Jam Cruise’s pool deck stage was the place to be on Saturday. After a fun-filled albeit overcast day on Grand Cayman Island, musicians and music fans came back to the boat refreshed and ready to get down.
Con Brio kicked things off with their very appropriate original “Paradise,” and kept the crowd dancing through their 90-minute set. Frontman Ziek McCarter was full of energy, even landing a backflip onstage during their “Kiss The Sun”/”Black Hole Sun” finale.
While Keller Williams performed his first set of the weekend over in the Stardust Theater, playing fan favorites like “Freeker by the Speaker” and “Doobie in the Pocket,” Ivan Neville played an emotional, cover-filled set in the Atrium. Jam Cruisers sang along as Neville performed “Imagine” by John Lennon and “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty with backing vocals by Galactic’s Erica Falls and Turkuaz’s Shira Elias. Neville was also joined by singer Nigel Hall and trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom of Lettuce as well as Dumpstaphunk bassist Tony Hall for a rousing version of the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It To The Streets.” Finally, the incomparable George Porter Jr. sat in for a cover of the New Orleans classic “Big Chief.”
Back on the main stage, things were heating up with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. The Rolling Stones saxophonist surprised fans with a version of his Allman Brothers “Eat A Bunch of Peaches” set, welcoming guitarist Marcus King and trombonist Greg Boyer to the stage for some extra Southern Rock flare. In addition to a lengthy “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” jam, the band wrapped things up with a trio of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Whipping Post” and “Jessica.”
Afterwards, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong took the pool deck by storm, pumping up the crowd with their electrifying brand of psychedelic funk. Wearing matching “P” jumpsuits the band played some water-themed originals like “Poseidon,” as well as a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” in a “Burning Up My Time” jam. “Jam Cruise has been number one on our bucket list for 10 years and we’re finally here,” declared singer Greg Ormont. The quartet also welcomed Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Maurice “Mobetta” Brown on trumpet for a “completely unexpected” sit-in on a funk jam, before closing out with “Ocean Flows.”
Following a rowdy Andy Frasco & the UN set in the Spinnaker Lounge, complete with crowdsurfing and “Just A Friend” by Biz Markie, Aqueous closed out the pool deck from 2:00-3:30 a.m. As of press time, the Buffalo, NY based quartet was jamming out as mist kicked up from the ocean below, and covering Steely Dan’s “Josie.”
Jam Cruise ends tonight with a theme night of “Once Upon A Tide…” and headlining sets by Maceo Parker and Electron.