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Strings & Sol Festival 2016 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Friday

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Strings & Sol Festival 2016 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Friday

Strings & Sol Festival 2016

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Introduction

    The third time was most certainly the charm this year for me at Strings & Sol, Cloud 9’s annual bluegrass bash on the beach down in Mexico.  So much clicked and grooved and jived in all the right ways and having the privilege of plugging into that unique energy and wonderful positivity that is the Strings & Sol reality became all the more real and important.  And fun…we can’t forget the fun.  What a cast of characters assembled, too, both on stage and off this festival having become a quick repository for so many super fans and linchpins of our community as well as a growing number of multi S&S alumni.  As such, the subculture of Strings & Sol draws you in, seduces you with so many amazing experiences and wonders, and then delights you to the very marrow with unparalleled music, a heavenly atmosphere, and the chance to experience it all with some of your favorite people.  And that lineup?  Are you kidding me?  As always, just the kind of music I want to hear with a frosty beverage in hand and my feet in the sand.  Bravi to Annabel Stelling and all at Cloud 9 who have a hand in making this festival happen each year.  For our money at The Lot Scene, it is clearly one of the best planned, organized, and run fests around.  Honestly, it’s damn near perfect.  Please keep up the wonderful work, guys!!  So many thanks!!  I guess, for me, it’s the overall feeling I get when I come to Strings & Sol.  I am reminded so acutely of summer camp as a child…meeting new people and having fun for a week or so, making lifelong friends in the process, saying goodbye for a year in between…having more fun than seems humanly possible.  And the Now Sapphire plays a huge role in this, too, what with their staff (our counselors if you will) always at the ready to make things happy, to make us happy.  Seeing the same staff from year to year…see?  Just like camp.  And the anticipation.  An entire year’s worth of waiting to get back to the magic.  Back to friends and drinks and music and the beach and the pool and the Buffet and fun.  All that and more:  Strings & Sol.  Camp Strings & Sol.  But, where would our favorite summer camp in December be without the music?  Without those Strings we’ve been hearing so much about?  Where, indeed?  How’s about we get down to business then, my friends…  

Now Sapphire Pool and Pool Bar

Now Sapphire Pool and Pool Bar

Friday Highlights

Yonder Mountain String Band - Leftover Salmon

    Annabel Stelling joined Yonder Mountain String Band for the traditional welcome toast as the waves crashed nearby and as everyone raised their libations high into the evening sky in salute to the good times to come.  Always such a triumphant and expectant moment and certainly a favorite of many in the crowd.  How couldn’t it be?  With so much music in store at that point in the festival, that must serve as a great memory for so many people who attended.  And then, in a flash, the music was off to a hot start with Yonder at the helm getting everyone’s feet a-dancing in that cool white sand once again.  They kicked things off with a speedy and energetic “Insult and an Elbow” from their album Black Sheep.  A good choice in that these five talented individuals showed that they meant business for the remainder of the weekend from the very get go.  Jake Jolliff’s early solo at Warp 5 was a perfect example of this fact.  And Allie Kral's answer to that solo a bit later in the song?  Riveting.  Plainly put, we were all in for some sizzling YMSB this weekend.  And we were loving it.  Another selection from Black Sheep was next in line that evening in the form of a fantastic Strings & Sol rendition of “I’m Lost”.  But, the best thing is, you don’t have to take my word for it because we recorded a lovely video of it just for you!  Please enjoy! 

