Ahhhh jam cruise
What a treat. I get to ride on a giant ship go to tropical islands, play music and have dinner with George Porter and Colonel Bruce Hampton. It’s such a unique event. A nice cross between vacation and performance.
After a brief scare of lost luggage and the possibility of wearing a bathrobe for the whole cruise, we made it on board. For a “tropical cruise,” this was not exactly what I had in mind. It was freaking cold and raining most of the time, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of any of the festive cruisers. And in fact, I was able to climb some massive waterfalls in Jamaica. Very awesome.
So this time around I was playing with my band (KHB) and The Motet. I have been doing “the music of The Talking Heads” with The Motet. Needless to say, I am huge Heads fan, so it was great fun to dig into that stuff, plus it gives me an excuse to sharpen up on my Bernie Worrell licks! I also caught some great music from the other groups on the ship. Zappa Plays Zappa, Maceo Parker and Mother Hips were some of my favorites. Jam Cruise always brings such cool, different musical styles on board each year, but the problem is that there is so much going on all the time that it is hard to get to everything. I needed a couple more days to soak it all in!
I think musicians view the boat experience differently than the fans. From the minute you board the ship, you see fellow artists and musical heroes all around you. It’s cool to reconnect with the other bands that you have not seen in a while; it’s kind of like a giant “band camp” experience. And it can be completely inspiring to discover new sounds and talents that everyone is bringing (Nigel Hall rocks!).
In most cases, it is a learning experience, but it can also be a bit intimating. When you find yourself playing with dudes that you have been admiring for years, it can make you sweat a bit. And on another level, it can be a bit of a friendly competition. I think it makes everyone step up their game.
For the most part, the fans are super cool. I did not feel overwhelmed at all and everyone was very respectful. The containment of the boat creates this sense of community between fans and musicians. Everybody is just psyched to be having this special experience together. Boat, Sun, Music.