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Published: 2009/01/05

Jam Cruise Night One

The sixth annual Jam Cruise set sail last night from Ft.
Lauderdale, FL. As in years past, the multi-day cruise recruited an
intriguing number of musicians primarily from the jam-scene’s New Orleans,
San Francisco, New York and Boulder hubs—-some with their full band, many
others as free agent roving musicians. This year, however, Jam Cruise
expanded its capacity considerably to welcome passengers aboard the brand
new MSC Orchestra. While the new ship offers far more luxurious
accommodations, the cruise’s increased volume combined with some minor
technical problems caused some passengers to wait in line for up to a few hours before they were allowed to board the ship.
But, even just an evening in, the afternoon’s organizational blemishes
seem all but forgotten. After the Dynamites featuring Charles Walker
kicked off the cruise’s entertainment during the festival’s sail away
party, the extended-weekend’s collaborations kicked in fast and furious:
Medeski, Martin and Wood recruited longtime collaborator Cyro Baptista to
play percussionist throughout its pool side set, Tea Leaf Green brought out
both Zach Gill (ALO) and Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips) to sing backup vocals on
a cover of the Beatles’ ‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’ and
Lettuce invited out Robert Walter, Karl Denson and Tony Hall
to play on a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move on Up.’ With regular
keyboardist Neil Evans at home working on a score for an HBO series, Ivan
Neville performed with Lettuce throughout its entire set and, at one
point, the group also expanded its horn section to include fellow New
Orleans staples Trombone Shorty and Big Sam.
Elsewhere, Leftover Salmon christened the cruise’s main Covent Garden
Theater and the New Deal played a packed outdoor set that started sometime
past 1:15 AM and stretched until near dawn. Les Claypool served as the
evening’s official headliner, leading a slim three-person backing band
through both solo chestnuts and material from his forthcoming studio
project (which he described from the stage as a ‘sort of film score’). He
also reminded fans ‘to pace themselves and the debauchery will flow.’
Countless additional musicians have also been spotted wandering around and
boat (and buffet), giving the traveling event the relaxed feel of a ‘rock
and roll’ fantasy camp.
Jam Cruise has become known for its bonus entertainment as well, and this
year is no exception. Return customers dubbed ‘repeat offenders’ were
invited to a special welcome party featuring a new combo featuring Stanton
Moore, Robert Walter, Reed Mathis and Karl Denson. In addition, Sound
Tribe Sector 9’s David Murphy offered a DJ set with Colorado DJ Rootz in
the silent disco from 1-3 AM, before plugging in for a traditional
late-night DJ set that stretched until 5 AM.

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