Best of Jam Cruise 17, Day 6: Melvin Seals’ Grateful Gospel, Jennifer Hartswick’s Super Jam and Spafford’s Lunar Eclipse
Photos by Roger Gupta, Christopher Baldwin via Jam Cruise
Jam Cruise barreled through the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, Jan. 20, for its final day of live music. And while many were sad to see their journey draw to a close, there was still plenty of good times to be had on the Norwegian Jade before the seafaring festival bid farewell. From gospel music to lunar eclipses, here are just a few of the highlights of Jam Cruise 17’s last day.
Melvin Seals & JGB Go To Church
“How grateful are we? This next set has been one in the making for many many years,” Annabel Lukins of Cloud 9 productions said as she introduced Melvin Seals & JGB for their Sunday morning gospel set. Indeed, as the festival added its sixth day this year and celebrated its first Sunday onboard it only made sense for the longtime Jerry Garcia collaborator to lead the Jam Cruise congregation in a celebration of life and music. Seals opened the set with mid-’70s soul tune “Mighty High” and later welcomed special guest Karl Denson to play on “I’ll Take You There.” Other highlights included “Waiting For A Miracle” and “Promised Land,” and before closing with “Lay Down Sally,” Seals addressed the crowd, saying, “I hope we get the chance to do this again.”
Andy Frasco vs. Vince Herman
As the mid-afternoon sun bathed music lovers on the pool deck, there was a battle royale brewing inside at Jam Cruise’s Spinnaker Lounge. The title fight was between singer Andy Frasco and Leftover Salmon frontman Vince Herman, in a strange yet wildly entertaining musical throwdown. “We’re not friends for the next hour,” Frasco told Herman before each musician challenged one another to perform musical styles outside their usual comfort zone. At one point, after Frasco told Leftover Salmon to mimic his UN band’s rowdy, party-rock style, Vince Herman crowd surfed through the room, laughing the whole way. Eventually the two musicians called a truce, forging a treaty between The UN and Leftover Salmon so both bands could cover an Austrian drinking song they learned while touring Europe together and close with a combination of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name.”
Jennifer Hartswick’s Superjam
“Make some noise for Jen Hartswick,” The Nth Power’s Nikki Glaspie declared from behind the drum kit, before Hartswick quipped back, “Make some noise for the 45 other people up here.” Guests for the star-studded outing on the pool deck’s main stage included Melvin Seals, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Leslie Mendelson, Lyle Divinsky, Roosevelt Collier, Mary Corso, Skerik, Big Sam, Rob Marscher, Kevin Scott, Sammi Garett, Shira Elias and many more. The collective opened with “(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty” by KC & The Sunshine Band and worked their way through other favorites like Heart’s “Magic Man” (with Hartswick showing off her vocal prowess) before closing with an emotional, show-stopping “I Shall Be Released.”
Turkuaz Get Funky
You can always count on Turkuaz to supply a healthy dose of funk and Sunday night was no different as they brought their technicolor stage show to the pool deck. The entire set was a certified dance party, with a “Bubba Slide” opener and a killer mid-set pairing of Talking Heads’ “Slippery People” and Turkuaz’s own “On The Run.” Their track “The Mountain” offered the chance for some freeze-frame theatrics, and guests included Joey Porter of The Motet on keys for “The Generator,” Roosevelt Collier on slide for “Monkey Fingers” and Taz on lead guitar for a cover of Joe Cocker’s “Space Captain.” Turkuaz closed their main stage offering with a high-energy take on “The Ballad of Castor Troy,” featuring one last sit in by Big Sam on trombone.
Spafford Rock The Lunar Eclipse
Right before Spafford closed the main stage, music lovers gathered on the pool deck and howled as they caught glimpses of a super blood moon eclipse rising overhead. The jam quartet obviously took note of the wolf-like vibe of the audience when they took the stage, and laced their own howls into their opening cover of “Mad World.” The Tears For Fears cut also played into the evening’s theme of “Around The World,” as did the band’s tourist costumes, complete with visors, fanny packs and Jam Cruise windbreakers. Spafford’s set continued with a powerful take on their own “America” with keyboardist Red Johnson getting synthy before special guest Taz shredded with guitarist Brian Moss. Later, the band continued their nod to the “Around The World” theme with an exploratory cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of The World,” which was timed just as the lunar eclipse was at its most bewitching. Spafford closed their set by giving a much-deserved shout-out to the hardworking staff of the Norwegian Jade, and performed Van Morrison’s “Cleaning Windows,” featuring a three-part horn section, as the final main stage tune of Jam Cruise 17.
Want to see what else went down on Jam Cruise 2019? Read our full recaps below: