I love music theme cruises. Some of the companies promoting them on a regular basis, like the Legendary Blues Cruise and the Smooth Jazz Cruise, are now doing so well they sell out cruises almost a year in advance.
The NAHA (National Association for Native Americans) is just now presenting its first “Rock Legends Cruise” and if the phrase “biting off more than you can chew” has ever been applicable to any situation, this is one where it where it remains to be seen.
For their very first cruise they charted Liberty of the Seas - one of the second-largest classes of cruise ships in the world (Just three years ago this was one of the largest cruise ships in the world). They took out a full charter. Then they booked some dozen or more different top rock bands to play during a four day cruise - using four different venues and having shows overlap one another so attendees have to choose which shows they want to see. This is a hugely ambitious project, and for those of us attending is overwhelming - and confusing.
I love music cruises and I wish NAHA very good luck, but sadly the event was sadly unorganized and it is apparently because not enough people in the music business took this very well-meaning project seriously. There were shows starting as much as 1:15 later than scheduled, with people queued up outside the venues and even worse, not getting any explanations as to why the shows are all running so late. Apparently, there were problems setting up. By day two shows were rolling along on schedule however and ready to rock (and) roll for the rest of the cruise.
In any case - the talent is outstanding. I rocked the Edgar Winter and Johnny Winter last night, they are brothers but they played separate shows back to back. I saw George Thorogood doing “Bad to the Bone” and other great rock songs. I watched Devon Allman, the son of the great Duane Allman, playing with his trio of great musicians all in their early twenties, and then I went and saw the Dickie Betts band (one of the original Allman Brother band members) doing a set of his original songs as he wrote for the Allman Brothers - remember “Rambling Man?”
While Devon tore it up with his Les Paul through a JCM2000 - either 50 or 100-watt, with a Cry Baby and one of the new Boss octo-boost pedals (I guess that is what they are called). The Dickie Betts band had a lineup of Vintage four Marshalls like JPM Super Leads from the 60s and 70s and one Ampeg SVT for the bass player.
Johnny Winter and his rhythm guitarist played Strats through Fender Super Reverbs. The Marshall Tucker band used all tiny Fender tweed amps - all miked of course, but most of them Champ-sized. I can’t say they sounded great, I prefer a bigger sound.
Except for Dickie Betts, I am surprised that I am not seeing many more vintage amps - not even JCM800s, or boutique amps at all. But it looks like the show sponsors supplied the backline except for the players who wanted to bring their own stuff.
In any case, the playing is great. We only on night number two of our of a four day cruise, so I will have more to report. We had George Thorogood and ZZ Top doing their shows last night, and both went great until ZZ Tops final songs when they blew a stage circuit breaker. Fortunately it was towards the end of the last song so no harm done. Great shows - and the organization was a little better.
I am about to interview the organizers about the event tonight at dinner and find out about the snafus - I hope they can straighten them out by the end of this cruise. These music cruises can be very successful but it might take a few years of seasoning for this one. Or maybe not - they still have time to get it together, we are only on day three, and day two was way better than day one.
Just FYI - I haven't posted sinvce the first day, or been back here, but since they got everything "running" it has been a fantastic show. I saw Johhny Winter last night & Edgar sat in.
Saw ZZ Top on Friday and will see them again tonight. Devon Allman was really good, and Lonnie (?) Betts and someone else from Dickeys band sat in with him - the new generation of southern rock guitarists.
Another great band of younger people is Whiskey Myers - very tight band.
But the best guitar show so far has been the Outlaws = these guys rip up the double leads. I have some amazing videos. If you in this scene at all I am sure you will be hearing about this cruise.
I was on this cruise with Paul. It was awesome to say the least. We finally saw the closing for ZZ Top on Sunday night, after they blew the circuit breaker at our Friday night show. I've never looked at music theme cruises before this one, but I now understand the popularity of them and this adds a new dimension to cruising for me. I'll certainly be looking to do this cruise again, as well as the others, such as smooth jazz and so forth. Given the choice of listening to a couple of top acts poolside in Nassau, or going ashore, the decision was a no-brainer. And it seemed to be the decision for probably half the passengers too, even though a large majority had never cruised before. NAHA had a choppy start to this cruise, but they got their arms around it by the afternoon of the 2nd day. I hope they embrace the lessons learned and do this again.
I still play lead guitar in a band and of course I remember Kustom. I had one. They were good amps but they came out just when solid state was new - but in the end tube amps won the amp wars.
That is cool, though. Tell me more about your involvement with Kustom.
HA,,it's probably not what you're expecting. Kustom also had a division that was involved in Police Data Communications. We designed, and installed the very first computers in the patrol cars, along with the systems that supported them. I was a hardware engineer for that division, and that's when I worked for NYPD, as well as several other police agencies across this great country of ours. It was VERY interesting and rewarding work. Occasionally, I'd go to Chanute Kansas, (Kustom Headquarters) for meetings etc., but usually my work was in the field.
You're right, that is not what I expected at all. That was way back in 1972. I didn't know patrol cars were that sophisticated back then.
I think it was about 1974 that we actually started installing the first of the patrol car terminals. Might have been a year or two earlier. Business was slow at first, and then as other agencies saw how efficient it made the guys "on the street", they all started to get in on the action. We used to laugh, because the average officer didn't like the change, and would complain about having to use the terminals for dispatches, instead of voice, over his radio, but if his terminal went "on the fritz", he'd go INSANE until we replaced, or repaired it. They got spoiled really quickly!
It was a great cruise. I somehow missed the Outlaws playing but I think I saw all the others. I'm not going on the second one simply because the lineup is not high on my priority list. As far as amps go, one of the first amps I ever had was a GBX Head with a Farfisa Stage Amp, I know think keyboards. Anyway, I tweaked that GBX many times, taking it apart etc, etc, I sold that rig about 1985 and wished thereafter I had not. About a year ago I managed to locate another one in Toronto, in almost new shape, no road dents etc, GBX GD-2 and the big old 4X12 speaker bottom. Crank it up and it's quite fine with my 77 Les Paul.
I really like this year's lineup. I hate to say it but ZZ Top has become known as more of an "entertainment" show than a rock band. They do a lot of pre-arranged choreography and let synthesizers play some of their parts, etc.
But this coming cruise has Paul Rodgers, Foreigner, '38 Special, Bobby Keys, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Pat Travers (toronto, right?) and many more.
The best players from the first cruise are coming back like Devon Allman.