Nothing like taking it that special vantage point from the beach at S&S.  It really is as magical as everyone says it is.  “Pockets” followed “I’m Lost” for this opening set from Yonder Mountain on the stage sitting blithely next to the sea, the mixture of music and nature creating a heady brew for the crowd below.  Really fine guitar solo from Adam Aijala about a minute into things truly showcasing the musical acumen that is so prevalent in this band.  And this was only echoed in Allie’s own extremely gifted and skilled musicianship exemplified in her own killer soloing.  The next song saw Jake Jolliff come up to the mic to take the lead on King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight”, yet another excellent cover from YMSB.  They certainly have a strong collection of those very songs.  Fantastic ensemble work from the entire group on this one highlighting that easygoing feel of yesteryear that this song evokes in spades as well as the round robin of sweet solos that kept coming round the bend time and again.  I really enjoyed this version of an old favorite.  Superb job, guys!  Danny Barnes joined the band on stage for a couple of numbers beginning with “Winds of Wyoming” which they took directly into “Funtime” and back into “Winds”.  Holy goodness can that man play the banjo!!  Yonder just knows how to interface with a guest so very well to bring out the very best of the collaboration.  Adam took this to heart with a lengthy and fiery good guitar solo a couple of minutes into the mix.  Such skill on that instrument!  Allie’s contribution to the good times on stage is of necessary mention as well — that good lady can evoke so much incredible joy from that fiddle of hers.  And we are all so glad she does just that!  All of this was in anticipation of Danny on his 5-string, however, as he lit up the night with his own unique brand of picking.  What a monstrously awesome augmentation to Yonder.  Bravo, sir!  Then, Dave Johnston threw down some duet action with Danny as well which was twice the banjo goodness.  So much string band happy on stage all at one time!!  And then it was time for Danny to bust out the lead on “Funtime” with Ben in support on harmonies.  What’s that about Jake nailing down some seriously crazy good solo work?  Yeah, you got that one right, my friend for that certainly went down, too.  Talk about a fun time, indeed.  So fun!  Especially when they slammed right back into “Winds of Wyoming” to finish things out with Danny.  Excellence!  Later in the set, Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon came out to add his voice and mando to the madness on the S&S main stage for a couple of songs:  “Summer in the City” into “Kentucky Mandolin” back into “Summer”.  Again, another perfect example of how well Yonder really synchs with other musicians.  I love that aspect of this band.  You could tell Drew was having a blast up there, too, smiling away in such the infectious manner.  Nothing like watching our favorite musicians love what they do.  The final song of the set came a little later with Larry Keel added in this time to increase that fun payout.  Yonder and Larry finished the show with “Sidewalk Stars” an old favorite in the YSMB catalogue.  Larry, of course, added his signature grit and sincerity to the performance which, if you are a fan of Mr. Keel like I am, is always encouraged.  What a way to conclude the opening set of Strings & Sol 2016!!  What a set itself!!  If this was an indication of what was to come (and it was, believe-you-me) we were all in for the best weekend of bluegrass on the beach yet.  And that was pretty damn exciting.  Cheers to Yonder for tearing the lid off Strings & Sol 2016 for us!!  Bravi!!

