right? Well, that is Jam Cruise in a nutshell. So much music but only one body to contain it all. Madness. But madness of the very best kind.
Saturday is on its way, folks!!