Jam Cruise 14
Festival Experience Archive
for The Lot Scene by Parker
Twiddle - Positive Legacy Celebration with Everyone Orchestra - Roosevelt Collier’s Super Jam - Keller Williams - Fearless by Electron: A Pink Floyd Tribute
Well here it was. Sunday. We all made it. The Final Countdown. And the manifold and delicious music offerings were still ripe for the picking! Got a chance to catch a couple of Twiddle’s selections before we headed to an interview. Great guitar work as expected from this band with plenty of happy energy which they freely shared with the crowd. Their last number was a mellower, soulful ballad they dedicated to The Werks. I’d wager there were a lot of new Twiddle fans in the audience after that set. And who couldn’t love great guitar-band music under the fresh air of the open sea, the sun raining golden light down upon your grinning face? Wish we could have caught the whole thing…next Jam Cruise, right?
After sitting down with Keller Williams for a lovely time of an interview (INTERVIEW HERE) we made our way down to the Pantheon Theater for the always-special time with Matt Butler’s bouncing and bodacious baby, the Everyone Orchestra. Entering a bit late (gee, thanks, Keller…heh heh) we snagged some balcony seats and began to let the wave of assembled sound wash over us from the stage. With a lineup of the usual suspects of world-class musicians for this Positive Legacy Celebration, Matt was easily able to pull incredible number after number from the eager fingers and voices of the gathered minstrels. In song after song, Matt worked his magic with each musician truly forming an orchestral construct out of a group of rockers, jammers, funkers, and grassers. In truth, I’d love to have his job if/when he retires. Who wouldn’t? We came in about halfway into a Ron Holloway-led piece that was, in a word, terrific. Reed Mathis on bass? Terrific. Jans Ingber on vocals? Terrific. Pappy Biondo on banjo? Terrific. Marco Benevento on keys? Terrific. Sensing a theme here? Let me share a bit of magic from the Pantheon that day with you if I may…a bit of video for your viewing enjoyment, perhaps?
See what I mean? See how Matt helps create something so special out of perceptibly disparate parts? And see how the musicians react to the direction? Really powerful stuff. Vernon Reid led a nice and funky little jam on guitar after that last number. It’s always so interesting to see what evolves from the first line laid down by the lead musician each and every time. You know, how the others in the band run with that line and morph it and take it someplace new, all under Mr. Bulter’s watchful care. Marco Benevento was up later to start another creation putting down an organ track that really inspired some wonderful collaborative work from his fellow musicians. About a minute-and-a-half into it the whole band opened up and let loose with a solid, solid jam for many more minutes to come. A fun time with Everyone Orchestra? You had best believe it…and then some! Certainly one of my favorite musical entities out there at the moment to be sure — I love the concept and I love the reality. Matt Butler, sir, my hat is off to you in thanks for a wonderful time on Jam Cruise 14!!
We scored another awesome interview on board the Boat this year: Pappy Biondo of Cabinet. We sat with him in his stateroom and had an extremely interesting time together discussing several differing topics. Please, take a read, won’t you? (INTERVIEW HERE) Just another incredible aspect of being on the Boat. So thankful for these Sunday interviews. But we were a tad late for Roosevelt Collier’s Super Jam up on the pool deck — time to fly! We got there in time to see Dumpstaphunk and Cris Jacobs up in support of the good Dr. Collier. And it was furious fast funk flying from the stage. Pretty damn face-melty stuff. Hard to get that much talent on stage and have it sounds terrible, right? And this was the furthest thing from terrible. Roosevelt was tearing it up on slide as usual, almost drawing in some other-worldly ability making rocking out as hard as he does look so damn easy. Snarky Puppy were some more friends to come and join Collier on the stage, this selection being expectedly more horn-heavy. Beautiful trumpet soloing in this one. Roosevelt certainly seemed to be enjoying being backed by a big horn section. Andy Hall (The Infamous Stringdusters) even came out at one point to throw down some slide duet action with Roosevelt. All-in-all it was as named: a Super Jam. I have nothing but respect for these pinnacle musicians, like Roosevelt Collier, who attract so much other talent and skill to their banner for special sets like this. Collaboration is such a rewarding part of fests like Jam Cruise where so many of the chosen musical community are gathered together in such numbers. And the end result is nothing short of divine. Divinity like Roosevelt Collier’s Super Jam.
