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Posts Tagged ‘Otis Redding’

Tiny Rager with Questlove, Christian McBride and Gary Bartz. SO HAPPY!!!

Tiny Rager with Questlove, Christian McBride and Gary Bartz. SO HAPPY!!!

Questlove Presents Mo’ Meta Blues I ft. Booker T, Eric Krasno, Gary Bartz, Charistian McBride & Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (06.21.11)

Questlove – Drums
Eric Kranso – Guitar
Booker T. Jones – Organ
Gary Bartz – Saxophone
Christian McBride – Bass

Surprise Guest:
Dee Dee Bridgewater – Vocals
Nigel Hall – Vocals

The Blue Note Venue Front

The Blue Note Venue Front

The Blue Note is a venue name that is known around the world for housing some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians in it’s various Milan, Tokyo, NYC and Nagoya locations.  For true NY music goers, we aren’t always fond of this venue but no one can deny that some of our city’s greatest music is made inside that sardine-packed tourist trap.

For 30 years, The Blue Note has brought us some of the most phenomenal music played by phenomenal collections of musicians.  This year, to celebrate their 30 years dedicated to music, The Blue Note, along with Jill Newman Productions, has put together a month long calendar of music around the city, creating the inaugural Blue Note Jazz Festival.

Over the past month The Festival has featured numerous high-profile acts within the walls of the Blue Note  such as Dave Brubeck, Chris Botti, Nancy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin, Roberta Flack, Brian Wilson, Medeski Martin & Wood, El Gran Combo, McCoy Tyner, Bill Frisell, Meshell Ndegeocello, Madeleine Peyroux, Chaka Khan, and many more. As well, numerous acts have been held around the city’s various outdoor spaces such as Parks and other music venues.

Questlove @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Questlove @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

For two nights, famed drummer Questlove hosted Mo’ Meta Blues 1  featuring a collection of amazing jazz virtuoso musicians to include guitarist Eric Kranso and bassist Christian McBride.  The group was completed with legendary saxophonist Gary Bartz and Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer organist Booker T. Jones (Booker T and the MG’s).

I was terribly excited for a performance mixing the old school with the new school.  It is performances like these were I wish there were more youth in the audience. More young musicians who have deliberately sought out the best in the scene; sitting in the audience watching how it’s done.  Looking around, I couldn’t help but wonder how in a city like NYC, there were not more musical savvy teenagers. Where is the disconnect? Is it because our music isn’t on the radio? Just something I always ponder while sitting waiting for shows to begin.

Booker T Jones latest Cd: The Road From Memphis

Booker T Jones latest Cd: The Road From Memphis

Tonight’s musicians would be performing a selection of songs from Booker T’s new album, The Road From Memphis, a wonderful collection of songs with collaborations with Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, Sharon Jones and Lou Reed and The National’s Matt Berninger.  Produced by Jones with The Roots’ ?uestlove and Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith), Memphis was recorded by Daptone Records mastermind Gabriel Roth with backing by The Roots.  Enjoy Booker T’s video for his cover of Lauryn Hill‘s “Everything is Everything.”

The new school rhythm section alone could have kept my attention for both sets. Questlove has been drumming since he was a little boy on tour with his famous 50’s doo wop father, Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews & the HeartsQuestlove is best known as the drummer for the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots, which is now the in-house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Christian McBride, Questlove‘s high school homie, is considered a virtuoso bass player and is one of the most recorded bassists of the last 20 years. He has performed and recorded with a massive number of artists, jazz legends and ensembles including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Joshua Redman, as well as with hip-hop, pop, soul, and classical musicians like The Roots, Kathleen Battle, Carly Simon, Sting, Bruce Hornsby, and James Brown. His sound is liberating and intoxicating.

“Half the fun up here is the fun music trivia we all have and finding the fun in referencing it in the music we play up here.  I am just warning you all now, there will be a lot of inside musical jokes on this stage.” ~ Questlove

Booker T Jones @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Booker T Jones @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Then you had Booker T. Jones from Booker T and the MGs.  Booker T. & the MG’s were the house band for the famous Memphis Soul music label Stax Records.  They recorded with all the Stax Records artists, including Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Isaac Hayes, but they also recorded their own material between sessions.  The song they are most famous for is Green Onions, a song they played every set during this run. My favorite and earliest memory of hearing this song can be seen right here:

All the Blue Note sets had the same set lists, in varying order:

  1. Down In Memphis ( Booker T on vocal, #5 on disc)
  2. Rent Party (#7 on disc)
  3. Walking Papers (#1 on disc)
  4. Everything is Everything (#6 on disc)
  5. Hip Hugger (Old Booker T Song)
  6. Gentle Smiles (Gary Bartz Tune)
  7. Born Under A Bad Sign (William Bell cover)
  8. Can’t Find Love
  9. Green Onions
  10. Melting Pot
Look at Those Happy Faces @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Look at Those Happy Faces @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Both nights, Questlove was the first to enter on stage.  He sat at his drum kit and announced each artist individually as they waited patiently at the top of the stairs. Questlove‘s sense of humor came out immediately.  “Please welcome Mr. Eric Kras-NOW,” as he emphasized the last part with a huge smile. “Please welcome Mr. Gary “Blow Your Horn” Bartz!” And so it continued till each member was on stage and the show could begin.

