The last day of Jam Cruise is a doozy. Music runs from noon through the night and into the morning. Within an hour or two of things winding down, you’re pulling back into the Port of Miami as the sun rises. Then, the Jam Cruise faithful, joyously sequestered for the better part of a week, scatters to the four corners of the Earth once again.
Now that we’re back on dry land after Jam Cruise 17, it all feels like a blur, in the best possible way. One big, happy blur. But before we take a step back and reflect on the voyage as a whole, we still have to recount the highlights from the final day of festivities.
Jam Cruise 17’s last stand featured performances by Jon Stickley Trio, a Sunday gospel set with Melvin Seals & JGB, Everyone Orchestra, Fruition, the Jennifer Hartswick Super Jam, Monophonics, Turkuaz, Southern Avenue, Kamasi Washington, Naural Selectah, Spafford, Galactic, a Jam Room Session hosted by TAUK’s Isaac Teel, a Pickin’ Lounge hosted by Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman, a late-night set from DJ Soul Sister, and much more.
You know the drill: With multiple sets running simultaneously from 12:00 p.m. on Sunday through 5:00 a.m. Monday morning, it was impossible to catch it all. However, here’s just a few of the most memorable moments from the final day of Jam Cruise 17. You can also check out recaps from Jam Cruise 17 day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, and day 5 now to relive the magic that went down aboard the Norwegian Jade.
Melvin Seals Takes Jam Cruise To Church
Early Sunday afternoon, the great Melvin Seals and his present-day JGB lineup got drowsy day-six spirits soaring with their joyful set on the Pool Deck. From the uplifting Karl Denson sit-in on Staple Singers classic “I’ll Take You There” to the set-closing cover of Eric Clapton‘s “Lay Down Sally”, Melvin and his crew were the perfect jolt of soulful energy to kick off Jam Cruise’s final day. As Seals mused after Denson’s appearance, “That’s what Sunday morning’s all about.” Preach, Brother Melvin…
Up against an all-star Everyone Orchestra session and a wild “BamBOOZIN” party with Andy Frasco & The U.N. and Leftover Salmon, Fruition’s Sunday set on the Pool Deck had some difficult schedule competition. However, those who stayed the course saw an incredibly talented band of musicians and songwriters play a standout set, even among all the many great sets played aboard the Norwegian Jade. In addition to a diverse crop of originals old and new, Fruition enlisted Turkuaz trumpeter Chris Brouwers for a remarkably true-to-form cover of The Beatles‘ “Magical Mystery Tour”. They were also joined by Jon Stickley and Lindsey Pruett of Jon Stickley Trio for some dark and dirty rock and roll improv, an impressive show of stylistic range for both of the Americana-steeped acts.
The Jennifer Hartswick Super Jam was a highly anticipated Sunday schedule highlight throughout the week, but the actual performance exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. Over the course of the set, Hartswick’s band was rounded out by a continuous stream of Jam Cruise artists including Lyle Divinsky (The Motet), Drew Sayers (The Motet), Parris Fleming (The Motet), Skerik, Big Sam, Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power), Kevin Scott (The Cleaners), Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Joey Porter (The Motet), Nick Cassarino (The Nth Power) Adriyon de Leon (Matador! Soul Sounds), Shira Elias (Turkuaz), Rob Marscher (Star Kitchen), Isaac Teel (TAUK), Joel Gonzalez, Nate Edgar (The Nth Power), Nick Cassarino (The Nth Power), Garret Sayers (The Motet), Kim Dawson (Matador! Soul Sounds), Chris Littlefield (KDTU), Craig Brodhead (Turkuaz), Chris Spies (Matador! Soul Sounds), Michelangelo Carubba (Turkuaz), Sammi Garett (Turkuaz), George Porter Jr., Ryan Jalbert (The Motet), Eddie Roberts (Matador! Soul Sounds), Danny Mayer (Star Kitchen), Roosevelt Collier, Chris Chew, Leslie Mendelson, Mary Corso, Melvin Seals, Dan Lebowitz (ALO), and more. The star-studded dance party featured funky renditions of “Shake Your Booty”, “Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)”, “Give It To Me Baby”, “Magic Man”, “Love The One You’re With”, “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”, “If I’m In Luck”, and a moving, set-closing rendition of “I Shall Be Released”. It’s a set no Jam Cruiser will surely ever forget.
