Last year my wife, Sheryl, and I took a cruise on The Rock Boat with my college roommate, Tim, and his wife, Marie. We had such a good time we decided to do it again. This time we each brought our twenty-something-year-old daughters so they could hang out together and talk about how cool their parents are. The Rock Boat is hosted by a band called Sister Hazel that has five members. Since the passengers are a key ingredient in the overall experience, the name of the organization that puts on the cruise is called The Sixth Man. A number of artists besides Sister Hazel are featured on the cruises. In general, all of these bands' songs are mid-tempo rockers with jangly guitars — not quite folk, not quite country, more of something in-between.
I have some photos from our vacation. You can click on any picture to enlarge it, but my pictures were taken with an old camera. The ones taken by Tim are better. Here are the performances we attended.
Saturday: Before we departed dry land, we attended a pre-sail show at The Stage in Miami.
Sunday: As we boarded the ship, we enjoyed Native Run a second time.
We could take in views of Miami as Sister Hazel kicked things off.
Monday was our first day on the Norwegian Cruise Line owned island of Great Stirrup Cay. Unfortunately, it is an unattractive rock with some white sand with a few palm trees artificially added. Luckily the sun and music made up for the lack of scenery.
Then we returned to the boat for more shows.
Photo from sound check which is done for all to hear. There are no walls between artist and fan on The Rock Boat. The artists go to the beach with us, eat in the same buffets with us, and attend other artists' shows in the audience with the rest of us.
My picture came out too crappy to post.
Tuesday was our second day on the island. I got there early to get us a spot with an unobstructed view.
Mathew Mayfield performed a set about lost love, heartache, and other tragedies in a beach setting. I don't get it? Perhaps he should have done a cover of "Cheeseburger in Paradise?"
Bronze Radio Return
Our daughter, Stephanie, really likes this band.
After the beach, we repeated the previous day's pattern and boarded the boat for more shows.
On Wednesday we stayed aboard the ship and were treated to several more wonderful performances.
Thursday was our last day, and everyone made sure to make the best of it.
Six artists and one sound engineer, who had never met, were isolated together for 48 hours on an earlier cruise. They cowrote 12 songs and recorded 9 of them. They shared their thoughts on the process and performed them live.
My pictures were kind of blurry.
If you are wondering how one can see so many shows in a day, it's because each show is an hour. That's perfect. Even if you take a chance on listening to a band, and it turns out not to be your favorite, it's only an hour. I could probably even stomach Taylor Swift for only an hour.
As you can see from this picture, the Woodstock '69 performance was held on a night where the theme was the 1960's.
Based on my pre-sail homework (made easy by Spotify) and the performances, I came away with some new favorites:
- Scars on 45 (1 album available on iTunes)
- Saints of Valory (1 song available on iTunes)
- Ben Rector (3 albums available on iTunes)
- The Dunwells (1 album available on iTunes)
- A Rocket to the Moon (have 1 album, 4 EPs available on iTunes, new album coming out on March 26 on iTunes)
- Junior Doctor (have 1 album, 1 EP available on iTunes)
Last year on The Rock Boat XII, I experienced Vertical Horizon for the first time. I really enjoyed their music. When I got back on dry land, I bought 6 of their albums and signed up on Pledge Music to underwrite the recording and release of their next album. So when I like a band, I go all in. As Gavin Jasper, lead singer of Saints of Valory pointed out, "The best thing about Rock Boat is that you can come with one favorite band and go home with another favorite band." Thanks to The Rock Boat XIII, now I have 6 more bands to consider.
Music appreciation is alive in the lab.