Photos and Journal | Jam Cruise 13 | Day Two


Words by: Scott Bernstein
Images by: Joshua Timmermans and Dave Vann

Wednesday’s Day Two aboard Jam Cruise was a day at sea as the MSC Divina steamed towards tomorrow’s port in Roatan, Honduras. A day at sea means a full day of music starting at noon and continuing through sunrise. In an attempt to find another way to describe the seemingly indescribable, I kept the below timeline of my day which consisted of 16 hours saturated with music.

Continue reading the rest of Scott’s recap of day two after the gallery or click here to read his recap and see some photos from day one

As I’ve mentioned in past year’s Jam Cruise Journals, the cruise is truly a “Choose Your Own Adventure” vacation. There’s so much going on that every cruiser has a vastly different experience. I pop around between sets more than most in an attempt to cover as much as possible for the readers and to feed my ADD tendencies. Here’s “A Day In The Life” of one Jam Cruiser…

10 a.m. – Wake up after a reasonable six hours of sleep and shower, drag a comb across my head, and finish my article on Day One.

12 p.m. – Grab a quick bite in the cafeteria. Cruise staff is smart enough to keep breakfast going through the early afternoon, so I was able to fuel my body with an egg and cheese sandwich.

12:30 p.m.California Honeydrops kick off the action on main stage, the Pool Deck Stage. We hear the story of how the band came together by busking at a BART Station, garnering a huge cheer from the Bay Area contingency on hand.

1:15 p.m. – While the weather was overcast when I awoke, the skies clear to 75 degrees and sunny just after California Honeydrop’s “Pumpkin Pie” featuring guest spots from Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth and Mimi Naja of Fruition.

1:30 p.m. – Time to enjoy the sun and sit out on a chaise lounge. Tough life, but somebody’s got to do it…

Photo by: Dave Vann

1:45 p.m. – Cruise director Julie McCoy, aka Annabel Lukins, introduces the Jam Cruise debut of Preservation Hall Jazz Band on the Pool Deck Stage. Annabel mentions the connection Jam Cruise has always had with New Orleans down to the promoter’s annual Jam Cruise-sponsored concert during Jazz Fest.

2 p.m. – Pres Hall’s Ben Jaffe mentions how much this particular gig means to the band and that they’ve wanted to do it for a while. The crowd responds enthusiastically to the group’s traditional NoLa sound.

2:30 p.m.: Both Ivan Neville and Derek Vincent Smith (aka Pretty Lights) guest with Pres Hall. Jaffe notes how big of a Pretty Lights fan he is and how happy they are to have Smith guest on upright bass (!)

3 p.m. – After the Preservation Hall Jazz Band set comes to a rousing end, I have my first BBC. The BBC is a signature drink aboard Jam Cruise similar to a Pina Colada except with Banana and Bailey’s.

3:15 p.m. – Have the pleasure of spending some time with Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge. Nearly all musicians on Jam Cruise are ready, willing and able to talk with fans

3:45 p.m. – At this point the sun is blazing as The Nth Power makes their Jam Cruise debut at the Pool Deck Stage.

4 p.m. – Very impressed by how far The Nth Power has come in a short time together. Guitarist Nick Cassarino was in particularly good form.

4:15 p.m. – The Nth Power perform one of their signature songs, “Walk On Water,” which shows the R&B/funk/soul fusion the band has achieved.

4:30 p.m. – Head up to the 16th Floor, home of the Masters Camp At Sea for the day’s culminating jam session featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith, Burbridge, Vernon Reid, Mike Clark, Steve Kimock and Grant Green Jr.. I was blown away at how talented these guys are and the melodies they created on the spot. The Masters Camp At Sea is open to those who signed up for the program and pay an extra fee. Those folks got their money’s worth today.

4:55 p.m. – Saw my favorite t-shirt thus far – “Fuck Real Life” with the “u” stylized like a ship’s anchor.

Photo by: Dave Vann

5 p.m.Ryan Montbleau takes the Solar Stage, which is the smaller outdoor venue on the Pool Deck, backed by the killer lineup of Galactic’s Rob Mercurio on bass, Mike Dillon on percussion, Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass on mandolin, Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth on violin, Congo Sanchez on percussion and John Morgan Kimock on drums. What a tight and talented outfit!

5:10 p.m. – Montbleau says what many of us are feeling – “Is this really happening? Are we on a boat filled with smiling people? We are lucky!” He also reiterates the one rule of Jam Cruise – “Stay on the boat until it’s time to get off the boat.”

5:25 p.m. – Head down to theater for one of the activities put together by Jam Cruise organizers: JAMpardy. Joel Cummins hosts while Jefferson Waful handles the lights and acts as judge.

