Jam Cruise 4 | The Walrus Is…


Photo by Dave Vann

Another year has begun and another Jam Cruise has ensued. Unfortunately, no one from JamBase Headquarters was able to make it on the boat this year but many of our friends were representing, big time. We thought it would be fun to share their favorite moments of Jam Cruise 4 with you and give you the opportunity to share yours with us! Thanks to all the contributors, who so skillfully put the pieces back together to share their experiences with us.

The pinnacle Jam Cruise moment – an almost unanimous choice by all – was at the end of "Hey Jude" as performed by the Brain Damaged Eggmen (Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner from The Disco Biscuits and Conspirator and Jake Cinninger, Kris Myers, and Brendan Bayliss from Umphrey’s McGee) plus 20 other guests on stage leading the entire pool deck in the final "nah nah nah nah" sing-along. I was not there and I have the chills right now. Here is a taste of that moment. (Video taken from Dave Weissman’s digi camera – thanks!)

"Hey Jude" – Photo by Michael Weintrob

Photo by Michael Weintrob

Mark Brown ("The man" – Jam Cruise, Cloud 9 Adventures)

1. Having a conversation with Michael Franti on the pool deck before their sail away show from the Grand Cayman islands and hearing him pretty much free styling our conversation into one of his songs. It was a perfect show with the sun shining as we sailed away. Also loved the shoutout/standing ovation he gave to the Clean Vibes crew who worked their asses off making sure all bottles and cans from the cruise were being recycled.

2. Speaking with Brownie this past summer about his idea of a special project for Jam Cruise and seeing the Brain Damaged Eggmen come to fruition late night on the pool stage. The Beatles set blew us all away. What a fun show of Beatles tunes done in an Umphrey’s McGee/Disco Biscuits style and followed by an awesome set of Floyd.

3. We received request from a few artists to have a stage setup specifically for spontaneous jams. This idea sounded like a natural especially with over 100 talented musicians onboard. This room turned out to be a huge hit and every time I walked in, amazing collaborations were taking place. Really one of kind shows sometimes with over 15 players on a tiny stage in front of intimate crowds loving every second of it.

Michael Franti & Spearhead – Photo by Dave Vann

Matt Hogan (SCI Fidelity)

Jake Cinninger, Jeff Coffin & Jen Hartswick
Photo by Dave Vann

1. Umphrey’s McGee – Pool Deck, Monday January 9th
If we’re taking everything that goes into a concert experience into account – music, location, vibe, friends, etc – this was quite possibly the greatest rock concert I’ve seen in my entire life! After spending a restful day in Jamaica (where an amazing beachside massage helped to recharge my batteries), the Umphrey’s boys took the energy of that entire ship and sent it into another stratosphere. These were two, flat-out DIRTY, rocking, poignant, funky-ass party sets from UM, and the "Tell Me Something Good" (Rufus feat. Chaka Kahn) cover with Jennifer Hartswick & Jeff Coffin was just unbelievable. The show kept rolling until around 4:30 a.m., and people were still thirsting for more!!! Umphrey’s Muthafuckin’ McGee!

2. The Jam Room
This was by FAR the best addition to Jam Cruise this year. A plethora of instruments were left in The Cabaret, where a revolving door of musicians were able to sit in to create spontaneous magical musical moments. If, at any point on the cruise there was a moment of down time, you could always say, "let’s see what’s going on in the Jam Room," where you would inevitably find some of the world’s greatest musicians tearing it up with each other. I can’t really remember many of the exact lineups, but hopefully some tapes will start circulating, so you can hear for yourselves. Steve Kimock, Eric Krasno, Ron Johnson, Brad Houser, Rodney Holmes, Adam Deitch, Jason Hann, Papa Mali, Karl D., Cheme, the guys from New Monsoon, and pretty much every other musician on the boat spent some time killing it in the Jam Room, which also turned out to be the latest- running party each night. Simply incredible!

