Jam Cruise 17 Highlights: Only Love – Day 4


Jam Cruise not only gives music fans a chance to assemble with their friends to enjoy a peak experience for six days, but it allows musicians to spend time with their contemporaries unlike most festivals in which the artists are in-and-out. Many musicians have forged lasting friendships on the boat, which pays dividends for cruisers who get to see outstanding collaborations all week long. Friday was day four aboard the NCL Jade. A port stop in Cozumel, Mexico was followed by one memorable set after another. Here’s just some of the highlights from day four:

Zach Gill Debuts A Song For His Daughter

ALO and Jack Johnson multi-instrumentalist Zach Gill had the honors of performing a solo set in the atrium, a beautiful part of the boat featuring a grand piano. Zach mixed songs from his 2017 solo album Life In The Multiverse with ALO classics and a handful of covers. He dusted off his accordion for a medley of Aha’s “Take On Me” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. The rest of ALO and Everyone Orchestra conductor/percussionist Matt Butler lent a hand on a gorgeous “Walls Of Jericho” and a medley of the Cheers theme song, Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles. Gill ended his set with a new song he wrote in tribute to his daughter Jaden turning 18. It contained lyrics about Jaden getting her medical card and watching Flight Of The Conchords and a poignant section with the advice “love is the answer.” It was a heartwarming moment.


A Good Time With Galactic

Galactic has a perfect attendance record on Jam Cruise. The New Orleans funk outfit showed why with their phenomenal Pool Deck set on Friday. Guests included Big Sam, Mike Dillon, Roosevelt Collier and a horn section. They also brought out Fruition’s Mimi Naja, Jay Cobb Anderson and Kellen Asebroek for Erica Falls-led renditions of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and “No Diggity” by Blackstreet. Falls also fronted the group on Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and a crowd-pleasing finale of “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5.

Sister Sparrow Goes Guest-Heavy

The members of Sister Sparrow have been having the time of their lives aboard Jam Cruise and their happiness came through in the music on Friday night in the theater. Sister Sparrow showed off their soulful originals and then ended their set with otherworldly collaborations. First, guitarist Brandon “Taz” Niederauer tore up a frenetic guitar solo during a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood.” Then, The Motet vocalist Lyle Divinsky and Turkuaz singer Sammi Garett backed up Sister Sparrow’s outstanding frontwoman Arleigh Kincheloe on three covers done Aretha style: Ben E. King’s “Don’t Play That Song,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and The Band’s “The Weight.”


All-Star Tribute To The Band

Speaking of The Band, Jam Cruise organizers tapped keyboardist Chris Spies to put together a tribute to the legendary act. In a rare misstep, the set took place in the small Bliss Lounge, which became so crowded it was hard to move. Jam Cruisers love The Band and ate up every moment of the wonderful performance. Spies, Aaron Wilkinson (Honey Island Swamp Band), Tori Pater and Joe Marcinek served as the house band and were on stage for most of the set. Wilkinson was the perfect guy to sing Levon Helm vocals and Pater runs a yearly tribute to The Band in Denver, so the music was spot-on. Highlights included Vince Herman leading “Rag Mama Rag,” Kim Dawson and Jennifer Hartswick taking part in a “The Weight” featuring Big Gigantic’s Jeremy Salken on drums, Galactic lending a hand on “Ophelia” and George Porter Jr. laying down the bottom end on a pair of tunes. Guitarist Peter Stelling, bassist Chris Chew, drummers Ezra Lipp and Michelangelo Carruba and a horn section mixing members of Turkuaz and Sister Sparrow were among other guests during one of the best sets of the trip thus far.

Dirty TAUK

(Mostly) instrumental prog-funk act TAUK closed out the Pool Deck on Friday with a master class in dynamics. The quartet presented their most danceable material and welcomed a number of horn players over the course of the set including Andy Frasco & The U.N.’s Ernie Chang and The Motet’s Parris Fleming. Lyle Divinsky and his Motet band mate Ryan Jalbert teamed with TAUK for a wild rendition of Prince’s “Head” that hit the spot. Ryan stuck around for more “Jalbert-On-Jalbert Love” as TAUK’s guitarist is named Matt Jalbert.

The Nth Power Covers Nirvana & Earth Wind And Fire

The Nth Power were another band that embraced the collaborative spirit of Jam Cruise. Earlier on the trip they presented a tribute to Bob Marley filled with guests and on Friday the trio of guitarist Nick Cassarino, drummer Nikki Glaspie and bassist Nate Edgar brought out more of their friends. A tribute to Nirvana featuring Skerik singing “Breed” and “Scentless Apprentice” was a sight to behold. Glaspie crushed her drum kit so hard a new snare was swapped in. The Nth Power also welcomed vocalist Jennifer Hartswick, Taz, keyboardists Joey Porter of The Motet and Star Kitchen’s Rob Marscher as well as Skerik for a take on Earth Wind & Fire classic “Shining Star.” Yet it was the Nth Power original “Only Love” featuring Marscher and Hartswick was my top moment of the set thanks to the passionate delivery by the band and their guests.


Elsewhere, Toubab Krewe played the sail away set with help from Skerik, Roosevelt Collier and more; The Sweet Lillies mixed beautiful originals with hip-hop covers; Andy Frasco & The U.N. displayed a somewhat more serious style by providing musical accompaniment for a yoga class; Big Sam hosted the Jam Room; Leftover Salmon wore wigs for a Knhruangbin impression as Vince Herman emulated Laura Lee’s sultry swaying; Spafford dove into deep jams and covered Smash Mouth’s “Walking On The Sun” and Drew Sayers gave a clinic in reggae during his DJ set. Jam Cruise continues on Saturday and Sunday before returning to Miami on Monday. Follow JamBase in Instagram for live reports and stay tuned next week for a report on the final two days of music.