Jam Cruise 15 Starts Today: 10 Things To Watch

Today the 15th installment of Jam Cruise sets sail from Miami featuring a bevy of musical acts from all corners of the jam scene. For me, Jam Cruise 15 will be my eighth time partaking in the non-stop musical adventure and I couldn’t be more excited. Each year I walk off the boat with a huge smile ready to take on the world.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts from the Norwegian Pearl with daily Jam Cruise Journals, as long as the internet cooperates, beginning on Saturday. As a preview, I’ve put together a list of 10 performances/aspects of the trip I have my eyes on ahead of embarkation.

1. New Boat/Cruise Line

Ever since my first Jam Cruise back in 2010, the event has been held on ships from the MSC cruise line. This time around, Jam Cruise organizers have moved the floating live music festival to the NCL cruise line. It will be interesting to see how the trip translates to its new home aboard the Norwegian Pearl.

2. Rare Performances From The Original Meters

Legendary New Orleans band The Meters influenced many of the bands that have played Jam Cruise. While members of the group have performed on the boat in the past, Jam Cruise 15 will be the first to feature the original lineup of guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bassist George Porter Jr. drummer Zigaboo Modeliste and keyboardist Art Neville. Performances from The Original Meters have been few and far between over the past decade or so and we’ll get to see two sets from the funk masters aboard Jam Cruise.

3. The Return Of The Benevento/Russo Duo

Outside of a stealth show a few weeks back, drummer Joe Russo and keyboardist Marco Benevento haven’t performed under the Benevento/Russo Duo moniker since 2010. Jam Cruise hosts a rare set from the Joe Russo’s Almost Dead band mates, which I expect to be heavy on classics from their early ’00s heyday. Joe has been sharing clips showing his preparation for the past few months and I can’t wait for the pair to return to the stage on Saturday night.

[Video captured by Cleantones]

4. moe. Plays The Boat

Upstate New York jam-rockers moe. last played Jam Cruise in 2013 and not only delivered two outstanding performances, but also embraced the “anything can happen” spirit of the trip by playing a surprise acoustic set. moe. is a great fit for Jam Cruise and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for their two scheduled sets and hopefully more.

[Video captured by Steve Pearl]

5. Frequinox Performs Non-Jazz Fest Gig

After hearing raves about Frequinox’s annual performances in New Orleans during Jazz Fest, I can’t wait to see this true supergroup with my own eyes and ears. The five-piece features the ridiculous lineup of keyboardist Robert Walter, drummer Stanton Moore, guitarist Will Bernard, bassist Rob Mercurio and saxophonist Donald Harrison. They usually bring out special guests too and there’s plenty to choose from aboard Jam Cruise.

[Video captured by TheFunkItBlog]

6. The Motet Shows Off New Singer

It’s been just about a year since Colorado funk revivalists The Motet revamped their lineup. Vocalist Lyle Divinsky and saxophonist Drew Sayers have been winning raves for what they bring to The Motet table. Now that the group has had plenty of time to gel, I look forward to two full sets from The Motet.

7. Percy Hill Color In Bloom Lineup

I literally wore out my copy of Percy Hill’s Color In Bloom after it came out. The New Hampshire jam act put together one of the best albums in jamband history and recently reunited the lineup from that era for a handful of shows. However all of those performances took place in New Hampshire and Vermont. I’m excited for a chance to see the Color In Bloom lineup in action and for keyboardist Nate Wilson’s solo piano set.

8. JoJo Hermann Plays Rare Solo Set

Speaking of solo piano sets, Widespread Panic keyboardist JoJo Hermann will play one on the final night of Jam Cruise 15. I’m pumped to see the rare solo performance from JoJo and to check out his JoJo’s Slim Wednesday band.

[Video captured by Coloartist]

9. Kamasi Washington Hosts Jazz Lounge

One new element added to Jam Cruise in recent years is the Jazz Lounge. Organizers transform a room on the ship into a floating jazz lounge, complete with cocktails, smooth grooves and old school speakeasy vibes. On Saturday night saxophonist Kamasi Washington will be the host of the Jazz Lounge and it should be the perfect way to see the Kendrick Lamar collaborator/man behind The Epic in person.

10. Who Will Perform At The Spot?

Each year troubadour Nathan Moore hosts late night acoustic jam/picking sessions featuring a number of his musical friends. Nathan usually spends the first night of the trip finding the perfect place for these sessions and then it’s up to cruisers to figure out where “The Spot” is. We’ll see which Jam Cruise 15 musicians wind up visiting “The Spot” at some point during the cruise, but it’s likely Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz, The Shook Twins and Steve Kimock will participate as they have in the past.

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