The Rock Boat is a five-day floating music festival. Bands play concerts as the ship travels to its destinations. This year, our cruise went to Key West and Nassau, The Bahamas. Believe it or not, the destinations do not matter. The trip is all about what happens aboard.
The Rock Boat cruise is a product of Sixthman. The cruise was originally sponsored by the rock band, Sister Hazel, that has five members. Their manager, whom they could not do anything without, was considered their sixth man, so the voyage management was named in his honor. A few years ago, Norwegian Cruise Lines purchased Sixthman from Sister Hazel and now runs the show, but nothing has changed. The staff is the same, and Sister Hazel still serve as hosts for each voyage.
For those who wanted some light exercise, a passenger (who is a yoga instructor) volunteered to lead a class. She was backed by Magic Giant who provided accompanying music. There was a mix of skills and abilities. One participant even consumed an ice cream cone while maintaining her downward dog.
Sixthman Sessions is a songwriting retreat where Rock Boat artists partake in the 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 lineup included Andrew Leahey, Aslyn, Clee Laster from Simplified, Hannah Wicklund, Jett Beres of Sister Hazel, and Nick & Tyler Talbott from The Talbotts. All of the songs were fantastic, and the fact that they were written, performed, and recording in days is a testament to the skills of the people involved.
This band played harder rock on the pool deck. It was a warm, sunny day.
The Talbott Brothers
These two brothers formed a band. Their sound is more country than I normally listen to, and they even have bolero hats. But this is The Rock Boat, and admission is free for all shows with no assigned seating, so it's easy to give new artists a chance. "Dead Man Pass" was as good live as on Spotify.
Alan Doyle played a happy time, bar-drinking, sea shanty set. It was appropriate for the voyage. It was a treat that he performed "I Am a Sailor" which is my favorite song from his catalog.
The Plain White T's
Despite this show happening during the Super Bowl, there was a good turnout. I enjoyed every song — especially "Land of the Living" that is my favorite song of 2019.
Matt Nathanson performed an acoustic set, backed only by Tom Drummond from Better Than Ezra. We appreciated that this performance was different from the one on the pool deck. Last year, he did the same exact set — even with the same jokes. It was clear that Matt and Tom had practiced or performed before. They were well in sync.
Super Bowl Jam
Wild Adriatic organized a midnight jam session. They started off the party and then added or swapped in other musicians. This was fun and loud!
The songs covered included:
- Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times"
- Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" with Ryan Newell from Sister Hazel
- Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" with Hannah Wicklund
- a rap song with Trae Pierce and the T-Stones
- Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" with Brian Fechino
- A song with the refrain, "Please Come Back Home," with David Ryan Harris
- Bill Wither's "Grandma's Hands" with David Ryan Harris
- The Box Top's "Give Me A Ticket for an Aeroplane" with Sarah Potenza and Tonya Boyd-Cannon
- Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" with Tonya Boyd-Cannon and Sarah Potenza
- Blackstreet and Dr. Dre's "No Diggity" with Andy Suzuki
- A Prince song with Dan Rodriguez and Trae Pierce
- A song with lyrics "What's Going On" (but not the Marvin Gaye one) with Magic Giant
- Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" with Rufus Yahooty from Kick The Robot (on the boat as the drummer for Hannah Wicklund)
- Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious" with Andy Frasco and the UN
- A song with Sir Cadian Rhythm
- Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with Sir Cadian Rhythm
The show continued, but it was 1:30 am, so we made our exit and went to bed.
This marked the end of day three. There were solid performances. In retrospect, this was my favorite day, but the remaining days included surprises that made them enjoyable too. See how the voyage unfolds on the next two Fridays.
Rocking is alive in the lab.