Down In Memphis ( Booker T on vocal, #5 on disc)
Rent Party (#7 on disc)

They stated the set with Down In Memphis with Booker T. on vocals.   His signature plunking Organ keys sounding just like I remembered.  Rent Party followed with Eric Kranso taking the lead on the solo. During the song, Kranso took the guitar licks and changed them up slightly, causing a jubilant stir from Booker T. and QuestloveBooker T. could be caught glancing at Kranso with looks of interest and obvious delight as Kranso took the song to level Booker T. probably wished was on his new cd.

Eric Krasno @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Eric Krasno @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Walking Papers (#1 on disc)

“The next song selection and what not is…You know we gotta be classy, this is the Blue Note after all!  The next song selection and shit …..” ~ Questlove as the venue erupted in laughter. Probably the one and only time I will hear cursing on the stage of the Blue Note from time to come.

The third selection was Walking Papers. Questlove described the song titles as “the papers that your angry wife gives you.” The song broke into a funky beat and my friend and I all complained about being forced to sit through this danceable set.

Whole Group @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Whole Group @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Everything is Everything (#6 on disc)

Booker T.‘s cover of Lauryn Hill‘s Everything is Everything followed. This song should have been sung by Nigel Hall who was waiting in the rafters during the first set while this song played but was sitting at our table for the second.  However, Booker T. played the vocals on his organ. No words. Personally, I feel that it is the words of this song that make it powerful and I loved how this elder artist was playing the younger tunes but it was general consensus around my table that it should be sung, not played.  Watching Gary Bartz, I wondered when he learned the song and how long it took him to learn it.  Did he really like it?  On the new cd, Booker T. also covers Gnarls Barkley‘s Crazy.

Hip Hugger (Old Booker T Song)

The best thing about being on this stage the past few days has been our ability to vicariously feel like we are in each others bands. We all have so much respect for each others bands and projects. This next tune will make us honorary MGs”  ~ Questlove introducing HipHugger.

As they segued into HipHugger, Christian McBride took the lead.  He shot out the gate with his solos on this song each set. His smile infectious, his playing addicting.

Gary Bartz @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Gary Bartz @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Gentle Smiles (Gary Bartz Tune)

At this point I should tell yall a little something about the magnificent Gary Bartz as he was the reason this show was even taking place!! When Jill Newman approached Questlove with the list of musicians that might want to take part in this project, Gary Bartz‘s name was what stopped him.

Gary Bartz is a Grammy winning alto saxophone player who first touched down on ears in the mid 60’s.  He played with epic jazz musicians like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Charles Mingus’ Workshop and McCoy Tyner before even reaching the 70’s.  His music became influential amongst many genres and soon Gary’s music hit Questlove‘s ears as he followed the rise of hip-hop.

If you were a fan of hip-hop in 1991 then you might have known of a song called Gentle Smiles but might not have known it was a Bartz original.  A Tribe Called Quest famously used this sample for their song Butter on the “The Low End Theory” 1991 album. Everyone knows that album, or rather they should. Questlove dropped some serious licks while playing this song, probably having played it in his head over and over for years coming up in the scene.  It was a slow, downright sexy rage.

Gary Bartz’s Gentle Smiles:

A Tribe Called Quest’s Butter, sampling the song:

Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

“And now I’d like to introduce you to the last member of our clan. A person who has his graduate degree in soul walking and Jamesology.  I’ve given him new monikers each set. I need help giving him one for this set,” said Questlove as he looked at the rest of his band. Nigel Hall was introduced by Questlove last night as Nigel Baptiste, Nigel Cosby was his name for tonight’s first set and Norman Huckstable Hall was thrown out this time by Christian McBride.

This was Nigel Hall‘s first paid performance at the Blue Note. As we stood at the top of the stairs and chatted he was wringing his hands and seemed slightly nervous.  So endearing.

Celestial Blues (Gary Bartz Tune)

As Nigel Hall began his next song he spoke of the Maine State Slogan being “They Way Life Should Be” and how the song he was about to sing is more tactical version of that statement.  “so meditate and contemplate”  Gary Bartz raged thru his solo.  Gary Bartz is the reason Questlove went after this gig.  When Jill Newman,  the lady who helped fund the Blue Note Jazz Festival, read Questlove the list of musicians who were interested in the super jam…this is the name that solidified the deal.

