This week my wife and I are preparing for The Rock Boat. This will be our eighth voyage. It's never too early to brush up on the lineup and start to form opinions in anticipation of the voyage. Of course, not everyone will agree with my opinions, but you can ignore that and just get info on the bands.
For the uninitiated, The Rock Boat is a 5-day cruise that departs from Tampa, Florida to Key West, Florida and Nassau, The Bahamas where rock concerts are featured as the ship makes its journey. Concerts start and end on the hour. No tickets are required. Voyagers just plop down and listen to the music. At any given time, there are 4 or 5 simultaneous shows to choose from. The artists are lesser known, and as such, mingle, eat, and attend shows just like the paying passengers. They are happy to talk or sign autographs. The Rock Boat is not your typical rock and roll experience.
Next year's lineup includes:
(images from TheRockBoat.com)
|Songs you may have heard? / About the band|
For more than 20 years, Sister Hazel has built the kind of musical communication that comes only with time, talent, and commitment. From bars and clubs back home in Gainesville, Florida, to theaters, arenas, college campuses and open-air festivals, they've seen audiences light up the night like seas of stars. Through the years, these five friends just kept getting better as a band. They have matured as songwriters. They've always been unclassifiable. The band will put out a record and go, "What is it? Is it country music? Is it Southern rock? Is it pop? Is it college acoustic, alternative?" It doesn't matter! They're just doing what they've always done. They write about who they are, where they've been, and where they're going. [Sister Hazel]
|ANDREW MCMAHON IN THE WILDERNESS
Andrew McMahon is an American singer-songwriter. He was the vocalist, pianist, and primary lyricist for the band Something Corporate and main songwriter for Jack's Mannequin and performs solo both under his own name as well as his moniker, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. [Wikipedia]
Matt Nathanson is an American singer-songwriter whose work is a blend of folk and rock and roll music. In addition to singing, he plays acoustic (sometimes a 12-string) and electric guitar, and has played both solo and with a full band. His work includes the platinum-selling song "Come On Get Higher." One of his hit songs, "Giants," was the opening music for the 2016 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas on ESPN. [Wikipedia]
|PLAIN WHITE T'S
Plain White T's (read as "plain white tees") is an American rock band from Lombard, Illinois, formed in 1997 by high school friends Tom Higgenson, Dave Tirio, and Ken Fletcher and were joined a short time later by Steve Mast. The group had a mostly underground following in Chicago basements, clubs, and bars in its early years. The band is best known in the U.S. for the number-one hit song, "Hey There Delilah," that achieved platinum status in 2007 and earned two Grammy nominations, as well as "1234" and "Rhythm of Love" that were certified platinum in 2009 and 2011. [Wikipedia]
Atlas Genius is an alternative rock band formed in Adelaide, South Australia. The band's main members are the Jeffery brothers, Keith on lead vocals and lead guitar; Michael on drums; and Darren Sell on keyboard. Their band name came to their drummer in a dream. They got their start when Keith and Michael's father, who had been a guitarist in his own high school band, helped the boys clear out the family's garage to start building a recording studio. [Wikipedia]
|RED WANTING BLUE
Hailed as "Midwestern rock heroes" by American Songwriter, Red Wanting Blue has spent the last 20 years establishing themselves as one of the indie world's most enduring and self-sufficient acts, notching appearances everywhere from Late Night with David Letterman to NPR and reaching #3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, all while operating largely outside the confines of the traditional music industry. For their new album, The Wanting, the band handed production duties over to acclaimed singer/songwriter (and fellow Rock Boater) Will Hoge, who helped them create a triumphant and melancholic, muscular and nuanced, sound. [Red Wanting Blue]
LA-based MAGIC GIANT has been thrilling growing crowds at every stop along its 70-city North American and European tour, celebrating the release of its debut album In The Wind and its acoustic album counterpart. The group has toured with acts ranging from The Revivalists to Mike Posner; played shows with bands such as The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, X Ambassadors, Vance Joy, and Foster the People, and was recently tapped as one of the bands to join headliner Bruno Mars at Bottlerock in Napa this spring. They are ecologically conscious as their online merchandise is made at a solar-powered, paper-free, conscious manufacturer in Los Angeles. Their mission is to dance with an eco-footprint. Their latest EP was uniquely recorded from their solar-powered mobile recording studio while traveling throughout the US. [Magic Giant]
Alan Doyle is a Canadian musician and actor, best known as the lead singer of Canadian folk rock band Great Big Sea. As an actor, he is known for his work on Robin Hood, Winter's Tale, and State of Play.
