Capital Jazz Super Cruise 2016 – Was the Third Time a Charm?

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I thought I’d get a head start on this post, so on October 6,  2016, I began taking notes. By that time, Hurricane Matthew had already reared its ugly eye, destroying any and everything in its path.  We were set to sail on Sunday, October 23rd and Matthew had affected the cruise’s route; we were informed a few days before sailing, that Nassau Bahamas would be our detour from Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas, where Jill Scott and Wanda Sykes were to perform on Norwegian’s private island, day 2.  It was to be a fun-filled day on the beach where we would have access to the beautiful sea along with laughs, good music, and lunch “on” Norwegian.  See Alaina Jenkins’ review.

We arrived at the host hotel the day before sailing so that we could attend the Meet and Greet.  I was super excited to be in Miami!  I looked forward to seeing my friends, what lie ahead for a week’s worth of music, sun/fun and that whole Capital Jazz Cruise vibe!

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Upon hotel registration at the Marriot, the day before sail off, we received a letter with two passes attached to inform us of our 1:00 pm shuttle appointment for the next day; at that point we decided 1 pm wouldn’t work for us. Other than that, things were on to a good start for the meet and greet. Everyone was pumped and ready for Sunday’s sailing to celebrate Capital Jazz’s 10th Anniversary!

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Folks mingling and having a good time. My gurl Laura and our friend, Reggie (top right). My heroes, Wes and James (bottom middle) who saved me last year with lending me the battery charger for my camera

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Pat Prescott, Jodine Dorce, Michael Colyar, Tony Richards and Donna Richardson, I think.

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NY homie, Lenny Green; me; and hubby. V is on the left who photo bombed us!

Day 1, sail off!  We took a cab to the port around 11:00 am, and it’s a good thing we did because when we arrived, the Norwegian Getaway had just returned from its previous trip, and those passengers were disembarking as the Capital Jazz cruisers were arriving to board the ship.   A long line had already formed to go through security.  Once inside, we had to wait in the terminal after registering and be called by groups to enter onto the ship.

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Wait, did she photo bomb us?!

In a nutshell, with permission from the following two cruisers, they totally covered the issues in their reviews; they appeared on the Capital Jazz Fest/SuperCruise FaceBook Page upon return from the cruise.

Jock TravelPlug Schofield
‘How The Capital Jazz Fest & SuperCruise F*cked Up and Ruined One of the Best Organized and Entertaining Themed Cruises’

Common Sense Rules 1 & 2 are as follows; 1. Don’t fix it if it’s not broke and 2. Keep it simple stupid. This is my sixth and definitely last year on the Capital Jazz Supercruise. My priors 5 times going have all been an awesome experience with incredible entertainment.  They were all on the Carnival cruise line and to attend a performance has been an effortless event. You choose an early or late dinnertime. Each guest performed for two shows and you went to the show based on your dinnertime. It was a pretty simple task to see a show and the only time you needed to arrive early was if you wanted close seats to the stage. Fast-forward this year to the 10th Anniversary of the Supercruise. The promoters of the cruise of changed the cruise line to the Norwegian Getaway. Let’s jump right to the issue.

Attending a show this year reminds me of my days as an undergrad student at Morgan State University. I attended Morgan State University at a time when you couldn’t register for classes online you had to show up early and wait in a long line that wrapped around the building and hoped that the classes you wanted would still be available by the time you got to enroll. At this year’s Capital Jazz Super Cruise in order to register for the main shows this year you have to register through Norwegian’s mobile app, a screen near the elevators on each floor or from the television in your cabin.  The video accompanied with this post shows you what most of the attendees experienced. Most of the shows were not available due to the size of these small venues. For shows that did not require registration you had to be there at least an hour before the show started in order to guarantee a sport in the small venues. Last night we waited in line for 90 minutes for the old school hip hop show before leaving when the show was supposed to start at 12:30. We left at 1:00am after getting in line at 11:30. They hadn’t let anyone in at 1:00am by the time we left. Yesterday, we waited an hour to see Kindred in the standby line, the line where if you didn’t get reservations for a show it was suggested you tried the Standby line. The show was held in a dinner theatre with the worst view (posted pic) of the stage for those that didn’t have a table in front of the stage. For those that didn’t make it to shows it caused an overflow and terrible wait times for bars and restaurants on the cruise. In attempt to make amends Capital Jazz has added additional shows for some of the artists.  However, in order to attend these added shows one must arrive at the venue at least an hour early and hope that you can get a seat. At this point, I’ve already chalked this cruise up as a loss and the worst vacation EVER. My legs are sore, my feet hurt and I’m tired or arriving at a venue over an hour early just to stand in line with the hopes of seeing an artist that I paid to see. If you know of any other well-organized music-themed cruises, please let me know.

Alaina Jenkins
I had heard SO MANY good things about this cruise! I was so incredibly excited to see the phenomenal line-up of artists that they advertised. And it was an impressive line-up! To make a very long and frustrating story short, I did not get to see 80% of the major headliners. This was for a variety of reasons, all stemming from piss-poor planning on the part of CJSC. The venues could not accommodate everyone on the cruise (approx. 3700 people) seeing all the acts throughout the week. If it was going to be logistically impossible to see ALL the major acts, then that should have been advertised as people were booking and paying for this cruise. Essentially, if they had said to me I would be only able to see 4 of the 20 major acts without hassle and frustration, I would not have booked this cruise at $2300! Conventional wisdom has stated that half of this price was for the Balcony room on Norwegian (I’ll get to them later), and the other half went to CJSC. Well, based on my calculations, CJSC owes me about $900 back in missed shows because of their inability to figure out how to get everybody into everything. I should not have to spend my vacation days standing in line after line after line, missing other activities and quality time with friends, for hours at a time just to “possibly” get into a show I could not get a reservation for. That’s right, on the first day of the cruise, once you were on the boat, you had to stand at a touch-screen on various walls and attempt to make your reservations for the shows you wanted. By the time we stood in line (well over an hour), there were only 3 shows (major headliners – Eric Benet / Angie Stone, BWB / Patti Austin, and OJays / Ledisi) left with seats for us to reserve. Out of 20 major headliners! And this is not even including the comedians (another issue). We were able to add a 4th major headliner (the Dance Theatre of Harlem) ONLY because they added a show, told us about it on a flyer left outside our rooms in the middle of the night (which I just happened to see) and we managed to get those reservations before the show “sold out.” Simply put, and pardon my language, but I have to be real here, it was a cluster-fuck, and very demoralizing and disappointing for those of us who really wanted to see and experience the other major acts. I missed out on Incognito, Ken Ford, Jose James, Kindred The Family Soul, Diane Schuur, Smokie Norful, Jazz Funk Soul, Bilal, Nick Colionne, Algebra Blessett, Lee Ritenour, Dwele, Howard Hewett, Regina Belle, Walter Beasley, and Frank McComb. If Eric Benet, Angie Stone, BWB, Patti Austin, the OJays, and Ledisi all came to the DMV area, I would not have paid collectively almost $1200 to see them in base ticket prices, so there is NO WAY CJSC can justify what I paid to see with what I received in actuality. Like I said, they owe me about $900.