Whole Group raging The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Whole Group raging The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Born Under A Bad Sign (William Bell cover)

There was more banter and The Temptations Get Ready was teased by the rhythm section, another inside musical joke. Nigel Hall went on to sing Born Under A Bad SignNigel went off in the song, getting lost in his own voice. We got lost as well.  Having been part of The Warren Haynes Band for a few months, Nigel Hall has fused this song to his blood line.  And as always, I heard people asking “who was this guy,” questioning with the biggest smiles possible!!!   The night before, I was unlucky enough to miss Dee Dee Bridgewater, who came out in the second set to join Nigel on this song.  Amazing.

“Let’s give fun a round of applause ~ Questlove

Got To Get Some > Cant’ Find Love

As they began to play the next tune Got To Get Some, Questlove stopped and I think might have broken something as he said “well, they are gonna charge me five bucks for that! ” Nigel responds, “Sounds alright.  So long as its tight, its alright.” Nigel sang soulfully through Got To Get Some and Cant’ Find Love.

Whole Group w/ Nigel @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Whole Group w/ Nigel @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Green Onions & Melting Pot (Booker T Covers)

Nigel Hall bounced off the stage as the remaining group broke into Green Onions.  Christian McBride is such an amazing bassist as he kicked his bass so deep during this song.  Seeing this song performed live was truly special.  With these musicians, who were having so much fun on stage, they brought the song to life and I have to admit that it was one of my fav parts of the set. Just hearing the opening immediately made me smile. It’s impossible not to love this song.

The super group ended their exciting set with Booker T’s Melting Pot from his 1971 studio album.  Here is the studio version of the song. There were certainly to many restrictions on picture and video taking at The Blue Not like always.

When super groups like this gather, it’s always a shame to miss the magic. I hope this brought you into the moment, if only a little bit!

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Thank you Cloud 9 Adeventures and MSC Crusies!!

Thank you Cloud 9 Adventures and MSC Cruises!!

There are music festivals and then there is Jam Cruise!!  A musical festival on a cruise ship that travels international seas for 5 to 6 days.  I said it last year and I will say it again now.  IT IS THE GREATEST MUSICAL ADVENTURE anyone can take.

Last year, I was at a complete loss for words.  It was my Virgin Cruise and I was awestruck by the magnitude of what I had just experienced.  Considering this was my second year, I thought the hype would be just a bit dimmer, I figured I would be a little less anxious and calm.  Nope!

Even now, while I could burst at the seams ATTEMPTING to explain these EPIC musical journeys, I find it so hard figuring out where to start. It’s all so unbelievable.  I could tackle these articles by day, or perhaps by subject regarding the atmosphere, the music or the people and so much more. I could write a five page article just on the relationship cultivations that took place this year.  There is just so much!!! And the fact that I only slept about 10-12 hours over the span of 5 days gives me an arsenal of memories to pull from.

Jam Cruise 9 Website Banner

Jam Cruise 9 Website Banner

Last year Tinyrager.com didn’t exist as it’s own site.  I wrote for other sites but mainly for my own personal cataloging of memories and would just save the documents on my computer.  So, after last year’s Jam Cruise, I began writing out my adventure and I never made it past the Sail Away Party.

My life took off before I could finish my personal Jam Cruise manifesto.  But I did make an attempt and the end result was all the glorious details about the embarkation line to the ship, the embarkation process, what happened when I explored the boat stumbling across the various venues and checking into my room with the gift bags and what not.  I wrote about everything I could remember up until the Sail Away Party….and then I stopped.

This year, I am going to continue where I left off at the Sail Away Party with a few backtracking steps.  There is no need for me to re-write the exact same information about the boat for this article. If you would like to know about all the things listed above then CLICK HERE!  The article is totally relevant to this one and worth the read and would help cement your mind if you are still debating on getting on the boat.  Jam Cruise staff actually found it last year and blasted it over their page a few times due to the comprehensive nature of the article.  So, enjoy that! It’s got great pictures too!

Now, let’s get this party started!!!

Hello Pretty Ship!! (Photo by Murray)

Hello Pretty Ship (Photo by Murray)

~ Boarding & Pre-Sail Away ~

Within MINUTES, sooooo much can happen to you on Jam Cruise.  This year, I boarded the boat in what felt like 15 minutes but was really a little over/under an hour.  As we get our room keys and begin the walk into the ship, I gaze to my right and Bob Weir is standing next to me. He pulled himself from the line and leans against the wall looking dazed, confused and very skinny. Had he been standing by us the whole time and we been too excited to notice?  He didn’t have an entourage and he looked so frail I guess it’s possible.  As my friends and I realized the magnitude of this moment, we all said “Hello Bob!” and he flashed us a forced smile.  I couldn’t tell if he was happy or sad but I knew how we felt! FREAKING STOKED!!!