5:35 p.m. – Some of the categories for JAMpardy include “I Know That Stage,” “APHISHianados,” “One-Hit Wonders” and “Things That Make You Go UM.” The contestants don’t know their shit and it’s killing me not being able to answer what I think are easy questions. Kudos to Joel for doing a good job hosting, despite some technical issues and contestants struggling to answer a question correctly.

5:45 p.m. – I head back to the Solar Stage just in time to catch Montbleau et. al perform one of his classic songs from the Ryan Montbleau Band era, “I Can’t Wait.” Left wanting more after a short 60 minute set.

5:55 p.m. – I’ve been on the boat for over a day and I’m still running into old friends for the first time. The boat isn’t huge, but it’s big enough that you can go a day or two without seeing certain people.

6 p.m.Snarky Puppy takes the Pool Deck Stage in front of what seems like most Jam Cruisers. Apparently word is out about these Grammy Award-winning cats.

6:15 p.m. – Very impressed by the contemporary jazz/funk stylings of Snarky Puppy and I’m not the only one. Many of the musicians onboard have made it to the Pool Deck to watch Snarky Puppy in action and nearly all are bobbing their heads to the groovy tunage. They are a “musician’s band.”

6:55 p.m – We pass through a short rainstorm, but it’s more refreshing than anything

7:05 p.m. – As if Snarky Puppy’s set wasn’t impressive enough, they bring out legendary organ player Dr. Lonnie Smith who leaves jaws on the floor in his wake.

7:15 p.m. – I’ve been taking note of the amazing lights during Snarky Puppy’s set and as the performance went on the light design seemed more and more familiar. I took a stroll to see who the light designer was on it was none other than Phish LD Chris Kuroda! While CK5 had been on a few previous Jam Cruises, I didn’t realize he’d be aboard the Divina this year.

7:20 p.m.Jans Ingber of The Motet and Weedie Braimah come on stage for a drum jam with the drummer and percussionist of Snarky Puppy.

7:30 p.m. – One of the best sets thus far comes to a close and now there’s a 90- minute break for dinner or however Jam Cruisers want to spend the time. I decide on a power nap.

Photo by: Joshua Timmerman

9:15 p.m. – The recently-reunited G. Love and Special Sauce take the Pool Deck Stage with Chris Kuroda once again on lights. God bless G. Love, but it’s not my thing and I quickly head to the theater for John Scofield’s Uberjam Band.

9:30 p.m. – Very happy with my decision as Senor Scofield is laying waste to everything he touches with his signature, biting tone. For those unfamiliar, the Uberjam Band combines the talents of Scofield, drummer Adam Deitch (Lettuce), guitarist Avi Bortnick and bassist Andy Hess (formerly of Gov’t Mule). The quartet has recorded a number of albums over the years and play material from each with Scofield noting the upcoming Thursday set will be comprised of different material from the set we are witnessing.

9:40 p.m. – Sco and his band briefly jam on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” garnering huge cheers from the crowd.

9:55 p.m. – I stop by the new Jazz Lounge, aka Jam Room #2, in time to watch vocalist Kim Dawson working on material with The Motet’s Dave Watts, Ryan Jalbert, Joey Porter and Garrett Sayers. The Motet show off a more jazz- infused side of their musicality in this setting. This was just a quick stop as I noticed an organ setup on stage next to John Scofield’s Uberjam Band and I do not want to miss what’s in store.

10:05 p.m. – I walk back into the theater just in time to see John Medeski sitting at the aforementioned organ! The quartet and Medeski collaborate on “Any Old Funk” with Medeski stealing the show with one powerful and quirky organ blast after another. We also get to see Adam Deitch freestyle!

10:25 p.m. – Head to the night club-like Black & White Lounge to catch a bit of The Revivalists. Jam acts often take shit, unfairly in my opinion, for not being able to write good songs, but The Revivalists know how to craft a catchy and powerful tune. Trombonist Carly Meyers is among the New Orleans’ band’s guests.

10:35 p.m – Head up to the Pool Deck just as G. Love’s set ends with a guest spot from Eric Krasno. Can’t win ’em all, I guess.

Photo by: Joshua Timmerman

10:45 p.m. – The theme for Wednesday on Jam Cruise is “Metallic Night” and perhaps one out of every four cruisers dons a metallic-inspired costume for the evening. As you can guess, it’s a crazy scene watching those in metal parade around the boat. At this point I watch a costume contest judged by the members of Snarky Puppy and love the creativity so many cruisers have shown in putting together their costumes.

11 p.m. – It’s back to the Black & White Lounge to catch the end of The Revivalists set. Front man David Shaw has incredible charisma as do his band mates. I’ll be sure to be in the house when The Revivalists next visit NYC.

11:10 p.m.Karl Denson, hot off a stint as a touring member of The Rolling Stones, is a Jam Cruise regular and as such garners huge audiences for his performances. KDTU kicks off their set with a stunning one-two punch of “Power To Love” (Jimi Hendrix) > “Hang Me Out To Dry” (Cold War Kids).