Now, let’s talk about the other major headliner concert that, technically, everyone got to see because there was no requirement to reserve a seat; Wanda Sykes opening up for Jill Scott. Wanda was horrible; she was unfunny, admittedly not feeling well, and under the influence of mind-altering medication (Nyquil). Meanwhile, we were situated in the literal “backyard” of the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, in blistering heat, with no tents, not enough chairs for over 3000 guests (they advised us to bring our towels so we could sit on the ground), no First Aid station, and only 15 port-a-potties for over 3000 people! The whole event was a major public health hazard. What was supposed to be a complimentary, Norwegian-catered lunch for us during the concert, ended up being a buy your lunch from Atlantis employees who set up under their own tents and charged $4 for a bottle of water, and far more than that for food. Most of us didn’t see the entirety of Jill Scott’s performance because we had been out in that heat with no cover for over 2 hours and massive lines were forming for the shuttles that would get us back to the ship.

CJSC should be as mortified as we are horrified that their brand has taken this hit. Until they correct the narrative of this hot mess of a cruise (IF they can), I can only assume that they are profit-driven and not people-driven, and they simply don’t care that this cruise was a complete waste of my hard-earned money. CJSC owes each of us a sincere apology that clearly acknowledges their miss-steps and the significant impact they had on their guests/clients/customers, and they owe each of us a refund based on a realistic analysis of how many headliner acts any one cruiser could have reasonably been expected to see given the timing of the various events (several major headliners overlapped each other each night) and the limited capacity of the venues. Try as I might, I didn’t even get to see one major headliner each night! I saw 3, and I was on that ship 7 days!

Speaking of that ship, the Getaway on Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). The food was disgusting! I’ve had better meals, more carefully prepared and presented, in my cafeteria at work! The majority of the food clearly came from frozen and was just re-heated, or were sloppily thrown together one-dish meals designed to feed an army (or should I say a plantation?) Toast came 10 minutes after our omelettes, and generally our salads came out after the main entrees. The open, dine whenever and wherever you choose model didn’t fit my expectations of luxury dining on the high seas. The places where we had a decent meal (sushi and Japanese teppenyaki) required us to pay additional charges. It was worth it, because the food was edible and properly presented, but after paying over $2000, I should not have to spend an additional $20-30 a night just to have a good meal. The foodie in me just had to die this week, because Norwegian screwed the pooch all over the place when it came to food and customer service. I would hate to think that because it was a boat full of black folks that their service was not up to snuff, but hearing from others that NCL is not normally “that bad” gives me pause. And apparently NCL could not WAIT to get our black asses off their boat, because they took our bags, categorized by only 3 colors, and tossed them into the Customs Holding Area with no rhyme or reason, and then called “all colors” to disembark at practically the same time. Imagine thousands of people with several thousands of pieces of luggage, with nothing but a color code to attempt to find your luggage in a sea of people and porters. A high-holy mess! And we were told several times that NCL doesn’t normally handle their disembarkation this poorly.

This is already too long, but needless to say, Royal Caribbean has earned a loyalist for LIFE after this experience on NCL!

So, while it was nice to get away with great travel buddies (we know how to make our own fun), and the artists were incredibly gracious and for the most part approachable for photos and quick chats, I do feel that I was cheated out of the vacation I was anticipating. And for that, CJSC must answer and respond tangibly. #FixItCapitalJazz

More reviews and comments at Eurweb.com

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My Two Cents

This was my third cruise with the Capital Jazz organization and the question is, “Was the third time a Charm?”  The above reviews are certainly detailed and convey that the celebration a major milestone anniversary calls for was not the momentous event it should have been.   Of the shows I attended, hardly any of the performers acknowledged or congratulated Capital Jazz on celebrating their 10th anniversary! With all the drama of having to reserve shows, long lines, etc., maybe this mention was remiss?  I’m not sure.

Once we boarded, we saw that lines had formed in front of the kiosk wall where we had to reserve our desired shows.  I stood on the line for two hours.  Individuals, as well as groups of friends/family, were standing at the screen for at least a half hour or more per group in order to reserve every single show they wanted to see.  The process was ridiculous, to say the least.

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This kiosk process was the devil!!

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This football party/viewing would have either been on the pool deck or in a designated venue, and DJ Frances Jaye would have been here playing music, welcoming the cruisers were it on a Carnival Cruise Line. While they’re watching football (not appearing too happy about it), the other half of us were at the kiosk reserving shows…

Cruisers were pissed and threatened to get their money back from the 2017 cruise.  Not me, I’d already paid a substantial amount of money and not sure by requesting a refund at this time would work since the regulation is when a refund request is not made by the 30 day deadline, the deposit is lost or only a portion of the deposit can be refunded, which I believe is pretty standard.

Clearly, Norwegian is not designed for a music-themed cruise.  Comparing Norwegian to Carnival, the “ghetto ship” as I have heard it referred to, is well equipped to comfortably accommodate a music event as such.