A few more feet through the line and we were shuffled into the section where you get your boarding pictures taken. You could purchase the pictures for $30 if you wanted, but whoa that is a lot.  However, in the group behind us, Steve Kimock jumped into the picture.  Now THAT is a $30 moment worth purchasing!!  And there you had another group of people whose minds were just blown and we hadn’t even made it on the boat yet.  Sadly, my hunt for these pictures has come to a dead end. They are gone once you leave the ship.

Before all hell broke loose :) (Photo By Murray)
The NYC Krewe + some before all hell broke loose 🙂 (Photo By Murray)

I was in line with two of my best friends from NYC and we were in different rooms. Once we boarded the boat we separated so I could take my luggage to my room and unpack as fast as possible as not to miss a moment.  I was wearing my Big Sam’s Funky Nation tee-shirt, READY for the Sail Away Party. READY to see my main man Big Sam.  As I step into the mirrored elevator with my luggage, I was covered by this giant shadow of a man who had followed behind me.  And as I turn around, I am embraced by none other than Big Sam. Having reached out to me after he saw one of my reviews of his show, he flashed a smile that melted me as I got a huge hug! What a super duper dude! I will have TONS to say about him later in these articles.

(Photo by Jeffery Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffery Dupuis)

Last year I was in the Singles Program.  The layout of my room this year was exactly like last year except that I was now with two friends I had met on my virgin cruise: Aaron and Victoria, a super cute Jam Cruise couple who completely enhanced my journey. Thank you both for being such wonderful roommates.    I entered an empty room and unpacked as fast as I could. When I walked out of my room, I just didn’t know which way to turn. There were SO many people I wanted to see who I hadn’t seen since last year’s journey and whose relationship was cultivated through Facebook over the year as we waited patiently to all be together again.  There was so much I wanted to do all in one moment but I knew where I needed to be.    This year, I had a krewe from NYC on the boat and one of them was a virgin, my dear sweet friend Jessica.  I wanted to see their room and be with her.  I just wanted to watch her take it all in because that must have been what I was like last year with my jaw on the ground.

Jam Cruise is over but we know that time will last forever. From the minute I walked into 10242 there was nothing but LOVE. Jessica who I’vereally never met treated me (and everyone) like I was a saint or angel or something. We constructed the door decor (bonding) and the RAGE was on ! Off to Eric’s to gather the troops and start the search for the bottom of the tequilla bottle. A short time later we were off to the pool deck to find the angel Karen has been talking about: Hillary! ~ Murray Ballz

~ Door Décor Competition ~

Sharon & Said's Decor!!  (Photo by Richmand Images)

Sharon & Said's Decor!! (Photo by Richmand Images)

As I entered their room, the faces looking at me were already more shiny and sparkly then when we had left in line.  The Jam Cruise blood was flowing through their veins. Their room was bigger with a balcony.  It’s always good for SOMEONE in your rage krewe to have a balcony! They had taken out all the makings for their door décor and were attempting to assemble it.  Their concept was beautiful.  Using pictures of multiple artists and groups that inspired them, along with artists that couldn’t make it on the boat as well as pictures of allllllll our friends and families who couldn’t make it on the boat, we were to create a collage covering the door and then we placed a mirror in the middle.  On the mirror’s top it read: “We are all on board together.”  On the mirror’s bottom: “And so are you!” So, that when you look into the mirror, everyone is together, connected somehow on board together.  I loved it!

A typical hallway on Jam Cruise (Photo by Chad Smith)

A typical hallway on Jam Cruise (Photo by Chad Smith)

(Photo by Murray)

(Photo by Murray)

We spent a few hours cutting pictures, tapping things.  The rest of our NY posse rolling through the room to say Hi and get the best hugs in the world.  This also began the utilization of the deck for party breaks which, as time passed, began making it hard for us to focus and use tape correctly HAHAHA!!  The mirror began messing with my head; Rob couldn’t roll a piece of tape to save his life! It was awesome! Oh, you should have seen it.

During this time, the magic of the boat presented itself to us with the introduction of Rob and Jess’s neighbors.  When we ran out of tape, they came right in for the rescue. When we needed writing done for the mirror, they were right there with a solution and Maker’s Mark on the rocks. No matter what you want, you get what you NEED on Jam Cruise! From masking tape to enlightenment.

Putting "our" door decor!! (Photo by Murray)

Putting "our" door decor!! (Photo by Murray)

The final product was perfect. A door COVERED with people and musicians we love that couldn’t be on the boat with us, yet they were, even if it was only in this small way.  Throughout the week, any number of our NYC posse could be found sitting on the floor starting at our door. Staring at our loved ones, staring at Jerry and Janis.  Personally, I was found passed out with my hand on the picture of myself and my boyfriend on the first night and was guided back to bed for what would be the only night I would sleep in my cabin!!!

