Cruising in 2009 – Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis
Jam Cruise’s fourth day at sea began in George Town, Grand Cayman. In sharp contrast to the previous day’s stop in Jamaica, the weather was warm and sunny—and both passengers and musicians ventured onto the island via tender boats to explore a number of sandy beaches, waterside bars and snorkeling spots.
Once back onboard, everyone participated in a number of the ship’s signature workshops. The members of Hot Buttered Rum and Railroad Earth led a bluegrass Pickin’ Party in the ship’s Zebra Bar that included a range of original material and traditional tunes, including an appropriate “Sail Away.” Meanwhile, on the ship’s 15th floor basketball court, DJ Logic, Skerik, Mike D and participated in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The members of Toubab Krewe—who played more shows this week than any other full band of musicians—led an African drumming workshop in the ship’s disco with The Motet’s Jans Ingber and Lotus’ Chuck Morris. Throughout the percussion-heavy jam session, several fans also joined the group onstage. George Porter. Jr.—dressed in full priest regalia—also officiated several Jam Cruise weddings in the ship’s hot tub (it remains to be seen if the marriage licenses hold water off the boat).
JJ Grey & Mofro kicked off the day’s pool deck series with a 5 PM sunset set. The soul-rock band arrived onboard with a tight brass section and invited out Will Bernard, among others. LEBO also painted onstage throughout Mofro’s set and—after the performance—Grey auctioned off the artwork for $3,500 (the auction benefits the ship’s charitable channels).
A few floors below, singer Nigel Hall took his turn behind the ship’s grand glass piano, entertaining three floors of spectators. A bit later Relix’s Cold Turkey hosted a public podcast with String Cheese Incident’s Kyle Hollingsworth. The keyboardist brought along Keith Moseley to play bass, but after blowing a fuse, the longtime String Cheese Incident member joined Hollingsworth behind the grand piano for songs like Bob Dylan’s “Isis” and String Cheese Incident’s “Sometimes a River.” After the 20-minute set came to a close, Umphrey’s McGee’s Joel Cummins joined Hollingsworth behind the piano for a 10-minute encore jam.
Later in the night, two of the ship’s marquee acts—Mrceo Parker and Zappa Plays Zappa—performed on the pool deck and Teatro Carlo Felice. The latter group drew an especially large crowd for its set of Frank Zappa tunes and made several joking references to its “jamming” abilities. The Zappa songs that have become part of the jamband canon, such as “Pygmy Twylyte,” which the Disco Biscuits cover, were the show’s best received numbers.
At 11:15, Fantastic 4, a band that typically features guitarist Eric Krasno, drummer Adam Deitch, saxophonist Cheme and keyboardist Robert Walter took the stage for a pool deck show. Since Cheme was unable to make this year’s Jam Cruise, George Porter. Jr. surprised fans by rounding out the group on bass. Karl Denson, Jeff Coffin, Will Bernard and Nigel Hall were also among the parade of guests that joined the band onstage. Many of the same players—including Porter, Denson, Coffin and Deitch—later made their way down to the ship’s Jam Room to participated in Ivan Neville’s open jam session.
The later part of the evening featured a diverse mix of sounds. In the Teatro Carlo Felice, Dark Star Orchestra performed the music of the Grateful Dead, while Trombone Shorty paid tribute to his New Orleans hometown in the Zebra Bar. Meanwhile, DJ Logic spun part music in the ship’s S32 Disco and rising livetronica star Pretty Lights played the pool deck stage until 4 AM (his set included his choice electronic mash-up of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” and JJ Cale’s “After Midnite”). Pretty Lights also broke the ship’s late night pool deck attendance record: approximately 800 fans still on the deck when his show wrapped-up shortly before dawn.