3. Costa Maya, Mexico
It seemed unanimous that this was the best port Jam Cruise has ever visited. As the last stop on the trip, Costa Maya gave cruisers a chance to check out some beautiful Mayan ruins, and still have plenty of time to relax on a beautiful white sandy beach, which was in eyeshot of the MSC Lirica. Those of us who opted to lounge around the beach all day long were treated to a rainbow sighting over the boat, crystal blue waters, a super-relaxed vibe, and some of the BEST fish tacos & guacamole I’ve ever tasted! And oh yeah, the TEQUILA!!!

Ugggh … just 3? In that case, honorable mentions have to go to Brain Damaged Eggmen (WOW!!!), DJ Williams (he’s a guitarist, folks! Incredible sit-ins everywhere, and his solo acoustic set gave me chills!), Gomez, Digable Planets, Bassnectar (DJ Lorin) and the Blue Room Disco, Michael Franti & Spearhead, the steam room, sunrise, and the entire staff of Jam Cruise 4! To everyone who was on the boat, y’all rock, and I can’t wait to do it again next year!!!

Photo by Dave Vann

Photo by Dave Vann

Photo by Michael Weintrob

Photo by Dave Vann

Photo by Dave Vann

Bela Fleck & Jeff Coffin – Photo by Dave Vann

Annabel Lukins aka Julie McCoy (Jam Cruise)

1. Watching Bela Fleck and the Flecktones unite together on stage for the first time in 13 months. Jeff Coffin was a special guest last year on Jam Cruise 3… and he got it instantaneously. We started talking immediately afterwards and knew that getting the Flecktones on board would be an extremely powerful reunion. Not too much convincing was necessary and thus, a band I have been seeing for over 15 years played with comfort and gratitude on stage and I had something to do with it.

2. Joining the Brain Damaged Eggmen and many of my peers and favorite musicians on the pool deck stage for a universal sing-along of "Na Na Na" during "Hey Jude" to close their Beatles set. It was a pretty spectacular moment to be on stage, watching the crowd, looking to my left and right, knowing that this was one of the coolest collaborations that Jam Cruise musicians have ever created.

3. The Koala – I’m pretty little and when I give hugs, people like to pick me up, so I sometimes give straddle hugs and wrap my arms and legs around someone. I did that with Skerik at some point and he said, "We’ve got to take that on stage while I’m playing." Thus the Koala was named. I knew he was sitting in with Galactic during the last set on the cruise, so when I saw him beforehand, we decided the Koala had to be done. So I wrapped myself around him, he put his sax in his mouth and off we went on stage. I held on tight and he went into a STOOPID jam with Ben Ellman and Cheme. It was so surreal, I kept looking at Stanton who I was facing and cracking up, then Skerik turned me around so I was facing the crowd. At one point, he dipped me so that I was upside down looking at the crowd WHILE HE WAS PLAYING. It was a CLASSIC moment in my life and apparently a real hit…especially with Les Claypool who said it was one the funniest things he’s ever seen.

Keller Williams – Photo by Dave Vann

Marc Ross, Rock the Earth

1. Jamroom, late night 3 with Hollingsworth, Hann, Rodney Holmes, Jeff Coffin, Karl Denson, Brian Carey, Ben Bernstein, Jeff Miller, Ross Martin, Bo Carper, and others.

Michael Franti – Photo by Michael Weintrob

2. Michael Franti‘s private show for the Clean Vibes kids and crew in the trashroom. He didn’t have to do it, but after meeting the kids and hearing about why and how Rock the Earth brought them on-board, he generously took time out to play a midnight mini-set for them and the regular midnight shift crew in the hot and smelly trash room. Then, just before screening his movie, he made the Clean Vibes kids stand up and take a standing ovation. Rock the Earth, the organization behind the greening effort on Jam Cruise 4, insisted that Clean Vibes be brought on board when, just six weeks ago, it found out that there is no recycling on the MSC Lirica. Clean Vibes, a for-profit concert and festival clean-up company, generously donated their services for free and all 4 Clean Vibers paid their own way to get to and from Ft. Lauderdale. Jam Cruise donated a cabin for Clean Vibes and Rock the Earth’s Greening Jam Cruise Project.

