Jam Cruise Day 3: Postcards from Jamaica

January 6, 2010

Cruisers at Night – photo by Jeffery DupuisIn many ways, Jam Cruise 8 truly kicked off on day three. As the ship docked in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, passengers and musicians alike scattered throughout the island. Despite a steady downpour, the members of Hot Buttered Rum participated in a trip to Bob Marley’s house, entertaining Cruisers on the bus journey. Meanwhile, another group of passengers and musicians traveled 45 minutes into Jamaica’s rain forest to spend the day with villagers at a local community center. Students from a number of schools performed interpretive dances and poems before sharing a native meal. The ship’s Leave a Positive Legacy program also donated a number of laptop computers, musical instruments and soccer equipment to the local villagers. In addition, ship artist LEBO painted a reggae-themed mural that contained Jamaica’s lion symbol on the wall of one of the community center’s walls. The afternoon culminated with a short outdoor performance by Toubab Krewe, which drew in a few local musicians and members of The Motet.

Once back onboard the ship, John Brown’s Body kicked off the day’s musical festivities on Jam Cruise’s pool deck. Hot Buttered Rum guitarist Nat Keefe also hosted the traveling festival’s annual Rock Star Karaoke night in the Teatro Carlo Felice. Passengers tried their luck fronting a band that consisted of Keefe, HBR bassist Bryan Horne, Dark Star Orchestra drummer Rob Koritz, John Morgan Kimock and others. Motet Plays Talking Heads members Joey Porter and Jans Ingber entertained passengers on the ship’s glass piano, while a ping pong tournament took place in the ship’s disco space.

Karl Denson – one of the few musicians who has performed on Jam Cruise every year since its inception – is synonymous with the traveling festival for many passengers. In addition to a range of sit-ins, this year Denson performed with his reformed Tiny Universe on the ship’s pool deck. The group focused on material from 2009’s Brother’s Keeper and invited out keyboardist Robert Walter, percussionist Mike Dillon and saxophonist Jeff Coffin.

A few floors below, members of the Royal Family recording collective held court in the ship’s Zebra Bar. Drummer Adam Deitch played first with his new Break Science group, while guitarist Eric Krasno brought onboard his new Chapter 2 band. Zach Deputy, one of the ship’s breakout performers, also emerged during Break Science’s set for a freestyle vocal jam. Later, New Orleans regulars Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, Ivan Neville and Eric Lindell performed as Dragon Smoke.

Though Jam Cruise is known for its all-star collaborations and jazz/funk jam-sessions, a few rock-influenced group’s offered more traditional shows in the Teatro Carlo Felice: Railroad Earth (with guest bassist Keith Moseley), The Mother Hips and Kyle Hollingsworth. The latter musician performed from 2-3:30 AM, offering a mix of solos tracks, String Cheese Incident tunes like “Piece of Mine” and covers of songs such as Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome.” In addition to his usual solo band – which is anchored by guitarist Dan Schwindt, vocalist Liza Oxnard, Motet drummer Dave Watts and Motet bassist Garrett Sayers – Hollingsworth invited out several additional members of The Motet throughout his set.

The early morning hours of Wednesday, January 6, featured a range of electronic sounds. Lotus played a three-hour set on the ship’s pool deck from 1-4 AM. Like the group’s New Year’s Eve performance at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory, Lotus offered mash-ups of their original songs and popular covers like MGMT’s “Kids.” DJ Logic and Galactic’s Ben Ellman also spun in the ship’s disco performance space.

Like other days on the ship, countless ship performers took their turn in the aptly named Jam Room, which was hosted by Skerik. Much of the night featured New Orleans music, though performers like Zach Deputy and Perpetual Groove’s Brock Butler also took turns onstage. Butler also treated fans to a stealth sunrise set on the ship’s pool deck.