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Terminal 5 Event Poster

Terminal 5 Event Poster

The Royal Family Ball @ Terminal 5 (10.02.10)

It was a night New Yorkers and beyond had been waiting for since it was first announced back in July.  The Royal Family would be taking over Terminal 5 for a night of pure FUNKY RAGE hosting their 3rd Annual Royal Family Ball. Knowing that The Royal Family is a tight brotherhood that rolls deep with love, we die hard fans  knew it would be a special night.  A night to remember, a night of complete surprises, a night of of complete funk, of blues, of rock ‘n’ roll.  A night requiring us to dance till we drop….simply a night we would NEVER forget.

Event Poster: The Royal Family Dream Team

Event Poster: The Royal Family Dream Team

For months, we have eagerly awaited this night.  The Royal Family had enticing little offers before the show such as rewarding the first 100 people to purchase a ticket with an autographed poster of The Royal Family.  Man, what a hilarious treat.  I, of course, jumped on that offer, buying my ticket at 12:01 pm, right when they went on sale, closing the sale out at 12:03pm.  Sadly, I didn’t get a poster but many of my friends did.  I will some how rectify this 😉 You can be sure of that!

The importance of this night and the energy behind it hit me the second I woke up Saturday morning.  I felt like it was Christmas.  As much music as I see, this was a show that had me jumping on my toes.  The anticipation was palpable.  For weeks before the big night, I had numerous friends from outside NY toy with the idea of coming in for the show.  However it was my dear friend Andy who was the only one to make the trip from Baltimore for the day/night.

“Street fair arepas… Gut bomb. Royal Family Revue… Funk bomb.” ~ Andy D.

They handed out party favors...

They handed out party favors...

This was one of those events where traveling would be worth it.  My phone had been blowing up all night prior to the show with friends wondering what was going down before the Rage.  In the end, we summoned all our favorite Ragers to a “Ragehearsal,” as one of my dear friends has come to so aptly name our rendezvous before the shows.  Everyone was eager to make a day of it.  A 24-hour rage.  The EPICNESS of what tonight might bring to our eyes and ears was lost on no one.

“Royals, you shook me, you shook me all night long. Powerful stuff.” ~ Robert M.

Of all the years I have been an Eric Krasno junkie, I have never been part of such a complete day and night full of The Royal Family.  And the best part about it…there were guests.  Oh yes, there were guests. Tonight’s rage would include performances by:

The Royal Family

Soulive

Lettuce

The Nigel Hall Band

Chapter 2

The Shady Horns

Special Guests

John Scofield – Guitar

Warren Haynes – Guitar

Talib Kweli – Rapper

Big Sam Williams – Trombone

The Shady Horns

Maurice Brown – Trumpet

Christian Scott – Trumpet

Spinning between sets: DJ Equal

Terminal 5 doors opened at 6:30pm and we were all in the building by 7:30pm, not wanting to miss a single minute of the show.  The venue was far from packed but by the end of the night, the 3,000-person venue was packed in on all sides. It was a night filled to the brim with the EPITOME of Funk, Soul, Blues, Rock, Hip-Hop and more. They play it all ladies and gentleman. And it all began, as it almost always does, with a set from The Nigel Hall Band. Let’s get this Royal Party started…..

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

The Nigel Hall Band @ 7:30/8:00pm

Nigel Hall – Keys, Vocals

Eric Krasno – Bass

Adam Deitch – Drums

Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff – Guitar

Sam Kininger -Saxophone

Ryan Zoidis – Alto & Baritone Saxophone

Maurice Brown – Trumpet

Alan Evans – Backup vocals

Lindsay Lucas – Backup vocals

Mel Flannery – Backup vocals

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

MVP OF THE NIGHT – It just needs to be said, flat out, hands down!!! ROYAL FAMILY MVP!  Nigel Hall started the show, performed throughout the show and closed the show with the highest elevation of energy and the full embodiment of what RAGE truly entails. He had been rehearsing for weeks with new back-up singers and the rest of the crew to deliver what was quite possibly the greatest performance I had ever seen him lay out on a stage.  As soon as I started seeing Nigel Hall perform many moons ago, I started recognizing a pattern prior to his performances and the pattern goes a little something like this…..

