Jam Cruise 8 | 01.03.10 - 01.08.10

Other Jam Cruise 8 MVPs

Ivan Neville & Brock Butler :: Jam Cruise 8 by Flanigan
-Hot Buttered Rum for showing that twang can be modernized, and for hosting a really informative, jovial pickin' workshop.

-Sexual Chocolate, the Coming To America inspired cruise ship alter-ego to Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, particularly for their utterly sincere, flute dappled reading of Christopher Cross' "Sailing." Extra points for KDTU's pool deck set for the best version of "Elephants" they've ever played, helped along by ferocious guest turns by Skerik, Jeff Coffin, Robert Walter and Mike Dillon, amongst others.

-Steve Kimock Crazy Engine for creating a psychedelic version of instrumental yacht rock and prompting Melvin Seals into some of the most wiggling, turned on playing we've heard the big man do in some time. And Kimock was maybe the most relaxed and copacetic I've ever seen him be. Neat!

-Brock Butler for his official and unofficial deck sets and whacked yet perfect instinct for cover tunes. Dude makes folks smile BIG!

-Everyone who dressed up for "Funk 'n' Formal" and "Superheroes and Villains" theme nights. While I plain clothes it, the attention to detail and wild creativity of those who suited up made the cruise a brighter, more fabulous place.

-Cloud 9 Adventures, the producers of Jam Cruise, for donating the instruments for a whole brass band to a village in Jamaica. That's putting one's ideals into substantive practice!

-DJ Logic for consistently crushing it in the disco and making everyone feel like our record collections are inferior to his.

-Every chummy, woozy set on the acrylic piano in the main lobby. Sing-alongs with virtuoso accompaniment and some of the prettiest music of the fest.

-Josh Phillips Trio for idyllic afternoon chilling folk-pop that evoked fab ancestors like Paul Simon and the Everly Brothers. Solid harmonies are always to be celebrated.

-The Jam Room nights that Skerik and Ivan Neville hosted. Lord above, the range of sounds and fearless thrust of the WIDE FUCKING OPEN playing by all was staggering. Never seen anything quite like either night, and both nights were strikingly different from one another. Two master class musicians at the helm and so bloody much to work with coming on and off the stage for hours upon hours.

-JC organizer Annabel Lukins for her ceaselessly upbeat attitude and for keeping the cosmic tumblers of this great enterprise moving smoothly. Girl, you are a miracle and a half.

A Revelation

The Word :: Jam Cruise 8 by Vann
During George Porter's Super Jam I had a flash, which gelled into a true revelation during Everyone Orchestra. As much as people, critics especially, wax poetic about a time when Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis or Miles Davis and John Coltrane were new voices and playing in endless configurations that moved music forward at a speedy clip, I realized that the assortment of musicians with their cavernous range, monster sized talent, prejudice free POV and marathon runner stamina gathered on Jam Cruise 8 were the inheritors of these forefathers' legacy. While many could probably ring more money out of their careers by playing to a single sensibility, adhering to bebop structures, VH1 pop or uninspired Meters recreations, they've chosen a tougher path. And God bless them for it.

These shape-shifting men and women reveal the fluidity and basic cohesion of MUSIC, the archetypal thing stripped of adjectives and qualifiers. These musicians extend the line begun by Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Rodgers, The Beatles and countless other heavy-hitters. It's not to say one era is better than another, but the jam scene, as represented on Jam Cruise 8, is maybe the most wide-open bunch to come down the pike, able to meld field hollers with Fela, Bill Monroe with boogie woogie. They invite us to investigate and explore the whole spectrum of music, honoring the past by not making an artifact of it, and in turn creating music that will grab and inspire future generations.

It was a gift to watch them work for five days, and the feeling they stirred in me, combined with the overwhelming good will and kindness of most Jam Cruisers, is something I vowed to take home with me as I stepped off the ship last Friday. While the temptation is to lament the ending of this journey, I'd encourage anyone who was there to strive to bring some of the Jam Cruise world/vibe into daily life - be a touch more patient, a bit more ready to give away what you have, and get out there to your local clubs and see all of these hard working musicians when they come to town. No one is getting rich doing this kind of music, and the community that breathed and rollicked on the MSC Poesia is exactly who these musicians need to survive. The benefit is not only the positive feeling of helping great talents make a living at their craft but an almost lock-certain guarantee that these players will deliver grand music night after night wherever they roam.

Jam Cruise 9 Wish List

Jam Cruise 8 by Smith
1. The Roots. Their collaborative spirit and buoyant vibe would be a perfect match for JC, though a more budget minded choice could be the almost-as-lethal-live Asheville, NC crew GFE, who'd drop some quality hip hop flavor into the funky stewpot.

2. Poor Man's Whiskey performing Dark Side of the Moonshine on the pool deck. Like this year's Talking Heads set, I think folks would lose their widdle minds with PMW dressed in Wizard of Oz costumes and lasers firing overhead under a star filled sky. Plus the PMW boys would be extra tasty sauce for the Jam Room and other sit-ins.

3. Craig Finn - Artist At Large. The Hold Steady frontman would be a cool x-factor that'd bring some rough rock energy to the proceedings, as well as lending his earthy, dark tinged personality to the trip.

4. Nate Wilson Group. They've already produced a bong hit masterpiece, and are one of the best hard rock units going today. They jam but with teeth, and the former Assembly of Dust keyboardist-singer would be a welcome addition to the general pool of musicianship onboard, not to mention under-valued, supremely heady guitarist Adam Terrell.

5. I'm on the boat sharing this incredible, life-affirming experience again!

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