Keller. Williams. Atrium…GO! So it was time for Mr. Williams’ “solo” set and we were all pretty jazzed to see what he’d get up to. “A Day at the Office” on piano was our first tidbit of the set — definitely need to pay attention to the lyrics on this one. Because they’re pretty funny. Keller? Funny? Never! Plus it’s always a treat to see this man show off his instrumental versatility. So much to respect about this musician and his craft. And how can he sound album perfect at the drop of a hat? Like with this song? My hat was off already and we were only one song in! A little later in the set he gave us all a nice sing-a-long with “That’s Just How She Rolls” and the crowd took up the challenge. Three floors of balconies packed with smiling faces singing down to the crowded Atrium floor and stage. Anders Beck and Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass joined him on stage for a little “Phish Grass” run…the same one he had threatened in his interview with us but said he was doubtful that it would happen. Well, happen it did beginning with “My Sweet One”. Pretty freaking sweet. And the fun continued into a hell of an acoustic “Birds of a Feather”. Funky funky. As you might expect from these three gents. And so many thanks to Anders for the dobro excellence in this crowd pleaser. Felt good to singalong to that one. Nicki Bluhm came out later on to lend her voice to a little Dead with Keller. And, boy, did she sound amazing on the vocals for “Deal”. Nice Grateful Grass feeling all over the Atrium that night. A personal fave, “Doobie in my Pocket”, was a nice solo acoustic offering from Mr. Williams — a cautionary tale that should be take to heart. Especially by those on the Boat, eh? Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything…I just want people to be smart. Nothing wrong with that, right? And if you listen to Keller you won’t end up with a doobie in your pocket. Embarrassing!! Am I right? Staying in a similar theme, Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels” was next up with Zach Deputy guesting in. Another one that got that eager crowd going. Reed Mathis joined him for “Women Are Smarter” giving us a bit more of that Grateful Grass feeling. And all of it so very good so far. Keller: another one of those pinnacle musicians with the ability to draw so much talent to a set like this. Mike Dillon was up on xylophone at one point even during “Women”. Incredible! All of the Stringdusters minus Andy Hall were his next talented guests for “Thirsty in the Rain”. Jeremy Garrett’s fiddle was a clarion call emanating up from the floor. Seriously great sound on this one and that should come as no surprise given the musicians involved. Lovely banjo solo from Chris Pandolfi, too. Just lovely. The Dusters stuck around for some Keller/McCoury’s action with “Broken Convertible”, another favorite song of this reviewer. And it sounded marvelous. Harmonies and everything! It was hard to believe it wasn’t the McCoury’s down there with him it sounded so album perfect. Bravi to you, boys! What fun. Keller closed things down with More Than a Little doing “My Sisters and Brothers (Promised Land)” some great justice for us all. So much soul and soulful singing and great keys to boot. Suffice it to say that Keller really brought the house down with his “solo” set from Sunday night. One of my favorite sets from the Boat to be sure. Which led me to my absolute favorite set of Jam Cruise 14…
…Fearless by Electron: A Pink Floyd Tribute. Alas and alack we arrived just a bit late to this wonderful party, but we made up for lost time, believe-you-me. Entering the fantastic fray on “Fearless” my heart was soaring already. I feel it only right to admit my very, very deep bias for Pink Floyd and their music, however. My love for Floyd goes back to early childhood so my standards for when others play them are, naturally, pretty high. Well, I had no reservations after hearing Electron (with Marco Benevento) just nail this favorite song of mine from Meddle. If this was any indication of the justice that would be done to Pink Floyd this evening, then I was in for a purely incredible treat. And I was, my friends. They took this directly into another favorite (What am I saying? Floyd is comprised of all favorites to me…) of mine from the Animals album, “Dogs”. Gritty and intense, just like on the album, this one was freaking amazing as well. Plenty of “true-to-form” adherence to the original work with just enough Electron-brand attitude to make it their own — a really successful interface with some rather serious music. And why not a little Pink Floyd sing-a-long while we’re at it? “Wish You Were Here” had us all belting out the chorus in full voice, happy as clams to be so doing. “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year.” So true sometimes, no? I was more than contented to be swimming in this fish bowl of very fine Floyd coverage. Then it was time for some Wall action as they took “In the Flesh” directly into “Run Like Hell” both of which evoked the feeling of the album and echoes of the stage show. I mean, just hearing live Pink Floyd done well — what a mitzvah!! It’s hard for me not to just start completely gushing over this show. “Mother” proved the intense, introspective exploration of modern relationship that it always has been. Hits a little close to home in a few areas. Weighty. Very weighty. Afterwards came a tidy little Dark Side of the Moon collection starting with a near album-perfect “Breathe”. I must’ve sung every word to every song they played. Unabashedly so. It was just all so very good. Ron Holloway joined them with his mighty saxophone so that he could come and spank the solos for “Money” and “Us & Them”. Holy schneikies was that incredible!! Mesmerizing in every sense of the word. Such a musical journey with this band tonight! “Any Colour You Like” into “Brain Damage” into “Eclipse” came cascading down through the crowd next, at moments so hard to distinguish whether or not it was Floyd or Electron on stage. More singing from us in the crowd helped herald the end of this phenomenal Dark Side run. Bravi! Damn! Wow… And then it was back to The Wall to shut the whole thing down with “Another Brick in the Wall” and “Comfortably Numb”. Holy goodness, boys!! No notes!! Not a single critique nor criticism nor anything of the sort. High praise and heaps of it. Again, I state my lofty standards when it comes to the music of Pink Floyd. And Electron most certainly met those standards and exceeded them at points. Just marvelous…what a gift. Thanks so much for the fabulously fun fling with Floyd!!
And that’s the last of it, really, from my time on Jam Cruise 14. We did some obligatory late night creeping that night, however, that was mostly for fun and personal enjoyment. It was a mighty, mighty good time this year, Jam Cruise. The Boat was rockin’ and we all took turns knockin’ back and forth all over that ship in search of the myriad great times to be had. From noon until sunup for five straight days, the hundreds upon hundreds of us had partied, communed, laughed, danced, and truly lived in the finest of fashions. So many new memories…so many stories to share. Pictures to go through and bags to unpack. Bleary eyes but radiant smiles. All the trimmings and trappings of this mad, mad voyage known as Jam Cruise. A huge thanks to all the musicians; Jam Cruise, Cloud 9 and Positive Legacy staff; MSC Divina personnel; and everyone else who helped make this cruise possible!! Your efforts are so appreciated. And a big thanks to all of you for reading my coverage of Jam Cruise 14. Looks like it’s time for the next big adventure…see you soon, friends!!