All text and images ©2016 David Hill Photography
March 1-5, 2016
Brendan Holmes and Chas Waltz of The Young Dubliners perform on the Pool Stage during The Lebrewski Cruise in 2016
Jared and The Mill
3/1/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Pool Stage
This was one of the bands we were really looking forward to seeing on the cruise, and they didn’t disappoint. From their soundcheck of Hold On, through their cover of Born to Run (complete with accordion solo), these guys from Phoenix rocked the boat, pun intended. The band played with high energy throughout the show, and their interactions with each other and the crowd seemed genuine. They debuted the song "Keep Me Going", which they had recorded in Nashville just the week before. Jared and the Mill was a great choice for the first night on the open ocean. I will be watching for these guys to tour the New England area so that I can see them again, and you she keep an eye out for them in your area.
The inaugural Lebrewski Cruise set sail from Miami on March 1st, 2016 with a boatload of bands, craft beer, and music lovers. With five stages, and well over a dozen bands ranging from southern rock, to americana, to celtic punk, there was a little bit of something for everyone. The cruise was well put together by music cruise veterans On The Blue, and was hosted by Kyle Hollingsworth and Eddie Trunk.
The reviews, because of the sheer number of shows, are shorter than I would normally do, and some deserve more than I offer here. When you take them as a whole, I feel they offer a good representation of the experience.
Larry Gast III, Jared Kolesar, and Josh Morin of Jared and The Mill got the cruise started off right, taking the stage in swim trunks (complete with cowboy boots).
The Fabulous Thunderbirds
3/1/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Stardust
The Fabulous Thunderbirds were one of
the better known bands on the cruise, and I really wanted to check them out.
This only show I didn’t go to the front row for, and also unfortunately, the battery in my carry-around camera had died. The band was tight, and put down a solid groove, by sitting at the back of the theater, I could see the crowd very well, Jimmy and the boys had the crowd dancing in the aisles, singing along with
Tuff Enuff and Wrap it Up, and truly just enjoying themselves. On any given night, this would have been a great concert, but it was really overshadowed by other shows on
Raelyn Nelson Band
3/3/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Main Street Stage
I have to admit, I didn't actually see this band, they were playing in an open area right below where we were having dinner one evening. I regret not catching more of the show. Until you've heard Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl" played on ukulele, by Willie Nelson's granddaughter, well, just let me say that it will totally change your view of the uke. Forever.
The one thing I can definitely say is that Raelyn Nelson is not riding her grandfather's coattails, she is an amazing musician in her own right, and really puts everything into her performance. I could tell that without even seeing her
The Young Dubliners
3/2/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Pool Stage
The Young Dubliners were probably the most hard edged band on the cruise, and they came out blazing. From traditional Irish songs like "Tell Me Ma", and "The Leaving of Liverpool", to songs from their latest album 9, these guys seriously kicked ass. I'm not sure whose idea was it to put a bunch of white guys on an outdoor stage at two in the afternoon in the Caribbean, but it was hot. The band didn't seem to mind and they powered through their set while they, and crowd, worked up a sweat. Chas Waltz rocked the fiddle, to the point that I thought he might have a stroke. Lead singer Keith Roberts taught us how to dance like an Irishman, with the aid of a little bit of duct tape. Great band, and a fun show, I’ll see them again, at any opportunity.
Keith Roberts of The Young Dubliners, making sure fans of their music can hear him all the way to Nassau.
3/2/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Pool Stage
On a cool night in the Carribean, Colorado based The Samples brought out some jam music the perfect counterpoint to the heat of the afternoon and sizzling show by The Young Dubliners. The band (the only remaining original member is Sean Kelley) was together and in a groove, trading solos from guitar, to keys, and back again. They played my favorite Samples tune, "Could It Be Another Change", and the crowd favorite "Feel Us Shaking". The audience had some knowledgeable fans, and the band seemed to really want to continue playing beyond the end of their set
Sean Kelley and The Samples brought their trademark sound from Colorado to the Carribean.
Jared and The Mill
3/2/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Spinnaker Lounge
This was another great show from the opening night performers. The set was very similar to the first night, but that was fine with me; their songs are so well written and intricate that you don't get tired of hearing them. The crowd really got into the sing along of "Born to Run", and the enthusiasm from the band was high. Spinnaker Lounge was a much more intimate setting than the pool stage,which is the type of venue that I usually like, but I didn’t care for the this one very much. The stage is less than a foot higher than the floor, and very small. It felt as though I were watching a band try to perform in a shoe box diorama, and unless you are right up front, you can't really see the performers. The band was great, as they were the first night, and I was happy to hear them again.