3. Brain Damaged Eggman Project — The Beatles set was sick, sick, sick.

4. The Greening Project — Not only did we raise the bar by raising over $18,000 from the charity auction, but implemented a new educational aspect to Jam Cruise, hosting a private wine-tasting and panel discussion on "Social Change Through Music." The panel was led by RtE Executive Director, Marc Ross, and featured Victor Wooten and Future Man (Flecktones), Michael Travis (SCI), Matt Butler (Everyone Orchestra), Bo Carper and Jeff Miller (New Monsoon) and David Weissmann (Musical Earth).

Billy & Jilian Nershi with Everyone Orchestra – Photo by Dave Vann


Sunrise – Photo by Michael Weintrob

Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits, Conspirator, Brain Damaged Eggmen)

1. Performing "Hey Jude," which has been my life-long dream, and having 20 musicians from all different bands jump up on stage to sing the na-na part at the end.

2. Seeing the sun rise on the last night as we pulled into port while battling with Brendan Bayliss 8-Mile style on the back deck. We couldn’t seem to get Jennifer Hartswick to freestyle no matter how hard we tried, though. But suddenly out of nowhere, Magner jumps in and destroys us all. PS – we are all so white, and so awful at freestyling, most especially Brendan.

3. Victor. Jesus, is he insane.

Victor Wooten – Photo by Dave Vann

Jennifer Gass (First Time Jam Cruise Passenger)

1. HEY JUDE during the Brain Damaged Eggmen tribute to The Beatles. The entire pool deck, crew, and musicians on stage singing the "nah nah nah, nana nah nah’s" with everyone being in the same moment and capturing exactly what the spirit of Jam Cruise is all about.

2. Walking through the Jam Room in the wee hours of the morning and witnessing the magic of musicians just coming together and making music happen. My personal highlight, stumbling upon Jennifer Hartswick singing a 20 minute soulful version of "Stand by Me."

3. Days at Sea. No land in sight, plenty of sunshine, and music to dance your ass off too from 11 a.m. – 8 a.m. Does it get any better than that?!?!

Honkytonk Homeslice – Photo by Dave Vann

Jake Cinninger (Umphrey’s McGee)

1. Rodney Holmes’ transparent poly-rhythms.
2. Claypool’s big simplicity.
3. Give it up for the Lee boys.

Brain Damaged Eggmen – Photo by Dave Vann

Steve Kimock – Photo by Dave Vann

Captain Toast

1. Michael Franti’s pool deck set on day four was off the hook. With our biggest crowd in one place on the ship yet, all our flags were flying and the sun broke thru the clouds as the Lirica weighed anchor in the Grand Caymans and set sail for Costa Maya, Mexico.

2. The Steve Kimock Band with very special guest pedal steel player Buddy Cage of the New Riders of the Purple Sage fame, Buddy sat in for most of the set in the Broadway Theatre, at one point Steve and Buddy performed a dueling steel guitar jam as they faced each other – steel to steel!!!

Umphrey’s McGee – Photo by Michael Weintrob

Critters Buggin – Photo by Dave Vann

Papa Mali – Photo by Dave Vann

Les Claypool

Karl Denson
Photos by Weintrob

Michael Kang – Photo by Weintrob

Mass Wedding – Photo by Dave Vann

Seth Weiner (Shimon Presents)

1. Brain Damaged Eggmen – They gave everyone the chills with their Beatles/Floyd covers. Most special when they went into "Hey Jude" and brought a bunch of people on stage to join in. It was one of those very special moments that felt just oh so good!

2. Wholy CRAPs – There was a bunch of us on the one craps table on board, the table was HOT, we had it going for over four hours. It was insane and a lot of fun.

3. The Mass Wedding – This was really cool. On the first day at sea we held a Mass Wedding for all those who wanted to get married on board Jam Cruise. It wasn’t an official wedding, but none the less it was great. Over ten couples got married by Toast and the Father of the ship. Talk about good energy! Certainly a highlight for many.

Antibalas – Photo by Dave Vann

Adam Haft (New Monsoon manager)

1. The Jam Room – seeing all types of combos of musicians jamming with each other at all times of night.

2. Steve Kimock sitting in with New Monsoon for the band’s entire final performance on the boat, as well as Jason Hann and Reggie Watts sitting in.