Yonder Mountain String Band

Yonder Mountain String Band

    Festivaaaaaaaaaaaal!!  Ah, the cry of the Leftover Salmon.  The rally that utters forth time and again from the great polyethnic cajun slamgrass chieftain, Vince Herman.  Leftover Salmon.  That band’s band.  That amazing ongoing experiment in music, madness, merrymaking, and mutual awesomeness.  What would S&S be without LoS?  Where would we all be without them to help welcome us back to camp on the first night of the fun?  I am just glad we didn’t have to find any of that out this year as we watched Salmon take the stage after Yonder Mountain.  I freely admit my bias here:  I adore this band.  It’s really hard not to.  From the energy to the joy to the music to the everything, I really enjoy all that they do.  But, then again, I really like to have fun at shows and Leftover provides fun in droves.  So, let’s get to that fun, shall we?  “Mexico” was our collective intro into how Salmon was feeling this year at S&S.  Drew Emmitt was up to the mic for the lead vocals on this homage to our current location, with the band in full support to be sure.  Nothing at all like that sweet, sweet Salmon ensemble sound.  Alwyn Robinson was serving up some serious beats that translated directly into sand flying around our dancing feet on the beach down below and while the rest of the band wailed away, stirring the pot in all sorts of fine ways.  Quite the auspicious start to what would be a marvelous show.  “Zombie Jamboree” was the perfect follow-up to the intensity of “Mexico”.  Erik Deutsch tore things up on his keys in that ever-more-respectable way that only he can.  As most of you know already, I supremely love that man’s playing.  Especially with this, one of my favorite bands.  Lighthearted and joyous, Vince heartily sang the tongue-in-cheek lyrics as we all jumped and thrashed about in glee and as Andy Thorn serenaded us all on his mystical banjo.  Drew took his own turn at the fun with a lengthy and lively solo on his mandolin.  Pure excellence!  Then, how about a big turn at “Tequila” with Larry Keel?  Oh, the “Tequila” joke, you ask?  Ah, yes.  The “Tequila” joke.  So, apparently as we would find out later in the weekend from Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass, the idea was to play the ending riff of The Champs’ classic “Tequila” after every song and have the crowd yell the magic word.  So, Yonder did begin this…my apologies for not telling you sooner.  And it kept going.  And going.  All weekend.  But, we’ll get to that.  For now, it was still fresh and funny.  And how can’t you love Salmon with Larry Keel?  Next, we managed to get another great video for you to help transport you to the beaches of S&S with us.  Please enjoy this “Whispering Waters”!! 

If you closed your eyes, you could’ve almost been there, right?  That’s what we try to do for you, good people — take you there.  Later on the fantastic familiar drum intro of “Gulf of Mexico” heralded in the perfect anthem for the setting at the Now Sapphire right by that very body of water…or a little around the corner at least.  But who’s counting?  Hey, we were by water in Mexico.  More than good enough for us as we enjoyed this classic from Leftover, Drew at the vocal helm.  Some marvelous banjo badness from Thorn helped kick things into high gear as Drew answered on his electric guitar, all the while Robinson like a mad metronomic monster throwing down the base to the whole affair.  Brilliance from every corner of the band!!  Bravo to Greg Garrison on that bass of his!!  Bravo to Erik on the keys!!  What a showing!!  Then how about a little Hendrix, why not?  Why not, indeed!!  “The Wind Cries Mary” is one of my favorite covers from this band, and they just freakin’ kill it every time I hear it so why shouldn’t it be?  Drew provides the vocals for the adventure and the whole thing is taken at a quick bluegrass pace.  Magnificence.  Erik tickled those ivories so adeptly and sweetly, synth set to organ, phaser set to “kick ass”.  And so much awesomely awesome drumming, Alwyn!  My goodness…leave some beats for the rest of the class, please.  Ha!  Not to mention Drew on his mandolin and Andy on banjo!!  It’s enough musical merriment so as to cause palpitations!  Big, big music from this big music band.  After a small set break the band got back into the shenanigans we’d all been enjoying thus far.  A bit into that second set, the band launched into a “Funky Mountain Fogdown” with a “Tequila” inspired intro that developed into something rather fun and funky, indeed.  Maybe it was Andy Hall’s dobro that really brought the funk to it all.  Whatever the reason, we were on quite the ride through fast pickin’ heaven.  So much great musicianship going round and round and round.  Crazy good!!  I mean, Vince was nailing it on guitar like a super champ and then, bam, hands it right off to Hall who…runs…with…it.  I mean just goes and goes.  Such incredible music.  Not to be outdone, Deutsch comes in on those keys and just dominates until Andy Thorn steals the show on banjo!  Whoa!  What a rush!  What could you even follow that with?  Well, Salmon does it a little something like this:  “Get Up And Go”.  Vince singing to us about living life in much better fashion?  A perfect way to dance out the energy from the “Fogdown” before.  Andy Hall stayed out there throwing down those perfect dobro licks to enhance this travelin’ song.  What a player, huh?  That man knows his instrument so damn well.  So impressive.  So appreciated.  Finally, they closed things down for the night on the main stage with “River’s Rising”.  A great and strong staple of the Salmon catalogue, this one never disappoints.  It’s just a great rock song, you know?  Drew was in fine voice with Vince in support, throwing down the vocals like a a pair of rock gods.  This was a big one, too, clocking in at 13:54 — lots of music up in here.  This, of course, gave everyone the opportunity to shine and shine they did.  From Drew just shredding it on electric to Alwyn going nuts on those skins, the energy just kept building and building.  But the real creme de la creme was the mid section of the song, the jam.  At times pure, high energy rock’n’roll and at others trippy space breakdown, Leftover was determined to take the audience some place far away and special.  And that is exactly what they did.  Wow.  By the time the song came back to itself at the end of the more than 10 minute jam it was still filled with madness and energy and fun and laughter.  What an ending!!  Not a person standing on that beach wasn’t left wheezing with pure merriment and gratitude.  What a show!!  Festivaaaaaaaaaal!!  What a ride!!  And that, my friends, is precisely why we go to Strings & Sol.  Boom!  So many thank yous to the band and their folks who help to get them to places like S&S.  Thanks to the Cloud 9 folks for an amazing first day at Strings.  Ah, back at camp and couldn’t be happier.  So much fun to be had…already had.  Amazing.  And still three days to go!!  

Leftover Salmon with Andy Hall

Leftover Salmon with Andy Hall

Stay tuned for Saturday’s fun, everyone!!

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Denver Bluegrass Generals - 30 January 2016 - Cervantes’ Masterpiece - Denver, CO

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Denver Bluegrass Generals - 30 January 2016 - Cervantes’ Masterpiece - Denver, CO

Denver Bluegrass Generals

30 January 2016 - Cervantes’ Masterpiece - Denver, CO

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Band Members:  Andy Hall - dobro; Bill Nershi - guitar; Keith Moseley - bass, electric bass; Chris Pandolfi - banjo; Billy Strings - mandolin, guitar

    Nothing quite like music in the wintertime in Colorado.  Especially when you’ve got a bit of snow going to really seal the deal for you.  There’s just something about braving a bit of inclement weather to get to a venue so that, once inside, you can feel all cozy alongside your music community waiting for the magic to be meted out from the stage.  Not that it was a blizzard or anything, but the big, soft flakes falling outside the doors of Cervantes’ Masterpiece in Denver made being warm inside with beverage in hand all the more satisfying.  We arrived in time to see the opening band, TAARKA, play most of their set.  Really nice and mellow string band music out of nearby Lyons, CO.  A great intro for the Denver Bluegrass Generals to follow…and follow they did.  In spades.  What a lineup on stage for the evening’s enjoyment, right?  Hall and Pandolfi from The Infamous Stringdusters.  Nershi and Moseley from The String Cheese Incident.  And the indomitable Mr. Billy Strings.  Wow.  As in about 300 tons of wow.  So many different styles on stage, so many different approaches.  All wrapped up into one mighty fine ensemble of bluegrass musicianship — and extremely enjoyable to witness, let me tell you.  Dressed in various paramilitary garb for the event, the Generals took to the stage to command the remainder of our night with just the kind of leadership we’d all come to expect.  And their first official action of the evening:  execute “Project Fast Pickin’”.  It was time for some serious and seriously good music to ensue.