Southern Avenue Some Serious Guests In The Spinnaker Lounge
After showing Jam Cruise what they could do on day two, the Memphis-based powerhouse soul-rock quintet recruited a slew of high-powered guests for their second and final set in the Spinnaker Lounge. The set saw Southern Avenue power through original numbers and crowd-pleasing covers with help from The U.N.’s Arno Bakker, Deshawn “D-Vibes” Alexander (The Cleaners, The Marcus King Band), Joe Marcinek, Roosevelt Collier, Galactic’s Shamarr Allen, and more. George Porter Jr. joined the fray to help hold down the low end on Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition”, featuring an enthusiastically received “We Want The Funk” jam led by guitarist Ori Naftaly. Nikki Glaspie also hopped in for some dueling drums with Tikyra Jackson, who has previously noted Glaspie as one of her drumming inspirations. All told, it was a truly special set for the talented up-and-comers.
Even though they played their first of two Jam Cruise sets back on night one, the name “Turkuaz” was on the lips of every artist and cruiser alike throughout the journey, as various members of the band lent their talents to seemingly every act on the schedule. By the time they took the stage for their Sunday evening Pool Deck set, seeing Turkuaz in their usual colors with their “home team” band was a refreshing return to form. Frontman Dave Brandwein even prompted a few laughs in commenting on the Turkuaz boat takeover, expressing his gratitude toward the musicians onstage: “We’ve got the Turkuaz Horns sitting in with us,” he joked. “We’re so grateful to have them. We weren’t sure if they’d be available, but…” Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Jam Cruise blowout without some noteworthy sit-ins, which Turkuaz delivered in kind with guest spots from Joey Porter (The Motet), Roosevelt Collier, and Brandon “Taz” Niederauer.
Spafford Howls At The (Super Blood Wolf) Moon On The Pool Deck
Spafford had the honor of closing down the Pool Deck on the final day, a slot with the added bonus of occurring in the open air with the Super Blood Jam Wolf Eclipse Party Moon (or whatever) going on directly overhead. The audience howled appropriately as the band took the stage in matching blue Jam Cruise windbreakers and visors and proceeded to make their improvisational intentions known with an adventurous reading of go-to cover “Mad World”. Next, Spafford welcomed young guitar prodigy Brandon “Taz” Niederauer to join in on “America”, pushing him to go further “out there” than his typically ripping though structurally boxed-in guest solo segments normally allow.
After moving through “The Reprise” and “Backdoor Funk” under the glow of the moon, Spafford launched into a unique and exploratory rendition of The Grateful Dead‘s “Eyes of the World”, their first rendition of the song in more than three years. “All In” and “Minds Unchained” followed before the band welcomed out a guest horn section featuring members of The U.N., KDTU, and more for a set-closing cover of Van Morrison‘s “Cleaning Windows”.
The Jam Room was a nightly highlight on Jam Cruise 17 (surprise, surprise), but TAUK’s Isaac Teel raised the bar and then ripped it down with his incredible Jam Room session late Sunday night. The multitalented drummer/vocalist led a rotating band comprised of his TAUK, members of The Motet, Turkuaz, The U.N., The Nth Power, and more, propelled by the obscenely talented rhythmic one-two punch of himself and Star Kitchen drummer Marlon Lewis. The session also saw Teel welcome Kamasi Washington, Deshawn Alexander, Alison Shearer and more for soul-infused covers of pop and R&B favorites like Destiny’s Child‘s “Jumpin’, Jumpin'”, Justin Timberlake‘s “Señorita”, Thundercat‘s “Them Changes”, and more. Even after 6 days of fantastic performances, Isaac Teel’s Jam Room—the last “band” on the Jam Cruise schedule—managed to leave jaws on the floor.
That’s a wrap on Jam Cruise 17. Thanks to the team at Cloud 9, to all the amazing performers and, of course, to the wonderful Jam Cruise crowd for creating an unforgettable weekend. Stay tuned for more post-event coverage and artist interviews from aboard this year’s Jam Cruise. See you next year!