And in terms of what door enhanced my JC experience the most??   Door number #9211.  This door was covered in 3D pictures from last year’s Jam Cruise.  There were numerous 3D glasses attached to the wall by string so you could see the pictures.  It just got cooler every time I saw it. And at one point, I didn’t even NEED the glasses to see it in 3D.  So, anyway, TINYRAGER award to Room #9211 for making us go OUT of our way at least 2 times a day to check out your door!

Forum Party/ Sharon's Birthday Rage! (Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

Forum Party/ Sharon's Birthday Rage! (Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

Once we finished the door we  realized that we missed the forum party on the pool deck.  They had gathered to give Sharon R. a proper Happy Birthday.  I am so sorry I missed this Sharon!  Love you! And now…it was time for the Sail Away Party!!!

Jam Cruise Day One Schedule!!

Jam Cruise Day One Schedule!!

~ Big Sam’s Funky Nation / Sail Away Party ~ Pool Deck ~

Photo By Rex-A-Vision

Photo By Rex-A-Vision

The wonderful Julie McCoy (Photo by Chad Smith)

The wonderful Julie McCoy (Photo by Chad Smith)

The Sail Away Party is phenomenal and truly defines the rest of the voyage.  Julie McCoy, the ship’s activities coordinator/manager/queen bee, comes on to the stage.  Free champagne is distributed amongst the cruisers lining the pool deck and The Captain and Julie McCoy toast us off on our journey.  Then the horns blow and you now know…the party has OFFICIALLY begun. As well, Sweet Water Brewery gives out free beer at during this set, wonderful news for the alcohol drinkers, if you like their flavors!

Photo by Rex-A-Vision

Photo by Rex-A-Vision

I walked to the front row with my friends, toasted, and then stepped away for a moment alone. I was alone on the top level of the Pool deck last year for the beginning of Trombone Shorty’s Sail Away Party and I wanted to be in the similar location and just be alone, connecting with the ship, for a few moments.  If you read my post from last year, you know the turmoil I was in before I boarded this magical vessel that changed my world.  So, I walked up to my sacred spot, snapped a picture of the amazing sight I was staring at and took one giant breath. Upon exhaling that breath came SO MANY tears, I almost collapsed.  The flood gates opened upon the realization that I was back. I was back in this music world; this musical WONDERLAND that completely CHANGED MY LIFE! And this year was going to be SO different than last year.

~ Big Sam Sail Away Party~ Raging Audience Shot from Stage ~

Photo By Rex-A-Vision

Photo By Rex-A-Vision

After letting the tears flow for 2 songs, I gathered myself, with the help of a few people around me, and went back down to the front row, puffy faced and all smiles.  For those of you who don’t know much about the boat or who are not large into the music scene, the front row is where it’s at.  I was greeted into the front row where all the best people reside in most musical scenes, let alone Jam Cruise. But I suppose I need to talk about music here at some point right?  Wasn’t this a music festival on a ship?

THE FUNKY NATION:

Big Sam– Trombone
Danny Abel – Guitar
Eric Vogel – Bass
Drummer Boy Milk Williams – Drums
Da Phessah Drew Baham – Vocal/Trumpet

Not so great mobile pic of the View from my "alone" spot (Photo by TinyRager)

Not so great mobile pic of the View from my "alone" spot (Photo by TinyRager)

I have seen Big Sam numerous times throughout the year. I was worried that his Sail Away party would be the same formulaic shows that I had seen him perform over the year.  But that wasn’t the case.  Where there was a similar flow to it all, Big Sam covered some great songs, added some new dance moves…they just brought us a new show and the audience ate it right up.

Photo by Rex-A-Vision

Photo by Rex-A-Vision

During the fourth song, the ship’s debarking horn blew, the pool deck erupted with cheers and we started moving.   Immediately, the heavy hitters started joining the party.  If nothing else, Jam Cruise is about the various musical combination of artists you can find  performing on the boat. You NEVER know who is going to sit in with whom.  In this case, Leo Nocentelli (The Meters) joined Big Sam for “Gonna Get Funked Up Tonight” and Fred Wesley (JB Horns) followed for “See Me Dance”.

~ Big Sam Sail Away Party~ Top of Pool Deck Perspective ~

Now, The Funky Nation is know for their ability to rage cover songs as well as create new edgy music. Throughout the set he blew some heat into Gnarls Barkley‘s “Crazy”, The Black Crowes/Otis Redding‘s “Hard To Handle”  and their final song of the set was a mash up of Cee Lo Green‘s “Fuck You” and Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Religion”.  This moment was special for me because when the song first came out, Josh and I literally blasted that Cee Lo Green song for a month straight every morning while getting ready for work.  The song is hilarious and the video is even more so.  In this moment, I looked around the pool deck and saw people kinda staring blankly.  Except for a few people, they didn’t recognize the song.  The entire set lived up to it’s expectations.  It was high energy, full of flare and raging rock funk.

