Preview | Jam Cruise Masters Camp At Sea

Words By: Andrew Bruss

:: Preview - Jam Cruise’s Masters Camp As Sea ::

For over a decade, Cloud 9 Adventures’ Jam Cruise has been providing adventurous concertgoers with one of the best festivals on the high seas, but this time around, they’re adding a new element to the equation. For Jam Cruise 12, the folks behind the event are teaming up with Music Masters Camps to provide attendees with the option of taking part in one of the most exciting, engaging and educational musical experience an instrument-wielding fan could ask for. While the bulk of Jam Cruisers are sun bathing on the deck or waiting in line for the waterslide, participants of the Masters Camp At Sea will be listening to lectures, taking masters courses and performing in ensembles directed by improv royalty ranging from Victor Wooten (bass) to The Allman Brothers Band’s Butch Trucks (drums).

From his vacation home in France, Butch Trucks told us he’s already begun planning his curriculum for the program. “I put a good deal of time into developing some master classes, one is on the basics of drumming and the next on five or six songs like ‘Dreams’ and ‘Statesboro Blues’ and ‘Whipping Post.’ When you see the cast of characters you know it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun,” he said.

When asked about the difference between playing and teaching, Trucks responded, “I don’t talk much when I’m playing but I actually try very hard to teach the way I play and I'm trying to teach these kids that they have to learn the basic skills which is why my first class is [on] the basics. Without those skills you’re handicapped from the beginning. It’s like learning to speak. When you know the language you don’t have to sit around learning the language, you go out and learn to communicate. Listen to what they have to say, talk to them, and this thing will develop and if you’re really lucky it will turn into music and if you’re even luckier it will turn into a brand new form of language. If you just sit around wrapped up in your technique or never learned that, if you haven’t learned to speak you can’t talk, and if all you do is talk you can’t listen.” He added, “Too many drummers sit there and do nothing but learning technique and when they get with a group, their whole language is wrapped up in themselves and they aren’t listening to what others are playing. I focus mostly on who ever is playing the lead. My job is to lay down the groove and then whoever takes the lead, when they take off, my job is to push them higher than they’ve gone before.”

Col. Bruce Hampton is a repeat offender on Jam Cruise, but this year he’ll be there as part of the Masters program. Hampton expressed excitement about the educational elements of the program, but in typical Col. Bruce fashion commented, “I don’t want to teach anyone anything.” He said, “I want to help them discover their musical voice. There are about 30 or 40 steps I’d like to go through with everyone and basically it’s about what they want to learn. I'm not forcing anything but I'm hoping to break all [of their previous] conditioning.”

As for what students could be doing to prepare themselves for the program, Hampton had some easily applicable advice. “Go back and listen,” he said. “Go study your stuff. The first jamband was probably Fats Waller. Know where it came from! That way you learn your roots and what not to do more than anything and you’ll learn. Improvisation is composition and not just noodling over major and minor scales. It’s about developing new tunes. God almighty, listen to each other. One out of every ten musicians actually listens to each other.”

When Bruce Hampton came up in conversation, Butch Trucks made it very clear how excited he was about the opportunity to work with him again come January. He said, “knowing Col. Bruce, you never know what the hell is going to happen, that’s for sure. He is one unique individual. He makes sure [of that]. There’s something about him, he wants to be constantly recreating himself, and so you never know what’s going to come out of him. I love being around him because it’s always a surprise.”

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