Jam Cruise Day 5: The Meters Celebrate 50 Years, Nikki Glaspie Leads Massive Super Jam and More
Heading back to the Port of Miami, Jam Cruise 15 closed out its 2017 festivities with a final day of music at sea on Tuesday, highlighting some of the top acts of this year’s lineup, including a second set from The Original Meters.
After providing some choice sit ins during Monday’s offerings, Love Canon took to the Pool Deck stage to kick off Tuesday’s music, delivering a second set full of their unique bluegrass take on ‘80s classics like Toto’s “Africa,” Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” and Devo’s “Whip It.” Soon after, The Hip Abduction kept the euphoric spirit going on the sun-drenched main deck, playing their own second set of the cruise and highlighting their upbeat pop sensibilities and unique instrumentation, which featured guitarist Pat Klemawesch playing a kamale ngoni. Frontman David New addressed the gathered crowd with his personal assessment of the communal spirit Jam Cruise, saying, “Every elevator ride has been a story I can tell for at least three years,” before the band closed their set with a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”
Inside the ship, Matt Butler lead yet another unique collection of artists for his Everyone Orchestra, which gathered to honor the work of Positive Legacy, the Jam Cruise-affiliated program that helps to benefit communities where the ship visits, including an after-school program in this year’s stop in Jamaica. Butler’s gathered musicians included Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz, moe.’s Al Schnier and Rob Derhak, Steve Berlin, the Shook Twins, Turkaz’s Shira Elias, Michelangelo Carubba and bari sax player Josh Schwartz, Love Canon’s Jay Starling, Dopapod’s Eli Winderman and more. The collective improvised tunes about the power of women, the last day of Jam Cruise and more, including a song dedicated by Butler to the program’s new friends in Jamaica. At the same time, The Suffers were playing their final set on the Pool Deck, which featured sit ins from The Motet saxophonist Drew Sayers and trumpeter Gabe Mervine.
Later in the evening, as the sun had just set over the open ocean, drummer Nikki Glaspie led a massive all-star super jam outside on the Pool Deck, welcoming a plethora of artists, many of which donned matching hats that spelled out positive attitudes like “Love,” “Heart,” “Freedom,” “Laugh” and “Give.” Participating artists included Ivan Neville, Nigel Hall, Lettuce’s Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff and Adam Deitch, guitarist DJ Williams, bassist Tony Hall, Turkuaz drummer Michelangelo Carruba, guitarist Craig Brodhead and vocalists Sammi Garett and Shira Elias, Skerik, Cyril Neville, Karl Denson, The Suffers’ Kam Franklin, Erica Falls, Roosevelt Collier, a horn section featuring members of The Shady Horns, The Motet Horns, the Turkuaz horns and, amazingly, more. The set included a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Remember the Children” and closed out with a rendition of Parliament Funkadelic’s “Black Man” featuring all participating super jam members, a collected 20-30-some musicians on the stage at the same time.
Inside the Stardust Theater, Revivalist frontman David Shaw apologized for his canceled solo set from Sunday, citing a bout of food poisoning, while delivering a second high-energy set with his band that even included a busted bass drum that had to be replaced mid-performance. Along with tunes like “Stand Up” and “Criminal,” Shaw performed an intimate rendition of “Men Amongst Mountains” while sitting in the crowd, and the set closed out with a sit in from Soul Rebels saxophonist Erion Williams.
Over in the Crystal Atrium, Steve Kimock and Lebo played a special Grateful Dead-centric acoustic set the featured vocals from Lesley Grant and Dead favorites like “Black Muddy River,” “Promised Land” and a “Bertha” jam that lead into a short cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”
For the second time during the cruise, the original quartet lineup of New Orleans legends The Meters gathered for a landmark performance, this time in the Stardust Theater, once again featuring support from Ivan Neville. The set featured some of the songs that the band had played on the Pool Deck two days previous, along with a few other classics. Bassist George Porter Jr. kicked things off by saying, “Sometimes, I feel like it’s 1967 again,” nodding to the band’s 50th anniversary. After playing the classic tune “Africa,” drummer Zigaboo Modeliste announced they would be “taking it back all the way to the beginning, before we could pay our light bills” with “Cissy Strut” featuring saxophone flourishes from Skerik, along with an “It’s Your Thing” quote that led into “People Say,” which further added The Shady Horns and members of the Soul Rebels horns. Later in the performance, the band would welcome Cyril Neville out for “Be My Lady” and a cover of The Beatles “Come Together” that featured a solo from guest saxophonist Kamasi Washington. After the main band played through “Fire On the Bayou,” Porter’s daughter Katrina once again came onstage, this time to honor the four Meters with 50th anniversary awards to celebrate their contributions to music and their help in founding the funk music movement.
Back in the atrium, members of Turkuaz were leading a Jazz Lounge jam, welcoming Dopapod’s Eli Winderman for a cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” and later playing with The Motet’s Joey Porter and Garrett Sayers and more members of Dopapod. Turkuaz’s Sammi Garett and Shira Elias took lead on a cover of Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” while Turkuaz’s Dave Brandwein joined for covers of Stevie Wonder and Jeff Beck.
As Beats Antique were inviting guests for a jam to close out the Pool Deck, including Todd Stoops and Steve Berlin, The Brothers Comatose were offering a counterpoint bluegrass set indoors, featuring a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Virginia,” along with a guest spot from Nathan Moore and the Shook Twins for “Back in 15 Minutes” After their cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” the band again welcomed out Lebo for their own “Knoxville Foxhole” and a cover of the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun”
Closing out Jam Cruise 15’s official sets were Galactic, one of the only band to have played each year of the festival-at-sea. The New Orleans outfit delivered a energetic set of R&B-infused funk, welcoming vocalists Erica Falls and Kam Franklin in the process. Soon after, Break Science’s Borahm Lee led the final night of the Jam Room, starting out with a duet featuring Lee’s collaborator Adam Deitch, in effect making up for their canceled Break Science set during the previous evening. Lee would also welcome out Nigel Hall on bass and more to round out the 2017 edition of Jam Cruise.