Jam Cruise 7 | 01.04 - 01.09 | High Seas

Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dave Vann, Chad Smith, and Casey Flanigan

Jam Cruise 7 :: 01.04.09 – 01.09.09 :: Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Jam Cruise 7 by Smith
Jam Cruise. Just saying the name conjures up images of a traveling circus, a magical cocktail with a lemon slice of vacation and a nonstop, 24-hour-a-day (no, really) party. This is no ordinary music festival, but rather one that lasts twice as long, takes place on the high seas, and is seemingly on some of Barry Bonds' steroids and requires the endurance of a marathon runner. Oh yeah, and it's on the grandest of all cruise ships your mind can possibly imagine. Backstage? Non-existent. Ping pong with John Medeski? You got next. Snorkeling in Belize with Eric Krasno? A reality. An endless supply of world famous hot dog pizza pumped out on the buffet line? Here's the Pepto-Bismol because you'll be wolfing down a slice, with a Pina Colada in tow as you race from the pool deck down to the Jam Room to catch your four favorite musicians onstage for a once in a lifetime set. Dizzy yet? Well, get used to it because that's the nature of this beast. Yep, you've sailed to heaven - the mega-monster festival on the water, where there are no rules but there's more artist collaborations than a Siamese orgy, good vibes are constant and there's enough sleep deprivation to conduct government experiments.

Day 1: Setting Sail

With the cobwebs of New Year's Eve still lingering in most minds, fans with a noticeably large line of credit, due to the admission tag ranging in the thousands of dollars, headed south for the winter to Ft. Lauderdale, where the seventh installation of Jam Cruise, now in its sixth year (two cruises were held in the inaugural year) was preparing to set sail with port stops in Belize City, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Dumpstaphunk :: Jam Cruise 7 by Vann
With any festival comes a little traffic, and Jam Cruise is no exception. Taking an average of three hours to check in, clear customs and board (other passengers with changes to their reservations waited for up to eight hours this year), it was a small price to pay once aboard the ship. Unlike the past few years that were held on the MSC Opera, JC7 saw a huge upgrade to the ocean line's granddaddy and executive vessel, The Orchestra. Adding room for roughly an additional thousand fans (bringing the total to 3,000), this new vessel boasted the likes of nothing ever before seen on Jam Cruise. With full tennis and basketball courts on the top deck, the grandiose Covent Garden Theater that would make many similar rooms on land put their tails between their legs, three sit-down restaurants, a full-functioning casino with table games and slots, multiple pools and hot tubs, sophisticated art hanging around every corner, an all-night disco and enough bars and booze to supply a small country, The Orchestra left little to be desired, or hell, even be imagined.

As for the musicians, the main pool (pun intended) of bands and roaming artists - another unique aspect of JC - hailed from the funk and jazz capital of the universe, New Orleans, as well as New York and San Francisco. When speaking about what makes Jam Cruise unique, George Porter Jr. touched on the fact that NOLA is well represented on board: "This time, we've got a lot of the New Orleans boys - the hometown boys - that I don't get to see too often. So, we're getting to hang, you know?"

I'll also be honest, like any festival nowadays, it's simply impossible to see and hear it all. With multiple shows happening at the same time, JC usually finds me "going with the flow," wandering from set to set or wherever my inner, nautical compass seems to guide me. To kick off our voyage, Charles Walker and The Dynamites blasted us with some funky sounds as we left for the trip many patrons wait all year for.

Tony Hall with Lettuce :: Jam Cruise 7 by Vann
Many of the most prominent acts were all in action on this first night – another sign of how big JC tries to go. The pool deck saw Medeski Martin and Wood play a rather tight, funky set with percussionist Cyro Baptista, while Leftover Salmon simultaneously picked their self-proclaimed "Poly Ethnic Cajun Slamgrass Music" in the Theater. However, my NYC roots found me catching a sliver of both before heading to the Savannah Bar, a lounge with a prominent cheetah theme, for the dirty, raging funk of Lettuce. Consisting of Krasno, Erick "E.D." Coomes, Adam Deitch, Adam "Schmeeans" Smirnoff (whom I later played against in the Texas Hold 'Em Tournament) and the horns of Ryan Zoidis, Sam Kininger and Rashawn Ross with Nigel Hall on vocals, these guys simply bring the heat. For JC, Ivan Neville, who sat in seemingly everywhere I looked, filled in on keys for Neal Evans, who remained home to work on an upcoming project for HBO. Deitch is one of the most amazing, dynamic drummers out there, with hip-hop roots that are strong and deep. Everything he is involved with I've always appreciated, with Lettuce being my favorite of them all. Toss in a version of "Move On Up" with Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars), Karl Denson (Greyboy, KDTU) and Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk) and this was the easy early leader for set of the cruise.

Shortly afterwards in the theater, Les Claypool made his return to JC after several years away, offering his usual goofy/scary antics with a mix of old and new tunes, while I found myself back cooling off on the pool deck before The New Deal played their patented dance and house grooves, much to the delight of everyone. The first night went well past dawn with David Murphy (Sound Tribe Sector 9) and DJ Rootz in the disco, while Brock Butler (Perpetual Groove) played the role of Jam Room stage-rat (held by Steve Kimock in previous years) and led Neville and Claypool through roughly 40 minutes of jamming, featuring Claypool showcasing his rather impressive chops on the drums. Like I said, welcome to Jam Cruise, where anything is possible.

Day 2: At Sea

ALO :: Jam Cruise 7 by Smith
For the early risers (or those yet to sleep), Day 2 featured a bevy of activities in addition to the musical offerings - find your center with an early Yoga class, learn to drum with a percussion workshop led by Baptista, practice your crossover dribble in the basketball tournament, join the Treasure Hunt run by local South Florida artist David "LEBO" LeBatard or simply step up and have your official JC poster signed by just about every artist on board. Also, taking place for the first of two sessions was Cruise Control, Jam Cruise's TV Talk Show hosted by friends and fellow scribes Benjy Eisen and Mike Greenhaus. The session climaxed in a unique pairing of The New Deal and Leftover Salmon's Vince Herman and Drew Emmitt performing in what Greenhaus told me was dubbed "The Blue Deal."

Usually a popular day to lounge by the pool, Day 2 saw me doing exactly that, along with some sit-down interviews with the artists on board. San Francisco's loveable freaks, ALO treated my ears to a number of pop-filled jams that rolled deliciously off the ears shortly after I was able to sit down and talk with Tea Leaf Green keyboardist-singer-songwriter Trevor Garrod. "This is kind of like a vacation," Garrod said. "We have to play a couple of sets, but otherwise we're hanging out. On this boat, it's a little bit more like a professional atmosphere. It's like the upper-echelon of festivalgoers."

Followed by Neville's Dumpstaphunk, after only a day on board, it became clear that it would be virtually impossible to see any set that wasn't smothered in New Orleans' funk, much like a small stack of pancakes dripping with strawberry syrup at your local IHOP. Neville and company welcomed seemingly everyone to the stage including Denson, Krasno, Kininger, Skerik, Claypool and all of Bonerama. In fact, this year's JC also found me meeting a much larger portion of fans from NOLA as well as the artists performing.

Bustle in Your Hedgerow by Smith
Meanwhile in the theater, the other main city being represented on board - New York - welcomed Bustle in Your Hedgerow, which is a (largely) instrumental Led Zeppelin cover band consisting of Scott Metzger (RANA, American Babies), Dave Dreiwitz (Ween) and both parts of The Duo, Marco Benevento and Joe Russo. While Zeppelin is considered by many to be the holy grail of rock 'n' roll, these boys not only pay homage but add some fireworks of their own, as was witnessed by Dreiwitz absolutely destroying not one but two separate bass strings during their set. As Metzger, with his charming smile, later told me over a cup of coffee when asked about the strings breaking, "Well, it's Zeppelin, you know? We must have been doing something right."

But, by far my musical highlight of the day - and now that I look back on it, the entire cruise - was the first of two solo acoustic sets by Brock Butler. Opening with my second favorite tune of all tune, the Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)," while standing atop a circular balcony overlooking the pool deck, only one word came to mind: Heavenly. With, I-shit-you-not, the most glorious sunset I have ever seen happening just off to his side, I listened to Butler pour through his set with unrelenting beauty, even offering a stirring debut of a tune called "Up Again." More than once I saw many patrons walk by and stop dead in their tracks, seemingly asking themselves, "Who is this guy?" while gazing up at Butler as he sang with his authentic simplicity. Butler seems to have that effect on people during his solo sets, offering true beauty through his crystal clear licks, loops and heartfelt vocals that just seem to resonate with everyone who hears them, like a warm feather floating around inside of you, tickling your heart and soul. Mark my words: Butler will continue to rise as a shining star for years to come, winning over fans and critics alike. He is a talented, likable artist, the sort that does not come along very often. He seemingly makes everything he touches a little brighter, much as this first solo set showed. But, Butler is a multi-talented guy and has a nasty side, as you'll read about a little later on.

Stasik & Myers - Yacht Rock by Vann
At sunset we were treated to the all-star lineup of Dan Lebowitz (ALO), Jamie Shields (The New Deal) and Ryan Stasik, Joel Cummins and Kris Myers of Umphrey's McGee performing the highly lauded "Yacht Rock." Focusing on the FM radio hits of 1976-1984, the band had a single practice before donning their hysterically comical retro getups and serenading the masses to such smooth classics as "Kiss On My List" by Hall & Oates, the unofficial Yacht Rock anthem, and appropriately, Christopher Cross' "Sailing," Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgetting" and a set closing rendition of Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne." I'm not sure whether I loved this set because it appealed to my childhood years or I was just laughing at the outfits onstage, but this lineup pulled it off with great professionalism and I would be very surprised to not see some sort of "Yacht Rock" on future Jam Cruises.

To close out Day 2 - the day, where after three tours of duty, I have found Jam Cruise seems to fully find its sea legs - Claypool, joined by longtime collaborators Skerik and Mike Dillon, finished out his brief stint on the boat with some more psychedelic weirdness on the pool deck, while Porter Batiste Stoltz rocked the Savannah Bar and continued the steady onslaught of funk. The Savannah Bar also turned in a rather impressive set from 1:15 - 3:15 a.m. by The Lee Boys and guests Big Sam and Trombone Shorty, who leaned heavy on the funk this night, while saving their more reserved gospel numbers for their late morning set on the final day at sea.

For a change of pace, I also dipped into some of the rocking Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, who is as talented as she is charming and pretty, and a final sliver of Garage a Benevento, where they not only touched on classics but also some of Benevento's newer, solo numbers.

Day 3: Belize

Dave Murphy :: Jam Cruise 7 by Smith
With hangovers blaring and sleep a necessity, what better cure than a tropical paradise? Belize City, Belize, which required a 10-minute or so launch ride to the shore from The Orchestra was a charming little port town slathered in typical pastels and the warming colors of the Caribbean. I wish I could say the same for outside of the port, where I elected to simply explore on my own, in lieu of a guided excursion. Reminding me much of last year's stop in Honduras, the city was poor and a bit dirty, with some locals politely trying to sell me their handicrafts while others were a bit more abrasive; not unexpected but still eye-opening, even for a New York City boy such as myself.

Also, of note was the first of two excursions over the next few days led by the Greening Team. In addition to helping reduce our carbon footprint on board by making it very easy to place bottles, trash and compost in their proper receptacles, the Green Team held a panel discussion on Day 2. For those willing to commit their full-day to active adventures, some cruisers participated in the excursion to Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (MBWS), joining the Greening Team for a day of "learning, connection and giving." Participants saw the ecosystems of MBWS and heard from one of Belize's non-profits. Executive Director Rafael Monzanero of Friends for Cultural Development addressed the group before a concert from students at the Maroon Creole Drum School.

Some of my "best" and most candid interviews have occurred aboard Jam Cruise, where artists truly embrace the relaxed atmosphere and open up like blossoming flowers, or in some cases, a cheap prom date. Denson and I spoke at length about the Jam Room.

Robert Walter by Smith
"I'm going to have to credit myself for that invention," Denson said. "I think that was me running around the first year, trying to stay warmed up for the two days that I play and getting frustrated because there are bands that I didn't want play with or wasn't that interested in. There's a bunch of random musicians hanging around the boat and I thought, 'Man, we need to be playing right now!' It keeps the whole thing alive. Then you got the young guys that come on the boat and maybe they got one set, or maybe they've got half a set or some random, little thing that they are doing, and they can go and play with the guys that they've wanted to play with for years and nobody's going to say anything to them."

KDTU welcomed the passengers back on board around dinnertime with a horn-blasting set of booty shaking deliciousness. After that, I grabbed a shower before testing my skills in the Texas Hold 'Em poker tourney (where I finished eighth), and rubbed shoulders with the like of "Schmeeans" and Murphy. Taking a chunk out of my evening, I resurfaced after being eliminated just shy of placing in the money (always the bridesmaid...) to hear the opening notes of "Eyes of the World" on the pool deck performed by Keller Williams, guitarist Gibb Droll, former-String Cheese bassist Keith Moseley and drummer Jeff Sipe, who was pulling double-duty as he also played with his longtime band, Leftover Salmon, while on board. Immediately, the perma-grin that JC helps produce returned to my face as I grabbed a cold brew and boogied down to some of Keller's quirky takes on the good 'ol Grateful Dead.

Taking a quick walk downstairs to catch some of the headliners, I popped into the Jam Room, where things were eerily quiet. That wasn't enough to deter Butler from plugging in and treating a handful of fans to covers of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up," Phish's "Gotta Jibboo" and "Dark Star" teases thrown into the middle of a Sublime tune, further solidifying the fact that Butler simply loves to play - anything, anywhere, anytime.

Galactic and The Cruise Krewe, consisting of Trombone Shorty, Big Sam and a number of others, delivered one of the week's strongest efforts. Upon walking into the theater, located at the far front end of the boat, the room was rocking so hard I felt like they should be handing out Dramamine. But, after about two songs, I realized it was the band - not the ocean - that was causing the masses to gyrate uncontrollably. Stanton Moore's relentless onslaught on the kit served as the ever-present anchor as the band tore through a slew of Galactic numbers and choice covers. One highlight was Trombone Shorty stepping out to the front of the stage and sustaining a trumpet solo, without drawing a breath, that seemed to stretch on forever. Speaking of drawing a breath, I needed to catch mine towards the end of this set and simply walked out of the theater a few feet to hear ALO welcoming Jackie Greene (Phil Lesh & Friends) to the stage for a cover of his "Ball & Chain" as well as The Dead's "Sugaree." It served as the perfect bookend to my Dead and funk filled evening before slouching down in the Jam Room, where the eerily quiet scene of earlier had turned into a sweaty session with Porter, Krasno and the Bonerama horns until dawn.

Day 4: Costa Maya, Mexico

Jam Cruise 7 by Flanigan
After three full days of straight out debauchery, Costa Maya and its gorgeous beaches were just what the doctor ordered. Recently crippled by a hurricane last season, the scenery was a bit crushed, but the land's spirits were not. While some explored Mayan ruins, again, the Greening Team took 50 passengers to meet 50 students from the Limones Primary School for a local beach cleanup and party. Afterwards, they dropped off supplies donated by Jam Cruise and its patrons for not one but four schools it was supporting. This was another moment that just makes you realize how very lucky and fortunate we are to be able to celebrate JC and provide for those less fortunate. Allow me to give props and kudos to the Greening Team and all those involved in these efforts throughout this trip.

Back on board, there was another round of activities such as Simon Says led by The New Mastersounds' Simon Allen, mock weddings for any couples that dared, a special JAMuary party for cruisers born in January and Rockstar Karaoke, where a band of JC artists backed any cruiser that wanted to live out their ultimate, musical fantasy. I did witness some performances later on, thanks to the 24/7 workings of Jam Cruise TV, broadcasting in every cabin, and was rather impressed by a young woman dressed in a bumble bee outfit performing Blind Melon's "No Rain" and an old timer rocking out to "Hey Joe."

Tired yet? Almost home.

As the rays of a Mexican sunset set upon our shoulders and we prepared for our final day at sea before the harsh realities of home returned, Bonerama was determined to blow the boat right back to where it came from through sheer horn power, including a rousing cover of "Whipping Post." Michael Franti welcomed J. Bowman and Carl Young to the stage to serenade us with his Spearhead catalog. He also invited fans, Captain Toast, Butler, Krasno, Sipe, Myers and others to help on the biggest sing-along of the cruise. No matter what your feelings on Franti, he has an innate ability - especially during the sunshine at festivals - to ignite a crowd and collectively move them in a positive way, and I dig it.