The main theater on Carnival holds about 1500 where Norwegian’s theater only holds around 700—losing over half of the seats; by the way, were really uncomfortable with a wooden bar going across the back of the seat, causing a real pain in the ass–literally!  On Carnival, there is a wide space between each row and a small table aside each seat for drinks, etc.  Additionally, there’s enough space on the pool deck to accommodate a band and it could get crowded depending on the artist.  The pool deck’s layout on The Norweigan Getaway could not properly accommodate a large crowd during the day where it would have otherwise taken place were it on Carnival.

Audrey Batts Watson, Capital Jazz’s former Fun Director wasn’t part of the organization this year and personally, I sorely missed her presence.  There was a vast disconnect between the Capital Jazz staff and cruisers because folks were so upset.  The staff wasn’t as friendly as they have been in the past because they took the brunt of the cruisers’ frustration.  However, I along with the entire list of CJ cruisers (I am guessing) received an email from her stating she was with another company and it seems like Audrey will be organizing a music-themed cruise or more, sometime next year.  There was a survey link included in the email that asked questions about what folks would like to see based on their prior cruising experience.

I want to believe that the Capital Jazz Organization, had good intent by upgrading to approximately 1500 cabins above what Carnival could accommodate for the 10th anniversary, but the compromise they made in order to do that failed.  I am not sure of how the CJO spent 18 months planning for the 10th anniversary and did not foresee a problem with the layout of the ship’s venues and having to make reservations.  The Getaway, yes, is a bigger ship but unable to entertain CJ cruisers as a cohesive unit.  In addition to that, there were more venues to accommodate more artists (over 50 acts) but spaced out, and some acts were not even advertised.  I thought this was too many artists given the fact that a host of good acts was simultaneously scheduled. Likewise, not advertised was Ingrid B. out of Miami with her group of Erotic Spoken Word Artists.  I was excited about this because I discovered Ingrid B. on Myspace, and you know how long ago that was!.  I had the chance to meet her and I really wanted to see the poets and managed to see two performances.  As I said there were so many conflicting performances, my energy was high and I couldn’t sit there for longer than I did.  The Soul Sessions was going on at the same time and that is one of my favorite events!

I didn’t see any of the six comedians—usually, three including Michael Colyear would perform in one night on Carnival’s main stage and that way, there was more of an opportunity to see all of their performances.  A full band performed at the atrium every night which was a nice touch but again conflicted with other shows.

I am curious to see how the CJO is going to physically fix it this year.  They offered each 2016 cruiser $300 off of 2017 and 2018 depending on which year they cruise to make amends, and also have cruisers make show reservations before the trip so that CJO can see just how many shows they will have to schedule.  This was an exceptional gesture!  Whether it came from Norwegian or Capital Jazz, I don’t care! I’m happy to say, that $600 discount off my balance came in handy!

Change is sometimes hard for folks, but I hope Capital Jazz Organization will consider everyone’s feedback and get back to the SuperCruise vibe the CJ cruisers have become accustomed to experiencing.

There’s my two cents!  After reservation culture shock, I still had a great time!! And as you will see on the CJ highlights video at the end of this post, I wasn’t the only one!! On with the show…

Day 1
Sunday, Oct 23, 2016
Depart Miami, Florida

As many of you know, Incognito is tops of my favorite bands and there was no way I was going to miss them no matter how many times I’ve seen them perform!  What was a sweet surprise and funny at the same time was that Chris Ballin joined Incognito on this tour and as Bluey set up introducing him, folks thought it was Maysa. If anyone knows Incognito’s Beneath the Surface, they would know that Bluey would not use this album to introduce her.  As a matter of fact, Maysa needs no introduction.  She simply walks onto the stage and there you have her!! So it was funny when Chris walks out onto the stage and to the audience’s surprise, it was not her. The people sitting close to us were truly disappointed!  HA HA!!

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Bluey, the band, Chris Ballin, Deborah Bond, and Vanessa Haynes

I hadn’t seen Jose James since the first time some years ago at BAM/MetroTech , Brooklyn. I’m overjoyed I saw his show! Jose sang and rapped a song by Gil Scott-Heron, I don’t know what the title was but he did a fantastic job on it and I’m mad at myself for not recording it. He blew the audience and me away with his tribute to Bill Withers. This one I got—check him out!!

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Two bad musicians right here! Bassman, Stanley and guitarist, WaWa played for Jose James; caught them after the show.

It was a really big surprise to meet James Bing on the ship, assisting with cd sales from Mood’s Music out of Atlanta! And Brooklyn’s own DJ Spinna was delightful! I’m sure he gained plenty of new followers after his sets!

Day 2

Monday, Oct 24, 2016
Nassau, Bahamas

Shots of the early risers from the ship at breakfast

 

On the way over to the show

Jill Scott

A two for one; a show outside in the sun, getting my tan on (which by the way, burnt the mess out of my forehead!)

Angie Stone and Eric Benet

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Angie Stone

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Eric Benet

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Our man, Troy “Sol” Edler on background vocals!

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Check Spur of the Moment’s Wayne Bruce on guitar and Tim Steele on drums

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Outfit of the Night! Couldn’t stay in these shoes, uh uh, too high but loved they way they made my muscle-esk legs stand out!

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Donnie so soulful-filling, how good it makes him and any other artist feel when the audience simply applauds for them!

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Steve Smith, Lysette, and Donnie

Me and Donnie after he sweated himself out for the people…

Ok, so maybe not Donnie for the first 12 minutes or so, but I promise, you will love what comes before him!

Day 3
Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016
Fun Day At Sea!

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All of this in one night!!  I’m a trooper if I do say so myself!  Four of the five below were going on around the same time!

Bilal

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Cunninglinguist Erotic Poetry hosted by Ingrid B

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The Soul Sessions hosted by Eric Roberson

I missed the Legends of Hip Hop Concert but was able to swing by the Kid Capri after party

Day 4
Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The hubster and me upon arrival in Puerto Rico for a little shopping and authentic, salty Puerto Rican cuisine

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Later on that evening we returned to the ship for a grand performance by these four superstars!

