Jam Cruise 18: (Jamais Vu On The High Seas)
Déjà Vu is the feeling that one has lived through the present situation before while Jamais Vu is the complete opposite. Boarding this year’s Jam Cruise on the MSC Divina, I had the strangest feeling of jamais vu: “Jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer's impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that they have been in the situation before.” This feeling would remain intertwined in my thoughts throughout the entire Jam Cruise experience, crystallizing into some strange emblematic dream. It is indeed a New Year, a New Decade and there is a lot to be grateful for. Climbing aboard Jam Cruise is like entering a world all its own. A world with an expiration date of only 5 days but these days transmogrify into a lifetime of experience. Swirling musical energy surrounds this vessel and the constant capitulation and undulation of the vast sea becomes atoned to the rhythm of our bodies. While this is only my second year, it’s as though I’ve been doing this my entire life. The people, all familiar, the bands, I’ve been seeing for over 15 years are just eating at the same buffet as me. Seeing the same shows and having a similar experiences. This relationship is transcending, changing what it means to be a fan, and bridging the gap between artist and audience.
Over the years I’ve been known to get caught-up in the glamour of stardom. Seeing these people as more than they are. Idolizing a life that is completely devoid of normality. After going on Jam Cruise these past two years, I have seen and talked to more musicians than I have in my entire life. Just seeing Ivan Neville walking around everywhere puts things into perspective. Or running into Samantha Fish while she is getting breakfast or, talking with the guys from Galactic on the pool deck. These little day-to-day activities really opens ones eyes to the reality of their musical lifestyle. The truth is these musicians are just like you and me but with a heck of a lot of talent and lots of drive! It’s hard to sit-down and write this out, seeing 5 days of music, everything gets convoluted in my head. I won’t waste too much of your time but I will go into my favorite shows of Jam Cruise 18 and share some of my thoughts.
Life Aboard The MSC Divina:
Boarding the boat itself is always an adventure and having a new boat, the MSC Divina (new to me) was like starting all over again. The Divina is a much bigger boat but traversing those narrow hallways at 5 AM, sliding and hitting the walls like bumper cars, takes some getting used too. It’s almost like you have to take two steps to either side with the motion of the ship to stay balanced. While last years experience aboard the Norwegian Jade was all around a more luxurious experience, better ship, nicer crew, food and amenities were better, but it really doesn’t matter because it’s Fucking Jam Cruise. Where else can you do this crazy shit? The only real issue I have with the MSC is the disembarkation time of 7 am. Ughh what the fuck! Are you out of your minds!
Best Sets On The Ship:
The Lennon Claypool Delirium Pool Deck set was one of the best shows I’ve seen on planet earth not even just on Jam Cruise. This neo-psychedelic amalgamation blew my mind. I was familiar with their catalogue of music but not ready for such a raw, visceral performance with absurdities to boot. Lennon and Claypool really brought out the weird for the first day and I hope to see them again soon.
Every Turkuaz show I’ve ever seen on the boat has been phenomenal; I even skipped out on half of moe.’s Atrium set to check out one of the most hype version of “Flashlight.” Listen, don’t sleep on Turkuaz they may be able to make it the next level of the music industry. Turkuaz could transcend the Jam world and go mainstream or become something we weren’t prepared for morphing into a super-futuristic-funk-robot and destroy us all!
The Marcus King Super Jam was filled with classic Disco and Motown songs. The lineup included but was not limited to: Nigel Hall, Ivan Neville, Tony Hall, Robert “Sput” Searight, Luther Dickinson, Eric Bloom, Roosevelt Collier, Nicki Bluhm, Danny Mayer, members of Turkauz, Karina Rykman and that basically says it all. Marcus seems ready to transcend the Jam world but in a different way, taking Nashville by storm and even getting his own billboard in “Music City.” That’s one way to make an entrance ol’ boy. We will try to keep the lights on for you. Don’t stray too far from home.
Moe. in the Theatre and the Atrium both were exactly what Jam Cruise is all about, true headliners having fun with the audience and melting faces. Chuck and Al both duel shredding guitar solos on the backs of sofas. It was great to get back on the couch with moe. having only seen them a few times in past few years. They were one of the first bands to really turn me onto the scene and their songs play in that special place in my heart. I would love to see moe. return to Jam Cruise next year and finish what they started.
Galactic always puts on a strong performance and this years was no different but what was different was the female performer who is still learning her place onstage. I was surprised to not see Erica Falls onstage but welcome the new comer. I was really impressed with Circles Around The Sun, who put on a hard, yet effervescent performance. Their sound is difficult to explain but its somewhere between the Grateful Dead and funky psychedelia. With the addition of Eric Krasno, CTS set was really transcending. I had heard about these guys with Neil Casal but never had the chance to see them. This was a great way to honor Neil and Jam to their music, I cant wait to see them again soon in Charlottesville, Virginia at The Southern. I wish that Karl Denson would come around my area more often because his shows are always high-energy and I need more of him in my life. Lettuce really impressed me with their Pool Deck set, which seems more original Funk than Dub. This may have been the best Lettuce show I’ve ever seen and their theatre set didn’t seem to compare.
Samantha Fish basically blew me out of my sandals. She is something else and can shred on the guitar which, I got to tell her to her face. She graciously accepted my compliment and gave me a little wink. This would be my first time seeing Samantha Fish and I wasn’t sure her live shows could match her videos but she is even better in person. I really enjoy the cigar box sound and respect her six-string skills immensely. Joe Marcinek was also another performer I wanted to touch on, supporting his own All Star cast of players. This was also my first time catching Joe and his guitar work is truly unmatched; very harmonic and instinctive.
Lastly I want to touch on my friend Marcus Rezak who sat in with Maddy O’Neil and was a great guest on the boat. Marcus is a fantastic player and adds so much to every performance. Check out his other groups like Shred Is Dead and various projects where he works with members of Frank Zappa’s band. Let’s get him and “Sweet Dick” Andy Frasco back on the boat next year for Jam Cruise 20!
No matter how many times I write it, Jam Cruise is the experience of a lifetime! I implore each and everyone to come with me on the most amazing musical adventure! I know many of you say you can’t afford it but if you just skip those local shows, skip those trips to bars, save those pennies, you can make if work and it is well worth it. I can’t imagine not returning next year and reliving this adventure. I hope to see you all there.
Jam Cruise Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.