Grace Potter by Flanigan
The rest of Day 4 found the rockers on the pool deck and funksters in the bars and theater. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals along with Tea Leaf Green kept the pool patrons rocking from 9 p.m. - 1:15 a.m. Late night posed another tough decision as Lettuce again RAGED! outdoors with Denson, the Bonerama horns and Big Sam, while The New Deal threw down in the theater, welcoming Metzger and Stasik in an absolutely epic battle of late night acts. After two sets of each, I can't declare a winner and instead propose to get both back next year!

After four days confined on a vessel at sea, it's only logical that sit-ins galore would continue to crop up in every direction. The next two nights saw a plethora of head-scratching collaborations, made somehow comfortable on Jam Cruise and culminating in the Jam Room. What transpired down there until nearly 7:15 a.m. was an all-out celebration of life, funk, New Orleans, New York and everything in between. All I can say is that from around 3 or 4 a.m. until close, no less than 20 musicians appeared in the Jam Room before I finally gave up keeping score and caught some shut eye for the final blowout.

Day 5: Final Day At Sea

The last day of Jam Cruise is always bittersweet. The work and bills we left behind are only a day away and your legs are always as loose as a bowl of Jell-O if you've done your job right. The fans seemed to realize this, and after the aforementioned gospel set by The Lee Boys many wounded soldiers rallied for their last battles that evening by soaking in the sun, listening to the likes of an acoustic set by Martin Sexton on the main pool stage. Shortly thereafter, I found myself enamored by the second pool deck stage, or the "hidden gem stage," as I dubbed it. Literally a perfect semi-circle above the crowd below, Butler called it, "The best seat in the house." His solo set this afternoon picked up where he left off a few days earlier, serenading everyone with "Graceland" and "Hesitating Beauty" before putting a rather simple exclamation point on his two, beautiful sets with a tear-jerking version of "Let It Be." Attention Cloud 9 Productions: Under any and all circumstances, please make Butler a constant staple on the boat. His solo sets, mixed with his uncanny ability to freestyle rap, his irresistible likeability and skill at sitting in with anyone and on any tune, make him the perfect act for Jam Cruise - an absolute superstar in the making right before our eyes.

Skerik & Eddie Roberts (NMS) :: Jam Cruise 7 by Vann
Immediately after Butler we got a nice change up, namely a DJ set on the same stage by DJ Rootz, who took us "around the world" with samplings of Daft Punk and the like. Elsewhere, Greene recruited Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips), and three parts of ALO as his backing band for a perfectly timed session of good old fashion songcraft, including a poignant version of "New Speedway Boogie" as well as Greene's own solo staples. Around the same time as Greene, Robert Walter led the SuperJam, which, let's face it, lost some of its luster since every room was a super jam on this boat. But, it still rocked with Walter and Stanton Moore leading the charge, along with the second installment of Cruise Control hosted by Eisen and Greenhaus as well as a segment called "NOLA to NY."

On top of that, there was the second costumed night of "Life on Bourbon Street," where the vibe was fucking electric from the moment the sun went down and the freaks came out. Anchored by KDTU and Galactic on the pool deck and the very impressive New Mastersounds in the Savannah Bar, the ship rocked something fierce. Add in the second helping of Bustle in Your Hedgerow in the theater, complete with a bare hand and arm drum solo by Russo during "Moby Dick," and it was clear that all were set on putting the throttle at full speed and slamming this night home into a pile-driver finish.

With DJ Rootz and Murphy spinning in the disco until well past sunrise and the Jam Room being anchored by seemingly everyone, including Brian Jordan (KDTU), Ivan Neville and Butler on freestyle vocals (citing Kanye West, Jay-Z and The Wu Tang Clan), this part of the evening sounded like hip-hop on cocaine, with seemingly everyone dancing as if the ship wouldn't make it back to port without our collective energy - a true "you had to be there" moment. But, my favorite moment, and one that many Jam Cruisers will tell you was the most poignant was still yet to come.

As I stood on the back deck of the cruise ship, outside of the disco with dancers, day-glo freaks and friends old and new, I watched the sun rise over Miami and Southern Florida, and the magic fairy dust that had been sprinkled on us seemed to gently wash away, like the remains of some collective baptism of jam band, NOLA and NYC kids drying as we approached home. Jam Cruise is an event that one should experience at least once, as it is the most unique festival model we have to choose from, and it's worth every penny for the vacation of a lifetime. I, for one, can't wait to get back on board next year.

Continue reading for more images of Jam Cruise... Images by: Dave Vann

Walter "Wolfman" Washington with Galactic
Garage a Benevento
Stanton Moore & Joe Russo - Bustle In Your Hedgerow
DJ Reika
Brock Butler
The Lee Boys
Grace Potter
Grace Potter
Grace Potter
Brock Butler & Dave Dreiwitz
Les Claypool
Leftover Salmon
Marco Benevento and his daughter Ruby
Stanton Moore, Karl Denson, Marco Benevento & Ruby
Mardi Gras Time
John Medeski
The New Deal
Drew Emmitt, Bill Nershi & Keith Moseley
Michael Franti
Joe Russo & Marco Benevento
Robert Walter, Eddie Roberts & Joe Russo
DJ Rootz
PBS with Bonerama
DJ Rootz & David Murphy
Martin Sexton
Martin Sexton
Tea Leaf Green
Yacht Rock
Yacht Rock
Charles Walker
Tim Bluhm, Jackie Greene & Steve Adams

