Jam Cruisers awoke to plenty of sunshine to complement the first full day of live music, as the MSC Divina spent the day at sea on the road to Costa Maya, Mexico.
The music kicked off on the Pool Deck at high noon, with a set from Pennsylvania bluegrass rockers Cabinet. The band warmed up the crowd with their energetic brand of ‘grass, even welcoming out Ron Holloway (who they have collaborated with before) for the closing jam in their hour-long set.
Much of the early action in the day was focused on the Pool Deck, as Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers played an early afternoon set as well. Throughout the set, Bluhm welcomed out members of The Infamous Stringdusters including Andy Hall, who led the band on a tune that Bluhm said they wrote during a recent tour with Greensky Bluegrass.
Speaking of Greensky, Paul Hoffman and Anders Beck took to the smaller “Brews At Sea” Stage across from the main Pool Deck stage. Sticking mostly to Greensky material like “Windshield,” they did mix in a cover of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved,” a fitting selection for the Jam Cruise environment.
Jazz masters Snarky Puppy shined during their early evening set on the Pool Deck, jamming with Eric Krasno for a portion of their set as well. Kraz then led Lettuce through a Pool Deck set of their own, hitting on many of their staples including a host of material from their latest, Crush.
As the action shifted indoors for the night session, Southern Soul Assembly delivered a sprawling, unique hour and a half of music. Anders Osborne, Luther Dickinson, JJ Grey and Marc Broussard brought their Southern roots to the boat, trading performances of their respective solo material as well as collaborating with each other.
With the Southern Soul Assembly’s exit, the stage was set for the second and final set from Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. As the band took the stage, they welcomed out Nicole Atkins on the opening “The Music Never Stopped.” The ensemble then dipped into an expertly crafted segment that started with “Help on the Way” and included “The Wheel,” with “Uncle John’s Band” sandwiched in between segments of “The Wheel” before ultimately leading back into “Slipknot!”
After a rambling “Truckin’,” Almost Dead once again welcomed out Atkins for a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song.” To close the set, Russo commented, “We only have incredible women sit in with us, because they’re incredible.” With that, the drummer invited Amy Helm to the stage for a take on The Band’s “Don’t Do It.”
Among the other highlights on the boat included a standout set from ALO’s Zach Gill in The Atrium. Gill, armed with just a piano, welcomed out a series of guests for a fun, singalong set. Among the guests, fellow ALO bandmates Steve Adams and Dan Lebowitz, who helped Gill out on a cover of Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” To close the set, Gill welcomed out Nicki Bluhm (along with Adams and Lebo) for a raucous cover of “Hey Jude.”
In the Jam Room, Lettuce’s Adam Smirnoff led a funky jam late into the night as the likes of Nigel Hall sat in along with members of Snarky Puppy, Lettuce and Trombone Shorty’s band.
The action continues today with sets from Dr. John, Electron, Lettuce, Dumpstaphunk and others.