After a day docked in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, Jam Cruise 19 set sail once again on Wednesday for a “Spread Love”-themed night of music and revelry.

Following a Doom Flamingo album listening party at sunset, the MSC Divina got moving again with performances by The Bamboos, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Little Stranger, Chris Spies, Reed Mathis, George Porter Jr. & Dumpstaphunk, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Trouble No More, Polyrhythmics, Lettuce, Yesmann, and a Jam Room session led by The U.N.‘s Shawn Eckels.

With several sets running simultaneously throughout most of the night, it was impossible to catch all the music played on the ship, both on stage and otherwise. Here are just a few of the most memorable moments from the third day of Jam Cruise 19.

Two Guys From Philly Make The Boat A Little Stranger

Little Stranger, the off-kilter hip-hop duo out of Philadelphia, is among the most unique acts on the boat. After they joined in with Andy Frasco for some amusing freestyles on Tuesday, the buzz surrounding the Wednesday Little Stranger performance in the Black & White lounge spread quickly around the ship.

Like a hip-hop Tenacious DJon Shields and Kevin Shields kept the audience laughing throughout the show, but never at the expense of the quality of their flow. Their self-awareness as the token rappers on their first Jam Cruise only added to their charm: “I don’t want to say we’re the best jam band on the boat,” Shields quipped at one point, “But I think we’re the best jam band on the boat, really.”

Other highlights included the group’s tour manager jumping in on harmonica and an impressively updated take on Fugees classic “How Many Mics”. A little shot of hip-hop always hits just right on the boat, and this strange little hip-hop band (I mean, one of the rappers plays an acoustic guitar) most definitely scratched that itch.

lespecial Initiates a New Batch of Ancient Homies

Stylistically enigmatic Connecticut trio lespecial is also on its maiden Jam Cruise voyage, and judging by how quickly Luke Bemand (bass), Jon Grusauskas (guitar), and Rory Dolan (drums) made themselves comfortable on the outdoor Brews At Sea Stage on Wednesday night, it’s safe to say they’re going to fit in just fine.

With a swirling video show as the backdrop, the trio worked through songs from throughout its heavy, avant-prog catalog, dipped into one of its favorite cover wells for “Frizzle Fry” (what’s a lespecial show without a nod to Primus?), and even welcomed the “Queen of the Boat,” Kanika Moore (Doom Flamingo), for a thundering rendition of Tool‘s “Forty Six & 2”.

Related: lespecial Discusses Dissecting Primus’ Debut LP [Interview]

As always, Bemand was a magnetic MC for the performance, peppering in sarcastic banter between songs and shouting out his musical peers watching from the wings—from their “Jazz Dad” and Fackn’ A bandmate, Mike Dillon, to their “Rock and Roll Dad,” Ryan Stasik. Before blasting through a rendition of fan-favorite “Enter the Homieverse”, the bassist quipped, “We’re all Ancient Homies now. There’s no going back after this.”

George Porter Jr. & Dumpstaphunk Play The Meters In The Theater

One of Wednesday night’s many highlights was Dumpstaphunk and George Porter Jr. playing the music of The Meters, Porter’s iconic New Orleans funk outfit of old. The New Orleans love is always strong on Jam Cruise, but this combo felt like a thorough encapsulation of that enduring love affair.

It’s all family, after all. Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville and Ian Neville have The Meters in their blood, and Ivan’s lifelong friend and collaborator Tony Hall has their music in his soul. Dumpsta, the new-age funk super-heroes, grew up not just around but in awe of The Meters. With the great George Porter Jr. by his side, Ivan waxed nostalgic about his childhood in the New Orleans music world’s royal family before introducing “one of the funkiest songs ever,” a thrilling “Just Kissed My Baby”. Later, they were joined by Isaiah Sharkey on guitar for a searing rendition of “It Ain’t No Use”.

[Photo: Josh Timmermans via Jam Cruise]

Lettuce Plays The Room

Lettuce has the uncanny ability to gauge the vibe of a night and throw down a set with just the right energy. Late in the night on Tuesday, the future-funk sextet took over the Pantheon Theater and catered a dreamy, meditative set to the physically weary yet zoned-in crowd in attendance. After a long day of running around the ship, many fans parked themselves in the theater’s plush seats and let Lettuce take them on a ride—not the kind of rug-cutting funk ride they offered to a sprightly Pool Deck audience on day one, but rather the kind of dream-state sonic transport the day three crowd needed as the clock pushed past 3:00 a.m.

Highlights of the performance included sit-ins by Nikki Glaspie and members of Dumpstaphunk, a moving Jimi Hendrix “Third Stone From The Sun” jam during an introspective “Moksha”, and a climactic guitar solo by Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff at the tail end of a remixed “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” that seemed to say, “We may be the funk band at the jam fest, but just know that we can shred with the best of them.”


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Circling Up At The Spot

The Spot was alive and thriving late Wednesday night after being moved indoors due to weather on Tuesday. Fans who wandered up to the quasi-official late-night bluegrass pickin’ party on the deck outside the Jam Room were treated to a foot-stomping sing-along session featuring The Sweet LilliesDogs In A Pile‘s Brian MurrayPixie & The Partygrass Boys‘ Ben Weiss, Daniel Donato (who had just finished torching the Pool Deck with Trouble No More), and more. Donato’s tour manager, Joe Lentini, even got in on the action: After calling out a request for Bob Wills‘ “My Window Faces The South”, he took matters into his own hands and jumped into the circle to sing it himself as the makeshift band played along.

Spread Love, It’s The Jam Cruise Way

An unofficial “Spread Love” theme night on Wednesday brought Jam Cruisers out to play in their red and pink regalia, many of them toting valentines and other tokens of affection to share. One enterprising crew even upped their “Spread Love” game by going full barbershop quartet, strolling the decks and serenading those who happened to cross their path with off-color ditties.

When these four loving crooners happened upon a newly married couple in the dining hall—they had just tied the knot the day before after having met on Jam Cruise years ago—they shared in the love with a newlywed cabaret. Congrats to the happy couple!


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Revisit the rest of the action from Jam Cruise 19 with Live For Live Music‘s recaps from day oneday twoday four, day five, and day six. Scroll down for an assortment of photos from day three.


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