Continue reading for more images of Jam Cruise... Images by: Chad Smith

John Medeski
Cyro Baptista & Chris Wood
Les Claypool
Leftover Salmon
Bonerama with Dumpstaphunk
Yacht Rock
Les Claypool
Les Claypool with Karl Denson
Emmitt-Nershi Band
Garage a Benevento
Marco Benevento
The Lee Boys
Grace Potter
George Porter, Jr.
Keller Williams & the WMDs
Trombone Shorty
Trevor Garrod (Tea Leaf Green)
Eric Krasno
Ivan Neville
The New Deal
Bonerama with Lettuce
Grace Potter
Grace Potter & Big Sam
Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Tromebone Shorty & Big Sam with Galactic
The New Mastersounds
Karl Denson & Annabel Lukins
Michael Franti

Continue reading for more images of Jam Cruise... Images by: Casey Flanigan

Leftover Salmon
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Grace Potter
Grace Potter
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Jeff Coffin, Big Sam & Trombone Shorty
Keller Williams & Keith Moseley (WMDs)
Les Claypool
Jeff Sipe & Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon)
Chris Wood & John Medeski (MMW)
The New Deal
Emmitt-Nershi Band
Big Sam & Trombone Shorty

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tourfan starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 08:45PM
+9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I say this every year when I see this review, but this year, I really mean it. Next year, I'm gettin' on board that boat.

Deklen Tue 1/13/2009 08:51PM
+8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


That does look like a great time. I always wondered about the greenery situation onboard...

dsawthestone starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 08:53PM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


wow that looks fucking awesome. wish i could afford trips like this!!

jasonrapp starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 09:51PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


very well written.. it was my first jamcruise and i was completely blown away.. i've already prebooked for next year.. and Deklen, don't worry about any situation.. the jamcruise people know who we are and what we like..

RambleOnShelbyRose starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 11:12PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


is this a long review or what? that is a good thing, in fact i'm not going to even look at most of it now so i have something to do when i'm bored

iwantstogetfunkedup Tue 1/13/2009 11:18PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great review! I got a real sense of being there. Check out iclips.net for some sets from this. They already posted a killer set by ALO.

buckeyedye starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 11:29PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i want this. that intro paragraph made me drool.

johnnyblaze36 Wed 1/14/2009 06:11AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This does indeed look like a great time. It would have been nice to at least get one sentence on Martin Sexton though other than a name mention. He's pretty much the greatest guy on that boat alongside Les and Karl D of course.

CircleLimit starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 06:12AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Very well done review, Mr. Bavosa. Thanks for all of the details. I appreciated the Lettuce recognition, those guys deserve it (particularly Deitch, who is NASTY!). Nice pics too.

I, too, always wondered how harsh Customs and security is on these excursions.

Conjugal Burning starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 06:45AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Conjugal Burning

we now know what Murph does on his time off. Damn this looked like fun. Nice Bobby shorts Stasik

jencat Wed 1/14/2009 07:47AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

you said it. it was all that and more! best vacation ever!

procon4 starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 08:10AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Marco is now officially in Garage a Trois, so it's not Garage a Benevento anymore. And I think that's Ben Ellman from Galactic, not Jeff Coffin.

This was the one of the most amazing things I've ever done in my life. Get on this boat.

CoreyBauer Wed 1/14/2009 08:12AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

yeah shit looks epic. but super costly.

Its funny .. you look at the pictures of the people there... and might I say they are look kinda "high class".. (or just not the usual kids that would flock to something like this). I guess some people might like that... but it seems like kinda a disconnect from what alot of these musicians are used too. I know that I go to a show alot not only to hear some good music... but also for the scene (common friends, acquaintances, etc). Having never been I can not say.. but I wonder if this has that?

Treetophigh Wed 1/14/2009 08:28AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


does anyone ever fall/jump off

onebigicygnar starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 08:29AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great review. Great pictures. Looks like such a good time.

phishr82 starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 08:36AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i was talking with a friend who was onboard. she said everyone was awesome, good vibes all around. i'm pretty sure the pricetage does indeed eliminate some of the shadier people, which to me is pretty much OK. someday i'll make it, someday...

King Rhino starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 08:46AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This past week's Jam Cruise off the hook. Seriously raised the bar for any future cruises because the quality of musicianship was unreal.

People will be talking about the Galactic set in the theater for years to come.

Jhudson844 starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 08:50AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Good stuff B! Great seeing you on the boat as always...can't wait for next year!

Barefootpro Wed 1/14/2009 08:59AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

There is no disconnect between the scene on the boat and the scene in general. Most people, like me, make a choice save all year to go. There is no "better than" vibe on board -- quite the contrary -- a recognition that it too some real energy to get there for most people. Also, there are many passangers in board who work somehow in the community and choose to make this their vacation! And what a wonderful vacation it is!

Krondon Wed 1/14/2009 09:21AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I agree Barefootpro there is no disconnect between the scene on the boat and the scene in general. It is certainly not your typical festival, but i think that is one of the reasons people attend Jamcruise. That, and the fact that you get to kick it for a week in the tropics with some of the most incredible musical talent on the "scene" today.

