Day three found us at sea for the day as we headed to Nassau in the Bahamas. Many changes to the expected performance schedule since the weather was not really cooperating. Shows were forced inside because of the very high winds on the pool deck. Took a stroll outside on the deck on my way between one of the shows and a sudden gust of wind blew my hat off my head and overboard before I could even react. Considering the heavy seas and the strength of the wind, the boat was moving every direction. If you had to stand around for any length of time cooped up in one place with no fresh air, you felt it. Joe eventually did when he stood for four hours in the Spinnaker lounge to pose for pictures with everyone on the boat. Evidence of the determination of all involved with the trip that the guests have a great time was demonstrated by Joe’s resolve to get through everyone who wanted a picture. They eventually moved the pictures outside onto the pool deck where the change of venue and fresh air helped.
The harmonica wailing blues of Brandon Santini kicked things off in the atrium for the day. Inspired to play the harmonica after listening to John Popper of blues traveler at the age of 15 Brandon has gone on to be mentioned alongside the modern greats of his craft. Not just a horn blower Brandon has a big voice to go with it and uses it to great effect. After Brandon, Bernie Marsden was in the atrium again. Many laughs were had while Bernie self-deprecatingly made fun of his own t-shirt wearing style versus the sharp dressed suit of Brandon Santini when he brought him up on stage to play with him.
We headed to the Stardust Theater to catch Robben Ford. The place was packed with people standing in the back of the theater and down the entrance hallways to catch his show, which included some Robben Ford classics like “Lovin Cup,” “Chevrolet,” “Cut You Loose,” “Fools Paradise,” and the B.B. King tribute instrumental “Indianola.” We even were treated to the new song “High Heels and Throwing Things” off the upcoming album Into the Sun with the caveat after the performance that it was the first time they had played it live having just practiced it that morning. The new album features plenty of great guests, including Warren Haynes on “High Heels and Throwing Things” along with ZZ Ward, Robert Randolph, Keb’ Mo, Sonny Landreth and even Tyler Bryant.
From there we went back to atrium to catch some more of The Record Company. As I was sitting there watching them I had the nagging feeling that I had seen the front man Chris Vos sometime before. It was not until I got home that I remembered seeing him years ago fronting the Milwaukee, WI band Freshwater Collins. One of the standout tracks this time was “Four Days, Three Nights,” a nod by Chris Vos to his inspiration Jimmy Reed. This group is a high energy, gritty, rollicking, rock and roll party with a sound like they came straight out of a blender that contained classic blues sounds like John Lee Hooker and the Wolf with some Canned Heat and a little Black Keys.
After grabbing a bit to eat at the ships Italian restaurant La Cucina we proceeded down to the Bar City area of the boat to catch Katy Guillen and The Girls. This trio was a finalist at the 2014 International Blues Challenge. Their set was highlighted with a really strong five track group right in the middle including their originals “Quiver,” “Don’t Get Bitter,” a really strong version of Hendrix’s “Red House, and continuing with two more originals “The Race,” and “Don’t Turn Your Back.”
We were able to catch just the tail end of an unscheduled for the day appearance by Joanne Shaw Taylor when we peaked into the jam-packed Atrium, which was right in the middle of a killer drum solo leading into the classic “Goin Down.” We literally caught the end of the show as she then closed things out with the title track of her latest album The Dirty Truth to a standing ovation from the crowd. Ending the night’s entertainment for us was Radio Moscow in Bar City. They look the part of the late ’60s early ’70s psychedelic vibe that they portray and out a sound that backs it up. Standout tracks included “Rancho Tecoma Airport,” “Mistreating Queen,” and “I Don’t Know.”
– Kevin O’Rourke