Wednesday, January 31
Sixthman Sessions, Stardust Theater
Sixthman Sessions is a songwriting retreat where Rock Boat artists partake in creation, collaboration, and camaraderie of composing songs. A handful of artists, strangers to each other before the retreat, come together to write and record new music just for the show. The full process from the first idea to completion happens in just days. The resulting songs were performed live for us on the boat.
This year's artists included:
- Brandon Kinder and Justin Wiseman of The Rocketboys
- Sarah Potenza and Ian Crossman (her husband) of Sarah Potenza
- Brian Fechino
- Brooks Mason of The Georgia Flood
- Noah Guthrie
- Christian Lopez
The odd thing is that Brandon Kinder of the Rocketboys was great — unlike the other night. Go figure. This event showcases just how talented these composers are as they are able to come up with amazing songs in short order.
Oak & Ash, Atrium
Months before departing, Sixthman, who puts on the cruise, had a "Sound Check" contest where Rock Boat voyagers voted on which band to fill the last slot. Congratulations to Oak & Ash who were the popular favorite.
This band has a very radio-friendly sound. Their song, "Step into the Light," sounds much like Maroon5.
Christian Lopez, Sports Court
"This next song is about ‘the one that got away.’ There are only two types of people who lament ‘the one that got away' — artistic songwriters and serial killers. Lucky for y'all, I'm a songwriter."
— Christian Lopez
We enjoyed Christian's performance during the Sixthman Sessions, so Sheryl and I attended his show. He was good. His cover of Bryan Adams' "Run to You" was unique and well executed.
Cowboy Mouth, Pool Deck
"And the name of the band is..." "Cowboy Mouth!"
Cowboy Mouth is probably the second most famous band on the boat. They are a party-oriented band from New Orleans, and everyone can tell. Their show is mostly audience-participation-request banter with songs in-between. This band is much-about partying and musicianship, not-so-much.
Will Hoge, Pool Deck
Will Hoge has been at this a long time. As a seasoned veteran, he has a very large catalog and knows how to put on a show. Though he will perform three times on this voyage, he will never play the same song twice. Tim has 17 Will Hoge albums, and he only recognized 3 songs. Will is a cross between Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
Barenaked Ladies, Stardust Theater
I enjoyed this performance more than the first. The Stardust Theater was a warmer and less windy venue for a show. Can music have a terroir?
Animal House Party, Pool Deck
The concept for this show was that bands would come on and perform one or two songs that would be appropriate for a fraternity party, such as the ones depicted in the movie Animal House.
- Will Hoge – "Twistin' the Night Away"
- The Rocketboys – "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"
- Sister Hazel – "Gimme Some Lovin'," "Wild Thing," and "Louie Louie"
- Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors – "Dance to the Music" and "Do You Love Me?"
- Sarah Potenza and Christian Lopez – "Mustang Sally"
- The New Respects – "Rescue Me"
- Cowboy Mouth – "Surf's Up," "Hey hey hey Goodbye," and "Shout"
- Welshly Arms – "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On"
- Wild Adriatic – "Tequila"
- The Alternate Routes – "Johnny B. Goode," and "The Twist"
- Andy Frasco & The UN – "Money (That' What I Want)" and "Sure To Go"
In keeping with the movie, the theme for the night was Toga Party:
Larkin Poe, Atrium
Weeks before we board, Sixthman made a playlist available on Spotify that included the artists that will be on upcoming Rock Boat. Though I had never heard of Larkin Poe, I got to listen to a few songs in advance. I liked one called "Don't," so I used Spotify to listen to more of their catalog but did not care for the other songs as much. I attended this show with mixed feelings, but it turned out that they were pretty good.
Thursday, February 1
We spent some time in the sun.
A shuttle took us into town for lunch. I had fish stuffed with shrimp and octopus.
Welshly Arms, Pool Deck
"'Cause we're gonna be legends
Gonna get their attention
What we're doing here ain't just scary
It's about to be legendary
Yeah, we're gonna be legends
Gonna teach 'em all a lesson
Got this feeling in our souls we carry
It's about to be legendary"
— Sam Getz, "Legendary," Welshly Arms
Welshly Arms is becoming one of my new favorite bands.
The Alternate Routes, Stardust Theater
The band's name is pronounced as "roots" as in "You get your kicks on Route 66." versus the pronunciation of the word that rhymes with bouts.
The night featured great weather outdoors, and this show was indoors, so The Alternate Routes set was lightly attended; however, that did not detract from their performance. Their performance of "Nothing More" was a flawless note-for-note match to the album version.
Danny Michel, Spinnaker Lounge
Danny's vocals remind me of Paul Simon.
This show was scheduled as a solo show – a man (Danny Michel) and his guitar; however, earlier in the day, Alan Doyle got the idea that Danny's friends could join him. His friends included members of Alan Doyle's band and Barenaked Ladies. Before each song, Danny explained what key it was in, played about 15 seconds of a few parts, and then they launched into it. This performance demonstrated just how good professional musicians are. These songs sounded great even though they were being played together for the first time.
Will Hoge, Stardust Theater
As expected, Will did not repeat any songs. He even brought his wife out for a duet – the first time that she had ever sung in public. She did an admirable job.
As I said, this band is always good.
Christian Lopez, Bar City
Unfortunately, for the most part, Christian Lopez played the same set from the prior performance. He did add the Beatles' "He's So Heavy" to his list. That was fun.
Wild Adriatic, Atrium
Compared to other artists on the boat, Wild Adriatic has a heavier rock sound, so we were surprised when they did a cover of Toto's "Rosana."
Friday, February 2
Puerta Maya, Cozumel, Mexico
Sheryl got her hair done:
Oak & Ash, Spinnaker Lounge
The performance turned into a dance party as everyone filled the dance floor which was appropriate since the theme for the night was Mardi Gras:
Beards, Beers, and Beads, Sister Hazel, Pool Deck
Sister Hazel performed a set of ZZ Top cover songs and even billed themselves as "HaZZel Top."
The show included the band wearing fake beards, Sixthman employees handing out free beer, and roadies tossing Mardi Gras beads into the crowd. Some songs turned out better than others.
Alan Doyle, Atrium
The Rock Boat has featured Irish-influenced bands before such as Carbon Leaf and Gaelic Storm. I had never heard of Alan Doyle but assumed he was in that mold. He was one of the most comfortable performers that I have ever seen on stage. He sang effortlessly and navigated easily between ballads and drinking songs.
Sam Burchfield, Atrium
Sam Burchfield was a little too bluegrass for my taste.
Stop Light Observations, Bar City
I think I am in the wrong demographic for Stop Light Observations. The audience for this transformational rock band appeared to be 99% millennial females. I did not stay for much of it and headed over to the pool deck.
Welshly Arms, Pool Deck
It was very windy up on the pool deck at 30 minutes after midnight, but that only heightened the intensity of the performance. Lead singer and lead guitarist, Sam Getz, played so furiously that he kept his guitar technician busy replacing strings. Tim, Marie, Sheryl, and I all agreed that this band had the best backup singers on the boat – great harmonies and synchronized movements while they sang.