The Ambassador (George Porter Jr.) and Julie McCoy (Annabel Lukins) back in 2009
For the second year in a row, STS9 bassist David Murphy brought Jam Cruise to a close with a DJ set in the S32 Disco. Murphy’s set wrapped-up shortly after 4 AM Friday morning as the cruise ship docked in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Around the same time, the ship’s late night Jam Room closed its doors after a marathon five days that featured jaw-dropping super jams from many of the ship’s marquee names. Deep Banana Blackout guitarist Fuzz hosted the Jam Room’s final night from 12-4 AM. The late night jam sessions started with Fuzz and his wife/musical collaborator Carrie Sangiovanni offering material by their Caravan of Thieves band, as well as select covers. The musicians were joined by the members of the Ryan Montbleau Band early in the night for a series of more rock and jam-oriented songs. As the ship’s other shows came to a close, a number of additional musicians trickled onto the stage for anthems like Neil Young’s “Down by the River” and Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” Though a steady stream of guests moved on and off the stage, George Porter Jr., Jeff Coffin, Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone and Galactic’s Stanton Moore were among the jam-session’s biggest names. After 3 AM, Zach Deputy, Seth Winters and Brock Butler also joined the festivities (Butler emerged wearing a disco ball hat and rapped for the audience).
Festive collaborations marked a number of the day’s other performances. After Johnny Sketch opened the pool deck with the Dirty Notes, Hot Buttered Rum took the stage for a show that included covers ranging from the Grateful Dead to Nathan Moore. Joey Porter also played keyboards with the group, while the group’s recent producer Tim Bluhm joined HBR onstage for a few songs (Coffin had joined the band onstage a few nights earlier). Next, Steve Kimock performed on the pool deck with Crazy Engine and guest musicians Skerik, Robert Walter and even a rapper. Soon after, George Porter Jr.—who earned his nickname throughout the weekend as the ship’s official ambassador—anchored Jam Cruise’s annual pool deck Super Jam. Porter opened his set with a combo that included Fuzz, String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth, percussionist Mike Dillon, Motet bassist Garrett Sayers and Motet drummer Dave Watts. As the set moved on, all the musicians besides Porter gradually cycled offstage to make room for Carrie Sangiovanni, Eric Krasno, Liza Oxnard, DJ Logic, Karl Denson, Robert Walter, Jeff Coffin, Trombone Shorty, Stanton Moore, Nigel Hall, Will Bernard, Skerik, Adam Deitch and Tiny Universe guitarist Brian Jordan. Maceo Parker also embraced the Jam Cruise spirit by sitting in later in the set. At the end of the show, Porter pledged to return to Jam Cruise in 2011.
The ship’s pool deck performances came to a close with packed performances by Zappa Plays Zappa and Galactic. The latter group welcomed the likes of Jeff Coffin, Ivan Neville and Corey Henry. Galactic’s set was preceded by a colorful Funk ‘n’ Formal Fashion Show where passengers showed off an array of costumes for celebrity judges Brock Butler, DJ Logic and Hot Buttered Rum’s Bryan Horne. Elsewhere, Toubab Krewe welcomed members of The Motet, Skerik jammed with his regular collaborator Mike Dillon and Go-Go Lounge and Lotus continued to insert hooks from popular covers like Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” into its original material. Matt Butler also conducted an Everyone Orchestra performed in the Teatro Carlo Felice Theater. The performance was open only to passengers who offset the carbon footprint for their travel to Jam Cruise and featured Col. Bruce Hampton, Jeff Coffin, Lee Oskar, Will Bernard, Andy Goessling (Railroad Earth), Joel Cummins (Umphrey’s McGee), Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth), Greg Loiacono (Mother Hips), Eric Yates (Hot Buttered Rum), Bryan Horne (Hot Buttered Rum), Rob Koritz (Dark Star Orchestra), Chuck Morris (Lotus) , Dave Watts (The Motet), Jans Ingber and the JC singers, Ben Thomas (Zappa Plays Zappa), Ryan Montbleau and Josh Phillips, among others. After the performance, the musicians marched through the crowd and paraded with their instruments up a few flights of stairs to join the rest of the ship’s musicians by the pool for an official artist photo.
Yet, the highlight of the ship’s final day was a rare performance by Karl Denson’s Sexual Chocolate. The band’s name is a reference to the band Denson performed with in the movie Coming to America, and on occasion the saxophonist has revived the name to play a series of ‘70s funk and light jazz tunes. After playing a set of KDTU songs on the ship, Denson and the members of the Tiny Universe dressed in suits and wigs and returned for a set of cover tunes, including Christopher Cross’ “Sailing.” The musicians were joined during their set by several special guests like Ivan Neville, Jeff Coffin and the JC Singers. Cruise Director Annabel “Julie McCoy” Lukins also took the stage to sing on the band’s final song.