3. Getting to know so many other musicians and managers.

Everyone Orchestra – Photo by Dave Vann

Matt Butler (Everyone Orchestra)

1. During the first Everyone Orchestra performance Michael Travis coaxed Rodney Holmes to finish the EO set on the kit and mid set they switched the kit from a lefty kit to a righty kit, much to the sound person’s chagrin. Then the raffle winner guest conductor got ready to start and Rodney busted into a 5/4 groove. Burton, the guest conductor’s jaw dropped. The 5/4 was too much! It all worked out though…

2. 5 a.m. jam room on Tuesday night with Reggie Watts, Steve Kimock and the rest of us. Um, I’ve never heard anything quite like this before. I think Reggie had the biggest smile of all.

3. Late night Galactic on the Pool deck on the last night. The wind was swirling the smoke from the smoke machine, the air was warm and misty – and Stanton was hitting the FUCK out of his drums. This moment embodied the surrealness and beauty of the whole jam cruise experience for me.

Cheme & Skerik with Galactic – Photo by Dave Vann

Jamie Janover (Zilla)

1. The Jam Stage.
2. The Jam Stage.
3. The Jam Stage.

Jamie Janover and the Everyone Orchestra – Photo by Dave Vann

Jeff Miller (guitarist, New Monsoon)

1. Getting to perform three sets… many great moments within… what an honor!
2. Jamming with Karl D, Rodney Holmes, Kyle Hollingsworth, Reed Mathis, etc.. in an organic jam in the jamroom.
3. Singing in the chorus of "Hey Jude" w/BDEM.

New Monsoon – Photo by Dave Vann

Molly McGee, Winner of Guest Conductor for Everyone Orchestra – Photo by Dave Vann

Dave Weissman (Musical Earth, DSO)

1. The Everyone Orchestra shows. Allowing two audience members to come up and conduct really brought down any barriers between fans and bands – not that there were any, but this got rid of them! Both shows really brought a cohesive element to the "improvisational jam" with tight changes and super melodic portions.

2. The Brain Damaged Eggmen – the entire show was so unique and jammed out! Getting to rock out and dance and sing along to The Beatles and Pink Floyd was such a treat. They were rough around the edges, but the band’s sound was great. The highlights of their show was a 1st set closing "Hey Jude" with tons of people on stage singing along (here’s a 17 MB MPEG video of that portion – amateur shot from my little digi cam), and then closing the show, thus the night’s music, with "Brain Damage > Eclipse." UNREAL. Such a great feeling to see that and sing along – under skies that opened with rain during these sets!

3. Anything involving last-minute, guest musician Zee-Rock who’s like Django Reinhart meets Hank Williams Jr.! His real name is Zhenya Rock and he would be seen at night during all hours after music stopped walking around picking his six-string banjo and doing what he calls "Zee-Grass" which is a fabulous mixture of traditional bluegrass and Americana sounding songs, but some sung in his native Russian. So classic! He’s a super humorous guy, but it was also quite entertaining to hear music at 4 – 6 a.m., bringing up the sun on more than one occasion.

Duke Amayo of Antibalas – Photo by Michael Weintrob

Brian Carey (percussion, New Monsoon)

1. Jamming with Antibalas for two hours in the Jam room.
2. Having the best seafood meal EVER with Spearhead in Costa Maya.
3. Climbing The Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Brendan Bayliss – Photo by Weintrob

Brendan Bayliss (Umphrey’s McGee)

3. Victor Wooten’s bass solo in the Broadway Theatre……..stupid.
2. Going to the Mayan Ruins. That was one big ass temple.
1. The feeling after finishing with The Brain Damaged Eggmen sets…. being on vacation on a boat and getting to go see shows for two more nights.

The MSC Lirica – Photo by Dave Vann

Aaron Benor (Relix)

1. Jan 10 – Brain-Damaged Eggmen, poolside stage. First set ended with "Hey Jude" with Kris singing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him sing (or noticed that it was him singing). He nailed the vocals, then for the "na na na" coda, the Jam Cruise staff and 15 musicians came out to sing it. Very beautiful moment. Then the second set, the Pink Floyd set, was straight up dirty–great grooves, tight jams and excellent guitar work. Kris and Marc locked in to form a fantastic rhythm section and Aron’s keys added the perfect layering.

