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Columns > Annabel Lukins - Both Sides of the Rail

Published: 2011/03/17
by Annabel Lukins

Best Jam Cruise Ever (Again)

While we realize it’s easy to have bands immersed in the jamband scene want to come back on board year after year, when artists of Maceo Parker’s caliber request to come back on for a 3rd year in a row, we are doing something right. On JC8, we invited his whole band. They fell in love. He immediately filled out a pre-book form that said in big bold letters, “Please have the Maceo Parker Band back.” It was very cute. So we made him our Super Jam host on JC9 and boy did that work out well! First of all, he is the hero to most of the funk musicians on board anyway. Second of all, we invited the other members of the JB Horns on as special guests: Fred Wesley & Pee Wee Ellis. So THIRD OF ALL, the gifted artists that congregated on that stage were staggering. The James Brown-esque vibe was virtually surreal. Random musicians snunk up on stage with tambourines just so they could say they sat in on the never-to-be-seen-again experience.

Once upon a time, a guy and his guitar came on board Jam Cruise 2. That guy ended up playing a set in the Mermaid Lounge mixed by Michael Franti. That SAME guy ended up winning American Idol. That very same guy went on to launch a career in soul music, drenched in bluesy rock goodness. And what do you know? That very same guy ended up in an outstanding Super Jam in Denver with the likes of Karl Denson, Ivan Neville and Tony Hall. People were BLOWN away. Enter Jam Cruise 9…Taylor Hicks was immersed in the vibe and added character, charm and insatiable flair to all who played with him.

Here is the beautiful MSC Poesia. We started Jam Cruise 1 on a perfectly beefed up dinghy called The Regal Empress. We moved onto Carnival for a year until we found our home with MSC. They love us and we love them. It’s a harmonious relationship.

When I see a musician that loves his job so much that he smiles from ear to ear every single time I see him, I can’t help but feel there is a higher power guiding all of us. John Staten, KDTU, is one of those musicians.

On Jam Cruise, there are “dreams come true” every moment of every day. Danny Louis & Dave Schools have been friends of mine for years. Having them on board was something out of this world for me, sorta surreal. Also, while sailing, I RARELY stay in one spot for more than 5 minutes. I’m running around from show to show making sure things are running smoothly. However, during the Stockholm Syndrome set, I could barely leave. I was so drawn to the show. I was so proud of their power & so proud of our event. I went to thank the boys afterwards and Danny & Dave said it wouldn’t take much to pick me up. Dave also said he couldn’t really take me seriously in the zebra ears. Cute.

So there’s a venue called the Zebra Bar on the Poesia. (Side note: we also have a very active message board.) Last year, they started an unofficial theme night called “Zebra Night.” About 30 kids dressed up and it was a cool idea. THIS year, word got out and there were HUNDREDS of us were all zebraed out. It was a fabulous display of “word of mouth.”

I already mentioned that the Grateful Dead helped shape who I am today. Got it. But actually getting to hang out with Billy Kreutzmann was beyond cool. Whenever we would start a convo about karma, morals, values, relationships, he would flash me his steal your face necklace and I would flash him my dancing bear tattoo. “I got the memo, Billy,” is what I would say. In return, he kept saying, “I like you, Annabel.” Yup, warms my heart.

Let’s go back to the friendship piece of Jam Cruise. Ron Johnson and I are literally brother & sister separated at birth. We talk like two kids who have known each other our whole lives. People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. He’s a lifer.

The LOVELY Allie Kral displayed beauty, grace & talent on board. I stole her for a moment during the autograph signing for a photo. During the autograph signing, all the artists give us 2 hours of their time to let their fans dote over them. It’s a very special time for the passengers and from what the artists have told me, they appreciate it too because really, if it wasn’t for fans, would bands exist?

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