Cayamo Day Two
Becoming fully integrated into cruise culture – separating from reality enough to appreciate the occasional pitch of the boat, the pace of the sun across the sky, the ever-present cacophony of the floating music festival – can take a couple of days, turns out. The first day starts at 4pm, and you’re suddenly thrust from the land-legged reality of rushing between transportation and remembering your bags, into a sea-bound one where the most important struggle is getting the lounge chair turned around so you’re facing the pool, rather than the ocean. In the background, some world-class Americana band is sound checking on the deck below, and the wind is picking up. Translating your brain from the norm to the present can, if you’re a workaholic, take some doing.
But, by the beginning of the second full day (the third day, if you’re counting the day that started at 4pm back in Miami), this whole boat thing has become all that matters.
Something can and should be said for the inner bunk rooms of a ship, where windows don’t exist and the darkness of 2am cannot be distinguished from that of 10am. It helps for sleeping in – a thing away from which I discipline myself while living in the real world. Out here in cruise-world, however, I blame the indistinguishable measurement of time.
Day three, I woke around 9:30am, showered, and emerged into easily the most beautiful day we’ve seen so far. Clear blue sky. In the distance, there’s the Dominican Republic, with its mountains set in shadows against the horizon. The wind had died down, the sea had calmed. I sat with some bacon and a cup of coffee, slowly coming to life. By noon, the ship was in full swing.
I headed to the Spinnaker Lounge for a talk I was to lead on Women in Music. There, I was joined by the Indigo Girls, who had agreed to help lead the discussion. I didn’t know what to expect, or if anyone would even show, but the room was happily populated, and Amy Ray and Emily Saliers brought a good bit of ideas to share. I only wish someone had recorded the whole thing, as it was easily a highlight of the trip for me. We talked about the need to discuss “Women in Music” in the first place, the state of feminism in the industry, the over-sexualization of women pop singers, the homophobia in country music (and the coming-out of Chely Wright), the need for more women engineers and producers, tour managers, sound board-runners at shows, etc. We talked about girls’ rock camp, and how the industry has changed over the course of the Indigo Girls’ 20-years run. Talked everything from Patsy Cline and Joan Baez (whose careers took off at the same time) to Niki Minaj and Taylor Swift.
With that hour of intellectual stimulation over, I took to the pool deck, where Sam & Ruby played a number of choice cover songs. Among them, a memorable version of “Landslide.” Then, it was down to the office for an interview with Steep Canyon Rangers (who have a new album coming out Mar. 15, with Steve Martin and a special guest appearance from bluegrass legend – ahem – Paul McCartney).
Then, it was quickly back to the pool for a quick dose of Larkin Poe before Dar Williams and Allison Moorer did a special songwriters in the round performance for the World Cafe lounge (another easy highlight of the week).
Indigo Girls were the main stage act on my schedule last night. I’ve seen them a number of times before (including the night before we got on the ship), and can confidently say this was one of their best performances, in my experience. Backed by keyboardist/accordion player extraordinaire Julie Wolf, joined for a couple of songs by Brandi Carlile and Lucy Wainwright-Roche (the latter of whom joined for a verse of “Closer to Fine”), it would have been hard to not see this show as a follow-up to the morning’s Women in Music talk. Indeed, those five women are some of the finest working musicians these days.
Wainwright-Roche immediately chased that appearance with a full set of her own in the atrium. There, she talked us through pouring oneself a cone of soft-serve, and explained the difference between real friends and Facebook friends. The latter was a motivational speech to get the crowd psyched about a late-night singalong (“You can’t have a singalong on Facebook”).
Now, we step onto solid ground in Tortola. Tonight’s main stage performance will be Brandi Carlile – who I hear has been working out some new material onstage. Promise to report back.