The final day of Jam Cruise is always a doozy. Just like the rest of the week, performances run from noon through the night and into the early hours of the morning. However, instead of wrapping the night with a faceplant into your cabin bed for some much-needed rest, you have to gather your things as the boat pulls back into the Port of Miami. Then, the Jam Cruise faithful, joyously sequestered for the better part of a week, scatters to the four corners of the Earth once again.
While the post-cruise days are always a time for reflecting on the journey as a whole, we don’t want to gloss over the many notable highlights that took place on day 5, the final day of Jam Cruise 18. Throughout the last day aboard the MSC Divina, Jam Cruisers enjoyed sets by Kitchen Dwellers, Cory Wong, The Soul Rebels, Everyone Orchestra, Mihali, Steve Poltz, Cris Jacobs, Brock Butler, Samantha Fish, Charlie Hunter, Too Many Zooz, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Electron, Holly Bowling, Ryan Montbleau, Thumpasaurus, Dumpstaphunk, Galactic, and more, as well as a stacked, Disco-themed Marcus King Super Jam, a Roosevelt Collier-led Jam Room session, and an impromptu, guest-filled Ghost-Note Jazz Funk Jam.
With multiple sets running simultaneously throughout the day, night, and into Sunday morning, it was impossible to catch everything that went down onstage. However, here are just a few of the most memorable moments from the final day of Jam Cruise 18. (You can also check out our recaps of the festivities on day one, day two, day three, and day four).
Cory Wong Funkifies The Atrium
As we noted in our day four recap, high winds began to threaten the open-air Pool Deck schedule toward the end of the cruise’s penultimate night. Following a weather-shortened Original Garage A Trois set on Friday night, the closure of the “main stage” began to shuffle the remaining schedule as the Cloud 9 team figured out when and where all the remaining acts would play. One of the most notable results of the Pool Deck stage’s closure was the relocation of several “headlining” sets to the ship’s stunning, crystal-lined Atrium—usually reserved for intimate solo sets and piano sessions.
While losing the chance to see this handful of acts on the Pool Deck was unfortunate, it presented a serendipitous new opportunity: The chance to see big-name acts perform in the beautiful and intimate Atrium setting. Following moe.‘s fantastic rescheduled set in the Atrium the previous evening, fans were more than happy to welcome the last-minute change of vibe and scenery when Cory Wong and his airtight band took the stage early Saturday afternoon in the heart of the Divina to set the tone for the final day of Jam Cruise 18.
Marcus King Super Jam Boogie Nights Are Always The Best In Town
The Super Jam on the final day of Jam Cruise is always a set to remember. This year, guitarist/vocalist Marcus King was tapped to lead the collaborative session. Like many of the sets on the blustery final day of Jam Crusie 18, the Marcus King Super Jam was moved indoors, this time to the Pantheon Theater.
Ahead of Jam Cruise, we asked Marcus about his plans for the highly anticipated Super Jam. Even at that time, a month away from the voyage, King was already excited for the special performance. “I got big plans for that, man!” King told Live For Live Music, “I’m going to tell you about it just because I want people to be involved. It’s going to be ‘Disco Night.’ It’s me and Nigel Hall (Lettuce), he helped me out, he’s a big fan of, like, good disco, just like I am. It’s just R&B music with a little extra funk. Nigel is going to be a part of it with me. The rest of the musicians I’m gonna keep under my hat as a surprise for everybody. But it’s going to be the good stuff from the disco years. I’m really encouraging people to dress up. I might dress up. Bring your bell bottoms, bring your polyester shirts, your medallions. Let’s get weird.”
Marcus delivered on that promise by getting a large chunk of the Jam Cruise 18 artists involved in “boogie night” on the MSC Divina. Throughout the set, King and Hall welcomed a rotating cast of players including Kevin Scott, Danny Mayer, Devin Trusclair, Dean Mitchell, the Turkuaz horns, the Dumpstaphunk horns, Stanton Moore, Adam Deitch, Cris Jacobs, Robert Sput Searight, Luther Dickinson, Ivan Neville, Tony Hall, Dominique Xavier Taplin, Karina Rykman, Nicki Bluhm, Nikki Glaspie, Roosevelt Collier, Eric Benny Bloom, Ryan Zoidis, Alfreda Gerald, Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, and more to help them through a string of Disco-era classics like “Skin Tight”, “Boogie Nights”, and “Pick Up The Pieces” as the rocking boat tossed the musicians and audience alike around the room.
Toward the end of the set, Nigel Hall took things down a notch when he introduced an appropriate cover of The O’Jays‘ “Family Reunion”. From there, the ever-growing ensemble closed out the standout performance with an all-in rendition of Tower of Power classic “What Is Hip” featuring a veritable army of horns.
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@realmarcusking and Nigel Hall lead a #Disco super jam on the final day of #jamcruise18 🕺🏼💃 . #boogienights #marcusking #nigelhall #rooseveltcollier #nikkiglaspie #robertsputsearight #turkuazhorns #ericbennybloom #deanmitchell #kevinscott #nickibluhm #jamcruise #liveforlivemusic
Charlie Hunter Gathers The Heavy-Hitters For An Unforgettable Jazz Lounge Session
After mystifying the boat with Original Garage A Trois and more throughout the weekend, the excitement for Charlie Hunter‘s Jazz Lounge set on Saturday evening couldn’t have been higher. Unsurprisingly, the master guitarist/bassist delivered the goods. Hunter began the set looking relaxed as he simultaneously laid out infectious guitar and bass grooves on his hybrid guitar. All the while, Charlie joked and laughed with the horde of artists watching with excitement from next to the stage, making his dextrous multi-part playing seem all the more impressive.
