Jam Cruise set sail yesterday from the port of Miami, FL aboard the Italian cruise liner MSC Divina—by far the largest ship in the event’s history. The boat began a voyage that will take it to Falmouth, Jamaica and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas over the course of the next few days, and will feature multiple stages of simultaneous music, along with various other activities.
The festivities began with a special Atrium piano set from Umphrey’s McGee keyboardist Joel Cummins, who played a couple of solo tunes before being joined by a succession of guests. Ivan Neville sat next to Cummins on the grand piano, with Cummins taking the low end of the board and Neville taking the high end. Mandolinist Paul Hoffman and lap steel guitarist Anders Beck on Greensky Bluegrass came next, before drummer Terry Arsenault and saxophonist Bill Evans helped Cummins close it out with a take on Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” (a song most often associated with the Peanuts cartoons).
Bonerama were the first band to appear on the boat’s Pool Deck stage. The brass rockers got some assistance from fellow New Orleanians George Porter Jr., Stanton Moore and Mike Dillon, as well as Anders Osborne, who came out for a few tunes, including his own “Stoned, Drunk and Naked.” The band also found other ways to rep their city, constantly giving off shouts of “Who Dat!” in support of the New Orleans Saints football team, who were in the middle of a playoff game with the Philadelphia Eagles at the time (the Saints won).
At the same time, a number of Saints and Eagles fans had planted themselves in the boat’s sport’s bar. Several musicians even came out to support their respective teams, including members of Dumpstaphunk and The Revivalists (supporting the Saints) and members of Conspirator (supporting the Eagles).
Keller and The Kimocks were the first group to perform inside the MSC Divina’s Pantheon Theater. The trio—Keller Williams (bass and guitar), Steve Kimock (guitar) and John Morgan Kimock (drums)—played a rock-oriented set that featured a number of covers, including a take on the classic Grateful Dead combo “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire On The Mountain.” Meanwhile, Robert Randolph got some help from Eric Krasno during most of his packed set at the pool deck.
However, it was Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang who likely had the night’s most interesting performance. The show featured a recurring sit in from a mandolinist friend of Claypools, who helped the duo work their way through a few Primus songs, as well as renditions of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and Johnny Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans” (both covers are set to appear on their forthcoming album, Four Foot Shack). At one point, in the middle of the show, a fan demanded that Claypool help him find a girl named Tiffany in the audience. When Claypool was finally able to figure out where she was, he proposed to her on behalf of the fan, named Eric. The bassist then began to play the score to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as Tiffany said “yes” and the couple embraced in the crowd.
The marriage proposal was only half the fun. Claypool later called Mike Dillon out to contribute his voice to a cover of Dick Dale and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pipeline.” After jamming out on the tune for a bit, Claypool announced that the stage needed more women, as the band was lacking in estrogen. A handful of women were then invited on stage to help put their spin on the tune.
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy—a supergroup consisting of Conspirator’s Marc Brownstein, Aron Magner, Chris Micheti and Torch, Big Gigantic’s Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken and Underground Orchestra’s Ben Baruch—closed out the crowded pool deck stage with an extensive set of jamtronica improvisation While that was going on, Lettuce played a funk-heavy set in the Pantheon Theater, playing a two hour set that featured guest appearances by Ivan Neville and Alecia Chakour.
Guitarist Will Bernard took the reins at Jam Cruise’s signature Jam Room last night. Bernard was first joined by harmonica master John Popper, keyboardist Robert Walter and more, while Col Bruce Hampton made an appearance to sing a couple of of songs as well. Many of those musicians cleared out as Bernard changed gears, inviting Walter and drummer Stanton Moore to join him in playing Stanton Moore Trio set, and the group deemed the forthcoming set a rehearsal for the following days’ Trio show. However, the trio did not stay pure for long, as a slew of guests such as guitarist Billy Iuso, Deep Banana Blackout’s John Durkin and The Motet’s Jans Ingber soon became a part of the jam session.
The day also featured Black & White Lounge sets from Monophonics and Orgone, as well a surprise Golden Jazz Bar set from the Infamous Stringdusters. In addition, Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza kept things going extra late with a Galaxy Disco DJ set that began at 3am.
Jam Cruise 12 will continue tomorrow with performances by Lotus, Thievery Corporation, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, The New Mastersounds, Anders Osborne, Keller williams, The Infamous Stringdusters, Bootsy Collins & The Funk Unity Band, ALO, The Revivalists and many more.
Photos by Dave Vann