Jam Cruise 14
Festival Experience Archive
for The Lot Scene by Parker
Pickin’ the 80s Pickin’ Party - The New Mastersounds - Keller Williams with More Than a Little - Lotus
Another day in port, another day spent recuperating with daiquiris and sunshine on the aft pool deck. Everyone has to do what they have to do to make Jam Cruise work for them…whether it be our strategy of leisure or heading off the Boat to some inland excursion or just to a nearby beach, there are few wrong ways of doing it and those are pretty obvious. It is always nice to be able to catch one’s breath for a few hours before the madness begins anew. And, daiquiris, am I right? But, as always, we have music to discuss so, let’s to it, shall we?
What better way to start the musical day than a Pickin’ Party in the Atrium care of Paul Hoffman and Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass? And it was to be Pickin’ the 80s to boot!! Totally rad, dude!! Travis Book and Andy Hall of The Infamous Stringdusters and Cris Jacobs were all out in support of the Greensky lads and it made for quite an ensemble sound. Nothing beats double dobros. Nothing. A little Dire Straits was first up in the form of “Money for Nothing” a favorite cover from the GSBG world. Helluva start to this string set — this one sounded fantastic from Paul’s vocals and mad mando skills to those double dobros I referenced earlier. You just have to love when a good song is made all the better through excellent musicianship and the right kind of energy. The rep was to vary from 80s hit to 80s hit showcasing the various talents on stage. This was very apparent in the next selection, Prince’s “Nothing Compares to You” (as made famous by Sinead O’Connor) when Cris Jacobs stepped up to the mic and just spanked the lead vocals for this one. Amy Helm joined the gentlemen on stage to sing back up vocals — just lovely. So glad she guested in with so many acts on the Boat this year. The great thing is, we have a nice little video of this one so you can check it out yourself:
There’s a reason that video is gaining popularity online. Just superb. Tom Petty’s “American Girl” was next on the docket and they rocked this one out pretty summarily. Had the whole crowd singing along, the choruses especially loud throughout the multiple levels of the Atrium. After some Peter Gabriel care of Cris Jacobs on the lead, it was time for a personal favorite song of mine: Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”. Yet one more sing-a-long and a supremely fun one to be sure, the ad hoc band on the stage just nailed it with Andy and Anders really showing us all what having two dobros can really do. An extremely enjoyable set from start to finish there wasn’t a face in the place not cracked into a huge grin once they’d finished. A great idea for the Pickin’ Party and very well-executed. So much fun…a big thanks to Anders and Paul and all their friends for hosting such a sweet shindig.
Then it was time to head to the pool deck to catch those mighty English dance stylings of The New Mastersounds. Although a fan of their music, this was my first time catching The Mastersounds live. Hot horns, truly electric guitar, bright energy…all of this coming at you from the stage in one danceable number after another. Their first tune epitomized all of that — so much happy music in your face all at once. Their second selection was a funkier kind of mellow bouncing tune that featured some spot-on keyboard work thanks to Bob Birch. Later we were treated to some tantalizing guitar from Eddie Roberts. A really fun band to see, great music to hear…great if you love dancing your feet off, that is. And there is something uniquely different, singular to the sound of this band — as if their English roots and background bring something new and different and awesome to the table. Just funky, funky fusion dance music all around, all set long. A little on down the set they covered the Average White Band’s “Pick Up the Pieces” and it was well-nigh incredible. They really did this tune some serious justice. Surely familiar to almost every ear in the crowd it was interesting to watch as recognition dawned on people. And as it did, appreciation ensued. But, as usual, why would you take my word for it when you can see for yourself?
A personal fave from all of Jam Cruise for me. Thanks for that one, boys! Roosevelt Collier joined in on the fun for a quick song with the Mastersounds — I mean, that man always adds so very much to any music he’s involved with. And he tore it up out there. “We’ve got to keep movin’ on, gotta keep travelin’ on!” Such apropos lyrics as we all attempted to make it through our fourth day of Jam Cruise. A delightful, delectable set from The New Mastersounds, there can be no doubts. Another band I’d have to put on my “go and see them immediately” list. I know will be.
Yet another first was on the schedule for me next with Keller Williams and More Than a Little. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Keller many times before with several projects, however, I’d not yet seen More Than a Little and, given all the hype from my friends, I was more than a little excited to finally see them do their thing. And why not kick things off with a little Donna Summer? Hot damn! “I Feel Love” has rarely sounded so deliciously funky in my experience. Beautiful harmonies and vocals thanks to Keller and his right and left-hand ladies, Tonya Lazenby Jackson and Sugah Davis. So much soulful dedication to making great music. Keeping that funk rolling down pipeline, “Funk da Funk” was up next which we have for you here:
Funky enough for you? Well, they didn’t stop there. It was really lovely to be exposed to so much of More Than a Little’s original material, too. So much to say but all really summed up by the vocals of steep funk stature supported by the perfect backing band to create a vortex of seriously fun and groovy music. “Mary Jane” came after featuring some beautiful duet work between Sugah and Tonya. And more original More Than a Little for me to savor. Some super fine guitar work from Keller here, too. A completely reinvented and re-approached Talking Heads cover was a nice surprise and unexpected. I’ve never heard “Once in a Lifetime” played quite like that before. Really cool approach giving new and different life to an old favorite of so many in the audience. So I guess it’s a funk song now. And why not? And why not some funky Dead while we’re at it? Some “Samson and Delilah” mayhap? “If I had my way…” I think I’d jam out to More Than a Little all night long. Out of “Samson” directly into a nasty good number mashed up with the Dead. Just pure excellence. Turns out this one is called “Samson’s Wine” and it was a fun one I must say. Lots of crowd participation, too. Keeping in that theme we got another Grateful treat in the form of “Eyes of the World” — amazing version for a dancing sing-a-long. The audience ate it up. As well they should have. And then it was time for some classic Keller: “Freeker by the Speaker” but re-envisioned for the funk. Crazy harmony work up there on stage. Just blown away by the vocals of this band. “I Eat the Funk” was the final number of the night with Keller and More Than a Little and it was pure funk right up to the very end. Really wonderful keyboards coming from Gerard Johnson. Excellent sound. All told, my first time with this band told me this won’t be my last time with this band, that is for sure. Another one added to my “go see them now” list. And you should. Go see them. Now.
Later on the pool deck stage we had a date with Lotus for some late night shenanigannery. And, I must honestly admit to you, I kind of took this set for myself. In summary, Lotus was the perfect sound for that stage in the evening throwing out an extremely fitting vibe and inciting a multitude of smiles along the way. Here is a video we got for you of them covering Vulfpeck’s“It Gets Funkier” — please enjoy!!
And then, as you know by now, it was time for the real late night creep to begin. Day Four was almost done, but it was a good one. A great one. Hard to believe there was still another day to go? What a gift. What a challenge. And one we were all more than ready to rise to that occasion. And with delight.
Sunday Funday on its way soon!!