OysterDead starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 09:26AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Love the pics...Skerik looked like he was making progress with his bar lady.

alw7 starstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 09:40AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This was my first,but definitley not my last(already pre-booked). The vibe is simply thru the roof.A little pricey,but if you think about it,you get a weeks lodging,in a bed not a tent,all meals,hot showers,CLEAN bathrooms everywhere,and close proximity from one venue to the next.And that's not including all the music. The scene is absolutley present,with the usual amount of drinking and carrying on,but very few rude or overly fucked up people. And where else do you get to not only talk to your friends about how hot a set was,but also compliment the musicians who just rocked your face. By Tuesday I ran out of adjectives to describe how much fun it was.Not perfect,but about as close as you'll get.

moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 10:15AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Next year, dammit! NEXT YEAR! Great review, sweet pics.

onelovinsun starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 10:36AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


That intro paragraph summarized it perfectly! What a friggin awesome TRIP!! Great article - THANKS!

shackca starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 10:58AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


My 4th Jam Cruise - finally got my Repeat Offender Robes!! Musically this was the best Jam Cruise ever. Operationally, things need to be fixed. Hope that JC gets smaller next yr - extra 1K - made most areas a bit tighter - esp the Jam Room. But great time, I'm a lifer. Seeya next yr

shackca Wed 1/14/2009 11:02AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


By the way its really not that costly. I get the cheapist room as I'm hardly ever in there, just to pass out after raging / partying hard each night - so after paying early to get discount my room ends up costing about $1150 each. For 5 nights, all food, lodging and music its a hell of a deal - esp if you consider what you would pay if you went to Hawaii or Jamaica for a week. Also, ya, the price keeps the crazy f-cked up wookies away - no riff raff - yayyyyyy

ScIFreak Wed 1/14/2009 11:28AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Wookies make it happen braH! And they take the heat off me at festies

jambandfan starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 11:36AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

agreed shack. jamcruise is some life changing, soul awakening, spirit moving, nonstop music driven madness. yes, operationally things kinda went kaput this year, but the musicianship, the friendships, the energy, and the long lasting afterglow (which i still am enjoying) makes this trip one for the ages. galactic's theatre set was the sickest shit i might have ever seen. new deal on the pool deck.. brock's solo shows.. lettuce.. galactic.. les.. every year i am amazed at how damn sick this festival is. this year did not disappoint. thanks to everyone involved... i hold a special place for each and every one of you and can't wait to boogey down with ya'll again next year!

henahan Wed 1/14/2009 11:36AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

OK, first of all, great review. You took what is basically something that is impossible to put into words and you made a valiant effort at it. After I saw the write-up on Jamcruise last year on this very site, I immediately pre-booked. BEST DECISION EVER. I've been seeing shows for close to twenty years. Been all over the world. This is unlike anything that I have ever seen before. This is professional partying at its finest. I spent about $4,000 between me and my lady, but that includes airfare, which was $1,000 of it, and two nights of lodging, all drinks, and food. We stayed as fucked up as we possibly could stand the entire time and barely slept at all. It simply doesn't get any better. If you can look at these pictures and even get a small hint of what really goes down (and you can't by the way) and it looks like you belong, start counting your pennies today. But, if you can't hold your own with the big boys for five straight days, then don't even waste your time. UNFUCKINGBELIEVEABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CoreyBauer Wed 1/14/2009 12:02PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

see... thats kinda my point; "no wookies" .. it is people with that attitude that board this ship.

phishr82 Wed 1/14/2009 12:16PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


^^^ you'd rather have shady kids selling balloons and passed out in piles of puke from too much molly and booze while their dogs run around wild? THOSE are the kinda kids who give the scene a bad name.

CoreyBauer Wed 1/14/2009 12:38PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

give what a bad name? the scene? to outsiders maybe ... but not peeps that go all the time... part of it.

I dunno .... but those are the kinda kinda kids that live for the music... instead of going to work all day / all year... so they can see music for a week ... they go to every show everyday/everywhere. Living on the road... outside the box.... something commendable about that. (and this is coming from someone who works all day everyday... now )

See i might argue that it is you'll that give the scene a bad name. you that are raggin on some peeps for their perosnal choice of what to do with themselves (drugs, dogs, etc) .. to a forum where they cannot defend themselves. Although some are misguided young folk.... they generally are the most kind hearted peeps around. Something the scene is losing.

phishr82 Wed 1/14/2009 12:53PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


you do have a point Corey. i'm just playin devils advocate here with ya, but sometimes running into all the "wookies" and super fucked-up people kinda takes away from the positive experience. i'm not looking down my nose or anything, i'm just a working fool like most of us, but i'm not going to give someone props for not being able to keep themselves under control. i could keep going, but it doesnt really matter. i probably should pretend to get some work done myself!

johnnygoff starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 12:59PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


great review! excellent review! that took some work and well worth the Effort Bavosa! also, as always Base Photogs- great shots!

I would love to attend this, but even with the pricetag many of you claim as 'affordable' that keep sketchiness away...it also unfort., keeps hard-workin' music lovers like me away. I would love to go and am sure the cruise is worth every penny!, but If I start now to save for '10, then I'm sure I can set sail....

