Hello, friends! Rob here.
It’s time. We’ve got the rest of January off. Well, “off.” This week we’ll be firming up some abstract musical concepts. Next week, the time will have finally has come. Ignore the grammar. Focus on this: Next week, The Revivalists are heading back into the studio.
It took me about two days, but I’ve finally recovered from Phantom Boat Syndrome, which is a term I’m pretty sure I made up for the intermittent sensations of rocking back and forth that one experiences on dry land after spending an extended period of time on a seafaring vessel. In about that same amount of time I have satisfactorily developed the reflex of responding to all questions about JamCruise with “wait, I was on a cruise?”
It really is kind of a blur. Music lasts from early in the morning until very early in the morning. Rumored mealtimes are ignored in favor of a round-the-clock buffet. Day becomes night becomes meaningless, and sleep turns from a necessity to a necessary evil that worms its way into the gaps between activities.
And speaking of activities, it’s astounding how much more there is to JamCruise than music. There’s an incredibly open and supportive community. There are friendly neighbors, interactive door decorations (including a few shoe organizers filled with halloween candy or fortune cookies), and a whole community of regulars who seem to know each other like family. There’s yoga, an awesome gym (why can’t every treadmill face a floor-to-ceiling window at the front of a massive boat speeding through the Caribbean? Is that really too much to ask?), a spa, and even a sports bar. As of this posting, the Saints’ season has come to a premature and tragic end (having weather in your stadium is cheating!), but the spirit was alive and well on the boat. Watching the Saints’ nail-biting victory in Philadelphia with a crew of what must have been about forty Saints fans (half musicians, mind you) huddled around a booth television in the sports bar was an early highlight of the cruise.
And then you have the port days. I think there are usually two, but there was only one this year. Our second, an island excursion in the Bahamas, was cancelled because the conditions were too dangerous for us to take tender boats (whatever those are) from the ship to the docks on the island. But my girlfriend and I still got to spend an overcast afternoon walking the streets of Falmouth, Jamaica. For the first few blocks out of the port (and before you even get out of the port they try to trick you into staying there and buying diamonds), it was just rows upon rows of highly motivated shakedown artists tempting us with offers of braided hair and whatever “ganja” is. After a minute or so of avoiding eye contact and muttering “no thank you,” we were relieved to find ourselves in a peaceful residential area, quiet but for the chatter of schoolchildren walking home in groups. It was a nice break from the hurly-burly onboard.
Oh, also: if you ever go to Jamaica, try the oxtail.
Of course, the cornerstone of the whole experience is music. Not just music. Not just great music. Not just sixteen-hour days of music. What makes JamCruise so special is the way the environment fosters sit-ins, crossovers, and mash-ups of all kinds. The artists are a lot like the passengers in this regard; for a musician JamCruise is a great opportunity to get together with old friends and to make a few new ones. And it makes for absolute magic: giant horn sections, three-bassist breakdowns, Djs sharing the stage with jazz guitarists…
The paper lineup looked promising going in, but the best parts of JamCruise often appear to be the least planned. For example, the beach day in the Bahamas was slated to feature an acoustic show from Warren Haynes on the island, but when it was canceled due to dangerous water, they just put Warren on a sea plane and flew him to the boat. No kidding. The large stages and extensive backline on the MSC Divina allowed for more sit-ins than would have been possible on the island, and for a plan B, the show turned out to be quite memorable. The whole week is like a string of instant memories.
It should go without saying that The Revivalists had a good time. We had two sets of our own, each of which had its own distinct appeal, and we got to learn a few new songs in preparation for Alan Evans‘ movie-themed superjam. We were also fortunate enough to entertain a bunch of special guests. Our sincerest thanks and warmest friendship goes out to Mike Dillon, Carly Myers, Billy Iuso, Roosevelt Collier, Eric Krasno, and Maggie Koerner for making our shows extra special. George Porter Jr. sat in with us as well, but he gets his own sentence because the man is a freaking legend.
That was pretty much the week. Just a whirlwind of fun, work, fun work, Magic Hat beers, banana drinks, and of course, friendship. And just like that it was over, and a few thousand worn-out passengers spilled through customs and out into the taxi line at the Port of Miami. We had a post-cruise show in Boca Raton with our new band-friends, Monophonics, and then we got up kind of early the next morning and drove back to New Orleans.
The rest of the month will be studio preparation, followed immediately by studio. We’ll have a few days off after recording, and then we’ll get back to being on tour forever. And that’s all I have to say about that, so bye.