Before long, that gathering of artists/observers began to join him onstage. First, Cory Wong and drummer Peter Janic joined in to kick the grooves up a notch. The collaboration grew from there as Nigel Hall and a horn section comprised of Skerik, Casey Benjamin, and Phil Lassiter took the stage to join them, offering up some creative musical tangents including a jam on Jimi Hendrix‘s “Third Stone From The Sun”. Hot damn, what a band!
It’s often hard to pinpoint the most exciting impromptu collaborations from a week full of them, but this Hunter/Wong/Janic/Skerik/Benjamin/Lassiter/Hall jam quickly and easily rose toward the top of that list.
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Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Welcomes Cory Wong, Chuck Morris, & More At The Pantheon Theater
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong delivered their second Jam Cruise 18 set on Saturday evening. Much like at their appearance at LOCKN’ last summer, the jam quartet welcomed Cory Wong to join them on guitar for a number of songs. However, the special guests didn’t stop at Cory: Wong’s horn section (the Philly Horns), two-thirds of the Turkuaz horn section (bari saxophonist Josh Schwartz and alto saxophonist Greg Sanderson), and Lotus percussionist Chuck Morris all joined in for various portions of the show.
The highlight of the performance came when all the aforementioned guests came together for a thrilling “King Kong” > “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” > “King Kong” segment that waded out into deep waters thanks to the guitar interplay between Wong and PPPP lead guitarist Jeremy Schon. After the horns left the stage, Wong remained in place to blend additional guitar layers into the ensuing renditions of “Poseidon” and “Lightning”.
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A little @coryjwong makes any set better… Here’s @pigeonsplaying with Cory, the Philly Horns, 2/3 of the @turkuazband horns, and more on the final day of @jamcruise 18 . #jamcruise #jamcruise18 #pppp #pigeonsplayingpingpong #steviewonder #signedsealeddelivered #liveforlivemusic
Ghost-Note Makes Lemonade With Impromptu Jazz Funk Session
Ghost-Note made a big impression on their first-ever Jam Cruise. From their officially scheduled sets on the Pool Deck (day one) and in the Black & White Lounge (day three) to their work as the backing band on various “special jams” like Robert Sput Searight‘s “Purple” Jam Room (day two) and Casey Benjamin‘s Jazz Lounge session (day three) to their prominent role in Turkuaz’s recreation of Parliament‘s Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (day four), it seemed like the Ghost-Note crew was onstage for virtually the entire voyage.
On the final day of Jam Cruise 18, Ghost-Note’s Dominique Xavier Taplin and Vaughn “V. Keys” Henry were scheduled for a piano set in the Atrium while bari saxophonist Sylvester Onyejiaka was slated to lead a session in the Jazz Lounge. However, as weather pushed Pool Deck sets down to the Atrium, Xavier and V. Keys’ piano set was put in jeopardy. Rather than cutting the performance, the Ghost-Note team pulled together to turn Sylvester’s Jazz Lounge set into an all-out, guest-filled Ghost-Note Jazz Funk Session. The set in the Jazz Lounge saw the band add to their already bursting JC18 resume with a fantastic performance featuring guest spots by Casey Benjamin, Charlie Hunter (on Peter Knudsen‘s “regular” guitar—you only need one bassist when MonoNeon‘s in your band), Eric Benny Bloom, and many more.
While the set featured mostly high-energy jazz-funk fare, a softer moment was among the highlights of the impromptu performance. As he hid behind a speaker stack, an emotional, reflective Nigel Hall took the mic to lead a piano/keys duet with Taplin on a Quincy Jones “Body Heat”, dedicated to the late Kofi Burbridge.
After all the memorable moments they provided on the boat this year, we’re hoping Ghost-Note becomes a Jam Cruise staple going forward.
Electron Closes Things Out In The Atrium
It’s a Jam Crusie tradition for a Marc Brownstein band to play the final set of the voyage on the Pool Deck. As the cruise went on, the anticipation continued to build for this year’s finale: a rare performance by Electron, the long-running side project featuring Brownstein, fellow Disco Biscuits member Aron Magner, guitarist Tom Hamilton (Ghost Light, JRAD), and Mike Greenfield (Lotus).
However, after Saturday’s Pool Deck sets were moved indoors, the Atrium became the de facto “Main Stage” and Electron took to the beautiful nucleus of the Divina to close out the festival’s regularly scheduled programming with a bang. While fans surely missed the opportunity for one last frolic on the Pool Deck, watching Electron rock the Atrium felt like a perfect way to end a Jam Cruise voyage.
Adding to the set’s intrigue, Jam Cruisers didn’t realize at that point that Marc Brownstein was essentially half-blind during Electron’s Atrium show. As Brownie explained in a Facebook post on Monday, he had begun experiencing a loss of eyesight in his right eye midway through Jam Cruise. When the Divina arrived back in Miami, he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a detached retina, for which he underwent surgery today (Tuesday). The surgical procedure forced The Disco Biscuits to postpone several upcoming dates as Brownstein recovers.
As we wish Brownie a speedy recovery, we can also appreciate the fact that this memorable, Jam Cruise 18-closing Electron set was performed by a half-blind bassist with a detached retina in his right eye. Rock n’ roll…
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It’s impossible to choose just one photo from #JamCruise18 but I think this one does a good job for now. . . . #jamcruise #festival #music #musiccruise #cloud9adventures #cloud9 #gettingfunky #livemusic #epic #magic #disneyforadults #electron #jammin #jam #funk #fun #happyplace #unreal #msc #soulfood #soul
That’s a wrap on our onboard coverage of Jam Cruise 18. Keep an eye out for various interviews and post-event coverage on Live For Live Music in the coming weeks. Wishing everyone an easy re-entry. See you on Jam Cruise 19…