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Published: 2009/01/06

Out of The Jam Room and on Cruise Control: Jam Cruise Day 2

Jam Cruise’s first two days at sea flowed seamlessly into one thanks in
part to the traveling festival’s trademark Jam Room. Brock Butler served
as the open performance space’s unofficial master of ceremonies, sitting
in with a variety of musicians until the entertainment reached a climax
around 6 AM Tuesday morning with the unlikely combo of Butler, Ivan
Neville and Les Claypool (the latter of whom used the opportunity to show
of his considerable skills behind the drum kit). Numerous other musicians
and passengers took their turn in the Jam Room between the hours of
Midnight and 6 AM as well, including the members of The Dynamites and a
rock-based trio featuring guitarist Scott Metzger (RANA), bassist Dave
Dreiwitz (Ween) and drummer Stanton Moore (Galactic).
With the ship at sea all day, musicians and fans alike busied themselves
with a number of unique activities ranging from a game of Are You Smarter
Than a Rockstar? featuring Butler and the members of Tea Leaf Green to a
treasure hunt led by artist Lebo to an unaffiliated Jam Cruise wedding
featuring the music of the Lee Boys. Meanwhile, Cyro Baptista hosted a
percussion workshop, where the members of Medeski, Martin & Wood and
their families participated along with the passengers.
Earlier in the afternoon Relix’s Cold Turkey podcast team of Mike
Greenhaus and Benjy Eisen introduced Cruise Control, Jam Cruise’s official
talk show. The program was held in the ship’s Convent Garden Theater
featuring performances by both the ship’s magician and dance troupe, an
interview with Les Claypool and a live podcast with Leftover Salmon’s Drew
Emmitt and Vince Herman. The New Deal served as the program’s Max Weinberg
7-style house band, performing between segments and, at the end of the
show, offering an impromptu three-song performance with Herman and Emmittt in
a group dubbed the Blue Deal. Despite having never talked before the
program, the five musicians gelled and, at the end of Cruise Control,
Herman joked that America has been trying to ‘dismantle the New Deal since
On stage, the day’s offering felt akin to a late night set at New Orleans
Jazz Fest, with many musicians making good use of their wah-wah peddle and
most musicians inviting out at least few special guests. English funk
exports the New Mastersounds opened the afternoon’s set on Jam Cruise’s
trademark Pool Deck Stage, before handing over the stage to ALO. Later in the afternoon,
Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk took home the day’s collaboration award, cycling no
less than Les Claypool, Eric Krasno, Karl Denson, Skerik, Sam Kininger, Ryan
Zoidis and the entire Bonerama horn section onstage throughout its 90-minute poolside
performance. Elsewhere, DJ Rekha gave fans grooving in the ship’s pool a
Bollywood dance lesson, while Brock Butler offered a cover-heavy solo set
that opened with an acoustic rendition of Talking Heads’ ‘This Must Be the
Place (Na Melody).’ John Medeski also treated fans to an unannounced
30-minute solo performance on a glass grand piano located in the ship’s lobby.
The evening’s festivities were more eclectic. Les Claypool headlined Jam
Cruise’s pool performance space with his latest solo band and, for the
second night in a row, invited out longtime collaborator Skerik to sit in
for a few songs mid-show. Percussionist Mike Dillon remained onstage
after Claypool and the rest of their band left, to perform with Skerik,
Stanton Moore and Marco Benevento as Garage a Benevento. In addition to a
handful of Garage a Trois favorites, the group ran through some newer
Benevento originals like ‘The Real Morning Party.’ Meanwhile, Bill Nershi
and Drew Emmitt expanded their Emmitt-Nershi Band to include String Cheese
Incident’s Keith Moseley, Jeff Sipe, Andy Stone and, for their encore,
singer/songwriter Martin Sexton, while Porter Batiste Stoltz invited out
Dumpstaphunk bassist Nick Daniels during their performance in the Savannah Bar.
Two all-star cover bands also took the stage late in the afternoon. First,
Bustle in Your Hedgerow—-the instrumental Led Zeppelin cover band
featuring Scott Metzger, Dave Dreiwitz and Scott Metzger—-performed to a
packed-housed in the Covent Garden Theater and then Umphrey’s McGee’s Kris
Myers, Ryan Stasik and Joel Cummins teamed up with ALO’s Dan Lebowitz and
the Neal Deal keyboardist Jamie Shields and New Deal drummer Darren Shearer
for a set of Yacht Rock covers. Perhaps the cruise’s most unique performance
thus far, the six musicians offered soft FM favorite from the years
1976-1984 from the likes of Hall & Oates, Christopher Cross, Steely Dan
(Karl Denson, Ron Johnson and ALO’s Zach Gill also participated at
various points throughout the outdoor set).
The evening’s offerings continued as the night segued into morning with
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals performing in the Covent Garden Theater, DJ
Rekha spinning in the Disco and the Lee Boys anchoring a jam session in
the Savannah Bar that drew in Big Sam and Trombone Shorty, among others.
Meanwhile, the unlikely duo of Karl Denson and Jackie Greene appeared in
the Jam Room, one of many combos likely to take the stage until the wee
hours of the morning.

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