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Arriving early, I walk around the venue, listening to the audience talking.  Many are not sure of who this magnificent singing, keys player is who will be opening for whatever Royal Family Project is slated to open that night.  You hear a few people explain  “It’s Nigel Hall!” but they do not elaborate.  “Who is this Nigel Hall” you hear them wondering out loud?  I always want to stop and answer each one of them but I know that Nigel will be answering for himself as soon as the music starts.   And then he starts performing…and if not by the end of the first song, by the end of the second song the audience is locked in, jaws on the ground asking everyone around them, WHO IS THIS GUY!!!!?? But this time, they are really looking for answers, they actually care and are invested…floored by this magical singing machine.

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

And so it was this night.  I walked around the venue listening to people talking about what might happen on stage this night.  Noticing so many people asking about the opener, Nigel Hall.  What those around me didn’t realize yet was that he would steal the show.

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Tonight The Nigel Hall Band consisted of a thick wall of solid musicians that we all recognized and a few new faces to the mix.  His back up band consisted of those listed above.  Eric Krasno, the King of the Royal Family, supporting his fellow Family member on bass guitar.  Alan Evans stepping out of his drummer seat to sing backup vocals while Adam Deitch destroyed the drum kit.  Not wanting to be left out, from my second level perch I noticed Neal Evans hanging over by Deitch striking things with a single drum stick.  You might not have noticed him if you were on the ground level in front of the stage.

This was also the first time I had seen backup singers.  Lindsay Lucas and Mel Flannery‘s voices, supported by Alan Evans, melted seamlessly with Nigel‘s smooth vocals. This line-up of The Nigel Hall Band hit a home run. To begin, the stage was set with each member on stage, warming up the mics and the instruments for a funky introduction which Nigel steps out to in an orange Argyle sweater with a smile so wide I couldn’t help but mirror the image. And so it began…right into Hang It Up.

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Wait Till I Get Home had the Shady Horns completely blowing up the stage.  Ryan Zoidis completely standing out on the baritone sax.  Everywhere I looked…smiles. Second song in and the place was on fire. This is EXACTLY what Nigel Hall is meant to do and by GOD he does a GREAT job.  Never Know saw the Shady Horns exit and Krasno and Smirnoff backing Nigel on keys through the slow and smooth flow.

“I loved the show. I felt that Nigel stood out as there were many great musicians but only 1 best singer. I myself was born under a bad sign so I can relate.” ~ Josh R.

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Gimmie a Sign upped the funk meter ten-fold with Nigel funking up the keys.  He then takes a moment to explain to the audience, “This is a song that has stuck with me over many years after I heard this song as a young boy. I hope you enjoy it.” And while Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff completely let loose on his guitar, Nigel sang a soulful Baby, I Do Love You.

Give it up for the Horns,” screams Nigel.  With Never Gonna Let You Go closing out his set, Nigel Hall sang smoothly as his backup singers filled in when he walked off the stage.  And as Ryan Zoidis soloed on his axe of funk, Nigel came running back on stage, grabbing the mic, screaming “NEVER! NEVER! NEVEEEEER!”  His passion and his lust for life provides a fuel to his energy that is unmatched.  And this was only the first set 🙂

Nigel Hall Setlist: Intro, Hang It Up, Wait Till I Get Home, Too Sweet, Never Know, Gimme A Sign, Baby I Do Love You, Never Gonna Let You Go

Download: Nigel Hall Band @ Terminal 5 (10/02.10) – It is located under Lettuce’s Set

 

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

Set I: The Nigel Hall Band

NOTE TO TAPERS!!  TAPE NIGEL’S SETS and post them.  Where is the love??? He is just as much a part of this raging cycle of music as anyone of them.  Just sayin….get with the program on that tip please.

