In the future, when asked what the best thing I’ve ever experienced in my life is, I will reply with two words: Jam Cruise. Yes that’s right friends, I survived the Jam Cruise 11. I now realize why there were so many “Repeat Offender” robes walking around on the MSC Poesia. It’s an honor and well deserved trophy to earn your royal terrycloth robe.
Every year Cloud 9 Adventures puts on the ultimate gathering to celebrate musical talent, friendship, self-expression, positive energy and love for life. For an entire week the Jam Cruise becomes home for an estimated 2,500 fans at sea. The minute we stepped on the boat, I instantly knew I was just where I wanted to be: surrounded by new friends who shared a similar passion for music. Combine that atmosphere with the beauty of the sun lighting up the infinite ocean, a warm evening breeze, and the ballroom interior of the ship and I almost believed I was royalty.
While the traditional summer music festivals highlight collaborations of artists, the Jam Cruise is the ultimate place to see once-in-a lifetime collaborations and shows that you won’t ever experience again. This year’s highlights included a full set of moe. on the pool deck with a Galactic intermission, a Marchforth Marching Band dance party in the rain, Kyle Hollingsworth making his way to almost every stage with a keyboard, JJ Grey and Mofro bringing the soul mid-afternoon on the pool deck and Dumpstapunk “putting it in tha dumpsta” late night on night 4. The Jam Room carried out its annual legacy of taking the party into the early hours of sunrise every morning with so many artists jamming it was impossible to keep tabs on the stage line-up.
The boat lit up when Steel Pulse covered the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower” and The Beatle’s “Ticket to Ride” on night 5. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe blazed a tribute of the Beastie Boys “Sure Shot” that got everyone on the boat in tune with their inner jazz flute. Galactic’s flawless reprise of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” provided dready head banging and fist pumping from bow to stern.
The Jam Cruise can easily be labeled as the flawless diamond of all the other multi-day music festival gems out there. Not only are the amazing bands playing 2 to 3 full sets throughout the week, but they are staying on the boat and are also there to celebrate the live music phenomena with the fans and as fans themselves. I never thought it would become normal to run into moe. guitarist Chuck Garvey or Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic on the pool deck. One night, while returning to my cabin in the middle of the night, I hopped in an elevator and Karl Denson joined on the next floor. My smile gave my admiration away.
“Hi, I’m Sasha.”
He replied “I’m Karl,” with a smile from ear to ear.
“Oh my god, I know!” is all my brain could spit out of my mouth.
It’s these moments that you won’t find anywhere else except for on that 93,330 ton floating piece of metal that we all called home for 5 days. To quote my partner in crime JR Wotring, “358 days a year suck.”
I used to think that my favorite part of volunteering for such an incredible organization like HeadCount was the experiences I got to have at concerts with the fans. While that has always proved rewarding, I now realize that HeadCount has provided me with the best gift of introducing me to some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I couldn’t have asked for a better Jam Family while I was on the cruise. I have met so many lifelong friends across the entire country, all thanks to HeadCount. So what do you get when you shack seven HeadCounters from all over the country in two 150-square foot cabins with bunk beds? The perfect recipe for glitter bombs, blender blunders and enough laughs to last for days.
If I had to give advice to a future first time Jam Cruiser, it’d be to be prepared to experience the most positive, fun and exhilarating time of your life! The boat is overflowing with beauty. Beauty in self-expression, beauty of the ocean and tropical surroundings our world has for us to discover, beauty of positive energy, friendship and love, and most importantly the beauty of what can be created when unbelievably talented musicians are put together on a cruise for the sole purpose to create monumental music and memories.