All Jams On Deck DVD Review
All Jams on Deck
Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise LLC/Mug Shot Productions
By Grant Britt
It’s the cheapest cruise you’ll ever take. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your easy chair to take in some of the biggest names in blues jamming after hours on this 96 minute DVD shot in 2010 on a week long Blues Cruise from San Diego to the Mexican Rivera. Johnny Winter leads an all star cast that includes his brother Edgar, Tommy Castro, Lee Oskar, Elvin Bishop, Kim Wilson. Marcia Ball, Jimmy Thackery, John Nemeth, Coco Montoya, Commander Cody and Little Charlie and the Nightcats frontman Rick Estrin.
It’s a unique look from a musician’s perspective of how to make a diverse group of styles and egos mesh without a lot of hair pulling and punch outs. Tommy Castro pulls off his jam effortlessly, controlling a horn-heavy band with the bombast of the Tower Of Power horns, on “A Good Fool Is Hard To Find,” giving everybody a chance to blow mightily without anybody stepping on anybody else’s solo.
In an interview after the jam alongside Elvin Bishop, the two elaborate on what not to do in order to run a successful jam. Bishop cites the musician’s three commandments: C sharp, B natural, and when in doubt, lay out. Castro leads his jams without seeming to be overbearing, trading licks with Coco Montoya showcasing his best Albert Collins impersonation on “I Feel That Old Feelin’ Comin’ On.”
Former WAR frontman/harpist Lee Oskar confounds the cameraman at first with his tone,sounding like a baritone sax, the camera swinging desperately along the band members searching for the horn before finally locking on Oskar. Due to legal wrangling over the band’s name, the group formerly called WAR is now called the Lowrider Band , retaining the same Latin jazz/funk feel with Oskar’s improvisations more diverse than ever.
It’s a pleasure to see Winter looking and sounding so strong here in a rockin’ jam with brother Edgar and a more restrained but still impressive side by side sit-down segment with a laid-back Elvin Bishop on slide.
Although there’s plenty of guitar talent on board, this cruise is a harp lovers dream come true. The great Kim Wilson leads a jam that has the brilliant young player John Nemeth up for some tasty licks as well as Oskar dropping by for some unusual tone poetry and a finale with the underrated Rick Estrin blowing his guts out.
The vocal highlight of the cruise is Nemeth tackling Bishop’s biggest hit, “Fooled Around And Fell In Love,” with the singer perfectly nailing those impossibly high notes Mickey Thomas threw up in the stratosphere on the original.
There’s a lot of piano fooling around goin’ on as well with Marsha Ball and Commander Cody. It would have been nice to see either one do some of their biggest hits instead of a lot of noodling around, but it is billed as a jam, so you take what you can get.
It’s well worth the $5.95 price tag, which is only for shipping from the Blues Cruise site: http://bluescruise.com/?page_id=1780. You wont get a tan, but you’ll have all the music to watch over and over for a price that wouldn’t even get you a decent cocktail aboard ship. All in all, it’s a pretty good deal.