First reports from Cayamo music cruise
The rain pelted the glass of our balcony door this morning, kicking off the first full day on Cayamo music cruise with a thick storm, moderate swells, lightning, thunder, and a whiteout horizon. Cuba was 25 miles away. The music didn’t start til noon – Gregory Alan Isakov in the atrium.
It was a slow morning after launch yesterday – we pushed away from the dock in Miami at 4:30 pm and kicked off the music schedule with Scythian on the pool deck. Fierce, full-throttle fiddle tunes kicked up the party straight away, as flip-flopped folks in Willie Nelson and John Hiatt t-shirts roamed in the sun with orange-pink cocktails and grins. Everyone seemed to be wandering aimless for the first couple of hours, getting their bearings, grasping the 12-deck ship, figuring out where the music was and wasn’t, where the drinks and food were best.
I popped a Dramamine and headed for the buffet. A stranger told me the best thing to do was stay full-bellied with a constant beer buzz. The thinking, he explained was that, if your head’s already a little woozy, the constant rocking of the boat will feel normal. Sober up and you start to get dizzy. Strange logic, but it proved helpful.
After drinking in some of Scythian, I headed for Dazzles bar with three boxes of swag and set up for the No Depression party. It was nice to put some faces with usernames and profile pics. Most of the folks who showed had to duck out early to catch Lyle Lovett in the theater, missing the guys from Hoots & Hellmouth who showed up for the second half of the party. Lissie set up and played a good solid hour in the same bar at 7pm, unleashing remarkable covers of Hank Sr.’s “Wedding Bells” and Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” not to mention beautiful turns on her own tunes. Solo with an electric guitar, Lissie managed impressive dynamics the likes of which I’ve only ever heard on acoustic instruments, belting hard against her melodies to build even farther. It’s rare to see a solo artist manage such dynamic extremes without verging on predictability, but Lissie has her craft nailed. She’ll drop a new full-length in the UK this fall, with a U.S. release to follow (hopefully).
Later in the main theater, John Hiatt played his first set of the week. Considering boarding delays and schedule changes, the show started late – about a quarter to midnight – but Hiatt and band (and the crowd) were full of energy. With a new disc due March 2, Hiatt delivered a number of tunes from that album, including a couple of choice gritty blues tunes peppered with fantastic guitar solos. He also delivered a great rendition of crowd favorite “Perfectly Good Guitar” and “Your Dad Did” (which opened the show with quite a punch).
With that show over, I headed back to Gatsbys and listened in on a couple of jam sessions before heading to bed.
As stated above – as I type – Isakov is playing a set in the atrium. If soundcheck was any indication, it should be a beautiful set. The sky is clearing, the sea is calming, the pool deck has a full open-air schedule today. Later, I’ll catch a Q&A with Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, and Steve Earle. Buddy Miller, Hoots & Hellmouth, WPA, and more are on my schedule for the day, with a full set from Emmylou Harris capping the night. I’ll be back here with reviews and photos from all of that. Stay tuned.