Special Blues Cruise Edition!
Straight From The Pirate’s Mouth
Blues Cruisers Describe
The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise
By Dan D. Harrell
Obviously Dan Harrell has not fallen off the ship yet since he turned in this update straight from the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise somewhere in the Caribbean. Make sure you go to our special Blues Cruise Photo Page to see award-winning photographer Joe Rosen’s great shots from the cruise. Also check out Jenni Tinkham’s review of the Pre-Cruise Party on our special Blues Cruise Blues Beat page. You’ll wish you were there!
It’s 2 p.m. on Sunday. We’re sitting around the cafeteria – just famous-people-watching – as we prepare to cast off for the 18th Legendary Blues Cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We’re bound for the Virgin Islands – San Juan, St. Croix, and St. Maarten – with seven days of nearly non-stop blues music included. Everybody is in a good mood as the biggest stars grab a snack just like us, and sit down right next to us!
There’s Taj Mahal holding court happily as everyone walks by to pay their respects. To the right are Coco Montoya and Rick Estrin, to the left are Byl Carruthers of Café R&B and Chris Cain. Up walks Tommy Castro and sits down and says hello. All-in-all a great highlight already – and not a note has been played.
But plenty of notes follow, and highlights too many to name. In the showroom, first Rod Piazza and his Mighty Flyers, then Kenny Wayne Shepherd with Buddy Flett absolutely tear it up, both to full houses. Out on the pool deck, Tommy Castro’s Pro Jam – which begins at 12:45 a.m. (Tuesday) and runs to about 3:30 a.m. – is fantastic, with a surprise appearance from Kate Moss and probably a dozen guests sitting in, from Joe Louis Walker to Nick Moss (playing bass) to Henry Carvajal (Piazza’s flaming guitar player) to Tyree Neal (from the Kenny Neal Band).
Monday morning at 10:30, there’s a standing-room-only tribute to Mahal in the showroom that includes a presentation from LRBC’s main man Roger Nabor and the Neal family, and Taj songs performed by the Phantom Blues Band, Debbie Davies, Kenny Neal, Joe Louis Walker, Castro, Estrin, and others.
A little later the Phantoms turn in a wonderful set at a record-release party for their new CD, Inside Out, at the pool venue, followed by a knockout performance from Castro’s band, that includes Theodis Ealey and Davies, with piano master Mitch Woods sitting in.
And that’s just the first day and a half! But one of the highlights for BluesWax is always getting the perspective of the passengers who pay (gladly) to be part of this singular event. So we spent time asking people their opinions of the cruise. Following are some samples of what they had to say.
“It’s the best! You don’t have to worry about anything. It’s a blues family.” – Barbara H. – Davenport, IA – Third Blues Cruise
“It’s addictive. Once you start, you can’t stop.” – Al and Louise W. – Toledo, OH – 15th Blues Cruise [Several cruisers offered varieties of this sentiment.]
“It’s a great time. Everybody is so friendly – especially the artists.” – Scott N. – Endicott, NY – First Blues Cruise
“Having a great time. It’s been wonderful. The bands are really good.” – Marvin B. – Nashville, TN – Second Blues Cruise
“It’s like I died and went to heaven. And I get to keep coming back.” Bonnie B. – San Luis Obispo, CA – 16th Blues Cruise
“It has lived up to our expectations – and beyond!” – John R. and Nancy N. – St. Paul, MN – Second Blues Cruise
“It’s awesome! Everybody is so friendly. It’s hard to explain if you don’t do it.” - Audrey H. – New York, NY and Savannah, GA – Fifth Blues Cruise
“It’s a panacea! Everyone should do it one time in their life. It’s a great stress reliever and a fantastic bonding experience.” – Mary S. – Baltimore, MD – All the east coast Blues Cruises except one
“[We’re] surprised at how accessible the musicians are. That’s the big thing; it’s so casual, enjoyable and particularly unpretentious.” – Alan and Flo E. – Newark, DE – First Blues Cruise
“It’s a unique event. There’s nothing like it in the world – especially sitting in a bar with your heroes. The community is fantastic.” – Richard N. – Schardam, Netherlands – Fourth Blues Cruise
“I don’t normally fly. But with the lineup and service on this ship, it is so worth it! I have such admiration for the musicians – they can express my feelings, and on the cruise, I get to tell them that.” – Erich F. – Berkeley, CA – Third Bblues Cruise
“[We] appreciate the wide range of styles. We like that we can talk with the musicians and that they are so friendly. Everything is so well organized.” – Howard W. – England (part of the multi-person British Blues Cruisers) – Second Blues Cruise
“Don’t come once if you’re not prepared to come for the rest of your life!” - Steve T. – Redondo Beach, CA – Fourth Blues Cruise
“I love meeting the artists. They obviously like to play and meet their fans. They are having a good time, just like the passengers.” – Jerry D. – Edwardsville, IL – Second Blues Cruise
You to could be among the few, the proud, the pina coloaded. More information at the Blues Cruise SITE.
Dan Harrell is a contributing writer at BluesWax and a multiple-cruise Blues Cruiser.
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