We made the four-ish hour trek to Miami early Sunday January 21. Liz drove. Sarah navigated. Kelly tried to rest. I worked on a project for my mom. We stopped for breakfast at Bob Evans (of course!).
Getting into the port is much easier now. They didn't ask us at the main entrance for our passports and reason why we were there. Lowered security I should say. We parked and made our way to the line. Check In was fairly quick. We waited in queue to actually board the boat. I made the girls all wear different Paul Thorn shirts for the boarding photo. Aren't we cute!
We quickly found friends and the buffet (again, of course). The sail-away show was Jason Isbell on the pool deck. He had the album of the year and won a few other grammy awards. His adorable wife Amanda Shires was on stage with him. He has a fantastic band of players and they were a good choice for the first show of the day.
After Jason we went to the other end of the boat to see Angelena Presley (no relation). She is quirky, funny, adorable and has funny stories of growing up poor (white trash she says) in Kentucky. On the boat the artists play two or more shows. Some artists have A LOT of material. Some have just one CD or so. I went to another one of her shows later in the week and left after two songs. it was a repeat. She did play an 'in the round' set with Paul Thorn and Foy Vance and that was spectacular. This is where the artists have their voice, story, and instrument and they rotate through songs. These sessions are my favorite because I feel like I get to know the artist and I enjoy the story behind the song. Some songs have no story and those make funny sets too. So, back to AP… she was 1/3 of the Pistol Annie's band. They probably still play together - I'm not sure. I enjoyed chatting with her on the pool deck.
The Brothers Landreth (from Canada) were next on my list and they wowed me. I can't wait until they come to Tampa. I predict they will soon be too big to play small venues.
Jim Lauderdale was next in the Spinnaker. I love him almost as much as Lyle. Maybe even equal. He is a famous songwriter but didn't make the big time country stage like some of the other 'stars' who come out around the same time. If you google Lauderdale hits I'm sure you will recognize some of his songs, especially if you've been a country music fan over the last 20 years. To me, he is as much as a star as anyone else. He sure does have the talent and has played with everyone, written songs that have sold millions, and put out many, many records of his own. I went to every one of his shows on the boat - at least for part of them if I couldn't stay for the entire performance.
Foy Vance …. well, you just have to see Foy in person to 'get it' I think. He too will soon be way to famous to play small clubs. I feel fortunate to have met him and experienced his magic in small groups. By the second show you couldn't get near the stage, buy the next show, you had to be there very early to get in the venue. He also loves to show up and sit in with other artists. He was all over the boat. My favorite image of him was the second morning in the buffet…. there he was in his bathrobe - no shoes - probably nothing on under the robe either -with his tray of food at the bar buying his alcohol to go. Gotta love Foy.
After that I closed the night with the Watkins Family Hour. Sean and Sara Watkins host this show in LA and bring it on the boat too. You never know who will show up and what will happen. One year Fiona Apple appeared. apparently she got on the boat in one of the ports and was somewhat of a stowaway. she's friends with Sara and who knows how she finagled it but - there she was on stage. That was a few years ago. I just mentioned it because Sean and Sara always bring something exciting to their late night show.
In between all of this of course we made many trips to the buffet to meet and greet all of our friends. My favorite boat moment was when Sean Moran appeared at our table. I didn't remember (or even know?) that he was going to be on the boat. I was so happy to be able to kind of 'channel' bernie and keith through him (Bernie's brother).
Just got on the boat. First Meal. Kelly Schindler Watts, Liz Lynch, Sarah Harvey, and ME! I will add more pics as I go along.