Photos and Journal | Jam Cruise 13 | Day Four

Words by: Scott Bernstein
Images by: Joshua Timmermans

Jam Cruise thus far:

– Day 1 Photos & Journal
– Day 2 Photos & Journal
– Day 3 Photos & Journal

Jam Cruise 13 continued on Friday with a stop in Costa Maya, Mexico and another full evening of music aboard the MSC Divina. Unfortunately, high winds and storms led to the closure of the Pool Deck, forcing the postponement of the second John Scofield’s Uberjam Band performance and the cancelation of Umphrey’s McGee’s Pool Deck Set, though thankfully the Chicago-based band has added a second lengthy set in the theater on Saturday. Despite the few changes, there was plenty of incredible music to witness and fun to be had aboard the boat.

Cruisers had a variety of options of how to spend their time in Costa Maya, from lounging on one of the many beaches surrounding the port, to feasting on authentic Mexican food, attending one of the variety of excursions offered or catching up on sleep back on the boat. The UM fellas boarded in Mexico and it was nice to have their “fresh legs” aboard the Divina.

The music on board started at 6 p.m. with a Pool Deck Stage performance from New Orleans’ The Revivalists. David Shaw and Co. drew a sizable crowd for a power- packed 90-minute set filled with funk and rock tunes that have an edge that separates the group’s music from many of their funk brethren. It didn’t hurt having Phish LD Chris Kuroda augmenting the tunage. Guests included Papa Mali on “Soulfight,” Jennifer Hartswick and John Gros on “Sunny Days” as well as Weedie Braimah and Mike Dillon on “Stand Up.” The set came to a close with a triumphant cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” that turned into a huge sing-a-long.


[Photo by: Joshua Timmerman]

Down in the atrium, members of Fruition and Elephant Revival as well as Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth, Shook Twins and Anders Beck and Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass hosted the annual “Picking Party.” Jam Cruisers with musical instruments were each given a Jam Cruise pick and were welcomed to join in a big jam session that needed to be seen to be believed. Shook Twins led the gathered crowd on The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon” and Oasis’s “Wonderwall,” while Nathan Moore came down to front the massive on “As Tears Go By.”

Over in the Jazz Lounge, cruisers could take part in The Motet Bingo. How exactly did that work? Bingo cards were made up with names of funk songs from the ’70s. Whenever The Motet played a song listed on your card, you could cross it off until an “X” was formed on your card. Even taking away the game aspect, watching The Motet play a slew of fun covers with special guest Nigel Hall was a treat.

Talk about treats, back in the atrium, Ivan Neville drew such a big crowd for his solo piano set that it was hard to find a vantage point if you arrived late. Ivan performed Storytellers style, telling us the back story to each tune. Highlights included sing-a- long takes on “It’s A Family Affair” and “In Your Eyes.” Drummer Nikki Glaspie played a snare and box along with the latter, while she, Lettuce trumpeter Eric Bloom and guitarist Eric Krasno joined in on a gorgeous cover of Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash.” For the finale, Neville called up George Porter Jr. and Stanton Moore for “Tell It Like It Is” > “Big Chief.”


[Photo by: Joshua Timmerman]

At this point the skies opened up and an announcement was made that the Scofield Uberjam set was postponed until the next day. Umphrey’s fans were praying for a miracle, but as the winds continued to pick up it became too dangerous for the Pool Deck Stage set to go on. With the Pool Deck out of action, there were larger crowds at the other venues around the boat. Preservation Hall Jazz Band was up first in the theater and they welcomed a slew of guests including Dillon, Corey Henry of Galactic and Skerik. Guitarist Vernon Reid of Living Colour, who’s on board as part of the Masters Camp At Sea program, lent a hand of an intense “St. James Infirmary” that he turned into a shred session.

Once again, the Jazz Lounge was the place to be between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. as the “early Jam Room” was hosted by Snarky Puppy, who jammed with a who’s who of the boat’s musicians during the three-hour session. When you have a lineup of guest drummers that includes Kris Myers of UM, Nikki Glaspie and Adam Deitch of Lettuce, you know these guys had their pick of anyone on the boat. Myers and Joel Cummins both sat in on one tune and received rapturous applause with Cummins commenting that cruisers shouldn’t miss the two sets UM has in store for Saturday. Another of the many highlights from Snarky Puppy’s Jazz Lounge jam was when Hartswick and bassist Oteil Burbridge came out for a ridiculous “Them Changes.”

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe’s second set of the trip took place in the theater, where the band was joined by Roosevelt Collier on lap steel for the entirety of the performance. Collier also dressed the part, sporting a suit just as the other members of the band did. Stanton Moore, Farnell Newton, Corey Henry and Ivan Neville all helped out on an insane “Money Money,” while Neville and Mike D. assisted on a fun cover of Run D.M.C.’s “You Be Illin'” that was mashed up with the groove of “Roxanne” by The Police. Here’s hoping Karl D. and the band play more Run D.M.C. tributes as the way they twist 1980s rock hits into the rap songs is a win for all involved.


[Photo by: Joshua Timmerman]

Magic Gravy brought together The Motet’s Dave Watts and Garrett Sayers with Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz for a rare performance. I stumbled into the Black & White Lounge just in time to watch the trio deliver a powerful version of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall.” I can never get enough of Sayers’ bass work – he’s one of the more underrated musicians in our scene. On my way to the theater for Lettuce, I passed the atrium where members of California Honeydrops were hosting an impromptu, unscheduled and positively joyous acoustic jam session… only on Jam Cruise folks. Lettuce showed off the many different sides of their funk stylings with one jam even sounding like Umphrey’s McGee if you closed your eyes. The funk revivalists even worked portions of “Fly Like An Eagle” into one of their songs. Instead of welcoming a parade of guests, Lettuce kept the focus on themselves in the theater.

The Jam Room was the place to be late night with Charles Bradley leading an ensemble through an “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” that reached epic heights. Later in the night, Watts, Ike Stubblefield, Roosevelt Collier, Vernon Reid, Grant Green Jr., Papa Mali, Oteil Burbridge, Todd Stoops and a few other characters teamed for a 30-minute plus take on Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon.”

Saturday is the final full day aboard Jam Cruise as the Divina steams back to Miami. Let’s just hope the weather cooperates.


[Photo by: Joshua Timmerman]

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