After Nigel’s set, I decided to move from my second floor perch to ride the rail with my friends for a bit.  Sadly, my crew was situated right in front of the DJ Booth. However, I could see neither drums nor the horns.  Absolutely couldn’t stand that option for the rest of the night.  Even though I wanted to chill with my friends, I thought, well, I do that every night and this was a show I really had to SEE and inhale completely. So, I reserved myself to chillin on the second perch alone while my crew raged the rail! As it should be 🙂 Watching them, waving to them, laughing with them, we were all still connected as I was completely visible to them.  This was actually a part of the night that enhanced my happiness.  Seeing them react to Warren coming on stage…their faces, their jumping, screaming, hugging. Perfection.

DJ Equal spins in between sets

DJ Equal spins in between sets

Lettuce @ 8:45/9:00pm

Eric Krasno – Guitar

E.D. “Jesus” Combes – Bass, Vocals

Adam Deitch – Drums

Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff – Guitar

Neal Evans – Keys, Vocals

Sam Kinninger -Saxophone

Ryan Zoidis – Alto & Baritone Saxophone

Alan Evans – Percussion

Special Guests:

Big Sam Williams – Trombone

Maurice Brown – Trumpet

Christian Scott – Trumpet

John Scofield – Guitar

Talib Kweli – Rapper

Nigel Hall – Keys, Vocals

Set II: Lettuce w/ Talib Kweli, Big Sam, John Scofield

Set II: Lettuce w/ Talib Kweli, Big Sam, John Scofield

Set II: Lettuce w/ Talib Kweli, Big Sam, John Scofield

Set II: Lettuce w/ Talib Kweli, Big Sam, John Scofield

Soul singer Hall left the stage and was replaced by DA FUNKY FUNK!!!! One of my top ten favorite groups to have formed on this earth: LETTUCE.  Going on a little before/after 9pm, the entire original crew graced the stage, to include the rare appearance by E.D. “Jesus” Combes on bass.  Living on the West Coast, he is constantly working with big names such as Eminem, Dr. Dre and played bass and wrote/produced several tracks on Britney Spears new album Blackout.  I love E.D. “Jesus” Combes because he puts a lot of thought into the notes he chooses to play, sometimes bursting to the front of the stage with a blast of funk through his body. He totally grinds into his playing which I LOVE!.  He stands out with understated effort because his sound is unusual and not forced. You just got to hear him to understand.

“Excellent night all around. Nigel and Soulive were incredible, but Lettuce especially blew me away! Check out the rooftop area for a breather between sets. Nice joint!” ~ Markus S.

The stellar cast on stage played a handful of favorites to include Blast Off, Sam Huff’s Flying Ragin’ Machine and Last Suppitt before bringing out the guests.  Let it be made very clear that Lettuce completely set the stage on fire even without the guests.  They truly are so tight and on point every time and we were enjoying them so much.  The guests were simply a blessed bonus.  My hands were on the railing of my ledge and I was literally head banging with so much fury as their energy coursed through me.  The horn section with it’s supplements was completely out of control. FIRE FUNK!

Set II: Lettuce w/ Talib Kweli

Set II: Lettuce w/ Talib Kweli

“Talib was money” ~ Eric S.

“You have my quote on the evening… “Tits on bacon.” ~ Andy D.

The first guest and a personal favorite of the night was Talib Kweli.  Rapper’s delight. He brought such an unusual layer to the revue. Bringing the urban into an already straight up funky urban rage, he rapped through Move Something.

The whole joint start shakin

This ain’t the time or place for you to prove something

Cut the stargazin’ yo, move somethin’! ~ Talib Kweli

 

Set II: Lettuce w/ Talib & Nigel

Set II: Lettuce w/ Talib & Nigel

The Blast saw Nigel Hall back on stage as he joined in on vocals with Talib KweliNigel, man, the guy can do it all.  Albeit, he is not a rapper in my mind and probably never will be.  He did, however, bring a soulful layer to his rapping that Talib couldn’t touch as he continued to rap over/under Nigel.  “Jazzfest energy” was a term I heard among my friends to describe the energy of Talib‘s trio of songs ending with Get By.

