[Photos by Dave Vann]
The New Deal played their final show last night during Jam Cruise 10’s fourth day at sea. The pioneering electronic/jam trio—who formed during a loose Toronto jam session 13-years ago—announced their break-up in mid-2011 and spent the latter half of the year sweeping through some of their favorite markets. After headlining marquee sold out shows in New York, Toronto and other cities, the group settled on Jam Cruise as their swan song.
After an emotional introduction from Jam Cruise’s Annabl Lukins—a longtime New Deal friend and cheerleader—the group offered a packed, late night set on the ship’s pool deck that stretched from 2:15-4:18 AM. With three decks of fans looking on, the trio ran through some of their signature numbers, including some of the older, late ‘90s favorites that fell out of rotation over the past six or seven years. As always, drummer Darren Shearer served as the band’s MC, reminding fans that the trio used to name their improvisations after the cities they originated in before “Ithaca,” and hyping up the Jam Cruise crowd throughout their set. Far from a teary goodbye, the group’s mood remained light and their playing was consistently tight. The group also—somewhat jokingly—nodded to String Cheese Incident/EOTO’s Michael Travis a few times: at one point the band described a particularly nasty jam as “Michael Travis dirty, EOTO dirty” and at another point the group somewhat curiously thanked him by name. Likewise, Shearer introduced The New Deal’s old school signature song “Receiver” as a song that was “so old that [Umphrey’s McGee bassist and longtime New Deal friend] Ryan Stasik was still in university” when they wrote it.
The New Deal returned for an encore, and, partway through their final jam, Shearer joked “we have eight more minutes to save the world.” He also emphasized the importance of the jamband scene’s community essence in “corporate America” and told the crowd to “keep on truckin.’” As the group’s final jam came to a close, Shearer threw his sticks into the crowd, thanked the band’s crew members by name and the three musicians took one final bow.
The show was the high-energy climax to a busy 24-hour period aboard the ship. Early Thursday morning, Surprise Me Mr. Davis guitarist Brad Barr and Perpetual Groove bassist Adam Perry traded licks in the Jam Room while Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave. played to sprawling audiences on the ship’s pool deck stage. As the MSC Poesia pulled into Falmouth, Jamaica both fans and musicians disembarked to spend the day at various stores and beaches. Through Jam Cruise’ Positive Legacy activism arm, Jam Cruisers also donated a number of hula-hoops to local school children.
While in Jamaica, the ship picked up confirmed artist Toots & the Maytals who performed on the ship’s pool deck stage at 4 PM. The reggae legends ran through hits like “Pressure Drop” and “Sweet and Dandy” and also invited Karl Denson out for a quick sit in. A few floors below, Greensky Bluegrass dobro player Anders Beck, musical couple the Keels and most of Railroad Earth led a Pickin’ Party in the ship’s Zebra Bar, while both Surprise Me Mr. Davis singer Nathan Moore and singer/songwriter Ryan Montblue performed for fans wandering through the ship’s charitable silent auction. Noted artist Lebo also auctioned off one of his live paintings on the ship’s pool deck, which ended up selling for $5,000.
During an early evening break, Ivan Neville offered a rare solo piano set in the ship’s atrium. The Dumpstaphunk leader told a heartfelt story about finding out his mother died on Jam Cruise in 2007 and played a few rarer selections from his back catalog. He also led the crowd in sing-along versions of “In Your Eyes” and “Little Red Corvette.”
Since October, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and special guest Anders Osborne have toured behind their Halloween interpretation of the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers. A few numbers into their set on the ship’s pool deck stage, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe brought out Osborne—who was wearing a Jamaica shirt— and busted into the classic Stones album. The ensemble performed Sticky Fingers in its entirety, recruiting Ivan Neville for a few songs like “Wild Horses.” Percussionist Mike Dillon also performed throughout the entire segment while both Greyboy Allstars keyboardist Robert Walters and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore lent their services from time to time. KDTU charged into another set of original songs once they finished Sticky Fingers, bringing things to a close with a funk, unexpected cover of Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Up to Dry.”
The worlds of funk, electronic and hip-hop blurred on the ship’s sixth and 7th floors as EOTO performed a dupstep-influenced show in the Zebra Bar right before Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s show. A few feet away, Ozomatli performed in the Teatro Carlo Felice with Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers guitarist Doug Derryberry sitting in for a chunk of songs. As they did earlier in the cruise, the band ended their show by marching into the crowd with their instruments. Next up, The New Mastersounds played one of the theater’s most crowded shows. Anders Osborne, Jessica Lurie, Robert Walter and Zach Deputy all also sat in for portions of the show, which featured some of the once-instrumental group’s new vocal songs. George Porter & the Runnin’ Pardners also anchored the Zebra Bar from 2-3:45 AM, and Garage a Trois—dressed in their customary track suits—ran through a set of dark, jazz-punk nuggets including Marco Benevento’s “Real Morning Party.”
A few hours before The New Deal’s final show, Perpetual Groove continued their reunion run with keyboardist Matt McDonald on the ship’s pool deck stage. Offering one of the weekend’s most eclectic mix of covers, the quartet brought out Ivan Neville to sing and play keyboards on Lionel Richie’s “Sail On” and then closed things out with a cover of Arcade Fire’s classic Funeral number “Wake Up.” For that song, McDonald switched to guitar, Umphrey’s McGee keyboardist Joel Cummins moved behind the keys and a number of Perpetual Groove’s extended family members sang on the song’s chorus. PGroove pal Gary Palow also played sax on a few numbers and Heavy Pets keyboardist Jim Wuest sat in on “TTFPJ.”
Throughout all this, Lettuce drummer Adam Deitch hosted one of the week’s best improvisational segments in the ship’s Jam Room. Shortly after midnight, Deitch led Slip/Surprise Me Mr. Davis drummer Andrew Barr, members of Toubab Krewe and part of Orleans Ave. through a percussion-heavy jam. A bit later, Nigel Hall, Big Sam Williams Zach Deputy and Brad Barr joined the loose jam segment, followed by Eric Krasno who soloed alongside the Slip guitarist. Soulive’s Alan Evans then took the stage, and Trombone Shorty emerged from the wings. As the Barrs and Deputy left the stage, the rest of Lettuce emerged one by one until the entire band—along with Trombone Shorty—were side-by-side. The group then offered their third set of the weekend. Once that segment was over, Deputy returned while Dumpstaphunk bassist Tony Hall joined in the action. Nathan Moore also hosted his own freeform troubadour jam outside the Jam Room on one of the ship’s outdoor walkways.
As the sun started to rise, Eric Krasno was still performing in the ship‘s Disco under his DJ alias KRAZ.