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Published: February 3rd 2015
Popa Chubby“The Blues are the true facts of life expressed in words and song, inspiration, feeling, and understanding.” – Willie Dixon
This dude could really sling it and brought high energy to his sets.
The term colossal confluence comes to mind while reflecting on our latest journey. Although “confluence” is normally reserved for a hydrologic description of two rivers merging, it also describes a coming together of people or things…..a concourse if you will. We believe this is spot on description of a journey that involved travel, people gathering for a purpose, and most importantly, the opportunity to meet a couple who love to travel at least as much as we do…perhaps more….wait, no way!
So…combine the Dancing Duo from Down Under, a cruise ship chock full of blues music lovers and fabulous blues musicians sailing the Caribbean and you’ve truly come upon a colossal confluence. And what a gas it was!
It all began in the fall of 2013, when the plan was first hatched. We’d heard of the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise from a friend more than a few years back, but discovered that Dancing Dave and his better half Denise were planning a trip to Canada to see their son and a bit of our rather large nation as part of an extended holiday that would also see them visit
Wee hours of the morning
Tab Benoit, MJ and Denise
South America as well. You’ll have to wait a bit for their blogs……It didn’t take much convincing to get us on board (pun intended) and apparently we were all set.
The arrangements were set well in advance, but admittedly we were a bit too busy with our work and other commitments to really give it much due. Then the holidays were upon us and all of a sudden, this grand voyage was in sight, and the excitement began. Anticipation is a rather large part of the travel experience and we were about to meet fellow Travel Bloggers so the experience was heightened to say the least. We were actually going to meet Denise and Dancing Dave? Awesome!!
The ship was to depart from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and we flew in a couple of days earlier to escape the throes of the eastern winter and get to meet the Dancing Ones. We were relaxing with adult beverages at the outside bar at the hotel when we spotted them…and instantly the fun began. We knew that we were in good company and immediately a most wonderful rapport existed between us. For those TBers who have met other TBers,
A tale of Robert Johnson, the Devil and a deal......
you are acutely aware of the experience. If you have not met another fine member of this website, find the opportunity and you will not be disappointed.
The Dancing Duo had not only been on holiday for well over a fortnight, but had made their way from Memphis to New Orleans via a Cadillac (rather large U.S. automobile) to experience the blues trail. They had seen the crossroads! Highway 61 & 49 are rich in b-l-u-e-s history. What a way to get ready for this excursion! It was revealed that they had not sold their soul to the devil…..and so the real adventure began…… The Adventure Began
We boarded the ship on Sunday and immediately realized that we were among a demographic that consisted of many walks of life gathered for only one simple reason……da blues! The schedule of performances was disseminated just before boarding and it was an overwhelming document and required constant close scrutiny as we were technically “Bluescruise virgins,” but not for long. There were multiple venues on this large vessel and the opportunities seemed plentiful.
Taj Mahal, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, Popa Chubby, Keb ‘Mo, Tommy Castro and the Pain
Travel Blog Big Beat Band
We're getting' the band back together.
Killers, Lucky Peterson…..the list was endless and we soon came to realize that all of them came to play and wow an audience that had an unquenchable thirst for the blues. And as if these headliners weren’t enough, there was Mr. Sipp, the Peterson Brothers and Matt Anderson, lesser known, but equally powerful performers. “We're putting the band back together.” – Jake Blues
Only one thing to do at that point……get the band back together.