Krondon Wed 1/14/2009 02:38PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Corey, anybody can board the ship, it does not matter if you have dreds,or anything else.The same kids that "live outside the box" and "go to every show everyday/everywhere" can certainly attend JC if they choose.This is a cruise ship, not a 75 acre field in the middle of nowhere where there are just about no rules(I have not been on JC but the staff seems pretty lax as well). Just because there are less wooks doesn't mean the "scene" is not alive. maybe I just dont understand what your getting at

RAMBLER114 Wed 1/14/2009 02:46PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

jam cruise is the greatest wildest party ever! best music best people. second year in a row and ill never miss another. if your debating if its worth it just stop right now and prebook...trust me! see everyone next year!

henahan Wed 1/14/2009 02:58PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Uh, Corey, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about here and I'm not trying to sound like some sanctimonius asshole or anything. I have no problem with people who travel constantly and see as many shows as they want. They are welcome to go on Jamcruise, too. There are plenty of wooks (if that is what you want to call dreaded up kids) on jamcruise, but they have their shit together enough to save up and go because the music is what matters the most to them. But, let's be realistic here. The vast majority of those people, or "wooks" if you will, in our "scene" are there for the drugs and the music just happens to be a part of it. City to city and junked out the whole way. Same way it has been for three decades now. Are there exceptions? Sure. But, be realistic in your arguments please. Quit glorifying life on the road as a drugged out junkie. Are there cool things that happen to them along the way? Sure. Is there a certain sense of community? Sure. But, more often than the not, when the money and drugs thins out, so does the love. I've seen it myself on tour for the last sixteen years. Just be realistic please. Oh yeah, and gho on Jamcruise. It honestly isn't that hard to save two hundred dollars a month if you really want to go. Peace.

CoreyBauer Wed 1/14/2009 03:23PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

? don't know how you'll conjour up these things that i supposedly said. please read the whole comments section to understand (not just my post in response to another)

my whole point is that if you live outside the box of normal society.. (which is going to work everyday to make the $$ for things as expensive as JC).... you don't have the money to do this. Tour kids don't work the 9 to 5 ... thus can't save 200 a month.... thus can't go. So the majority of people you see at certain shows will never be able to go to such an event as JC.

Do you know what you're talking about?

And PS. If you would like to have a philosophical conversation . Lets do it:

I am not glorying life on the road as a drugged out junkie. (?) I am glorying life on the road in general. If you think it is a happier life working the 9-5 behind your desk.... you're are either stupid or brainwashed by the capitalistic society that you live in. Hope that one week of Jam cruise was fun.... lol.. cus you got 51 weeks of torture to save up for it.

NatiMatty starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 03:42PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Un Belize able!!!!

Cruise number 2 under my belt....and i will not stop going until the end of time!

gamecat starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 03:58PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I still don't know how to describe Jamcruise.

I lost my Jamcruise virginity this year.

But like Les said on the first night:

"There is no such thing as a Jamcruise virgin, just a Non-veteran!"

Ain't that the truth,...can't wait till next year.

I will never look at a festival the same way.

What an experience, fantastic people and fantastic music.

Oh yeah,...and the greatest venue EVER.

I had to keep looking over board to remember I was in the middle of the ocean. Some of the nastiest funk music I've ever heard.

Lettuce kicked my ass on the pool deck. What a band.

See you all on the ship next year.

How long do we have? :)

PooDolla Wed 1/14/2009 04:04PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



gamecat starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 04:07PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


And I have to agree with Galactic's Theater set.

The best Galactic set I've ever heard.

Glad I got the CrusieTune of it.

Lettuce & Galactic almost sank the boat!

CoreyBauer Wed 1/14/2009 04:32PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

just reading that again .. and wow that looks amazing. what was up with the nershi, emmitt, Moseley collaboration. Was it just in emmitt nershi band.. or did they jam besides? sipe on drums... damn..definitely jealous.

tDB get me off starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 04:33PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

tDB get me off

great review. wish i had the means to get on board for this funkfest. looks like one hell of a time. hope this thing keeps going for a few more years and maybe i can make it happen. cheers!

CoreyBauer Wed 1/14/2009 04:35PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

might just have to come next year .... thanks for the review

staetia starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 04:56PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


more jealous than ever!

brooklynite84 Wed 1/14/2009 05:55PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This thing seems like it's been getting better and better every year and every year I just read about it:( If I could just not go to festivals inland in the states and save up to go on this cruise or maybe even Jam In The Dam, that would be awesome, but I guess it'll just have to stay a dream, especially with the Dead and Phish coming back.

pornofunk starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 06:39PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


emmit/nershi, dumpfunk, mmw, les - WOWZERZ! fuck man sittin broke at my comp when this shits goin down is str8 fuckin depressing, one day ill have the money to dance till tomorrow

kgies Wed 1/14/2009 06:42PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I have a few "broke" friends who save up all year to pay for the cruise...they don't go to other festivals, they don't even go out that much - and jam cruise IS their ultimate vacation. I love it b/c there is nothing else that lasts only 5 days and gives me the total sense of satisfaction as going on this boat...is it for everybody - no. But its for me!~

- and my friend (virgin cruiser married to a 5 year cruiser) said it best this year - Jam Cruise is like burning man, you can try to describe it to people, but you will never truly capture the essence. You have to experience it because there is nothing else in the world like it - no dead or phish show will even come close!

As far as the scene on jam cruse - what happens on the boat, stays on the boat - so if you wanna know, you gotta go!

and no, nobody has fallen off, and knock on wood, nobody ever will!!

six year cruiser and still going strong - it only gets better folks!!!

schwarzcat Wed 1/14/2009 06:45PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Don't go. it is terrible. Just kidding. It's my favorite time of my year very yar. I've been four times and I think this was my favorite musically. The galactic set in the theater was maybe the best show i've seen on jamcruise which is a bold statement. I disagree w/ Broc's set being the best thing on Day two but to each their own. That is the greatest thing about jamcruise is there is so much to do and see every day. it is often hard to choose so you just see some of each.

PHISHINAGAIN starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 06:55PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great cruise. only thing to work on is the food. The music was right....Lettuce and Dumpstaphunk, the new deal---banging--Les ruled. I would recomend the cruise to anyone and I mean anyone. The jamroom was tight...Hope to be on next year....