Set List:

01. Intro
02. ?? (jam/instrumental)
03. Feelin’
04. King of the Party
05. ?? (instrumental)
06. Gonna Get Funked Up Tonight
07. See Me Dance
08. Big Ole Booty
09. Hard to Handle
10. Do Watcha Wanna > Everybody Needs Someone to Love > You Are My Sunshine tease > ??
11. Dance Floor
12. Up In Here >
13. jam >
14. ?? >
15. Crazy > Get Low >
16. band intros/banter >
17. Fuck You > Bad Romance tease

Download Big Sam’s Funky Nation Set

At this point we had half an hour until any music started. Being that this was the first night, I can’t believe they had lulls but this year’s scheduling seemed to be staggered differently so whatever. Gave us time to debate!  The options were:

1) Bob Weir‘s Scaring The Children on the Pool Deck (9:30pm-11:30pm)

2) Greensky Bluegrass in the Zebra Bar (9:15pm-10:45pm)

3) Robert Randolph and the Family Band in Teatro Carlos Felice (9pm-11pm)

Already, my heart was racing with the fact that I knew I would be missing things I didn’t want to miss.  This year, I knew I would be spending a significant amount of time the first few days cultivating relationships and so I made a point to schedule the music I loved but also plan to hang out where a large percentage of my Jamily might be.

Most of the performers have two sets over the course of the week so I was ok with missing things here and there and catching them later.  In general, the inner turmoil for me over what music to see is the most stress I feel on that ship.

Carlos Felice Theater! (Photo by TinyRager)

Carlos Felice Theater! (Photo by TinyRager)

I took off for Robert Randolph and the Family Band, riding on a cloud.  When I got there, the theater greeted me with all its purple and gold majesty.  This is my favorite venue on the ship. Again, you can learn about the ship from last year’s posts.  But I will tell ya that the purple and gold colors are beautiful and remind me of my college, there are two levels to rage on, the elevated steps in front of the stage are perfect for our drinks, extra costume accessories like boas, hats and what not.  The stairs are also rounded and this allows for a much larger front row throwdown.

I got to the theater and no one was really even in there and the roadies were still setting up.  Speaking of cultivating relationships, I met a lovely twin set named Cindy and Mindy, who inevitably raged the front row with the best of us the whole cruise. Rage on ragers. Big hugs to you both!

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)
(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

~ Robert Randolph and the  Family Band ~ Theatro Carlo Felice ~

Robert Randolph – Pedal Steel, Guitar and Vocals

The Family Band:

Danyel Morgan – Bass and Vocals
Marcus Randolph – Drummer
Adam Smirnoff – Rhythm Guitar
Lenesha Randolph -Vocals
Brett Haas – Keyboards and Guitar

Special Geusts:

Eric Krasno – Guitar
Big Sam – Trombone
Ivan Neville – Keys
Taylor Hicks -Vocals & Harmonica

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)
(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

As I sat there, making new friends, old ones started arriving.  Said and Sharon’s smiling face made their way to our side of the theater. (Thanks to Said for the RR&TFB set-list below).  Then one by one the Jamily krewe gathered until we were 25+ deep on the left side of the stage. Oh, how I just want to talk about all these lovely people, not the music. It’s insane.  But that is not the purpose of this so…

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

Having seen Robert Randolph and the Family Band a few times this year and being disappointed in the performances, I was PRAYING that he would kick it back to his roots and focus on older songs, perhaps melt our faces without playing Lady Gaga tunes to fill time.  Perhaps give us some great covers; perhaps show us some great collaborations.  And that is exactly what they did.

Blasting off his set with “Ted’s Jam,” he shot me right back to ten years ago when I first found Robert and Danyel at Star Hill in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The newest addition to the clan, Lenesha Randolph, was on stage, backing up her brother.  I am still weary on her talent.  I won’t say anymore regarding that topic.

“The March” is one of my all time favorites Robert debuted years ago.  I was right up front with my musical posse and when Robert got off his seat and started dancing for us, we all knew the dance and joined along.  He asked us to teach those around us but he was doing a fine job wiggling his body for us….mmmmmm. And Danyel‘s bass thumped away. I am absolutely IN LOVE with Danyel and his voice.   Always have been!

A re-worked “Thriller” cover saw Eric Krasno and Big Sam join the stage and over the remainder of the set Ivan Neville and American Idol’s Taylor Hicks, yup Taylor Hicks, also joined the stage.


“Tears of Joy” brought the blues to an otherwise raging set and my faith in Robert Randolph and his family, however swaying it may have been hours earlier, was restored and his #1 fan was back on top, in the front row, loosing her mind!

Set List:

01. Ted’s Jam
02. ?
03. ?
04. The March
05. ?
06. If I Had My Way
07. Deliver Me
08. I Miss My Girlfriend (Her Name is Molly)
09. Thriller Jam
10. I Need More Love
11. Voodoo Chile
12. Tears of Joy
13. Traveling Shoes

Download Robert Randolph and the Family Band Theater Set

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

As soon as set ended, I hightailed it to the Pool Deck to check out the remainder of Bob Weir‘s Scaring The Children.  I ended up on the upper deck looking down at the sea of Dead heads who were staring doe-eyed at Bobby and Co. The wind was blowing warmly over my body as I realized we were so far from land now I couldn’t see lights.

