It's Back to Work Tomorrow after The Rock Boat XVII

This year marked the 17th voyage of The Rock Boat and the 6th on which my wife and I went along for the ride. Once again we were joined by college roommate, Tim Barrios, and his wife Marie. Tim and Marie made it a family affair by bringing their son, Steven (who shares a birthday with me on May 18), Steven's fiancé, Christina, their daughter, Danielle, and her boyfriend, Taylor.

Unlike in year's past when we embarked from New Orleans, or Miami, this year's voyage began in Tampa. The Rock Boat is the world's best floating music festival. As our ship, the Norwegian Jade, made it's way to Belize and Mexico, we were entertained by a variety of concerts where there were 4 or 5 shows to choose from at almost every waking minute.

Here's are some shots from the shows.

Friday

  • Francisco Vidal

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    He (the one in the hat and glasses) and his friends were playing in the atrium as we boarded.

  • Sister Hazel

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    Songs that you may know by them include: "All for You," "Your Winter," and "Change Your Mind."

  • Ben Rector

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    Songs that you may know by him include: "Brand New," "When A Heart Breaks," and "I Like You."

  • Knox Hamilton

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    Songs that you may know by him include: "Washed Up Together," "Work It Out," and "Set It on Fire."

  • Stephen Kellogg & the South West North East

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    Songs that you may know by him include: "Always Gonna Want You (North)," "Last Man Standing (East)," and "Almost Woke You Up (West)."

Saturday

  • The Sixthman Sessions

    The band, Sister Hazel, started The Rock Boat. They have 5 members. The audience is considered the 6th man. This is the origin of the name of the organization that promotes the annual cruises. Norwegian Cruise Lines purchased Sixthman from Sister Hazel last year.

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    "Sixthman Sessions is a songwriting retreat where Rock Boat artists partake in creation, collaboration, and camaraderie of composing songs. Seven 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 4 days." [Rock Boat XVII Official Guide]

    This year's artists included:

    • Dustin Storm and Luke Christopher from All About A Bubble
    • Paul Pfau performing onboard with LOVESWEAT
    • Sam Burchfield performing onboard with Wrenn
    • Travis Gray from Wild Adriatic
    • Wrenn

    As part of the Sing Me a Story foundation, children in need wrote stories, and artists turned them into songs. The songs are then sent back to the children. The Sixthman session group contributed one song in response to a story about a sheep that got picked up by a UFO.

  • Flip Cup Contest

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    Teams of passengers competed against the band, Gaelic Storm. The idea was to down a beer in a red Solo cup, turn the cup upside down on the edge of table, and then flip it with a finger so that it lands open side down — one full revolution. The team of Stephen, Christina, Danielle, and Taylor made it to the semi-finals before losing to the returning champions from 2 years ago.

  • Ken and Drew from Sister Hazel

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    The 2 lead singers pull extra duty and perform without the rest of the band.

  • Stephen Kellogg video

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    This 30-minute video showed that if an artist takes care of his music, the music takes care of him. He answered questions from the crowd after the screening.

  • Dexter Freebish

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    Songs that you may know by him include: "Leaving Town," "The Other Side," and "Falling Down."

  • Melodime

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    Songs that you may know by them include: "Our Time," "Paper Wings," and "Lullaby."

  • Sister Hazel

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  • Matt Nathanson

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    Songs that you may know by him include: "Come On Get Higher," "All We Are," and "Faster."

  • Gaelic Storm

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    This is an Irish band where most of their songs are about drinking or fighting. Or both at the same time.

Sunday

  • We spent the morning in Harvest Caye, Belize. Harvest Caye is an island that is basically a seven-acre white sand beach with lounge chairs. It was nice, but man-made, and it showed. Everything was almost too pristine.

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    Sheryl went standup paddle boarding.

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    I took the picture above from my kayak. It was nice to get off the boat and enjoy the sand.