Patti Austin

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BWB Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, and Rick Braun

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Nicole Henry and Hill St Soul

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Nicole Henry

Hil St. Soul

Black and White night photo shoot

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Laura and Reggie

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Day 5
Thursday, Oct 27, 2016
St. Kitts

What a day, what a day–and so much fun!!

I can get really complacent when it comes to venturing out to explore.  Well, thank goodness for Laura and Linda for talking me into playing with the dolphins! 

 Afterward, we shopped a bit and hung around the bar until it was time to board. 

Caught up with Jodine and Ingrid B. later on that evening

Karaoke

Dwele

Marcus Johnson

Soul Understated


Day 6
Friday, Oct 28, 2016
Fun Day At Sea!
Today, the last of my memory cards ran out (I had 5 cards: three 32 GB and two 16GB) and I needed a computer to transfer files from the storage card to my flash drive.  ERRO came to the rescue and saved the day!  Last year it was the battery and charger drama, this year the storage cards.  Another lesson learned…

Sometime during the day…

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D Maurice is finally standing in the front and the light is shining on him! I was so happy for DMo!

 

This band is the pure TRUTH!! Dre King, Samir Moulay, Chris Bynum, Antone “Chooky” Caldwell, Oweleo Lysette, and Steve Smith

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Ledisi

The Mighty O’Jays

Day 7
Saturday, Oct 29, 2016
Fun Day At Sea!

Quite a bit was going this last full day on the ship, and for me, a bit of downtime since it rained–last day of sun spoiler!

Here’s the rundown:

I was determined to learn how to use the interval shooting feature on my camera!  This feature allows you to be in the shot if you so choose…

So I chose to be in it!

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A performance of a band I do not recall at  The Sugarcane Mojito Bar where Howard Hewett couldn’t help but get in on the action!

 

“Flight of Six” pretty mojitos for around $20 at the Sugarcane Mojito Bar

 

The Kid Capri

Kid Capri caused a major uproar, and people put a dent in that ship!

Marcus Johnson (bottom left) got his groove on too!

 

Here’s an overused phrase you will not hear from me, but “At the end of the day” it’s really all about the music and people having a great time.   I sure did…

Here’s a quick look back!

Check out more performance videos and interviews by Jodine; hosts, Pat Prescott, Tony Richards and Lenny Green with the artists, provided by either Capital Jazz, the artists and or other cruisers.

By the way, Jodine Dorce has one of the best jobs on the cruise!

Kindred The Family Soul

Eric Roberson

Joey Sommerville

Regina Belle

Walter Beasley

Ken Ford

Brotherhood of Renowned Artists discussion featuring
Larry Poncho Brown, Leroy Campbell, & Charles Bibbs

Smokie Norful

Algebra

George Wallace

BOOTCAMP!

 

Capital Jazz Super Cruise 2015 (no more newbie)

That’s right, no more Newbie! What can I say? Capital Jazz Productions has outdone themselves once again! The 2015 Capital Jazz Super Cruise was all I expected it to be from my 2013 experience and more!?

Get your tea or whatever you sip on; make sure you’re nice and toasty, cause this is chock fulla Soul and all that Jazz! Now sit back and enjoy!!

Let’s go back to 2014 for a second. I couldn’t attend the cruise but followed the talent lineup as always and drooled the whole time as every artist was announced. My eyes got watery on just about each one because I knew the ship would be less one person–ME!!

Here are a few of the stimulating artists that were part of the 2014 talent lineup:

Jonathan Butler
Kem
Lalah Hathaway
Avery Sunshine
Raheem DeVaughn
Kirk Whalum
Alex Lattimore
Goapele
Ruben Studdard
War
Mary Mary and,
Pattie LaBelle just to name a few 😦

However, in July 2014, I made a list of the artists I predicted would be part of the 2015 talent lineup

Gerald Albright – check
Norman Brown – check
Rachelle Ferrell – check
Candy Dulfer – check
Maysa – check

As I said before, it doesn’t matter who the featured artists are, because if you know Capital Jazz, you know they can’t go wrong with the talent lineup. If you wait for that, you miss out on a cabin! No stragglers, please😎 So of course in December 2014 I got excited when Capital Jazz made the first artist announcement for 2015–George Benson!

We made plans to arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday thinking there would be a mix and mingle. Capital Jazz didn’t inform cruisers until a few days before the cruise that there would be none. So we hung around the hotel. This duo performed two sets and kicked the party off for me! They were phenomenal!

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Some scenes from Friday in Puerto Rico (it started out sunny but for the remainder of the day became cloudy and rainy)

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Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 24
Depart San Juan, Puerto Rico

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I was so happy and excited I could hardly contain myself. The day had finally come; after waiting two whole years, going over to the 2015 Capital Jazz Talent Lineup Website every day or every time I thought about it to see the updates, and at times knowing the results would be the same.

After cruising with Capital Jazz, I will not vacation with a regular cruise again unless it is musically themed! The only other way would be a European/Mediterranean cruise with plenty of my like-minded folks!!😎

There’s just nothing like this style of traveling; live music with so many of the artists you love, have loved and never seen live, and those yet to discover while spending a little time in a place either you’ve visited before, or maybe your first time visiting. It doesn’t really matter (to me), as I have said before, traveling is the bonus compared to the weeks’ worth of entertainment you get to experience.

Some people like to travel and others like music. When they are combined you delve into both worlds. The third world is meeting like-minded people from all over the universe—we all love music first and travel second. At least that’s the way my mind’s eye sees it! I think we could stay on the water the entire eight days and be filled with music and all that accompanies it. In addition to all of the music performances, there’s Chicago stepping (and Chicagoans came out in full force, dressed to the nines in all white attire!), DJ sets, Greek Mixers, The 1st Annual Bald Head Convention 🙂 Karaoke (of which I hesitantly participated and got no love for the terrible job I did 🙂 lol), Classes, Workshops and Q & A’s with the artists, all types of Fitness and Dance classes, Sexy Moves (Pole Dancing, another of which I participated in and have to give thanks to Laura for her encouragement! It was so much fun!), There were viewing parties of movies and popular TV of shows i.e. Scandal and Empire and a sorts of card games, etc.  There really is never a dull moment unless YOU decide to make it one.

