What better way to spend a summer night in New York City than catching one of the jamworld’s rapidly rising stars on a cruise around the beautiful night skyline of Manhattan? Without even commenting on the unbelievable music that ulu played that night, the boatride itself was an incredible experience. It took off from Chelsea Piers around 8:15PM and everyone on board knew it was going to be a magical evening.

The band did an excellent job of making sure there was enough room for everyone to dance and have a good time. ulu started promptly after the boatride began and so did the fun. They opened up with Mike and Ike’s Root Canal, bringing out the funky stuff right away and making sure the crowd knew we were in for a special treat. Justin Wallace was laying down unusually deep funk lines and he had the crowd dancing and grooving in no time. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough room himself to do his sidesteps which are always a favorite of mine to watch.

The boatride continued and it started to get a little WAVY!! It definitely made for a very, very unique experience watching an awesome band play on a boatride like that. The boat was going up and down as was the intensity of the jams.

If you are one of those sea friendly people, it would have been unbelievably fun for you to watch drummer David Hoffman and keyboardist extraordinaire Scott Chasolen trade places being “on top of the band”. It was easy to see how much fun they were having which I credit not only to their musical prowess, but to their ingenious selection of playing on the boat in the first place. It was their third cruise and promises to be an annual event. Plain and simple, these guys just make me want to smile, dance, and have fun!! Saxophonist Aaron Gardner played both beautifully melodic lines as well as funky hard soul hits, and then put everything into psychedelic loop city.

The band announced they were going to take a little breather to check out the Statue of Liberty as the boat was about to pass it. It was dark out and Lady Liberty looked absolutely amazing up close. Everyone on the boat was having an amazing time, and I didn’t see anyone who looked like the rolling water was too much for them. I’m glad they stopped playing for everyone to check out the Statue of Liberty because I would have danced right through that time. You can see ulu's smarts in both their musical complexity and the choices they make for the band's circumstances.

The band came back on stage visibly inspired from the wonderful atmosphere. They ripped through a second set highlighted by an extra funky Djibooty. No vocal section on this one (perhaps Aaron didn’t want to mess up everyone’s mind too badly that night). By the time the guys were done, spirits were extremely high and we docked shortly after the end of the set. Every person that left that boatride knew they had just experienced something that could only happen with this band. It was an amazing thing for them to set up, and I felt extremely lucky to be a part of it. The combination of the unbelievably funky and jazzy soul grooves and the majestic and ominous skyline of the Big Apple made for a night that I, or anyone else who was there, will never forget.

If you're an ulu fan, don’t miss out on the boatride next year!! If you're not an ulu fan, get out to the next closest show and prepare to be amazed at the sounds these guys can throw out. They'll be at the Metro Cafe in Washington D.C. on July 10th and Atlanta's Variety Playhouse on Friday the 13th. For those cruisers and other New Yorkers looking for another helping, they'll be performing interlocking sets with Topaz at Mercury Lounge on July 28th.

Thad Ayazides
JamBase NYC Correspondent
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 7/6/01]

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