Kevin Devine is an American songwriter and musician from Brooklyn, New York, who is known for his introspective and political themes. He is a contemporary member of the underground indie rock and indie folk musical scenes, and his influences range from older indie artists such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Elliott Smith and Pavement to more mainstream and well-known acts such as Nirvana and Bob Dylan. His styles have been described as indie rock, folk rock, alternative rock, acoustic, and emo. Before going solo, he was a member of Miracle of 86 — a reference to the 1986 New York Mets. The 1986 New York Mets season was the Mets' 25th season in the National League and finished with a franchise record 108–54 record, giving them the division title. [Wikipedia]
|BRONZE RADIO RETURN
The odds are pretty good that you have already heard Bronze Radio Return, even if you may not realize it. Since 2008, the Hartford, CT six-piece has independently sold over 100,000 singles, racked up more than 26 million streams on Spotify, and, with songs such as "Further On" and "Shake, Shake, Shake," they have impressively notched nearly 100 high-profile placements ranging from the 2014 film St. Vincent, to commercials for Nissan and Starbucks, to numerous television shows. Along the way, their hyper-charged and hypnotic stage presence has turned bystanders into believers at festivals including Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Hangout, and Firefly. Armed with a sound that's one part indie dance party and another part roots rock laced with a pop sensibility, the music of Bronze Radio Return is begging to be blared with the windows rolled down. These boys stand primed for impact in a big way. [Bronze Radio Return]
Rooted in the rowdy spirit of rock and roll, Wild Adriatic has built an international audience on a combination of groove, grit, and guitar-heavy swagger. Bandmates Travis Gray, Rich Derbyshire, and Mateo Vosganian draw upon but update the sound of their influences — from Seventies rock to Motown to soul — for a contemporary audience, taking influence from the past but never losing sight of the present. They aren't revivalists; they're modern men, carrying the torch of melodic, riff-ready, high-energy rock into new territory. The band focuses on the core ingredients — Gray's guitar playing and soulful sweep of a voice; Vosganian's percussive stomp; Derbyshire's in-the-pocket bass — that helped kickstart the band in 2011, back when Wild Adriatic formed in Upstate New York. Their songs are written collaboratively, molded by a band of longtime friends who, more than a half-decade into their career, are still turning over new leaves. [Wild Adriatic]
|THE NEW RESPECTS
The New Respects are the odd Nashville-based band whose members didn't move to town in hopes of making it big, having grown up in and around the city's vibrant Christian music community. Comprised of singer/guitarist Jasmine Mullen alongside her cousins, twin sisters Lexi (bass) and Zandy Fitzgerald (guitar) and their brother Darius (drums), the foursome has been onstage for years. They've also been playing music in some configuration for some time, but really hit warp speed upon picking up electric instruments and honing a fuzzed-out blues-rock aesthetic. Their sound is funky, exuberant blues-rock as imagined by four young adults barely old enough to remember when Bill Clinton was president. [Rolling Stone]
|ANDY SUZUKI AND THE METHOD
Brooklyn's Andy Suzuki and Kozza Olatunji-Babumba have been making music together for nearly a decade. The half-Japanese, half-Jewish Suzuki and hand-percussionist Kozza first garnered wider attention with their buoyant, organic folk-pop album, Born out of Mischief, and soon found themselves opening for names as large as Ringo Starr. Fans fell hard for their combination of a "velvet voice" (NPR) and their "deadly way with melody" (TimeOut New York). Their sinuous songwriting, which curves into eddies and unexpected shapes at every measure, is steadied by Andy's impossibly dulcet vocals, that carry us gently through as the songs toss and heave. Andy and Kozza are creating "future pop with an R&B vibe" that both sounds like its beaming in from the year 2019, and also harkens back to the R&B aesthetic that made Andy and Kozza fall in love with music as teenagers. [Andy Suzuki Music]
Sarah Potenza rose to fame as a contestant on the TV show The Voice. She was coached by Blake Shelton. She writes her own songs and performs them with her booming voice — a more melodic Janis Joplin.
Simplified is a North American rock, island vibe, and reggae rock band based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris Sheridan and Clee Laster met at a local pub while Sheridan was bartending, and Laster was performing as a solo artist. The two formed an acoustic duo and began performing concerts known as Simplified in and around the city in 2002. In 2004, Sheridan and Clee auditioned band members, adding a bassist and drummer creating a quartet. Simplified began touring regionally in the Southeast United States in 2005. After evolving to a pop style, between 2010 and 2013, Sheridan and Laster reinvented Simplified, bringing back the island rock sound they are known for, and also hired a variety of musicians to accompany them on the road and in the studio. [Wikipedia]
|DAVID RYAN HARRIS
Singer-songwriter David Ryan Harris got his start in the early 90s with the genre-bending band Follow For Now, went solo in 1997 with his four-star self-titled debut, then toured with John Mayer for the better part of a decade. His music touches on acoustic rock and soul, with a few tender ballads and gritty stompers along the way. [All Music]
At Summerfest, Dan Rodriguez of the Twin Cities played for the fans in an intimate setting that defies the norm at a festival known for big gigs. Therein lies the beauty, however, that in a fast-paced world like Summerfest, there's a place where things can slow down for a moment, and you can witness a singer-songwriter on a personal level and make a connection to his music. Dan Rodriguez is one of the standout performers in that sense because he has an amazing ability to reach out and gather large audiences out of thin air. He has a very soothing voice that translates well to his mellow works as well as the more up-tempo recordings. His down to earth nature makes you want to pull for him. His sound is a mix of Jason Mraz and John Mayer, with a dash of edginess and a generous helping of passion. [Dan Rodriguez Music]
|ANDY FRASCO & THE U.N.