I gave Bobby as much time as I could before wanting to leave.  Personally, I thought it sounded pretty slow and that is not a bad thing, I just needed something more to move to.  I wish I could recall the song that was playing.  Even though it was tough for me to look at Bobby, as all I could imagine was the scene from Indiana Jones where the guy takes the sip from the wrong chalice and his skin melts off,  it appeared that he was giving the people what they wanted.  Smiles abounded on the faces below me and I just knew that Jerry was smiling down upon the ship.

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

So, after Robert Randolph‘s set, we were faced with more difficult choices.

1) Pimps of Joytime in the Zebra Bar (11:00pm-1:00am)

2) Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe on the Pool Deck (12:30am-3:00am)

  • Sadly, I can not find a link for this set. If anyone finds one, please pass it along to me.

3) Anders Osborne with Stanton Moore and Carl Dufrene in the Teatro Carlos Felice (11:45pm-1:15am)

Having just seen Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe numerous time over the past year and just a few days earlier as the Phish After Party on New Years Eve, I decided to skip KDTU on the Pool Deck and focus on the Anders Osborne set.

Performing on same stage as Robert Randolph, the Anders set was going to take a little time to prepare as they transferred over the equipment.  I used this time to gather my thoughts, fill up my water bottle and grab a bite to eat. I don’t want to go into the food just yet…too stressful.

(Photo by Michael Weiss)

(Photo by Michael Weiss)

~ Anders Osborne with Stanton Moore and Carl Dufrene ~ Teatro Carlo Felice ~

(Photo by Dave Vann)

(Photo by Dave Vann)

I had missed Anders Osbourne the few times he made his way through NYC the past year and having seen him in the past, I KNEW he would rip up whatever stage he was on with his rouge, wild, rockin’ New Orleans vibe.  That is exactly what I was looking for at this time in the evening.

His back up band was a force to be reckoned with.  Joining  the stage this set was:

Anders Osbourne – Guitar and Vocals
Robert Walter – B3 Organ
Carl Dufrene – Bass
Stanton Moore -Drums

Special Guests:

Scott Metzger – Guitar
Will Bernard – Guitar
Skerik – Saxaphone

(Photo by Michael Weiss)

(Photo by Michael Weiss)

This set was complete fire!!!  I mean absolutely out of control, rock-laced guitar shredding jams, backed by outrageous solos by Skerik and added guitar layers by way of Scott Metzger and Will Bernard.  At the time, it was my favorite set of the night and in hindsight, it is in my top five sets of the week.  The inclusion of Skerik‘s hyper-driven saxophone layered upon Anders songs was, well……take a look at this….seriously.

Set List:

1. Tuning
2. Love Is Taking Its Toll
3. Echoes Of My Sins
4. Darkness At The Bottom
5. Burning On The Inside
6. Got Your Heart
7. Me Donkey Want Water

Download Anders Osborne Theater Set

(Photo by Dave Vann)

(Photo by Dave Vann)

And here we were back having to make decisions!!

1) Papadosio in the Zebra Bar (1:45am-3:15am)

Set List:
1. Utopiate
2. Unparalyzer
3. Magreenery
4. Bionic Man
5. All I Knew
6. Method Of Control
7. Cue
8. Polygons
9. Eyes Have Eyes

2) Stockholm Syndrome in the Teatro Carlos Felice (2:00am-4:00am)

3) Nutritious in the Disco (2:00am-6:00am)

4) AND THE LAST CHOICE!!!!  The Jam Room: Hosted by Tony Hall (12:00am – 6:00am)

Now we come to the greatest and grandest part of the Jam Cruise experience. THE JAM ROOM!! Each night, a different musician (generally a guitar player, keys player or bass player) hosts The Jam Room.  The Jam Room is a entertainment space located in the rear of the ship where these musicians play host to who ever wants to join them on stage.  Sometimes, there are pre-arranged gatherings or sometimes a musician just jumps up for a song and adds to the insanity.  Always, there are free jams, group rages and it’s all off the cuff improvisational jamming.

~ The Jam Room with Host Tony Hall ~

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

Tonight’s Jam Room host was Tony Hall, New Orlean’s Dumpstaphunk bass player. Tony is one of the most charismatic musicians around.  He is always invested in engaging with his audiences, making faces, pulling girls on stage, dancing with the audience.  He is one of my favorites in that aspect.

Sadly there is not a lot of footage from the Jam Room to show you.  Many Cruisers had already gone to bed to save their strength while others were raging so hard they couldn’t manipulate a camera or video device to save their life.  But I can tell you that it was a RIPPING good Jam Room.

