The epic journey began early by Jam Cruise standards as I was awoken at 9am my roommate Gypsy, who was just getting back to the room. Gypsy had danced her little ass off in the Disco where Pete from the New Mastersounds had spun an Eurodance DJ set. She was raving about how awesome it was, but alas, I missed it. Jam Cruise is a choose your own adventure and a little different for everyone. I wasn't disappointed I missed it, mostly because I got some much needed sleep and was feeling good.
I ate some breakfast and got off the boat out of principle in Farmouth, Jamaica. I am not a fan of Jamaica. I walked around for about an hour then headed back to the boat. With music not starting till 4pm, I took advantage of the pool, hot tubs and bar on the pool deck with like minded Jam Cruisers. Jam Cruise is the perfect place to be silly and I posted my Jam Cruise memes above the center bar on the pool deck. Most of the day was a blur, meeting people, talking with old friends, and just being silly.
After partying all afternoon in the sun I was able to pull myself together enough to sit down in the restaurant and force down some food. It was a good thing I ate something substantial because I probably would have not gotten though the journey ahead.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe took over on the Pool deck at 8:30pm. Karl D played the Sticky Fingers set again (I saw the show in Denver on Halloween). If you are a fan of The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers album, then you will probably love the Karl D's take along with all his guests that make it sound great. Although, at the time I was looking for something faster and funkier. I saved my energy for The New Mastersounds in the Theater starting at 11pm.
Even though the New Mastersounds guys had been partying with us on the pool deck that morning and afternoon they were able to play the best set I have ever seen them play. It was a two hour-long funky dance party that never let up. TNM had lots of guests, including the "giant ewok" Zach Deputy and a four piece horn section. The Theater was as full as I have ever seen it and people were getting down, including the sexiest unicorn I have ever seen. >>>
By 1am, I had been partying all day and I must admit I was getting tired. I needed something to keep me going so I tried something new (for me). For the first time in 3 Jam Cruises, I headed to the casino. I only bet $20 in blackjack, but played the ups and downs for about 30 minutes. It was a nice break to sit down, but more importantly it got my adrenaline pumping. I left the casino energized and the gambling session had everything re-circulating in my system.
The New Deal played their last show on the Pool deck 2am-4:20am and it was a uplifting dance party. I danced with a crew of mutual friends from Austin and Colorado in a great spot on the center of the floor. I danced so hard I think I got a runners high. The New Deal left me feeling euphoric. I felt like I had just left a top 10 Phish show. I was loving it. Did I mention it was Track Suit night? We were looking good and The New Deal delivered (on their last ever show?).
After The New Deal, I felt great and wasn't going to bed anytime soon. I walked around the boat, catching some more acoustic Nathan Moore/Brad Barr, and then some Jam Room. There was lots of Jam Cruise silliness that you just had to be there and in an alternate state of mind to fully appreciate.
What happened next was a first for all of us on Jam Cruise. I was hanging out on the Pool Deck about 6am and the Jam Cruise Safety crew told us we had to leave the pool deck. The Safety Crew is the Jam Cruise security, and actually some of the coolest individuals you'll ever meet. There are very few rules on Jam Cruise and the Safety Crew does an awesome time putting us in our place without being too heavy handed. I have never seen the pool deck shut down and they could not tell us why.
The only people up at this point are people still raging from the night before and we had 2 choices – go to our rooms or hang out in the cafeteria.
I chose the cafeteria and it turned into a shit show. A Jam Cruiser with a Bose system who was relocated from the pool deck set up in the coffee bar and started blasting Phish. Over 30 kids were dancing in the cafeteria to Reba, when Marco Benevento and his wife and toddler daughters walked in for some breakfast. Marco and his wife glanced at each other with a knowing grin and tried to find a quiet corner on the opposite end of the cafeteria as the Phish dance party scene just got louder and rowdier.
