Words by: Dennis Cook | Images by: Chad Smith and Brad Hodge
Jam Cruise 10 :: 01.09.12-01.13.12 :: MSC Poesia :: Ft. Lauderdale, FL/Labadee, Haiti/Falmouth, Jamaica
Brad Hodge's photo gallery and our picks for MVP's here!
It’s a pretty big understatement to say there’s nothing quite like Jam Cruise, and the 2012 edition only cemented this impression in major ways. Beyond the mix of talent aboard – simply one of the best assemblages of pure players out there once again – there are myriad ephemeral elements that grow stronger and more pervasive each year. The community that gathers for the five days aboard the ship is becoming less temporary, infiltrating one another’s lives throughout the year, scheming and dreaming together, puzzling over how to make the next Jam Cruise even bolder, delightfully weirder and just plain MORE. Everywhere one wandered on the MSC Poesia this year signs of this oddly interwoven dynamic were apparent – gaggles of matching costumes, cryptic but charming door decorations, the nigh endless outbursts of hail ‘n’ good cheer that make progress from Point A to Point B a slow but happy crawl. And with a blast of volume and bright colors, great music awaited one at every turn, too, sweeping in from New Orleans, San Francisco, New York and many other hubs, combining in new ways and delivered with undisguised vigor - alive, fragrant, amazing.
You can pull out more of the specifics of this year’s voyage in our day-by-day entries (linked below), and we’ve also included our picks for MVPs on Jam Cruise 10. In many ways, the tale of this annual celebration of life and creativity is captured in the many, many grinning, utterly awake and engaged moments ensnared by our photographers Chad and Brad this year. Take a look and see if you don’t immediately want to pre-book a cabin for Jam Cruise 11. We know we wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Continue reading for Brad Hodge’s photo gallery and our MVP picks...
Jam Cruise 10 MVPs
1. Ivan Neville
The moment that cemented Ivan’s top position this year was when he glided in behind the Hammond B-3 next to Umphrey’s McGee’s Joel Cummins during The Everyone Orchestra set. Whether this was planned or not, the look in Neville’s eyes said he NEEDED to get his fingers into what they were cookin’ so Cummins better move over! Ivan proceeded to inject interesting accents and concise, tasty solos that made him standout even in that field of standouts. Each time Ivan hit the stage this year he brought an enthusiasm and openness that inspired his fellow musicians and revealed new dimensions to his capabilities, particularly as a singer – no one who witnessed his ragged-but-right “Wild Horses” with KDTU is gonna forget it. The high point of these new revelations was his stirring piano set in the atrium on Thursday night, where he displayed a sensitivity and wide open ear that exploded the myth of this cat being just a funk machine. It was a brave, fascinating ride with Neville this year, and he’s to be admired for opening himself up when it would be much easier to stick to what he’s known for.
2. Roosevelt Collier of The Lee Boys
The steel guitar champion jumped on the boat last minute and ended up playing in more sets than almost anyone else. His range was breathtaking, jumping seamlessly from soulful picking with Karl Denson to blues fury in the Jam Room to modern rock with Perpetual Groove, hitting on many points between and many outwards, too, in his iron man showing this year. His singing was also a delight, but it was his willingness to go ANYWHERE the music demanded that makes him so worthy of special mention. Such a fun, fearless musician!
3. Jessica Lurie
Lurie may not have the same level of name recognition as some on the boat, but she’s got all the ridiculous chops, dexterity and pure instinct one could want from a free-floating Artist-at-Large. Not every sit-in worked but hers always did. In each and every instance this saxophonist went toe-to-toe with whoever was around and always came out the other side more than holding her own, and better still, coaxing great stuff from her compatriots each time out.
4. Zach Deputy
While his solo sets were engaging, extremely enjoyable affairs, they only told a fraction of the story of Deputy’s relentless work ethic on Jam Cruise 10. Whenever the Jam Room would slow to a crawl, it was Zach who hopped up and kept things rolling, pulling a few more notes from his tired compatriots. His voice is a bit of a marvel – Motown would have snagged this boy in a heartbeat in their 60s/70s heyday. At the root of his work this week was a glee about his craft that made him game to try anything, content to not always soar but flapping his arms wildly in his best effort just the same. Bravo.
5. Nigel Hall
The man I call “Superstar” showed his metal as a support player during this cruise. While totally comfortable and deserving of spotlights, Hall seemed to appear like magic to elevate sets for a few moments – a harmony here, a bit of ivory magic there – and then vanish just as swiftly. He did a lot to bring out the best in his buddies, and never seemed to anxious to hog any glory for himself. The ability to make others better, to make sure they glow a bit more, is a real talent, and just one of MANY that Nigel possesses. Can’t wait for his solo debut, which he begins recording soon!
6. Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth
Each guest turn from Carbone made the music better. He hears things in other’s work that he’s able to articulate on his violin in a way that opens up songs for the artists who created them. His overflowing gusto to get involved poured out in a really enriching way both in Railroad’s fine sets and in his often wind-tossed-just-arrived sit-ins, especially his run from RRE’s pool deck set to the Everyone Orchestra, where Matt Butler quickly sent the others following Carbone down whatever rabbit hole he chose. Good plan of action - Carbone doesn’t steer one wrong.
7. Brock Butler
Both Perpetual Groove sets showed a band ready to evolve into a true 21st century act, and he could have rested on that accomplishment very easily. Instead, Brock continued his role of recent years as a living “Value Added” to Jam Cruise, holding intimate court at sunrise song circles, talking freely with strangers, and generally making himself a positive for the experience in whatever way he could. He’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of music paired with an even-handed love of different styles/genres that’s unique. Add in a voice that grows richer and more interesting with each year and a curiosity about juxtaposing elements others wouldn’t even consider putting together and you’ve got an artist who has rich with positives and no real negatives to speak of.
8. Nathan Moore
After just two cruises, Moore has become a fixture for part of the gathered tribe, a troubadour enabler who lifts us with a good tune - an "us" that includes his fellow musicians. We detailed some of the charms of "The Spot" he's established on deck outside the Jam Room, but it's worth saying that for a journey that takes one far from their home, Nathan gave us a safe spot to tag whenever one was at a loss for what to do in the night. Smiles and songs awaited one in his homemade nest, and while there were surprises aplenty, there was also comfort, acceptance and encouragement, and Moore was the glimmering locus, singing another one or just abiding Dude-like.
Best Facial Expressions While Playing: Robert Walter
New Discovery of Jam Cruise 10: Sue Orfield
Jam Cruise 10 Chronicles
JamBase | Seaworthy
Go See Live Music!