It was an epic moment lost on the winds of the ocean and remembered only by those that were present… ~ Ananda Atmore

Tony Hall was backed by many of his bands mates from Dumpstaphunk to include:

Ivan Neville – Keys
Nick Daniels III – Bass
Raymond Weber – Drums
Ian Neville – Guitar

Other Guests:

Big Sam – Trombone
Nigel Hall (Lettuce/SCFJ)- Keys
Danny Louis (Gov’t Mule/Stockholm Syndrome) – Keys
Eric Krasno (Lettuce) – Guitar
Adam Deitch (Lettuce) – Drums
Ron Johnson (SCFJ) – Bass
Zach Deputy – Guitar
Roosevelt Collier (The Lee Boys) – Pedal Steel Guitar

There was so much happening on stage there is no way to recall it all.  One of the last songs played in the jam room that night was Jimi Hendrix‘s “Hey Joe”. The Lee BoysRoosevelt Collier jumped up on stage and confused the hell out of us as he was only a passenger on the ship thus year!  SO FUN when things like that happen.  You know it’s a good time when other musicians pay to get on board.

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

(Photo by Rex-A-Vision)

Tonight would be the only night that I came back to my room to sleep.  The theme one must know and get to embrace on Jam Cruise is: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint!” It appeared that everyone had taken that creed to heart as I wondered around the pool deck wondering where everyone was.  Where were the late night jam sessions and/or drum circles on the pool decks?  Where was Brock Butler playing his acoustic guitar to the people watching the sunrise.I am sure that they were somewhere, I just never stumbled upon them. It was destiny, however, because after raging the Unofficial Pre-Jam Cruise party at the Days Inn Bahia Cabana Beach Resort the night prior, I was exhausted.  I decided to watch the sunrise with my NYC crew and hear how our virgin cruiser Jessica B. had enjoyed her first night.

As I looked over the balcony, lost in the wake of the ship, my friends and I smiled at each other.  We watched the wake of the ship hit the tip of the horizon and we knew there was no turning back. We were together on this epic musical journey and there were so many adventures to be had.  I took myself to bed around 7am but not before touching the faces of all our family and friends that lined the door decor, wishing they were with us.  Sleep was needed as we had a full day at sea tomorrow.  I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us when we final rose again.

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Big Sam’s Funky Nation…Surrender Your Dance Floors

(By: Brett B.)

Big Sam's Funky Nation (cd release) @ Sullivan Hall

Big Sam's Funky Nation - Sullivan Hall, NYC 4/16/10

Full Rager!

Full Rager!

How seriously do I take funk and soul music?  Ask my kids what the greatest song ever written is and they will tell you without hesitation, “Isaac Hayes. ‘Theme from SHAFT‘.  I have the STAX record label tattooed on my arm.  And I skipped my high school prom in 1978 to see Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores and LTD at the San Diego Sports Arena.

For a white guy from the suburbs of Virginia, I don’t fool around when it comes to soul music. So, when I say to you I have seen the future of funk and his name is Big Sam Williams, you might want to take a moment and listen to what the man has to say.

Hailing from the magical city of New Orleans, Big Sam’s Funky Nation has spent the last few years bringing their Gospel of Boogie to every stage they can find. Like a soul-fueled juggernaut of tight horn charts and make your ass sweat on the dance floor bass beats, the Funky Nation is the kind of rhythmic unit that used to back greats like James Brown, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett.

Say Hi to Big Sam

Big Sam is King

But it’s truly all about the Big Man. From the smile that hypnotizes to the dapper hat that makes him the envy of any haberdashery fan around to his skills on the trombone, he is the “total” performance package.

But then he starts to move. And I mean he moves like liquid mercury bopping and popping to the heat from the Funky Nation behind him. And I would be remiss in not mentioning the Nation:

Takeshi Shimmura – Guitar
Eric Vogell – Bass
Drummer Boy Milk Williams – Drums
Andrew Da Phessah Drew Baham – Vocal/Trumpet

This band follows Big Sam wherever and whenever the Cat In The Hat leads them. Whether it’s a water park in New Jersey or a gospel set in a hundred degree heat in a tent at Bonnaroo.

Once upon a time there were bands with horns who sang songs of positivity and hope. Who played songs that made you dance the night away. Songs about love not just about sex. These were bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, Sly & The Family Stone and The Commdores.

Big Sam's Funky Nation

Big Sam's Funky Nation

So, it is fitting that the band who most truly seems to follow the philosophies and putting forth the same messages of love and enjoying life to the fullest named their most recent album, KING OF THE PARTY.

Because for the citizens of Big Sam’s Funky Nation the party never stops and the cry of “Long live the King!” will be heard as long they can dance.

Read about Big Sam’s Funky Nation Album “King of the Party” Release Party @ Sullivan Hall (04.16.10)

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