Jam Cruise 17, Day 5: George Porter Jr. Gets Funky, Andy Frasco Gets Rowdy and The Motet Fight The Rain
Photos by John Ryan-Lockman via Jam Cruise on Facebook
“We’re gonna get unnecessarily funky,” bassist George Porter Jr. said from the Jam Cruise main stage, as the ship sailed away from its final stop at Progreso, Mexico.
Saturday, Jan. 19, marked the penultimate day of the seafaring festival, and the Porter Trio had the honor of playing the first main stage set of the day, with tunes like “My Name Up In Lights” by The Meters and guests like Mike Dillon and Joe Marcinek on the Grateful Dead’s “They Love Each Other.” Roosevelt Collier stopped by to join Porter on a rocking “Turn On Your Love Light,” and Brandon “Taz” Niederauer and Karl Denson also jammed with the trio later in the set.
The collaborations continued inside the boat in the Atrium, as JGB’s Melvin Seals brought out a star-studded roster for his set. Guests included Jen Hartswick, Mike Dillon, Steve Kimock, George Porter Jr. and Dan Lebowitz on The Meters’ “Cissy Strut.”
“Since George showed up we’ve got to play a George song,” Seals joked before playing the Meters classic. Needless to say, Seals and his “powerful friends” also treated the crowd to plenty of songs from the Dead/JGB catalog, including “Bird Song,” “Deal” and “The Harder They Come,” with bassist John-Paul McLean and guitarist Zach Nugent subbing in for Porter and Kimock as well as Sunshine Becker adding flute and vocals.
Later, Andy Frasco welcomed countless Cruisers to the main stage for his high-energy performance, including Porter, Niederauer, Skerik, Dillon, Big Sam, members of Turkuaz and Galactic, and more.
“I feel like Muhammad Ali,” Frasco declared, adjusting his head bandage which covered up the 15 stitches he received after falling earlier in the week.
Frasco also treated the crowd to the title track of his forthcoming album, Change of Pace, noting that the tune’s country vibes were inspired by Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman, who later sat in with Frasco (along with Salmon’s Drew Emmitt) on the song “Better.”
Meanwhile, Hot Tuna and Steve Kimock were playing their second set of the week in the Stardust Theater, revisiting tunes they played a couple days prior like “Bowlegged Woman” and “Hesitation Blues,” as well as bringing out Leslie Mendelson for a couple of songs.
“I’m so excited to sing this with you guys,” Mendleson told Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen before they launched into Jefferson Airplane’s “3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds.” Mendelson also stuck around to sing and play keys on “Sun Gonna Shine In My Back Door Some Day” as well as “I Can’t Be Satisfied.”
Marc Brownstein’s Star Kitchen also played their second Jam Cruise set on Saturday, welcoming guests like Roosevelt Collier on “Red Baron” and members of Turkuaz on a cover of Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles.” Later, the groove-based project closed their set in the Spinnaker Lounge with “You Got The Love” by Candi Staton and “Rock Steady” by Aretha Franklin.
Then it was time for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe to take the main stage. With coordinated outfits and synchronized hop-step dance moves, the band opened with “My Baby Likes to Boogaloo” and later gave the crowd a taste of their recent “Eat A Bunch of Peaches” tribute sets with a take on the Allman Brothers Band’s “Trouble No More.”
Inside in the Bliss Lounge—a.k.a. The Jazz Lounge—frequent Galactic collaborator Erica Falls was leading her own star-studded set with pop-ins from members of Fruition and Galactic. Also, in a wonderful tribute to the queen of soul, Falls invited Adryon de León and Kim Dawson of Matador! Soul Sounds onstage for covers of Aretha Franklin’s “Spanish Harlem” and “Day Tripping” (The latter also featured Nikki Glaspie of the Nth Power on drums).
Nearby, in the Stardust Theater, ALO had their own slew of guests including Kimock on an unexpected nod to Fleetwood Mac. Later, after a peaking “Maria” with an impressive solo by Lebowitz, ALO closed their set with a cover of Rick James’ “Mary Jane” with all four members of TAUK, Medelson and Becker adding vocals.
As storm clouds swirled overhead, The Motet prepared to close out the pool deck main stage, opening with Sly Stone’s “Get High On You” and encouraged those in the crowd to “let their freak flag fly” on their own “Damn!”
As of press time, rain began to pour down on The Motet as they kept the funk coming with “Keep on Don’t Stoppin’.” From there many music lovers sought shelter in the late-night indoor programming, from the space-age jams of TAUK to the techy offerings of Subset to Kelly Finnigan hosting the Jam Room.
Jam Cruise will offer its final night of music on Sunday, Jan. 21 before returning to port in Miami on Monday, Jan. 22.