    Starting out with some New Riders of the Purple Sage, shall we?  We shall, indeed!  Peter Rowan’s “Panama Red” made for a perfect opener for this, the second night of the Denver Bluegrass Generals’ stint at Cervantes’.  Keith Moseley took to the mic for this one, delivering this cautionary tale as only “Moose” can.  Pandolfi’s banjo could be heard as a lovely constant throughout the song counterpointing fine solos from Hall on dobro and Nershi on guitar.  If this was any indication of how the evening was to progress, we were all in for something special.  And certainly in for some supremely excellent music.  Which is precisely why we all gathered there that night.  The second song was an Andy Hall lead which featured some superb guitar work from Billy Nershi as well as the other Billy on mandolin.  It was plain to see already that they came to kill it that night.  And I mean summarily, too.  It’s always so interesting and gratifying to see musicians playing such serious music with such readily apparent enjoyment written all over their beings.  It just adds so much more depth to the experience.  Nershi took point on the next song, Jim Croce’s “Age”, Panda’s banjo shining out for the entirety and Billy Strings’ guitar solo showing us exactly just how talented that young man truly is.  “I've traded love for pennies, sold my soul for less, lost my ideals in that long tunnel of time. I've turned inside out and around about and back and then, found myself right back where I started again.”  Just love those lyrics — man, if that doesn’t sound a bit familiar at times, no?  Of course, the evening would seem a bit remiss if we didn’t get a few songs from the two bands represented on stage and we weren’t to be disappointed in the slightest.  The first of many covers from the Dusters and Cheese that night was “Well, Well” sung by Andy Hall.  And, lucky for you, we have that very selection here for your viewing enjoyment: 

Killing it, right?  I mean, just slaying it and we were only four songs in!  And we were far from done…  The next solo fell to Billy Strings as he crooned out “Lonesome River” for us in his powerful baritone, accompanying himself on mando.  Really nice vocal harmonies in this one.  I mean the kind that give you chills.  And I had no idea that Billy Strings played the mandolin!  This concert was a real eye-opener in many ways, but that little nugget was a big revelation.  And, of course, he shreds on the wee instrument.  A little later in the set came an old bluegrass favorite, “Old Home Place”, which delivered tight multipart harmonies to bolster Pandolfi’s crystal clear solo and lots of good old fashioned pickin’ from all the assembled Generals.  Andy Hall was back up next to the microphone for another Dusters’ song, “Gettin’ Down the Road”, containing an excellent guitar solo from Nershi and a wild and wonderful one from Andy on dobro, I might add.  Amazing amounts of energy pouring from the stage on this one. especially when you have Nershi, Panda, and Billy all bouncing around like happy children.  This was followed by a great and grassy “I Know You Rider” with the vocal trio of Nershi, Moseley, and Hall nailing the harmonies — really sounded massively good.  Billy Strings’ mando solo definitely of note here.  How many times all night did I hear people around me saying things like “damn!” and “holy sh*t!” when it came to Billy’s playing?  He certainly made some new fans that evening.  Panda threw down his brand of musical attitude with a long and epic solo of his own.  Big song, big sound, big appreciation from the crowd.  “Little Maggie” was up next with Billy Stings on lead vocals — and what lead vocals!  Not only can this man play, he can sing, too!  And really sing!  A bouncing fun little song warning against the lady in the title.  Hard drivin’, fast pickin’.  ‘Nuff said.  TAARKA’s fiddle player, Enion Pelta-Tiller, joined them for some instrumental fun next with String Cheese’s “Lonesome Fiddle Blues”.  This one was a perfect example of kick-ass nasty good music.  The crowd went crazy when the familiar melodic line broke out on stage and I did, too.  Great musical moment from the evening’s proceedings.  And more Cheese you say?  More?  You want more?  Well, OK, then.  How about some “Restless Wind” for you?  Mighty good, mighty lovely treatment of this song.  Another crowd-pleaser for the Denver audience, too…had us all singing along for the entirety of the song.  Andy and Nershi dominated the mellow, grooving center section of this one with the interplay of their instruments.  Surely one helluva closer for the first set.  It was going to be hard to top or even equal that after set break…    

Andy Hall, Billy Nershi, and Keith Moseley

Andy Hall, Billy Nershi, and Keith Moseley

    …but wait until you hear what they opened with.  Not Bill Monroe.  Not more Peter Rowan.  Not even Del.  But with a surprise not even Nostradamus could’ve called:  “The A-Team Theme”.  No, you read that right.  The theme to that totally radical TV hit from the 80s.  B.A.  Hannibal.  The whole crew.  All grassed up and with one place to be — Cervantes’ Masterpiece.  Man, was this a fun one.  Badass is another word for it.  What a way to kick of the second set!  And it really sounded fantastic, too.  Groovy as all hell and super nostalgic to boot.  Many thanks to the good Generals for this little treat!  Falling back into the bluegrass tradition once again, Moseley was up for the lead on “Catfish John” yet another big crowd favorite.  This one also featured a pretty boss bass solo from Moose, too.  Great version of this oldie-but-goodie.  Another nice surprise was up next in Cheese’s “Texas” for us all, Billy Strings nailing the intro line on mandolin and Nershi taking up his usual vocals.  Every voice in the hall must’ve been singing along to this one.  And it sounded so polished, too!  Really happy to get this song.  And the dobro solo??  Just having dobro on this one…chills!  Absolute chills.  They went right out of a lengthy ending jam in “Texas” and directly into “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” for some more of that hard drivin’, fast pickin’ goodness we’d all come to bask in, Bluegrass Generals style.  Superb musicianship showcased all around in this one, each General a true master on his chosen instrument.  Mandolin player and friend of the band, Jordan Ramsey, joined the good times on stage for a series of songs beginning with “My Rose of Old Kentucky” with Billy Strings on vocals.  Pitch-perfect old fashioned bluegrass goodness — plain and simple.  Panda and Hall threw down a lovely duet for “The Little Girl and The Dreadful Snake” which was followed by the energetic and familiar “Hold What’cha Got”.  An incredible mandolin duet-heavy tune followed during a breakdown peppered with lots of sweet banjo shenanigannery from Chris Pandolfi.  Not to mention the melodious madness that issued forth from Hall’s dobro.  “Mandos gone wild!!”, yelled Bill Nershi.  And he wasn’t wrong!  Damn, can Billy play!  Damn, can Jordan play!  Damn!  A favorite of the night to be sure.  Andy Hall was back up to the mic for “Darling Corey” which featured some more mando magic from Jordan before he took his leave.  What a great addition to augment the Generals — many thanks to Mr. Ramsey for the amazing music!  The riveting “Red Fox” followed with fast pickin’ for one and all and then we were all “Working on a Building” together, taking a walk down that old school bluegrass lane hand-in-hand.  Simply splendid vocal harmonies in this one, too.  Just loved that aspect of the evening.  More String Cheese was in store next for us with “Far From Home” directly into “Wheel Hoss”.  Nershi had a lot of fun with this solo, hamming it up in fine fashion for us as well all danced along.  Nice and gritty and just how you’d want it to be.  Sadly, due to nasty weather, we had to leave a tad early during “Wheel Hoss” and miss the last two songs:  “Sitting on Top of the World” and “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”.  However, there is no doubt in my mind that the Generals killed those two songs just as readily as they did the entire rest of the evening.  I am sure that everyone who stayed left feeling just that much more gratified than we did already, heads and hearts filled with so much incredible music.  

Andy Hall

Andy Hall

    To the Denver Bluegrass Generals — I salute you!!  Gentlemen, that truly was one stellar showing of musical prowess and precision.  Excellent song selection and excellently played, all night through.  Many thanks to you all for your contributions to the evening and for helping to make it so very successful at every turn.  Looking forward to your next joint exercise, my good sirs!

The Denver Bluegrass Generals

The Denver Bluegrass Generals

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Jam Cruise 14 - MSC Divina - Saturday

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Jam Cruise 14 - MSC Divina - Saturday

Jam Cruise 14

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Saturday Highlights

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.

Pickin' the 80s Pickin' Party

Pickin' the 80s Pickin' Party

    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.

The New Mastersounds and Roosevelt Collier

The New Mastersounds and Roosevelt Collier

    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.  

More Than a Little

More Than a Little

    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!!

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