Back in 2013, the Dancing One put out a blog entitled “The TravelBlog Music Awards. https://www.travelblog.org/Oceania/Australia/New-South-Wales/Sydney/blog-784188.html
As the band was actually large in number and there were only four of us, we knew the others would be there in spirit, but we needed to soldier on……for the love of music. This was the Blues, man! And we did our level best to make the old band proud of us. One of the “theme” nights was Mardis Gras and we used this to full advantage to show the planet how the band was back together. (see photos)
We took in as much music as possible, sometimes seeing artists multiple times. We saw Popa Chubby
Bluesin' in the Queen's Lounge
four times, once as a guest artist for his keyboard player Dave Keyes (more on him later) in the Piano Bar. Others we had to have another listen to included Keb ‘Mo, Shamika Copeland, Tommy Castro and the Pain Killers and Mr. Sipp. “I rambled all the time. I was just like that, like a rollin' stone.” – Muddy Waters
We stayed up late and got up incredibly early, due to the fact that our cabin was just below the Crow’s Nest, where they played ALL night. You could amble up there at five in the morning and catch a bunch of these cats jamming with one another as they had been there all night. This of course is in direct contrast to the norm. Our routine back home is to go to sleep between 930pm and 1000pm because we are up at 515am each day for work. Our blues cruise routine quickly reversed our body clocks….we frequently stayed up until 130am slept until 430am and headed back to the Crow’s nest for music by sunrise. By 730am everyone would head back to their cabins and catch about 3
hours sleep before heading out for breakfast and another day of music. The adrenalin caused by excessive blues music exposure kept us going…..at all hours. “Pop music is aspirin and the blues are vitamins.” – Peter Tork
One early morning, we caught Tab Benoit, Mr. Sipp, the Peterson Brothers and half the horn section of Room Full of Blues kicking out an incredible version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” To witness this great jam and see the looks on their faces as they thoroughly enjoyed jamming with one another as the early morning light loomed was priceless. Another morning, they kicked out a great version of Mile Davis’ “All Blues” as the sun rose over the blue waters of the Caribbean. There were no more than a couple of dozen hearty souls at this point, but the band played on…..magical. We would sleep some other time. The “Dave Club” Members: Dancing Dave (Australia) Dangerous Dave (U.S.) Dapper Dave (England) Diesel Dave (Canada) Dave Keyes (Blues Star and keyboard player for Popa Chubby)
Can’t remember exactly when this concept first slipped out into the open. It might have been alcohol-fueled, but we would like to think that
The Peterson Brothers
Crow's Nest Performance blew the roof off the ship
it was merely an extension of the brilliance among Dancing Dave and Dave (later to be called Dangerous Dave). Oh well, we can believe whatever we want, because it’s our story, and we’re going to stick with it. The plan was to get as many “Daves” as possible for a group photo at the stern of the ship at a designated time. With over 2100 passengers, it appeared promising.
Now, not all cruise ship stops put you next to a pier so you can just stroll ashore. Roatan, Honduras was one such location. They load you into what looks like a bobbing egg and motor you in. During transport, Dave stood up and announced that he was looking for guys named Dave. Low and behold, we were sitting next to a Dave from London (he became Dapper Dave). The hunt was on! Dancing Dave took it upon himself to put signs at the ship’s elevators. They didn’t last long, but it was a great idea, nonetheless.
At one of Popa Chubby’s performances, Dancing Dave approached Dave Keyes (his afore-mentioned keyboard player) and asked if he would join the photo. He agreed!
So, at 1800 hours, we gathered
Sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale
The Dancing Ones at the Virgin Party
at the back of the boat…..The Daves! Dave Keyes hustled from the front of the ship after his gig to join us.
Later, we even ran into Dave from Canada (soon to be known as Diesel Dave) who we met at the hotel in Fr. Lauderdale. He joined us later in the Piano Bar for another photo…..great stuff.
Our cunning plan is to write to the Legendary Blues Cruise organizers and see if they will assist us in gather a larger group of Dave’s for January 2016 Cruise. “The blues is life itself.” – Billy Gibbons Do you have the blues in your DNA?
The kindship and friendship of the blues cruise made this truly an experience of a lifetime. A moment in time difficult to describe when you are experiencing so much joy from music. As described earlier we joined the pre-cruise party at the Ft. Lauderdale Hilton Marina. We learned that we were about to participate in the 24th
sailing of this Blues cruise.
We freely admit as we thought it odd that many people at this cruise party had been on ten or twelve sailings and we
actually talked with someone who had been on all but 3 of them. It seemed odd at the time.
Among this group we were known as virgins and we actually attended the virgin party on the ship. We aren’t virgins anymore. Legendary law #1 states that “once a blues cruiser, always a blues cruiser.” Yep, we’re special now.
The experienced cruisers all had a glazed look in their eye when they discovered we were virgins. Every one of them, 100%, said we were going to have a life changing event. We secretly rolled our eyes at them. Looking back we still push back on calling it a life “changing” event because we don’t like that verbage but we can tell you the bond among that group of people is warm, friendly, polite and inviting. It was an experience, truly.
As you can imagine at each music venue hundreds of people were attempting to find the perfect place to sit, stand or dance to the music. We’ve never been around such a polite group of people in our lives. From time to time we’d want to get next to the stage to take a close up photo, to
Old Style Blues Man
attempt to get that perfect shot. At any other music venue we’ve attended people would attempt to block you from getting in front of them. On the blues cruise the crowd parts so you can walk up and take your photos. They share in your enjoyment and compliment you on your photo. When you are done they get out of your way so you can go back to your friends. Blues cruisers share a musical DNA bond
. We were amidst a sea of smiling faces, a sea of people who truly, deeply, share a bond and are moved by the tones and vibrations of these sounds. The people on this ship did not have a mild interest in the blues, they are not just looking for a party, they have a passion deep in their souls for the lyrics, the mood, …..an understanding of the roots of blues.
As hard as it may be to fathom, this amazing journey was even more incredible as we got to share it with TravelBlog brethren, two very special people.
To Denise and Dancing Dave -- let's sail with the Blues again!!
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