Little focus on Nigel‘s vocals……

Set II: Lettuce

Set II: Lettuce

Talib and Nigel leave the stage for the originals, led by the ever amazing Eric Krasno, rage through Break Out and Relax. Eric Krasno, relentless, captivating.  His sound and style, one you could pick out of any crowd of guitar players.  Powerful musician…wonderful band leader.  With all his projects and large catalog of musicians under his Royal Family records, Eric Krasno ensures that our nights in NYC are constantly filled with talented musical projects and shows. I can’t imagine the city without Krasno, Deitch and the lot.  And here he was showcased in front of all his projects together in one night. Then as if things could get any better…John Scofield joined the stage…enjoy his warm up…

John Scofield, a legend.  A complete and utter master at his trade. Being billed right off the bat, this was one of the highlights of the show that everyone was anticipating that evening.  The Flu… it was amazing.  John took a little time to warm up in my opinion but then it got rowdy.  The horns were grimy, popping in sounds that reminded me of Skerik.  It got powerful. The guitar standing out on top of it all, the audience slightly more quiet now, just watching it unfold.

The Shady Horns with Big Sam on trombone was out of this world.  Orchestral.  Everything was so tight and then Scofield would go off into trippy spacey scratching of the guitar making faces to match.  He is endless with the sounds he can produce with a guitar.

Set II: Lettuce

Set II: Lettuce

And with a gracious introduction from Alan Evans, with the horns blasting out his name and with John Scofield still in the mix, Nigel Hall was brought back on stage to perform their Curtis Mayfield staple, Move On Up. As many times as I have heard Nigel sing this song and heard he say he was sick of singing it, this version was STELLAR!!! My video is not so great so just turn it down a little lower to hear it and watch it…

The one below is only 1 minute but much better sound. Thought I’d give ya everything 😉

One of the deepest, funkiest, raging songs of the night: Making My Way Back Home, a song about Nigel’s hometown of Washington, DC. Raised three hours away in Williamsburg, Virgina, I relate to this song well. The bass line is killer in  this song. Nigel, so interactive with the audience, breaks it down and just continually bringing the energy UP, UP, UP Chuck Brown-style!!! SARDINES & KRAZ AND SCHMEENS!!

Lettuce Setlist: Intro, Blast Off Sam Huff’s Flying Ragin’ Machine, Last Suppitt, King of the Bergs, Move Something, The Blast, Get By, Break Out, Relax, The Flu, Move On Up, Makin My Way Back Home

Download: Lettuce Live at Terminal 5 on 2010-10-02 (October 2, 2010)

Breaksciene’s Afterparty at The Loving Cup’s Cameo was announced and the merchandise was plugged….and the headlining group was finally announced.  Soulive.  Live it, learn it, love them!

Dj Equal spinning away...

Dj Equal spinning away...

Soulive @ 10:30/10:45pm

Eric Krasno – Guitar

Neal Evans – Keys, bass

Alan Evans – Drums

Special Guests:

Warren Haynes – Guitar

Big Sam Williams – Trombone

Rashawn Ross – Trumpet

Sam Kinninger -Saxophone

Ryan Zoidis – Alto & Baritone Saxophone

Maurice Brown – Trumpet

Christian Scott – Trumpet

John Scofield – Guitar

Nigel Hall – Keys, Vocals

Set III: Soulive + Shady Horns

Set III: Soulive + Shady Horns

Keys + Bass = Amazing

Keys + Bass = Amazing

You know about Soulive right? One of the greatest trios ever IMHO!! I sure hope you know who they are and if not, check them out. It’s a trio comprised of the virtuoso guitar player, Eric Krasno, drums played by Alan Evans and then there is Neal Evans who plays keys.  The standout detail about this group is that Neal also plays the bass through the second layer of his keys.  Seriously.  Now…what kind of brain can do that?  That takes a complicated mind right there.   Such a cool combination of sounds/notes/vibes.