The Capital Jazz staff is well versed in the day to day activities and events, and they make no mistakes on greeting the super cruisers and ensuring they get to where they need to go.

Ok back to the story: Boarding was set for 2:30 p.m. and sail at 10:00 p.m. therefore, everyone had all day to do what they pleased in Puerto Rico. People were already LONG-lined up by the time hubby and I arrived at the port about 1:15 or so, and loads of folks were still arriving.

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Little did we know, boarding had already begun—seems like these super cruisers were eager to get on board to get the party started! The Carnival Liberty was happily ready to oblige 😉 We ran into a friend who invited us into the line waaaay up front and how happy were we!!?

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Thank you Sabrina (Lam Fam)

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Me and hubby had front row seats and saw plenty of happy cruisers make their grand entrance–you could say we were the welcoming committee, lol

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DJ Frances Jaye reminds me a lot of myself in the way she loves music. Frances took it a few steps further, and SHE is living out loud as a DJ–something I have wanted to do for a long while but never really followed up on it. I admire Frances for her determination, tenacity, and love for shining the light on so many indie artists. She founded the Neo Soul Cafe website in 2002, which showcases an abundance of talented artists, who are executing great music you probably thought didn’t exist anymore. “They” say R&B is dead, but “We” (in the indie soul movement circle) know the truth! If your mind is open to learning about more than what your local radio station is playing, check the site to keep up with “The Music That Gets Your Head Right”!

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Frances Jaye setting up for welcoming the CJS cruisers

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Frances convinced Rhonda Thomas to give us a lil taste of what was to come at her show.

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The Ship

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The gurls and me (Laura, Linda and Tonya)

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My next door neighbor’s door, lol Cruisers decorate their door to celebrate special occasions.

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Capital Jazz wasted no time with the entertainment on day one! First up…

Michael ColyarSir Michael Colyar has been adopted as CJSC family and everybody loves him! He’s funny as hell and cruisers would see him anywhere on the ship mingling and taking pictures with guests, as well as in the wee hours of the night in his onesies!

Here ya go!

Colyar OnsiesHe’s a fantastic host aside from a phenomenal comedian who injected his brand of humor into the day-to-day shenanigans that were going on throughout the cruise! I remember him from Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam and it’s good to see he along with other comedians from that era, still in the game who have made household names for themselves.

Michael Colyar also hosted the first annual Capital Jazz Super Cruise Baldhead Convention and he informed us that quite a few baldies ONLY attended to celebrate their baldness and laugh at the people with hair. “There will be security so don’t try to sneak your hairy ass in there”!

In the great (bald) spirit of:
Isaac Hayes
Keenan Ivory Waynans
Yule Brenner
Lou Gossett
Samuel Jackson
Vin Diesel
Steve Harvey
Will Downing
Casper the Friendly Ghost LOL!!
Gerald Albright and a few more…

I am grateful for the opportunity to have had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jodine Dorce a few years ago, in the ONUTSS heyday while we were essential members of the indie soul movement.  Jodine is still doing her thing and has grown in all aspects of the arts, culture, and marketing. I’m happy that Capital Jazz also adopted her as a member of their family where she interviews the artists and works behind the scenes in other areas of show productions. I’m so proud of Jodine and her accomplishments!

Check out Michael Colyar’s interview with my Sista Gurl, Jodine Dorce

I didn’t know what to expect from Step Afrika as I had never heard of them. After leaving the show, I was delighted that I had taken the time to witness such great, young talent!

“Step Afrika is a Company that blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, African traditional dance and influences from a variety of other dance and art forms. Performances are much more than dance shows; they integrate songs, storytelling, humor, and audience participation. The blend of technique, agility, and pure energy makes each performance unique and leaves the audience with their hearts pounding.” Step Afrika

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From the very first performance I sat in on (Step Afrika), my soul was warmed and as the days moved forward with the various performances they made my heart sing.  I was honored to be in the audience observing, listening and being in a state captivation by all of the multi-talented artists I witnessed from the musicians to the singers, a blend of pure perfection—a marriage made in melodious heaven

 I. LOVE. LIVE. MUSIC.

It felt good to get all gussied up to either stand on line and wait until the doors opened or just find a seat afterward (depending on who was performing).  The most popular artists you definitely want to line up early for to get a good seat. Best of all you don’t have to think about buying or having your tickets in hand—all that’s needed is to make a decision as to whose show you will see.  THAT IS THE CJSC LIFE!!!

So if anyone thinks this cruise is too expensive, just think about all of the entertainment that is included on top of the outstanding Capital Jazz staff, who is there to ensure your happiness while you are in their care.  You would probably never get to see these artists perform in a year’s time, let alone in a week!  Once you pay for the cruise, you have paid for your entertainment and travel to boot!!  And folks wonder why 2016 is sold out.  There you have it!!

Disclaimer: I am not a professional videographer/photographer, but merely one who loves capturing great musical moments. Some of the videos are shaky from excitement and trying to focus. You will also see waiters with drinks and other folks walking across the camera. The good and bad thing about this type of entertainment traveling is that since you’ve paid for the trip in advance and there is so much going on at the same time, you have no obligation to sit there for an entire performance, especially since the two main stages are set up for two time slots each, and somewhere in there they go on simultaneously; you really have to plan accordingly. And remember to factor in dinner!

Sidebar: Host, Tony Richards always informs the newbies and reminds the old heads to “Pace Yourself”. There’s a lot or a little something for everyone! If you’re anything like me, you want to try and make your way around to everything, which is impossible! But hey, you can die trying, lol!