Larry Gast III, Jared Kolesar, Chuck Morriss III, and Michael Carter of Jared and The Mill make the best of a very tight space in Spinnaker Lounge onboard the Norwegian Pearl.
3/3/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Stardust Theater
This band, that has been around since the 1970s was not originally one that I planned to see on the cruise, but with a full day of sailing, I figured I'd wander in and check them out. In the same beautiful theater that The Fabulous Thunderbirds performed in, another solid show took place. It was 70s southern rock, which meant up-tempo, and nothing really groundbreaking, but what they did, they did well. The band was having a good time, as were their fans; and that's what matters. This genre isn’t my favorite, but I still thought it was a good show. I watched some of the show stage side, part of it from the rear of the house, and part of it from the balcony. The sound was good from all locations.
Doc Holliday bringing some southern style to the Stardust Theater.
Norwegian Pearl, Pool Stage
Fans staked out their spots hours ahead of showtime for what was arguably the headlining band of the four day cruise. Unfortunately, from my point of view, this was the biggest disappointment of the week.. There were plenty of their fans on board, and they seemed to enjoy the show. I thought the band was lifeless, and rehearsed. The songs sounded like what I'd heard on the radio, but that was the problem. Nothing seemed spontaneous, it just seemed like an act. Even the banter with the crowd seemed like they'd said the same things a thousand times before. You kind of expect that from big name bands playing inside arenas that all look the same, night after night, but with such an unusual location, I expected more.
O.A.R. brought out some of the biggest crowds of the cruise for their performances on the Pool Stage.
The Young Dubliners
3/3/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Spinnaker Lounge.
The Irish rockers put on a great show with their second set of the cruise, including their cover of The Pogues "If I Should Fall From Grace With God". The band kept a few of the songs from the outdoor show, but added quite a few new ones. The combination of the small room and a loud band made for an intense set. Lead singer Keith Roberts had a good time joking with those near the front, and encouraging those in the back to get a little closer.
My complaint from the Jared and the Mill show stands; the stage is too low and, especially for bands of five or more, much too small.
Keith Roberts, Brendan Holmes, and Chas Waltz of The Young Dubliners brought their high energy music indoors for a second set.
Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers
3/3/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Pool Stage
2016 is the 20th anniversary of Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy, The Refreshments big album. The Refreshments were led by Roger and became RCPM, which is why it's a big deal to the band and their fans. On this night they played the entire album front to back, something they plan to continue doing for the rest of the year.. The highlights of this part of the show were "Mexico", "Mekong", with it's trademark "here's to life", "Blue Collar Suicide", and the sing along radio hit "Banditos", which it seemed everybody remembered the words to. A full album of songs just wasn't enough for the band, or the crowd, so they kept on going, with some old RCPM favorites, some newer songs, and of course "King of the Hill"
From the moment Roger stepped onto the stage, the crowd beside, and behind me was really into it. There was jumping and dancing, as well as voices raised to familiar choruses, and plenty of drinking, with Clyne's encouragement; of course.
It's evident that Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers are having fun on stage, and the do everything they can to make sure their fans do too.
Roger Clyne on the Pool Stage for his first of two shows
3/4/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Spinnaker Lounge
Despite some technical difficulties with Sean’s pedal board that delayed the start of the show, and caused a few issues during it, this was another good show. Unfortunately, the room is not a good fit for their wide open sound. It sounded jammed in tight, through no fault of the band. Thankfully, I had a chance to hear them, and the other bands scheduled to play in Spinnaker, on a much better stage earlier in the cruise. Most of the crowd didn't seem to care, and were filling the dance floor for most of the evening.
Sean Kelley and The Samples making the best of a bad situation, and getting the audience to crowd the dance floor.
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
3/4/2016 Norwegian Pearl, Stardust Theater
Here we go again. Wondering how they would top the how from the night before, I arrived early to get a spot up against the stage. It was an amazing, high energy show, from the first chord of "Blue Collar Suicide", all the way to the closer "Nada". Of course the band played highly anticipated songs from Fizzy Fuzzy, plus some favorites from No More Beautiful World, iAmericano!, and Unida Cantina. "Marie", from the latter was especially moving.
On this night, the band was having fun, even more than the previous. Roger took time between songs to interact with the crowd, and they were loving every minute of it. RCPM are seasoned road warriors and know how to pull the audience in, give them a great show, and leave them wanting more. They spend a lot of time in the mid-west and western U.S., so you should have plenty of opportunities to see them if you're from those parts. If you are an east coaster, like I am, grab every chance you can when they come your way!
Roger, Nick Scropos, and Jim Dalton rocked Stardust Theater with a set filled with classics, as well as a few newer songs.