Set III: Soulive + Shady Horns

Set III: Soulive + Shady Horns

Soulive came out dressed in stylish suits and slammed into Beatles tunes.  Their latest CD release, Rubber Soulive, has been something of a hot topic among talented music circles.  It’s luscious, loud and worth every single penny.  Bringing their own touch to classic Beatles tune such as Come Together, Something in the Way, and Eleanor Rigby, it’s just superb. Sing alongs ensued.  Come Together found it’s way into everyone’s throats and the audience sang for their tickets as Soulive played for  their lives. Jazz-filled funky rock. The following video is a wonderful collection of all the Beatles tunes.  Sit back, turn it up and watch the magic.  Best video of the article 🙂  Everyone say “Thank you Mike!”

Krasno completely ripped open the songs, jamming us all into the floor.  Backed by the brothers of rage, the Beatles medley was one of the highlights of the show. I Want You (She’s So Heavy) was on a different level all together. Everyone thank my boy Scott for the excellent video below!!

“Was really great to see Soulive hit a comfort level with the Beatles material that they really ripped into it- I want you (She’s so heavy) seemed to really hit another gear of nastiness as they did with that song what most instrumentalists I know have always wanted to do with it.” ~ Russ A.

Set III: Shady Horns + some!!

Set III: Shady Horns + some!!

And once the covers of the Rubber Soulive were done they blasted into their oldies but raging goodies with The Shady Horns (Sam Kinninger & Ryan Zoidis) joining the stage for El Ron.  The place was utterly packed and from my second floor perch, I could see everyone moving, groovin’ and clapping.  Christian Scott had joined the rage and John Scofield joins the stage again for What You See Is What You Get. Granted, Scofield is a god, but this song was stolen by Christian Scott‘s trumpet solo and Neal Evans‘s keys.

At this point, the show starts elevating into a high point that seems unreachable.  Time for a horn rage.  By this time Maurice Brown and Rashawn Ross have joined Christian Scott and the Shady Horns. A horn rage ensues but where is Big Sam Williams on the trombone?? Oh man….well, he tried to join the horn ledge, however, Christian Scott had taken his microphone so NOLA represented.  Walking behind the drum kit to the front of the stage, Big Sam took over Eric Krasno‘s vocal mic for an intense in-your-face solo.  Enjoy! (Turn down volume a bit – it’s one of mine)

Set III: Soulive!

Set III: Soulive!

It was time for Scofield to lead the show with one from his own catalog, the funk rock original Hottentot!! The whisper through the audience after this song was loud.  This song choice made a lot of people happy, as it should.  The song allowed for he & Krasno to trade licks and let loose for a great jam, which I thought might lead to the beginning of the end of Scofield’s addition to the stage, until possibly the encore.  Boy….I had no idea what I was thinking.  The best was totally yet to come…..

Since the album version was my ringtone for years, the surprise bust-out of Sco’s “Hottentot” was probably one of my favorite highlights. It had a slightly slower, nastier vibe to it that I really enjoyed. ~ Andy D.

WARREN joins the stage...

WARREN joins the stage...

And if you just watched the video above, then the end just gave it away but THE BEST WAS TOTALLY YET TO COME!!!  Warren Haynes……….WARREN HAYNES joined the stage.  I literally grabbed the bars in front of me and screamed at the top of my lungs while flailing around.  I couldn’t believe it.  I just couldn’t believe it.  What is more unbelievable is I had to tell all the people around me who that even was.  I believe they were there for Talib Kweli but they had NO clue who Warren was.  Unreal.  And so it was that the venue erupted into a ball of energy that the night had yet to see.

Set III: Soulive + Warren + Sco

Set III: Soulive + Warren + Sco

Born Under A Bad Sign, a song made popular by Cream and originally written by the legendary blues guitarist, Albert King.  Yes SIR!!  HOLY YES!!!!!!  What can I say about this?  It was phenomenal.  Warren Haynes, John Scofield and Eric Krasno on the stage at one time…kidding me?  Nigel Hall came out and sang alternating verses with Warren Haynes and there were mixed reviews over this move but I thought it was superb. Nigel, once again adding a layer to the mix that just felt right.

“Nigel’s voice is always a special treat. Being a longtime Soulive fan, I really appreciated their take on the Beatles. Oh Eleanor Rigby! Thank you Soulive, Nigel Hall and the whole crew for getting so many wonderful musicians together all on one stage for this major collaboration!” ~ Jessica B.