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#paceyourself as host, Tony Richards would say

The first music performance of the evening was from our very own Eric Roberson, who may I say has become a staple of the Capital Jazz Super Cruise! I see he’s dipping and dabbing on other themed cruises as well–good for him! It was also nice to have New York homey, Lenny Green on board as one of the hosts this year; he hosted to a packed house. Big mistake–I moseyed in all late, well just before showtime and had to get a seat waaaaaay in the back! As you can see I didn’t have such a good view–folks were in MY way, lol.

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Lenny Green Eric Roberson DMo and Eric

The ERRO show opened with “Picture Perfect”; he and D Maurice Macklin aka DMo, Eric’s background singer, sidekick and friend were sounding so good harmonizing on “Where Do Go We from Here”. I just sat back and enjoyed those beautiful sounds flowing through my ears. And what a bomb ass back-beating band with Spur of the Moment’s Wayne Bruce on guitar…😎 I’m not sure who else was part of this band. However Spur of the Moment was the main stage house band including members:  Tim Steele, Keven Kojo Prince, Mark A. Walker, Skip Pruitt and Eric Parker.  In addition to backing artists from the R&B and Jazz worlds, they produce their own music that has received raved reviews!  Spur of the Moment is next on my “to buy list”!

Anyone who has been to an Eric Roberson show knows that he loves to interact with the audience by asking them to throw out some words so that he can create a song with them. Here’s what they came up with:

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Wayne Bruce on guitar

:-/
Toe jam
Masturbate
Do vegans eat meat
Fried chicken
Let’s turn up

I wish you could have been a witness to this portion of the show. Eric was really hilarious and is super talented, the way he can make stuff up on the fly like that! He also sang classic rap lyrics sung to perfection in a classical/operatic style that threw a lot of us off. The only song I recognized was Biggie Smalls’, “Big Poppa”.

Because I am such a huge supporter of indie soul artists, I appreciated that on the very first day, Eric and Frances Jaye put emphasis on the importance of supporting The Underground Lounge artists on their individual time slots. Their minds were definitely in sync! At Eric’s show, he dedicated “Borrow You” to Frances Jaye. How sweet! And she was on another part of the ship making others musically happy!

Here’s a little inside info on Eric 5 with Jodine Dorce

After The ERRO show, we went to the Neosoul Cafe to hang with DJ Frances Jaye for a bit and had a good time jamming to some of my favorite tunes, but especially my new joint by The Foreign Exchange, “Asking for a Friend”!

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Me and DJ Frances Jaye. Love that Capital Jazz keeps her coming back! The music she plays is so important to those who don’t know there’s more that meets the ear than those 5 songs “radio” keeps in constant rotation…

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And who are these two, I don’t know them, lol Interrupting my photo shoot!!

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Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 25
Fun Day At Sea!

There’s a lot to look forward to today. The Legends of Hip Hop, the Sunday Football Party, The Gospel Show with Cece Winans and Jakiem Joyner and later on in the evening The Jazzy Opening with Norman Brown and Gerald Albright and then Maysa, The Underground Lounge with Rhonda Thomas and George Tandy Jr. and finally, Gerald Veasley’s Late Night Jam Session.

This is basically what the itinerary looked like throughout the trip on a daily basis.

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Backtrack for a sec: I went to change my camera battery although I still had around 40% charge left in the current battery. I looked for my fully charged additional battery, and low and behold this is where I discover I did not have it after tearing up my carry on, which is where it was supposed to be. Then, I looked in my main luggage–nowhere to be found! I know I’m still growing, I did not cry. I just dealt with it like the adult I am, although I was pissed! The first thing I did a week before the trip was, charge both batteries and put the additional battery and charger together. I get home after the trip to find them on my computer desk 😦 A few of the pics and videos were shot with my phone camera which came in handy but the quality in some cases, may not be as not as good…

And so, I needed a plan B and that was to research the type of cameras others on the ship were using. Thank God I found James and Wes, who both had Nikons but my battery fit only one of their chargers. Another Nikon user was DJ Frances’ husband Keith. Both of them saved my sanity I tell you! Otherwise, I could not share this experience with you!

Ok on with the party!

Cece Winans and Jakiem Joyner played the main venue of which I had no intentions on seeing although I should have. I needed to hear the word that Sunday but truthfully looked forward to the Legends of Hip Hop performance. On my way back to the Lido deck, after finding I had no additional battery, I stopped in for a hot few minutes to see that the crowd was overflowing to the brim of the venue, standing room only! I did manage to squeeze in to get a few shots. I also stood there long enough to get a message from Cece and felt the spirit in just those few minutes as she ministered to a full house!

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Check the Cece Winans interview and Q&A with Lenny Green

While I was writing and editing for this blog post, Capital Jazz was busy editing audio and video interviews with the artists.  They will also confirm thoughts I’ve shared and hope you get time to listen to your favorite artists if not all of them. I am telling you, from the mouths of the artists and the cruisers to your ears, you will hear some extraordinary stories I believe you will identify with and absolutely LOVE!!

The Legends of Hip Hop – All New York Based!
MC Lyte, Kurtis Blow, Kool Moe Dee, and Doug E. Fresh

Rain, rain, rain didn’t stop the CJSC party! The football party was held in one of the indoor venues this year as the Legends of Hip Hop overtook the Lido Deck where it was pouring raining—that had nothing to do with the show we all looked forward to participating in.  Let the show begin!

What a WOWZER!!  The crowd was thick, it was pouring; some folks had their umbrellas up, a few had plastic caps on their heads—others even had their raincoats on.  So what does that mean?  The rain didn’t stop a damned thing!  People partied like it was everybody’s birthday!!  MC Lyte hosted, and guests Kurtis Blow, Kool Moe Dee and Doug E. Fresh thrilled us all with classic hip hop and 70s/80s soul!

One question though, how old is hip hop?  Kurtis Blow said he is celebrating his 43rd anniversary in hip hop.  He is 56 so that means he was 13 in 1973, 43 years ago.  Was hip around at that time?  I’m just sayin.  Kurtis was waaaay ahead of his time on that one!

