The thirteenth annual Jam Cruise set sail out of the Port of Miami yesterday, with music beginning shortly after the Sail Away party on the pool deck. While many remained in the deck to dance to funk outfit The Motet, others made their way to The Atrium for one of the more special, unique sets of the night as Umphrey’s McGee’s Joel Cummins performed a solo piano set.
Cummins, who will play two sets with Umphrey’s later in the week, offered up some Claude Debussey classical compositions as well as “Linus and Lucy” and his own “Orfeo” before bringing out Anders Beck and Paul Hoffman from Greensky Bluegrass for their own “Burn Them,” from their latest If Sorrows Swim. The unique collaboration continued as the keyboardist played his band’s “In the Kitchen” with The String Cheese Incident’s Jason Hann on percussion. While Cummins doesn’t sing lead on the song with Umphrey’s, he did this time. The ensemble closed with a tribute to the late Joe Cocker, a rowdy singalong on “Feelin’ Alright,” which Umphrey’s debuted a few days earlier during their New Year’s Eve show in Atlanta.
Elsewhere on the boat, fans could indulge in a jazz ensemble put together by Grant Green Jr. which featured the likes of Karl Denson and Papa Gros, among others. Others headed inside to the Pantheon Theater for The Word, a supergroup of sorts featuring Robert Randolph, Luther and Cody Dickinson and John Medeski. The band looked energized as they delivered two hours of cohesive blues rock much to the delight of the crowd that included a sit-in from G. Love.
Meanwhile back on the pool deck, Lettuce hit the stage with Nigel Hall in tow playing all of their funk favorites. A pair of Jam Cruise first-timers in Kung Fu and Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds introduced themselves in the 11:30 slot. Sister Sparrow played the intimate Black & White Lounge while Kung Fu ascended to the Solar Stage on the pool deck. Those in attendance included The Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein, who shared a hug with Kung Fu’s Todd Stoops from the side of the stage.
As the 1 AM hour hit, Pretty Lights took the stage for the first of two sets from the popular DJ. While Thursday’s set in the Pantheon Theater will feature the Pretty Lights Live Band, Derek Vincent Smith’s pool deck set was a stripped down DJ set. Throughout, Smith displayed an array of instrumentation, playing bass and keyboards over some of his samples.
For those looking for more late night/early morning offerings, the music rolled on well into sunrise as George Porter Jr. led the way in the Black & White Lounge, assembling a cast that included Papa Gros, Papa Mali, Stanton Moore, Tim Carbone, Oteil Burbridge and John Medeski, among others. Porter, Papa Mali, Papa Gros and Stanton Moore notably offered up a take on the Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree.” David Murphy of Seven Arrows also played early into the morning in the Disco Room.
Jam Cruise will features its first full day of music today as the likes of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Nth Power, Ryan Montbleau, The Revivalists, The London Souls and more will perform.