11:30 p.m. – Now it’s over to the theater for Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires Jam Cruise debut. Bradley has such powerful pipes and reminds me of James Brown. He wears a crazy purple robe and even has a metallic sash to keep in line with the Metallic Night theme. There’s a spiritual tint to Bradley’s music that makes me feel like I’m going to church. “You Put The Flame On Me” was the high point of the set.

12:07 a.m. – Dawson is holding court in the Jazz Lounge with a performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” backed by the likes of Big Gigantic drummer Jeremy Salken and NOLA keys man John Gros.

12:35 a.m. – You can always count on KDTU to have special treats in store for their Pool Deck Stage sets and this time around it’s Mike D., G. Love and Robert Walter helping out on a version of Run D.M.C.’s “Tricky” featuring portions of Gary Numan’s “Cars.” Jam Cruisers eat up every second of it.

1:05 a.m. – Kudos to drummer Adam Deitch, who just 70 minutes after finishing a two-hour John Scofield’s Uberjam Band set takes the stage once more for a Break Science set in the Black & White Lounge. Many of Deitch’s Lettuce band mates join in the electro-funk fun by the time the set ends.

1:20 a.m.The London Souls only have one official set planned aboard the boat and it takes place at the small, outdoor Solar Stage starting at 1 a.m. When I finally make it up there, I realize the skies have opened up and it’s absolutely pouring. What a crazy scene as about 30 extremely dedicated London Souls followers rage while getting soaked by the relentless rain. Guitarist Tash Neal plays as if his life depends on it and considering the possibility he might get electrocuted, it’s not hard to understand why.

1:50 a.m. – Each year for the past four Jam Cruises, singer-songwriter Nathan Moore hosts an unofficial performance space on a side deck dubbed “The Spot.” Last year, “The Spot” was located just outside of the Jam Room which led to a boisterous crowd – just the type of people those of us looking to mellow out and escape the funk are trying to avoid. Moore decides to move “The Spot” to another location and upon my first trip there it’s hopping! Nathan leads The Shook Twins, Carbone, and members of Elephant Revival on one of his own tunes. “The Spot” is back!

Photo by: Dave Vann

2:05 a.m.Steve Kimock leads a tribute to the R&B and soul wing of Jerry Garcia’s repertoire in the theater featuring Bobby Vega on bass, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz on guitar and vocals, John Morgan Kimock and former JGB member Bill Vitt on drums as well as Furthur/RatDog keyboardist Jeff Chimenti. I had caught this band out in the Bay Area a month prior so it wasn’t my main focus. However, the “Money Honey” > “Boogie On Reggae Woman” they laid down far surpassed anything I witnessed in the Bay and I hear Col. Bruce Hampton sat in at one point, though I missed it.

2:10 a.m. – Overheard: “This is bullshit! Where’s the Jerry hologram?”

2:25 a.m. – Back to “The Spot” in time to watch Greensky’s Paul Hoffman lead the assembled musicians (including Ryan Montbleau now) on a gorgeous version of The Wood Brothers’ “Luckiest Man.”

2:50 a.m. – Finally pulled myself away from “The Spot” to head up to the Pool Deck Stage to watch some of The M& Ms featuring Papa Mali, Rob Mercurio, Stanton Moore and John Medeski. I’m on the hunt for “Eminence Front,” a cover this band has been known to crush.

3:05 a.m. – YES! “Eminence Front!” Not only that, The Revivalists’ David Shaw fronts the band on vocals for The Who cover and Galactic’s Corey Henry comes out for an intense trombone solo. Trombone on “Eminence Front?!” That’s Jam Cruise for you.

3:30 a.m. – Down to the Jam Room, where Nth Power drummer Nikki Glaspie is the evening’s host. Glaspie has a plan and wants to focus on songs instead of improv during her turn hosting the room. I arrive to catch Nikki and her Nth Power band mates delivering an insane and intense cover of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

4 a.m. – The fun continues in the Jam Room where the husband/wife team of Jennifer Hartswick and Chris Chew share the stage along with Joey Porter, DJ Williams, Glaspie, Skerik, The Lettuce Horns and Ivan Neville for a cover of “A Night To Remember.”

4:30 a.m. – I end my long day with a few more tunes at “The Spot.” Having California Honeydrops, Shook Twins, Elephant Revival and Fruition aboard the boat means there’s plenty of musicians ready and willing to make magic happen at “The Spot.” I’m excited for what the next few nights hold.

5 a.m. – I think it’s best not to press my luck and head back to my cabin to get some sleep. What a wonderful day and night! Tomorrow, the boat visits the first port – Roatan, Hondurus – but I think I’ll sleep in.

click here to read the recap of day one along with some photos

JamBase | Day Two
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