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The Legends of Hip Hop “Rock the Boat”


Check out The Legends of Hip Hop interview and Q&A with MC Lyte

The evening’s main event, Jazzy Opening f/ Norman Brown and Gerald Albright who shared the stage for their show and Maysa was up next.

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Hostess, Pat Prescott

DSC_6513The way Norman and Gerald play off of each other is fantastic (saw them in ATL a few years back with Will Downing where they rotated their on-stage performance). That was the first time I’d seen this style of performing. One of them performed every other song or so alone and then they did a song or two together.

Norman Brown did his thing on “For the Love of You” and Sol Edler Vanessa Williams and her daughter, Lisa Locke (melodious voices perfect assisting vocals, and even better on their own!) Did I tell y’all I love background vocalists? Yes, I do! They are the sparkling gems that bring a solo artist’s performance home! I love it when the featured artists give them the opportunity to share their gift with the audience! Ok that was a sidebar.

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Check out Gerald Albright’s interview and Q&A with Pat Prescott

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The stage is set up in the main venue to extend out and allows the artist to get a little closer to the audience, which is just what Norman did. He also played Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” and shouted out the cool folks who don’t move :-). My favorite part of Brown’s show was how he “slow cooked” P Funk by Parliament Funkadelik. Very Funky!

Gerald Albright played Johhny Gill’s “My My My” and James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World” and they both played a few of their own cuts of which I was not too familiar, however they both played a couple of covers together which was outstanding, like Neyo’s “Champagne Life”, James Brown’s “Get Up” and Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go”.

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Norman and Gerald had the audience one their feet!!

By the way, towards the end of the cruise, Norman and his fiance’ got engaged!

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Check out Norman’s interview with Jodine

Maysa is such a magnificent performer; at any given performance she will take you on a ride with her that lets you know just where a song derived. Maysa truly spoke from the heart and I was so in tuned to her that I found myself tearing up, as she shared stories about her son and parents.

Tony Momrelle joined Maysa for “Still a Friend of Mine” and it felt a little like a mini Incognito reunion. Glad to know they will be on the 2016 ship. I hope Maysa is able to join them this time (they performed without her in 2013).

One other nice touch to the entertainment scheduling is, you never know who will perform with who. Many of the artists that perform solo shows, will accompany other artists on their show or appear on the Soul Session stage.

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The Horn Section–Jeff Bradshaw, Marqueal Jordan, Marques Anderson and Farnell Newton

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Angela Phillips, Amber Harmon, Jason Morales and Troy Sol Edler

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Marcus Anderson

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Jeff Bradshaw

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Check out Maysa’s interview with Jodine Dorce

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My Soul Sista, El Gee

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Later on that night, who do I bump into? Maysa and Chris Bynum (Biscuit) who played for the Underground Lounge and one of the baddest drummers in the DMV (Sound of the City band member as well)

The Underground Lounge Showcase with Eric Roberson

George Tandy Jr. and Rhonda Thomas performed but I missed Rhonda.  All did not fail, though. Eric also hosts The Soul Session which is how I made up for the chance to see Rhonda off her show stuff–twice Part I and Part II! The Soul Session features background singers for the main artists and the Underground Lounge artists. This is nice because you get to experience the background vocalists solo and appreciate their individual talent. More on that later. Although I hadn’t heard of George Tandy before I enjoyed his performance as well as his fan base–so much so they gave him a surprising standing ovation! In setting up his song Higher, his description was quite detailed; he started off by talking about love from the male and female viewpoint and when he finally got to the song, it turned out to be quite smooth and sexually intense! Since returning from the cruise, I heard Steve Harvey play George’s song, “March” on his morning show.

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Voice Off with Lenny Green and Eric Roberson

Good Night!

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These right here?!! Had me cracking up! Brings the kid out in you. The stewards truly know how to make you smile and ensure that tip!

Day 3Monday, Oct 26
Martinique

This was a quiet day. Purchased a few souvenirs and got back on the ship to soak up some sun.

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An Evening of Sensual Soul with Joe and Kenny Lattimore

I’d seen Joe’s performance in Aruba at the Soul Beach Music Festival a few years ago. We stayed at the same hotel and I had the opportunity to take a photo with him while there. I enjoyed his show and it was interesting to see that Joe has a solid fan base as he made himself available to the ladies by leaving the stage to sing to them, which happily turned into their photo opts.

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Joe

Kenny Lattimore’s show I highly anticipated seeing since I am a fan of his music and had yet to see him perform live–he undeniably delivered the goods! Here’s a snippet from my favorite album, From the Soul of Man, Donny Hathaway’s “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” and although he sang the hell out it, I really wanted to hear more from that that album! What was pretty fascinating to learn from him is that he said he didn’t want to sound the same as other artists and listened to fan favorite, Phyllis Hyman for inspiration.

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Check out Kenny’s interview with Jodine Dorce

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Jeff Bradshaw was a treat to see perform throughout the cruise!

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Another highlight for me was running into Kenny after his performance!

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Capital Jazz photographer extraordinaire, Demetrius Robinson! Thanks for sharing those camera tips with me, D!

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It’s always great seeing the lovely Selina working with the Capital Jazz staff!

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Caught Jeff Bradshaw roaming on the party deck!

OH, and what a beautiful surprise to learn that Frank McComb had residency on a nightly basis in his ‘Living Room’ (the ship’s Piano Lounge). I was walking past the casino bar where he was sitting and he saw me walking towards him, with the “I know you from somewhere face”, which was really nice to be remembered from the ONUTSS days. We chatted for a few minutes and I stuck my head in the living room later on that night for a few; Frank had the audience mesmerized!