For a while we did not know why we could not be on the pool deck, until a rumor circulated that a Jam Cruiser had jumped from the jumbotron and landed on the deck. It took a few hours for the true story to be revealed – a Jam Cruiser had climbed up the side of the jumbotron in a restricted area during The New Deal's set, and was blown off by wind gusts. What a dummy. Because of the limited medical facilities on the boat and just to be safe, a Coast Guard helicopter air lifted him to a hospital. I watched the surreal scene from a friend's balcony with a breakfast sandwich in hand as the helicopter circled us for about 30 minutes. Turns out the kid is going to be okay, but it will be his last Jam Cruise. Cruisers who do stupid stuff aren't allowed back.
The next thing I know... it is 7am and I am still raging. You can't wake up and rage if you are still up from the night before. I started looking at the schedule for Friday, day 5. It seemed as if there was only one thing to do - Surprise Me Mr. Davis started at 11:15 AM, and I had come this far, so why not play though? A few morning cocktails later and in no time SMMD was playing on the pool deck. Perfect. I have already talked about how much I love SMMD, and this set was another awesome one. Marco’s 4 year-old and 2 year-old daughters were out dancing and witnessing their interaction with their daddy brought tears to my eyes. They are just too cute for words and I hope my daughter and I will be able to enjoy a music festival with the same beautiful joy and innocence.
I was on the pool deck during the SMMD set when my friend Matt S. came up to me with a surprise -- Matt bought a Dave Vann photo signed by Umphrey's McGee in the charity auction for me. The photo has Stasik in the center rocking the disco helmet. I was blown away -- it is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have every received. Thanks Matt!
After the SMMD set, Steve from This Week On Lot got a message to me to meet at his room at 4pm to record a podcast with Scotty B from YEMBlog and Hidden Track. Normally at this point I would have gone to bed, but I was able to enjoy the Orgone set to stay awake and get my thoughts together to sound okay on the podcast, though I am talking a little slower than usual.
Listen to TWOL podcast here.
After the podcast I took much deserved nap. Day 4 and 5 had bled together.
Thanks to a classy wake up call by my Touch of Class crew, I had enough time to eat in the restaurant one last time. Lucky for me it was lobster and steak night. Dinner ended just in time for me to catch Marco Benevento in the atrium. I was moved to tears for a second time in one day when his daughter played chopstix with him. Check out his emotional set here...
This is a long post, and I'm even leaving out some details of this epic day. By this time its 9pm Friday...you started reading about your hero getting up at 9am on Thursday. Whew. Next up musically was Soulive on the Pool Deck and Galactic in the Theater. Both were solid, but I was running on fumes. It was the end of the marathon and I had just a few more hours to go, so I pushed myself to stay out.
The final theme night was Masquerade. Everyone interpreted it a little differently, with some bringing out their best bling and others wearing an awesome mask. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s masks, though I couldn’t always know who was under there.
After Galactic, I headed to the jam room where Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds was the host. It was by far the best night in the Jam Room. I also took one last sit down at “The Spot” on deck 7 where Brad Barr and Nathan Moore were playing acoustic lots of guests coming by. Jefferson Waful (lighting director for Umphrey's) put together an awesome video of "The Spot" on the last night:
At sunrise I went back to my room to pack up. There were a few more minor funny moments with friends getting off the boat, but that was pretty much my jam cruise. It was easy getting off the boat and my direct flight back to Denver was without incident.
Its hard to believe, but Jam Cruise gets better every year. Jam Cruise 10 was exactly what I needed to get away and knock my head open. I personally had a lot of changes in 2011 and was having a tough time. The negative emotions of 2011 seem to have been released and I am starting 2012 on the right emotional path. The boat is full of love and I my cup runneth over.
Thank you Jam Cruisers!
Have you booked for Jam Cruise 2013? We are already pre-booked. If you decide to go on Jam Cruise, or have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you are a first time cruiser and use me as a referral, I get $$$ on the boat and promise to reward you. See you on Jam Cruise 11!