I’m actually a little torn on Nigel.  I think Warren could have held the vocals down on “Born Under a Bad Sign” on his own, though Nigel did rip Too Much and the JB mini set. ~ Russ A.

I always did say Warren sings like an angel. ~ Jessica B.

This was just such a treat. You had Big Sam on his trombone as well.  I mean, the $25 ticket was paid for so long ago but if anyone had any qualms, they were silenced by this mega, face-melting guitar threesome horn flip-out.  Nigel‘s voice was killer.  Warren was killer. The horns were unmatched.  Scofield was melting into the floor with his guitar.  Unreal.  For a minute, I forgot who I was there to watch.  Wondering who the true star of the show truly was. Scofield left the stage and the rest of the set was Nigel Hall tearing up the vocals and Soulive blasting the stage apart with funky goodness. It was so great!

(Doin the 2 Video is uploading.  I’ll insert it tomorrow)

The encore was a James Brown Medley of all kinds of songs.  John Scofield came back out.  During the 3rd song, Nigel miscounted the beats and had a little rage to a stop and rewind the moment.  TWENTY!!!  And the second time around it went down right and they dropped the funk into our faces and dripped funk until they exited the stage.  JAMES BROWN MEDLEY!!  Think about that energy if you can!  Those of you there, remember that?  Nigel screaming, horns blasting…

There was some kind of swagger in the Soulive set that night. maybe it was that this was the biggest paying crowd for them headlining a show in nyc, maybe it was just feeling good on the material, maybe it was the hard work, but they played the hell out of those tunes. they owned those tunes. ~ Russ A.

Soulive Setlist: Come Together, Something In The Way, Eleanor Rigby, I Want You (She’s So Heavy),

El Ron, What You See Is What You Get, Hottentot, Born Under a Bad Sign, Do The 2, Too Much, JB Medley w/ John Scofield

Download: Soulive Live at Terminal 5 on 2010-10-02 (October 2, 2010)

 

THANK YOU ROYAL FAMILY!!!

THANK YOU ROYAL FAMILY!!!

 

It was a phenomenal night of music at Terminal this night.  for $25 you just couldn’t beat what we had just witnessed.  There was a fire on stage and an energy pumping thorugh the venue that I hadn’t felt before.  The crowd being so diverse, some coming for Talib Kweli and not knowing Warren Haynes.  Others knowing Warren Haynes but not Nigel Hall.  Others boasting about Lettuce but knowing nothing of John Scofield.  I think the greatest part of the night was knowing that a lot of people were introduced to a lot of new music and musicians this night.  I hope they went home and looked up Warren Haynes and Talib Kweli and Nigel Hall.

The Royal Family ensures that New York City will remain at the forefront of musical collaborations and musical history.  I feel as though whenever The Royal Family has a big to-do, they out do themselves every single time.  Thank you Royal Family.  Thank you for feeding us, supplying us with the music we need to survive.

Thank You SO MUCH!!!

Thank You SO MUCH!!!

 

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Rocks Off Cruise Ships

Rocks Off Cruise Ships

Walking to Boat...

Walking to Boat...

How excited was I?? I had just spent a day at the New Jersey Shore and had come right from the Transit train directly to a boat on the East River to see Cornmeal, a jam-rock-bluegrass band, for the first time.

I had been hearing of this band for MONTHS!!!  Nothing but great things.  Once it was announced that they would be performing on Jam Cruise 9 I knew I had to check them out.  Even better, I had never been on Rocks Off Concert Cruise Lines so this was going to be a night of many firsts.

The Marco Polo Cruise Line

The Marco Polo Cruise Line

Not 24 hours earlier, Cornmeal had played for 15,000+ people at the All Good Music Festival in Masontown, West Virginia. And now here they were playing for us…maybe 75 people?  Quite a drastic change.

Foooooood.....

Foooooood.....

Rocks Off Concert Cruise Lines Series is a groups of various sized ships that leave from either the East or West sides of Manhattan and travel up and down the East River or Hudson River while a band performs in the belly of the boat.