2. Jan 12 – Last night, pretty late, on the back deck behind the late-night disco. Marc Brownstein and Brendan Bayliss were freestyle rapping. Brownie and Brendan were dropping the beat while anyone who could (or dared to) freestyle over it. I tried and failed miserably. Magner kept it going for a while (mostly knocking on Brendan). When Jennifer Hartswick approached, they begged her to join in, but she wouldn’t– hilarity ensued.

3. Tie between Jan 11–the craps table with Ethan Schwartz, Eric Gerber, Seith "Shimon" Weiner, Dan Berkowitz, Lou (Keller’s Sound guy), Renee, Rick from Deleware, David "Sugar Daddy", Josh (Carrie’s husband) and Rob from the OC. I rolled the point the hardway, everyone won big and celebratory cigars ensued — and Jan 12 — New Monsoon with Steve Kimock. That show was HOT! Let Bo sing!!

Photo by Dave Vann

Jeremy Jones (JamBase Photography, Uber Music Fan)

1. Michael Franti and Spearhead by far the official band of Jam Cruise. A poster child for getting on a boat and having a good time while keeping in touch with the world around us, reality. I love keeping in touch with reality, it is where I live and I don’t want to forget that there are people still out there that need me, us, to keep their world turning. His first set was during the day casting off from the Cayman Islands. That was my first Spearhead show – seen Franti solo with other bands, and it was everything and more. Then we were treated to the documentary "I am not alone" about his travels to Iraq, Israel, and Palestine. The moment where Franti took the Palestinian man to speak to the Israeli soldier at the wall was incredible. WOW!

Gomez – Photo by Weintrob

2. My number two is seeing one of my best friends, Burton, conduct the Everyone Orchestra. The EO was raffling off tickets for people to guest conduct at both shows and Burton won the Sunday raffle. Burton is one of those guys that loves music, loves talking about music, talking about who played with who, who is the best drummer, where is the next big show, how many times that song has been played, and so forth. So who better to get up there and conduct than him. His insistence on Rodney Holmes going into a drum solo was classic.

3. Gomez bringing two of the best sets in recent memory. I was really into the Karl Denson and the Les Claypool, the Eggmen were a lot of fun and really different, Galactic was tight, Bela was back, Similak Chyld was rolling, but Gomez was the heat. It was one of those moments where my only previous encounter with these guys was on the CD player. The fellas from England brought amazing lyrics, towering vocals, and tight playing. Did I mention their vocals are sublime? Their tightness was a nice contrast to the long play of the majority of the bands and the “Soul Kitchen” and “Going Out West” with Antibalas Horns was a fabulous ending to their last show. Hey Julie McCoy! More bands like this next year…

William Fenner (Returning Jam Cruise passenger, 51 year old engineer)

1. Catching the Critters Buggin show in the Lirica Lounge and being just blown away by Skerik’s oh-so intense sax work against the pounding pulsating drum work from his band mates drum circle. T hat is still resonating through my soul.

2. Being on the beach in the fisherman’s village at Costa Maya and watching the entire beach become a mini festival with a beautiful white sand beach and the cruise ship at port in the distance.

3. The second day at the end of his show (at 4 a.m.) when the crowd is asking, screaming & pleading for more, Karl Denson advised the crowd to "pace yourself". That became our catch phrase for the cruise.

3a. At our last sit down dinner our waiter (who we had dinner with every day by our choice) had tears in his eyes as we said good-bye and told us in very broken English how this was the best cruise he had ever seen.

Gabby La La & Mike Dillon – Photo by Dave Vann

Mike Dillon (Critters Buggin, Les Claypool)

1. Skerik dissing the pizza during the Critters set, last day at sea.
2. The Lee Boys Rocking out first day at sea.
3. Drinking Espresso.

Photo by Weintrob


The Greening Project Prize – Photo by Vann

Revelry – Photo by Dave Vann

Jam Cruise 4 Artists – Photo by Weintrob

Were you on Jam Cruise 4? Leave your favorite moments in the "Comments" space below.

Thanks to everyone who contributed! Until next year…

JamBase Ocean
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