Andy Frasco The U.N. are an American blues rock band formed in Los Angeles. The band consists of Andrew Frasco (lead vocals, keys), Ernie Chang (saxophone), Shawn Eckels (guitar, vocals) and a consistently rotating and evolving cast of additional band members to form the U.N. To date, the band has released five studio albums. Their sound has also been described as "blues-rock fueled by reckless abandonment and a disregard for the rules, with witty lyrics to back it all up." [Wikipedia]
|THE HARPOONIST & THE AXE MURDERER
Framed by psychedelic landscapes and world-ending jam-outs, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer ignite the gritty, blues-rock grooves they have been recognized for by adding drummer John Raham (The Be Good Tanyas) and keyboardist Geoff Hilhorst (The Deep Dark Woods) into the melting pot as well as the golden voices of Dawn Pemberton, Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks (Begonia), Ben Rogers, Khari Wendell McClelland, Erik Nielsen and Ricardo Khayatte. Add equal parts soulful, sweaty vocals, and biting guitar and you have an album perfect for any doomsday date-night. The band relentlessly tours and is known for their high-energy, sweaty, dance-floor-boogying performances. They have shared the stage with Taj Mahal, Booker T Jones, Mother Mother, The Sheepdogs, and Serena Ryder. They've had songs featured on television shows such as: "CSI," "NCIS: New Orleans," "Bitten," "Killjoys," "The Good Wife," "Blue Bloods," and the aptly named TV movie Lizzie Borden Took An Axe. [The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer]
Heather "Aslyn" Mitchell Nash is an American pop singer and songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia. She has released two full-length albums, Lemon Love and The Dandelion Sessions, as well as a 4-disc EP. She is also the sister of three members of the band Georgia. At the age of seven, she began taking classical piano lessons from her mother. Immediately submersing herself into the music scene, she did everything she could to gain exposure to live performing: entering talent contests, singing at weddings, and performing at church. Upon graduating from high school, she attended Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee and received her college degree. She then followed her dream of performing, which led her to Atlanta, Georgia, where she lived on various people's couches for a while as she performed throughout the town. While performing on a nightly basis, Aslyn began to immerse herself in many different genres of music. Many artists influenced her including Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Earth Wind & Fire, and Queen. After the release of her album, Aslyn began to tour the United States which such headliners as Ryan Cabrera, Better Than Ezra, Gavin DeGraw, The Click Five, and Chris Isaak. [Wikipedia]
Katie Pruitt is the girl next door with a guitar in her lap writing songs in her bedroom until sunrise. Pruitt is a has-to-live-it-to-write-it kind of songwriter that achieves the kind of lyrical simplicity that even the best songwriters strive for. Her unique guitar picking accompanied by her very personal lyrics and truth-questioning spirit is a throwback to the classical sounds of Joni Mitchell, John Prine, and Brandi Carlile. Pruitt is a Nashville transplant, originally hailing from a small suburb outside of Athens, Georgia. Splitting her time between writing songs and waiting tables, her hard work paid off after she landed a Tuesday night residency at The Basement in Nashville. One of those nights in 2016, she was heard by the right people and signed a publishing deal with Round Hill Music Publishing. Not long after that she was offered a booking deal with Paradigm Talent Agency and hasn’t had time to wait tables since. Pruitt has been praised as one of the most talented songwriters and best-kept secret in Nashville today. In 2016 she humbly accepted the first annual BMI Songwriting Scholarship for her original song, "Ordinary." This recognition then lead her to be the honored recipient of the Buddy Holly Prize in 2017, a prize previously awarded to the talents of Emily King and Ben Howard through the Songwriter Hall of Fame. Pruitt also made her way on the bill for the 2017 Pilgrimage festival alongside headliners, Justin Timberlake and Eddie Vedder. [Katie Pruitt]
|HANNAH WICKLUND & THE STEPPIN' STONES
Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones are fronted by a 21-year-old powerhouse guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. The South Carolina-born (and now East Nashville-based) artist who formed the band as an eight-year-old has developed a powerful and sublime synthesis of skills and makes it clear that the future is hers to conquer. The buzz about the band is continuing to grow in America and overseas, with the media taking notice. Guitar Player Editor-In-Chief, Michael Molenda, has heralded Wicklund "not simply as a shredder or a tonal colorist, though she certainly has chops and can go for some buzzy and less-than-organic sounds. What's impressive to me is how she uses her guitar to drive the emotional context of her songs with a combination of spiky rhythms, slow lines, fast runs and cagey riffs. It all adds up to a thrilling ride." Her first guitar was a present from her father, as a kind of atonement for getting rid of her backyard trampoline. At age 13, the band played the first of many private shows (which Hannah arranged) for AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson and his vintage racing car team. As word began to spread, the band went on to share billing with Jefferson Starship, The Outlaws, Kansas, Jimmy Herring, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Marshall Tucker Band, and other headliners. [Hannah Wicklund]
Music listening is alive in the lab.