More food...

More food...

Upon entering the ships, you are immediately in the “Hospitality” area which held the bar and food.  It is cash only so be prepared…I was not.   There were empanada, turkey wraps, rice, pasta and salad.  The women working behind the counter were cheerful and bright.  When I went to take their picture one of them ran away.   I didn’t have anything to eat but my friends did munch on some empanadas.  They were not that impressed but it served it’s purpose.

Hanging with Chris prior to show...

Hanging with Chris prior to show...

One of the positives that was made clear right off the bat is the fact that the space is so intimate that the band members were mingling all around us.  This allowed for numerous conversations, introductions and commotion between all of us.  One of the other positives is that I felt like I was on a mini Jam Cruise for a night.  It was lovely.

Allie Kral and Tiny Rager :)

Allie Kral and Tiny Rager 🙂

The staff was more pleasant and accommodating. First of all, the drinks are $8 and I only had $7.  The bartender was like, “Oh, that is fine. I will make you a drink anyway.”  That drink was soooooooo strong, my girlfriend kept telling me to go get more Cranberry in my Vodka Cranberry.

Another great staff moment, the intern who was running the merchandise table agreed to let me put my traveling bags behind her table so long as she wasn’t responsible for them.  This was perfect since I had just come off the train from the beach and wasn’t able to drop my things off at home first.  Finally, there is parking all around the docks but you can also reach the boats by all forms of public transportation.

Stage prior to show...

Stage prior to show...

Luckily for those of us in attendance, the weather was cooperating with a light breeze and low humidity.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel much circulation within the belly of the boat where the band performs and found myself constantly having to leave the stage area to get some air outside on the bow of the boat.

Cornmeal

Introducing Cornmeal...

Introducing Cornmeal...

“Wavy” Dave Burlingame – Banjo,Vocals
Kris Nowak – Guitar,Vocals
Chris Gangi – String Bass, Vocals
JP Nowak – Drums, Vocals
Allie Kral – Fiddle, Vocals

Noted as a Bluegrass Jam band out of Chicago, Illinois, I knew that I was going to like their sound.  I was just hoping they were as tight and off the hook as I had been told.  They blew me away immediately, effortlessly sliding between the two styles and by the end of their first song, Heaven on Time, I was singing their praises.

Took off down the East River

Took off down the East River

The first set was 45 minutes. During that time, the boat left port and traveled down the East River towards the Statue of Liberty.  Aside from the heat, it was difficult to focus on the band as we traveled due to the lovely scenery catching my eye out all the windows.  Just a beautiful backdrop for a lovely night of music.  How had I never been on these boats before?  What the hell had kept me away so long?

Cornmeal aboard Rocks Off Cruise

Cornmeal aboard Rocks Off Cruise

With the banjo and the stand up bass driving the bluegrass vibe, Johnny Put Down Your Gun was next.  A wonderful jammy tune about a renegade.  We all got a little bit of Johnny in us I think.

Johnny was born in old Kentuck
High in the hills of Northern Boone
Folks been sayin’ since he’s a baby
Johnny was born to break the rules

Traveling down the East River

Traveling down the East River

Kris Nowak-Guitar,Vocals

Kris Nowak (Photo credit: Courtney Astrid Mendenhall)

There was numerous times that I felt I heard horns.  Perhaps it was my state of mind and my constant want to hear horns in any group. Instead, Cornmeal uses numerous pedals and contraptions to create distinct sounds that otherwise their instruments wouldn’t make without help.  Kris Nowak in particular made his guitar sound lovely morphing between jamming out and the bluegrass measures.  Chris Gang proceeded to tell us how this is their 10th year playing together and how proud they are of this accomplishment.  We all cheered and I wondered how I had never heard of them until this year.