  • Red Wanting Blue

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    The show opened with "White Snow" which is my favorite from their catalog.

  • Melodime

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  • Ben Rector

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  • Better Than Ezra

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    Their banter with the audience between songs certainly added to the performance. The lead vocals are not always melodic enough for my taste. For some reason, the lead singer reminds me of Adam Sandler.

  • Artists of the Rock Boat present Disco Funk Inferno

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    Bands took turns to grace the stage to cover classic songs from the 1980's with mixed results.

Monday

  • We spent the morning in Costa Maya, Mexico. Costa Maya is the first Western Caribbean port designed exclusively for the cruise ship industry and is located just hours from Cancun on Mexico's southern Yucatan Peninsula.

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    We rented dune buggies to drive through the village of Mahahual to a remote beach.

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  • Matt Nathanson

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    In addition to being a songwriter, singer, and guitar player, he could also be a standup comic based on his on-stage banter:

    "We were a late addition to The Rock Boat, so we didn't get to practice our choreography, which is what we are known for. [not true] In addition, the captain wouldn't let us bring on all of the equipment we wanted. We were going to have trampolines. [audience laughs] Hey, you don't know. We could do trampolines. And then we were going to have a goat. But none of that was possible because this is a boat."
  • Wrenn

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    Though we did not enjoy her performance as part of the Sixthman Sessions, her stage show was actually quite good. I just might be a new fan.

  • Parachute

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    Songs that you may know by him include: "She Is Love," "Kiss Me Slowly," and "Forever and Always." The lead vocals had lots of reverb, too much reverb, too much reverb.

  • All About A Bubble

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    Songs that you may know by him include: "Lost Like Satellites," "The Sailor, The Captain," and "It Rains in My Heart." These guys were loud and their lyrics were rather youthful.

  • Ben Rector

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    This was our third time seeing him on this trip. This was a fill-in show while we waited for the next. Most of the set was the same as the previous 2 shows.

  • Andy Frasco and the U.N.

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    Songs that you may know by them include: "Good Ride," "Smoking Dope 'n' Rock 'n' Roll," and "Tie You Up." The emphasis of this performance was more on partying and less on musicianship.

  • Welshly Arms

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    Songs that you may know by them include: "Legendary," "Never Meant To Be," and "Need You Tonight." The lead guitar player plays fast and seriously. Their cover version of Rick Derringer's "Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Koo" was the best live version that I have ever heard.

Tuesday

  • Firekid

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    Songs that you may know by them include: "Lay By Me," "Magic Mountain," and "Die for Alabama."

  • Brian Fechino and Friends

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    You have never heard of Brian Fechino; however, he has quite a following on The Rock Boat because he records and produces the Sixthman Sessions.

  • Knox Hamilton

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  • Songwriters in the Round

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    Songwriters tell stories about what inspired the writing of a song and then play a solo acoustic version of the song.

    The artists this year included:

    • Will Anderson of Parachute
    • Scott Terry of Red Wanting Blue
    • Stephen Kellogg
    • Sam Getz of Welshly Arms

    It is interesting to see what's inspirational. For example, a love song can start from going to coffee with a girl you secretly have a crush on even though you don't like coffee.

  • Carbon Leaf

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    Songs that you may know by them include: "Life Less Ordinary," "What About Everything?," and "The Boxer." Their set included "Silver Bells" which is my favorite from their catalog. For us military families, their performance of "The War Was In Color" was very moving.

  • The Currys

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    Songs that you may know by them include: "Come on Home," "I Will Find It," and "Hold Me Here." They were a little too folksy for my taste.

  • Matt Nathanson

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  • Sister Hazel

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    To close out this set, almost all of the artists joined them on stage:

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Once again, the trip was a roaring success. People on the boat are so friendly. The artists on board are just like the people. They eat with us and attend other artists' shows among the crowd. The line between performer and fan is truly obliterated.

Music is alive in the lab.