OBPhunkE Wed 1/14/2009 06:57PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Hell YAH! As with so many of you out there, every year I get chills reading this review. Honestly the one jambase review I look forward to every year! This year looks like and absolute heat seeking missile! Right on henehan and phishr82, and I guess corey, but that was some of the most thought provoking honest rapport between you folks that i've seen. Compared to the tour comments that turn into fist fights! touche

johnes82 starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 09:01PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This was my first year on Jam Cruise and this was the greatest musical experience I have ever had. For the first 2 days I was in literal shock over the insaneness of this cruise. Non-stop partying, amazing performances in the coolest, most badass venues; amazing sound, and hanging out with the band members everywhere. The people are the coolest on earth, true music lovers all the way; respectful and passionate. There is an enormous sense of community throughout the week. This trip is one nonstop party where you sleep when you're dead and its nothing but positive vibes, good laughs, and great music.

Johnny Thumps starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 10:04PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Johnny Thumps

bavosa, you're gettin' good. fantastic article and pics, gave me chills. can't wait to get back on that boat w/ all a y'all freaky people.

DubSaw starstarstarstarstar Wed 1/14/2009 10:26PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


awesome ! one year i will go...

can anyone tell me the average amount of $ spent in total for their trip???????

PrinceofDANKNESS Thu 1/15/2009 02:20AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Just imagine if Jerry was still alive for something like this....>HOLY SHIT!!! oh well that fat bastard has a ship of fools in heaven anytime he wants

cstrong starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/15/2009 07:24AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nice job trying to describe something that can't be described. Expect to spend $1500 to $2000 per person, not including travel to the boat. It is worth EVERY penny. If you have never gone, book now, because the veterans get preferential bookings. Bring your party pants, there are not many amateurs on the boat.

By the way, Jerry is one of the main reasons that Jam Cruise even exists!


snausages Thu 1/15/2009 08:28AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


damn :'(

i'm with you tourfan. Next year is a friggin MUST!

mbh1013 Thu 1/15/2009 12:24PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Not sure if this was mentioned in any of the above comments, but the photo listed as Jeff Coffin, Big Sam and Trombone Shorty is actually Ben Ellman, Big Sam and Trombone SHorty. Ben is the sax palyer in Galactic and was on the boat jeff Coffin, is Jeff Coffin and was not on the boat this year!

funkykeys starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/15/2009 03:05PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

So amazing this year !! This is the best time I'v had in my life ....yea I said it ! I miss being on the boat :( ...can't wait until next year. Jam Cruise for Life !

sardonical starstarstarstar Thu 1/15/2009 06:54PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This was my fourth Jam Cruise and it kicks ass every time. This year was Epic. No one really has mentioned the first PBS set in the Savanah lounge. They fucking funked our faces off! As far as Jam Cruise beeing expensive it is, but it is worth every penny. I personaly like the fact that it filters out some of the vermin that are scurrying around other festies and lots. It is nice being at a fest and not having to worry that much about someone jacking your shit while at a show. Which seems to be a common occurence these days, myself having been a victim. But alas, even on Jam Cruise there have been several cases of theft and shaddiness. It sad that in such a heavenly place that there are still some assholes who can't just be cool.

alw7 starstarstar Fri 1/16/2009 05:56AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

see... thats kinda my point; "no wookies" .. it is people with that attitude that board this ship

^^^ you'd rather have shady kids selling balloons and passed out in piles of puke from too much molly and booze while their dogs run around wild? THOSE are the kinda kids who give the scene a bad name.

So Corey,you seem like a reasonable person,but I'll guess you're too young or just don't remember that these are the kind of people,showing up for the party,not the show,that got the Grateful Dead banned from many venues in the eighties and ninties. I'm all for a party,dance and party and wave your hands in the air,just don't punch me in the face doing it. Respect me and yourself. Since you say you're not one of them,get your ass on the boat.

sardonical Fri 1/16/2009 09:53AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Amen to that! And it wasn't just the Dead who had troubles.

bigwindsale starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/16/2009 11:16AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Jam Cruise 7 was by far the greatest Jam Cruise of all time!! So nice to see someone write an article that actually reflects the happenings on the boat and an article written by someone who clearly knows what he/she is talking about!! So refreshing after the horrid, amateur Rothbury review (YUCK).

bigwindsale starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/16/2009 11:25AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
spiderdonkey starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/20/2009 11:28AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Wow! Yeah this party has been on my wish list for a few years now and the line-up this year has broke down the walls. Why does it matter who shows up to this thing as long as everyone has fun and respects each other. I mean really who cares if your a wookie or a credit card hippy as long as your good to the people around you. I will start saving for this maddness next month and hopefully I can join all you crazy people next year!!!

cUB_nAsTY starstarstarstarstar Tue 1/20/2009 12:12PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


wow, i just wish they didnt always go down so close to the semester beginning

DantheProducer starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/23/2009 07:38AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I was on the first cruise and it was incredible, small, old boat, but the vibe was great. Was on 5 and it rocked, but JC7 really was the best all around music experience of my life. The shows were unreal and unpredictable. I only wish it would all slow down so I could take in more....at 48 its hard to rock and drink for 15 hours at a time! Peace and love to all I met on board. Dan

ash25 starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/23/2009 08:15AM
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Hands down the best 5 days of my life! first time on the boat and hopefully wont miss another one. No words can really explain how amazing Jam Cruise is! Peace, Ashley

cavemandan Sat 1/31/2009 10:16AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

great written article! on one of best events on planet... glad the energy was spread into the sea where they need more music!