Cornmeal aboard Rocks Off Cruise

Cornmeal aboard Rocks Off Cruise

JP Nowak – Drums, Vocals

JP Nowak (Photo credit: Courtney Astrid Mendenhall)

During Long Hard Road, we came around Battery Park and idled at the tip of Manhattan.  I couldn’t help but be a little overwhelmed. There we were, floating in a boat only a few hundred yards away from the Statue of Liberty.  These moments are never wasted on me and at that moment, everyone was on the bow of the ship taking in the scenic views.  From the stage I heard: “We are going to take a short break now and come enjoy the view with yall.”    And then Cornmeal was by my side, taking pictures with my friends, holding conversations with everyone.  What a great thing.

More views of the East River...

More views of the East River...

The boat itself is very liberal with what they allow to go on.  Watching the band try to keep their balance was quite entertaining.  Attempting to stand myself was difficult and I wasn’t drinking. You can imagine how tipsy the other patrons on the boat were who were imbibing heavily.  On the other hand, tonight, there were numerous Wharf Rats on the ship.  Wharf Rats is a twelve-step program which met at shows and helps people stay sober.  On such a small boat, I felt a little bad partaking in my festivities around them.

And she sings too...

And she sings too...

Kris Nowak-Guitar,Vocals

Kris Nowak-Guitar,Vocals

Over the years, I have enjoyed the friendships of numerous Wharf Rats (or other various sober organizational members) who understand we are not all sober and that some of us still party…I like to call it “Raging Responsibly”.  Tonight, there were a few people who seemed to be all out MEAN to those of us enjoying ourselves.  I was shocked.  One girl was complete pissing and moaning about not being able to drink while another one verbally voiced her disgust when people lit up.  I find that completely uncalled for, personally.  No one was blowing cigarette smoke in anyone’s face or anything.  Peopel were being

I found out later that Cornmeal took home a Jammy Award in 2008 for Best New Groove.  This makes complete sense.  The artists that comprise this band are technically charged and brilliant.  Let’s talk about these amazing musicians.

Allie Kral of Cornmeal on Rocks Off

Allie Kral (Photo credit: Courtney Astrid Mendenhall)

First I have to go with the female of the band. The fiddle player, Allie Kral.  ALLIE KRAL!!  WHAT???  WHAT???  Are you kidding me?  I have never seen a female violinist’s arm move so fast. I have never been so captivated by a female violinist so fast.  It can genuinely be feared that her arm might fly right out of the socket and knock my ass out.  She is phenomenal.  Her speed is riveting, her precision of sound is right on point.

The view from the boat...I need a better camera

The view from the boat...I need a better camera

Then you have “Wavy” Dave Burlingame, the banjo player.  Oh man, where do I being?  He was incredible as well.  Flashes of Bela and others came to mind with this guy’s work.  I wish I could describe the sounds.  With his laid-back vibe radiating off his posture, his fingers flew over the strings to create a integral sound for the group.

Kris Nowak & “Wavy” Dave Burlingame

Kris Nowak & “Wavy” Dave Burlingame

During intermission, I was introduced to the Railroad Earth sound guy.  I completely forgot his name but his face is so unique I will most certainly be able to pick him out of a crowd if we ever cross paths again.  There was lots of talk of Jam Cruise being that Cornmeal was on the boat this year and even more talk about how people get on the boat working under a band.

Cornmeal on Rocks Off Cruise

Cornmeal on Rocks Off Cruise

Cornmeal on Rocks Off Cruise

Cornmeal on Rocks Off Cruise

Set List!!

Set List!!

For the encore, Cornmeal RAGED the Allman Brother‘s Whipping Post at some point.  That might have been my favorite song of the night.  I mean, they really really crushed this cover jamming at times and raging their bluegrass vibe as Allie Kral’s arm moved over the strings so fast I could not even consider getting a clear shot of her.

The entire vibe of the night was perfection. The weather was flawless, the scenery was gorgeous, the music was the best of both worlds…WE WERE ON A BOAT!! A GREAT date night adventure if you ask my opinion. Get on it guys…

Set I: Heaven on Time, Johnny, Pennies in the River, Dig A Hole, On My Own, Long Hard Road

Set II: River Gap, Calling Me Back Home, Not At Home Anymore, Walk (Don’t Look Back),

Encore: Molly & T, Whipping Post

Rocks Off Cruise Pictures

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