Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea: Day 2 Blog

After a stop in normally sunny Key West for the day, everyone was back on the boat at 4PM and treated to a Pool Deck show by the legendary John Hiatt.

We cut our time at John Hiatt short so we could get over to Ryan McGarvey who was playing in the atrium at 5PM. Ryan opened his set with the instrumental “Firework Eyes” and “Starry Night” off his latest release The Road Chosen. Ryan then proceeded to fill out his set with songs from all three of his albums, including stand out tracks “Cryin’ Over You,” which garnered a great reaction from the crowd after his excellent solo and the effect filled “Prove Yourself.” By the time he got to “Little Riding Hood” enough people who had been filtering by had stopped to listen that the show was packed including the balcony railings and the stairways to the restaurant that over looked the atrium. “Blues Knockin’ at my Door” was another excellent song where his tight rhythm section nailed down a hard hitting groove that drove everything along. To close things out we got the single “Memphis” off his latest album followed up by the instrumental “Mystic Dream” to close things out. Overall it was an excellent performance that had the crowd on its feet by the end of the show.

From there we took off to the Spinnaker Lounge to catch a portion of The Record Company’s Show. This band out of LA consists of a three piece has released two EPs 2012’s Superdead and 2013’s Feels So Good. They have a gritty rock sound characterized by the use of heavy rhythms, slide guitar, and lots of harmonica and not just by the lead guitar player and singer. They opened up with “Good Bye Sad Eyes” with an acoustic guitar played across his lap like a pedal steel slide guitar. Probably the best line of the trip so far by a band was on “Baby I’m Broken. “ “No need to adjust your cameras that is a harmonica playing bass player.” “Hard Day Coming Down” is an excellent song where the hard-hitting acoustic riff that drives it along gives this song a simultaneous modern and classic blues feel. This band definitely deserves some more exposure.

Unfortunately though with Rock Candy Funk Party coming up at 8:30 and wanting to get a good position to catch one of their infrequent performances we had to duck out early to get a seat. It is not as if RCFP goes on tour often. If you’re not one of the few people in LA who gets to catch them at The Baked Potato jazz club or check out their DVD at the Iridium in NYC you’re probably not going ever have the chance to see Joe with them live. The Pool Deck was nowhere near as filled as it was for the Bonamassa solo show last night. I suspect from conversations I had with many passengers earlier in the day that many people did not realize that Joe played with them. For those that showed up though they did not disappoint with their unique blend of ’70s funk. Toward the end of their set, they added a couple special guests. Paulie Sera who plays Saxophone in Joe’s band and the great Robben Ford joined them on stage for the last two songs.

From there we went to the Stradust Theater so we could get some good seats to catch that evening All-Star Jam. That meant that we got to catch Bernie Marsden repeat his set from the evening before, with slightly different humorous stories though between the songs.

Josh Smith, Joe Bonamassa, Simo, and Kirk Fletcher at the All-Star Jam.

Josh Smith, Joe Bonamassa, Simo, and Kirk Fletcher at the All-Star Jam.

Finally, at 11:30, Kirk Fletcher and Josh Smith stepped on stage to open up the All-Star jam with an instrumental track where they traded licks back and forth in a call a response format and then each played one of their songs to get things warmed up. From there they added Simo to the mix and the blues covers start flowing. Starting with Albert King’s “Crosscut Saw” where Simo showed off his slide talents followed by the funky bass opening of the classic “I Just Kissed My Baby.” It was obvious to everyone in the packed theater that they were thoroughly enjoying themselves as they threw the solo breaks back and forth among the three of them. They brought Joe Bonamassa up on stage and they proceeded to rip though “Hand Me Down my Walking Cane”. Then the Paulie Sera walked out with his sax and they proceeded to tear the place down with Bonamassa’s “Blues Deluxe,” “The Thrill is Gone,” and “Where’s My Baby.” When things wrapped up at 1AM everyone leaving the theater was shaking their heads and raving about what a phenomenal performance it was with all of them on stage.

– Kevin O’Rourke

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