You know this is a different cruise as soon as you step on board. They were playing a song from Bruce Springsteen’s latest CD, Magic, in the bar. And then when we went to meet up with Deb and Linda, they were playing a World Party song out by the pool. Musically, a cruise just can’t get any better than this. I believe I also heard some Tom Waits as I was leaving the pool area. Enough said.
Playing in one of the bars for the first couple of nights is a young man named Brandon Young. He has a sweet high voice that immediately reminds you of Jeff Buckley. There wasn’t a lot of room in the bar, so we hung back and enjoyed from a distance. I am going to have to check out more of this guy later.
Instead of trying to hit every show, we decided to get settled in and relax for a few hours. There is just so much music here. And after a few hours wait, the real shows began. And what an opening night!
Up first was John Hiatt. There is no surprise here when I say that John put on a great show. He always does. With just an assortment of guitars and his piano to accompany him, John entertained the crowd with a great mix of songs going back a good 20 years for some. One of the highlights was a slow but electric version of Perfectly Good Guitar. But if you’re a John Hiatt fan, I’m sure you would probably point out your favorite as the highlight. And there were many. Throughout the hour and a half show he slipped in boat related ad-libs before and during the songs. And typical of just who he is as a person, John offered himself up during the cruise saying that he was more than willing to sign autographs or whatever if you run into him. The crowd was very courteous (a good sign for the rest of the week), but a bit sedate (not a good sign for the artists).
So, after an hour and half it is time to go home, right? No, the night is just getting going. Maria and I are in the seventh row for the main event every night. Deb and Linda are in the third row. After the show, I moved up with Deb and Maria and Linda called it a night.
I have never seen Edwin McCain, and actually, other than one song, I really hadn’t heard his music. What a wonderful surprise he turned out to be. Reminding me of a soulful Marc Cohen, Edwin and his two piece band (Edwin on rhythm, a lead guitarist and a sax player) played some white southern soul with some jazz thrown in. It was at times like a cross between (again) Marc Cohen and Bruce Hornsby. Almost every song had a story and almost every story had a few laughs. We loved almost every song (there was a song that he thanked people for playing at their weddings which, being a song you play at weddings, had every cliché in the book. I could have missed that one). Another hour and a half of great music. Wow!
It was almost 1am so we slipped out just before the end of the show because we needed to get to the other side of the ship for Josh Rouse. Josh was playing in a cool little lounge with big couch-like booths. It was a very intimate show with Josh on acoustic guitar and harmonica. The last time I saw Josh it was at the ACL show with a thousand people watching him. I really think he does better in this kind of setting. After a couple of jovial people like John and Edwin, Josh was darn near serious. But he loosened up as the hour set moved along and near the end of the evening lead us in a sing-a-long from the TV show “Welcome Back Kotter”. The intimate setting and late hour (we were there until 2am) gave the songs a very delicate feel. In fact it felt like Josh was taking each song and examining it as he played; almost as if it were the first time. It was a memorable set that kept all but one person awake the entire hour (as we shuffled out a gentleman was sitting in a chair fast asleep).
So, the first evening was a major success. And we have 5 more of these coming? Tonight is Shawn Colvin. Can’t wait.
Oh, one more thing. The Internet connection is very slow. I’ve got videos I’ll be posting on Youtube, but they may not make it up until next week. I will at least have one John Hiatt song up (if it ever finishes). The pictures seem to be having problems too (but that may be because of the Youtube slowness).