Out in the Jam Room, trombonist Big Sam was the evening’s host and welcomed a rotating cast of characters to jam as his Funky Nation band mates stayed around to lend a hand whenever the need arose. Highlights included a Zach Deputy-led Thank You (Fallentime Be Mice Elf, Again), Will Bernard joining Deputy and Big Sam along with an unidentified female vocalist on Tell Me Something Good and Use Me and Brian J of Pimps of Joytime leading a crack ensemble through Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper’s soul classic Knock on Wood. Showing his versatility, Krasno played bass for a jam or two later in the evening before hopping behind the B3 organ.
The Rhythm Devils closed out the evening on the Pool Deck with a lineup that featured Steve Kimock, Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips and 23-year-old Davy Knowles on guitar, former Gov’t Mule member Andy Hess on bass, Sikiru Adepoju on talking drum and of course Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann on drums. Knowles didn’t fall into the trap of imitating Jerry and instead delivered bluesy licks that made you shake your head at just how good this youngster’s playing was. Kimock wasn’t announced as part of the band, but was a welcome addition and took plenty of solos without stepping on Knowles’ toes. The unit’s Cumberland Blues was a standout, though the rhythm part of the Rhythm Devils is a bit misleading as the pair of drums struggled to get back to the “1” many times.
Just before the Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad encore, Mickey gave a shout out to all of his band mates, hilariously introducing Kreutzmann as “pain in the ass.” It was clear to those on the boat how much love these two old friends have for each other as a few saw the pair embrace in a lengthy hug after Hart embarked in Mexico. Billy was on the boat the whole time and seemed to be having a blast anytime you saw him.
Officially, the action on Day Four of Jam Cruise 9 was supposed to end at 5AM, but there were two sets left before some cruisers and musicians called it a (loooooooong) day. On one of the outdoor gangways lining the side of the boat on the Seventh Floor, a five-hour-long picking party broke out that was fronted by Nathan Moore and members of Greensky Bluegrass. At various points, Zach Gill of ALO, publicist Dave Weissman, guitarist Bryan Elijah Smith, Matt Butler of the Everyone Orchestra and Steve Kimock joined the impromptu sunrise set that was watched by a rotating cast of cruisers.
[Photo by Annabel Lukins Stelling]
Out near the Pool Deck at the Awesome.town Table I’ve discussed in my previous recaps, guitarist Brock Butler of Perpetual Groove pulled off a feat that will be talked about at future Jam Cruises for as long as the event runs – a trifecta of Sunrise Sets. Three nights in a row, Butler – who mentioned he’d “rather play for 20 attentive fans than 200 space cadets,” when thanked for all the wonderful ‘bonus’ music he provided – performed for at least two hours in front of a small, but feisty crowd.
Brock’s set on this morning was completely different from the previous night’s set in every way. I’ll get into Brock’s sets in further detail soon, as there’s so much to tell about those magical performances, but let’s just say that Butler took jokes that were told preceding his set and brilliantly inserted them into his tunes. Here’s one story for you, before I go into more detail in a future piece: after playing for about an hour, Brock took what was supposed to be a five-minute break to use the toilet. During Brock’s brief respite, a random cruiser sat down in Brock’s spot with a guitar and started to lay into some tune I wasn’t familiar with and to be honest wasn’t very good at all. I guess this guy thought it was Open Mic Night and we were all debating how to tell this guy to get lost before Brock got back.
Ten minutes later, this guy was going strong as we shook our heads in disbelief. Don’t forget that at this point it was about 7AM and no one was exactly “on point.” The Joker of the Coventry Blog, god bless him, takes a little stuffed unicorn he was carrying around with him and peacefully laid it over the aspiring musician’s guitar strings and explained that we were all gathered from around the country at this late hour to see Brock play and kindly asked him to stop. Joker welcomed the guy to watch Brock’s set and told him it would probably be better if he didn’t when the gentleman asked if he could play along with Butler. None of us wanted to be an asshole, but these Brock sets clearly meant a lot to all of us and we wanted Brock to finish what he started.
After a few minutes of conversing, Joker was able to persuade “the guitar guy” to stop and Brock was able to rock one more solo acoustic set. Butler kicked off his second “set” with a unique cover of Pusherman and about three minutes in, “the guitar guy” passed his guitar to one of the least sober folks assembled around Brock, who plucked one off-key note before our friend Chip yanked the guitar out of his hands and placed it on an adjacent table as far away from the action as possible to the applause of those listening to Brock.
My favorite moment of the cruise came just about 7:30AM as the sun came up over Cuba during the most beautiful sunrise you can imagine as Brock delivered a heart-felt rendition of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The tune was recorded as a duet, so Brock acted out both the parts before jerking some tears out of the chorus, which hit “home” for those of us gathered ’round considering how close the trip was to ending. When Butler started performing at 5AM there were only about 10 of us at the Awesome.town Table. Shortly thereafter, a number of cruisers including performers Billy Brouse of Papadosio and DJ Wyllys brought over chairs and assembled around Brock. By the time Butler delivered a mesmerizing It Starts Where It Ends encore near 8AM, there were about 80 people eating breakfast and watching Brock play. Black Water in particular turned into a loud and raucous singalong with people belting the “dixieland” refrain straight from their guts. Only on Jam Cruise folks, only on Jam Cruise.
[Photo by Jason Rappaport]
January 8th, 2011
Jam Cruise 9
Set One: Mood For A Day, Dear Prudence, Do It Again, Boy In The Bubble, Hesitating Beauty, Nutshell, Rehab Mountain, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Paul Revere, Wash Away, Queen Bee
Set Two: Pusherman, Got Yourself A Gun (Soprano’s Theme), All This Everything, Two, Haitian Divorce, Mother, All My Friends, Home, Girl on LSD, Dead Puppies, Asshole, Black Water
Encore: It Starts Where It Ends