Words and Images by: Andrew Bruss
Brock Butler performed a heartwarming set on the Bahamian island of CocoCay, which was the best part of the day and one of the top performances of the entire cruise. Knowing that Jam Cruise 11 was coming to a close, everyone was feeling a bit sentimental (and exhausted) and a mix of Butler originals, in addition to choice covers like Taj Mahal’s “Queen Bee,” and Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them,” placed the attentive crowd at his fingertips.
After welcoming The Soul Rebels to the stage, Galactic went all acoustic, turning off every mic on the house and proving what anyone in NOLA already knows: you don’t need a speaker system when you’ve got a brass band. We love ‘em tonight!
The one moment of the entire week that was simply put, the most fun, was the Funky Meters’ George Porter Jr. joining in on ALO’s three-bass attack on “Big Bottom” during Spinal Tap night.
While members of Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce and The Pimps of Joytime got dirty in the Jam Room, troubadour Nathan Moore and members of Greensky Bluegrass kept up their multi-night tradition of playing as house band for the party taking place on the deck underneath the life boats.
By the morning of what would be Day 6, every ounce of energy Jam Cruisers had to burn was in the rear-view mirror, and with Fort Lauderdale within sight, it was time for the best party of the year to come to an end.
Jam Cruise Recap
Who Dat Indeed
While the overwhelming majority of Jam Cruise 11 took place in international waters, this ride was all about New Orleans. Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Galactic, The Soul Rebels and The Funky Meters dominated the show. While San Francisco facilitated incredible sets by both ALO and Tea Leaf Green, anyone with their eyes4 and ears open would have to agree that NOLA gave Jam Cruise more memories of booty shakin’ than any major American city.
Jam is King
Greensky Bluegrass and Femi Kuti were two of the most incredible acts on the ship and while eclecticism is the key to the successful formula behind Jam Cruise 11, the core lineup of funk and jamband acts were the foundation of the week. moe. made their presence felt as soon as they got on the boat and Ivan Neville seemed to have jammed out with everyone and anybody. Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood aren’t really a jam band and they’re definitely not a funk act, but they brought plenty from column A and column B to the table. But more than any one set, the collaborative, feel-good atmosphere on stage in the Jam Room had a way of encompassing the loose, risk-taking musicianship that defines Jam Cruise.
While both Big Gigantic and BoomBox helped provide an EDM element to an already eclectic lineup, neither of them showcased the musicianship equaled by the elite artists on board. Both acts performed with live instruments over prerecorded beats, and while the fusion of electronica and live playing was fun, neither act was especially good at either of the two performance styles. Big Gigantic has a sax player and a drummer, but on a boat full of incredible drummers and sax players, neither wowed. Cloud 9 Adventures should be commended for including EDM acts on the bill, but in the future, if they were going to bring electronica on Jam Cruise, they’d be better off picking DJ’s with more defined performance styles.
Greatest. People. Ever.
If you’ve been following our daily updates, you’ve probably noted that there’s been a deliberate attempt to include as many crowd photos as possible. The adventurous, fun loving, outgoing attendees of Jam Cruise 11 were single-handedly the highlight of the trip, and even the best photographs of the action on stage fail to convey this.
Jam Cruisers are the Seal Team Six of concertgoers. You’d be hard press to find a more densely populated crowd of dedicated, open minded, musically educated fans in the entire world. We are the elite. While some attendees were surely affluent, plenty more were blue collared guys and gals who spend all year saving up to go on Jam Cruise every January. Most of us were between the ages of 20-40, there were plenty of retirees who know a good time when they see one, and an abundance of families who took their lucky kids on an extraordinary (and child-safe) vacation that automatically makes them the coolest kid in school.
The production team was brilliant in their ability to keep the shows running on time despite windy weather, a little bit of rain, and a stage that was rocking back and forth in the middle of the Atlantic. The Safety (security) staff deserves a shout out for making sure people were being careful enough to avoid doing anything that would harsh the buzz or stop the boat, and the artists themselves did a great job of going above and beyond their job on-stage by availing themselves to their fans all week long.
JamBase readers love to travel to see live music. It’s what makes our community so great. NOLA Jazzfest has history no other can match and nobody puts together a lineup like Bonnaroo, but for the destination music lover, Jam Cruise is the tops. Judging by the over 300 people who preregistered for next years trip, it doesn’t matter who is playing any Jam Cruise. Regardless of the lineup, the people on board define the trip and the experiences they have more than any combination of performers. Jam Cruise is where a 20-something from Philly can join Karl Denson on keys and make his live music fantasy come true. Jam Cruise is where friendships that can last a lifetime are made. Jam Cruise is how I want to start my new year, every year.
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