Because we signed up early, we were placed in the first group. Everything about the way this festival on water has been run has been first class. Even waiting in line was so much better than the real world. They took over the dining room and we just sat at a table with other die hard fans chatting about Patty and the other shows. We have met so many nice people on this cruise. And there is always something to talk about. Unlike other cruises we have been on, we have so much in common with so many of these people. We must have sat at that table for a good hour and a half, but it felt like 20 minutes. After being escorted into the lounge, I did a quick move to the left and ended up front and center for the show. With Patty’s voice still suffering from her cold, she decided to do an interview and only play a few songs. The interview was nice because Patty saves her opening up for her songs. It was really good to hear an extended conversation with her. Her 3 songs were a portion of the first song she ever wrote, Up to the Mountain and the little French number she has been doing on tour over the last year. A little disappointing (not her performance, just the lack of songs), but hey, I can’t complain: I was only a few feet away from one of my favorites.
With shows being moved around we were able to arrange our schedule to see Ari Hest. Playing in a small club on the ship, Ari was one of the few artists with no hint of a country background. His easygoing rock approach was actually a nice change of pace. Deb is a big fan of his. I had seen him a few years back as an opening act and wasn’t as impressed. But on this night he really shined. He opened with just himself on guitar and a borrowed cello player from Brandi Carlile, but then brought on his band (bass, electric guitar and drums) for the rest of the set. About half way through the set, he surprised the crowd by leaving and was replaced by Edwin McCain. Actually, they were playing in adjacent rooms and decided to swap rooms for one song. It actually worked out very well, with Edwin telling a few jokes about being able to play a song about an ex-girlfriend since his wife was in the other room. I think I may have to pick up an Ari CD. You all may be interested in his current project: 52 songs in 52 weeks. Each week he emails a new to you. I think he is charging $20 for a whole year of songs. You can’t beat that.
Emmylou Harris is our final concert of the week. I went in expecting to get a little itchy after a half hour or so, but was really captured by not only her variety of songs but also her spirit. She did lots of older tunes (a couple from her duet album with Linda Ronstadt, as well as some songs from the 50’s), but ultimately the most inspiring aspect of her show was her songs. Emmylou was a recording star for some 15 years before she started writing her own songs. She admitted to us that it was tough in the beginning because she loved to sing sad depressing songs and she had a very happy childhood, “Darn”. Buddy Miller was her main band member, singing all of the duets with her and once again leaving us with lots of tasty licks from his guitars. Patty Griffin did show up for a quick harmony on one song. Otherwise it was all Emmylou and Buddy. What a wonderful end to a fantastic week.
Andy, the owner of Sixthman, the company that put on the cruise, came out before the show and thanked us all for coming. He promised us an even better event next year. Deb had a chance to talk to him earlier in the day. He told her that all of the artists wanted to come back but that he could only take half of them. What a great experience this was. Sixthman staff did a great job at almost ever turn of the boat. The only issue was a bit of confusion about the bonus shows. But the staff was there for us throughout the week and all of the shows went on without a hitch. The sound in the main room was excellent every night (except for Shawn Mullins show which was too loud) and the other rooms all sounded great too. The shows by the pool were just a blast and… well, I could go on and on. I hope to be onboard next year when Cayamo sails again. Meanwhile, please check all of my blog entries over the next week. I will be posting pictures and videos as quickly as I can.