The piano lounge is the perfect setting for the audience that appreciates that one-on-one interaction the venue space allows. Frank and the audience chatted with one another as if they really were in his living room; that’s how close in proximity they were to each other. He played a few other artists’ songs like Donny and Stevie; I even requested Frank sing an interlude from his album, Straight from the Vault called ‘White Line in the Sky” and he asked me what I knew about it. All I could say was how I felt from the first time I heard it, which was “I wanted more”. Well, my night was made after he sang all one minute and forty-nine seconds of it! I later discovered from the interview with Maysa that I’d missed a historical moment where a host of artists at Frank’s show shared the mic and to quote Jodine, “shifted the energy into a gospel fest”! I’m so sorry I missed that! Again, you can’t be everywhere. #paceyourself

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Darrin Henson and Frank

Jodine Dorce interviews Frank McComb

Gretchen Parlato was another artist I was not familiar with (I seem to be repeating this quite often) and did sit in on “Butterfly” where she does this soft clap in the beginning of the song.  From the little I heard, Gretchen has an amazingly sultry yet mellow voice that I enjoyed, but got distracted with friends and left the show, I’m ashamed to say.  A day or so later I overheard one of the backing vocalists, say that Gretchen’s show was a real musician’s show.  I interpreted that as musicians sincerely appreciate her performance.

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Pat Prescott moderates a panel discussion with Women in Jazz including Candy Dulfer, Keiko Matsui, and Gretchen Parlato

Soul Session with Eric Roberson Part I

This, I reveled in immensely!! The Soul Session is definitely where you want to be to get a taste of awe and high energy. You never know who will pop up on stage and bless us with some good ole saaaangin! The Soul Session gives backing and underground vocalists the opportunity to stand out front, permitting them to shine center stage! You may catch a few of the main stage artists partaking in this soul-like jam session as well! They all perform a cover song that’s familiar to the audience and the Gary Brooks Band members: Gary on bass, Carl Browne on keys, Alex Moseley (Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam) on guitar, and Nelson on drums are all remarkably on point with every artist’s request.  It starts at midnight and I’m a night owl, so this is right up my alley!

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Michael Colyar is at it again! This time, his lady Kelli joins him in the onesies!!

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Eat-cho-vegtobOs

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Eric, Karen Bernod and Timotha Lanae’

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Eric and Michael, DMo, Sol Edler and I don’t know who the lady is, Rhonda Thomas (had my chance to see her do her thing) and Eric, and Marqueal Jordan

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Chillin with DJ Frances on the party deck

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My girl Norma and family “in da club”!

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Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 27
Fun Day At Sea!

Fun in the sun was on tap this day and then I had Be’la Dona to look forward to as they engulfed the Lido Deck with their fiery performance! The all-female band oozed beauty and sex appeal, but don’t get it twisted! Be’la Dona had its DMV populace straight up partying at the height of the day, where the sun was shining so beautifully! Their homies were out in full force!

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“Sweet Cherie” Mitchell-Agurs, Keys and music director;  Claudia “Kool Keys” Rogers, keyboardist; Shannon Brown, drummer; Tempest “Storm” Thomas, bassist; Natasha “Lil Boogie” Proctor, congas; and vocalists, Karas Hill, Stacy, and Danni.

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Jodine Dorce interviews Be’la Dona

On the main stage later that evening, Candy Dulfer and Rachelle Ferrell shared the stage. Candy’s performance was exhilarating! She shared stories from growing up in the Netherlands when she shared that there were not many musical influences in her hometown, hence the USA is where the better part of her musical inspirations derive. It is a real skill and talent to blow the sax and sing between playing, and Candy does that oh so well!

I didn’t catch Rachelle Ferrell’s performance although I heard from other cruisers she displayed strange behavior and it reminded me of Stephanie Mills in 2013. They said she jumped on the stage during Cece Winans’ performance and hugged her. Michael Colyar  said Rachelle Ferrell sang one song for 35 minutes.  He asked the audience at one of his many on-stage appearances, of which artist was more interesting, and they all agreed it was Stephanie Mills, and that’s all I can share on that!

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Pat Prescott interviews Candy Dulfer

Raul Mid`on is absolutely ASTONISHING! Blind yet talented beyond belief! He uses his lips in the shape of a horn, and the next audible sound shifts to the trumpet! Raul is an incredible singer/songwriter and he plays multiple instruments–simultaneously; I really enjoyed his performance! I must admit that another favorite is hearing the artist set up the song (did I say that already?) to give the audience a little background history, one in particular, in New York, of course, where “The rent is too damned high”.  I was familiar with him from a few years back when NYC parks were more fruitful with free outdoor music concerts, I had the opportunity to see him perform at Madison Sq. Park.

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Hostess, Pat Prescott

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What a precious moment! Raul and Frank share the stage!

Jodine Dorce interviews Raul Midon

Underground Lounge with Eric Roberson
Tony Momrelle is a truly humble soul; Eric Roberson said some nice things about Tony in his intro about how lucky he was to have worked with Sade as a backing vocalist.  As Tony was setting up one of his songs he, in turn, let us know what a huge fan he is of Fred Hammond and spoke of how fortunate Eric was to have worked with Fred in the group United Tenors—and how he would love to be in Eric’s shoes.  He also spoke of an instance where Maysa was on the phone with Stevie Wonder and he’d asked to speak with Tony to let him know how well he did with his cover of Golden Lady.

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Tony Momrelle’s wish band and Underground Lounge band–they are some bad asses!!

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Lysette Titi Oweleo, Antone “Chooky” Caldwell, Don’t know his name at the end, and Frances Jaye with hubby@ bottom right

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Dre King, Samir Moulay, and I don’t know his name on the end.

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Tony said that if he were to ever perform as a solo artist on the cruise, this sensational band would be on his wish list to back him. His wish came true!!  Dre King on keys, Chris Bynum on drums, H Bee Boisseau on organ/keys, Samir Moulay on guitar, and music director, Antone “Chooky” Caldwell on bass. On vocals Steve (the singer) Smith, and Lysette Titi.

And then this happened after Tony’s performance… So beautifully unexpected!! Loved it! Lead vocals, Steve (the singer) Smith.  Background vocals, Eric Roberson, Lysette Titi and D Maurice Macklin.

Timotha Lanae’ was another artist I wasn’t familiar with, I didn’t know quite what to make of her performance and think the audience kinda felt the same. However after going over to Youtube to learn a bit more about her; she has some pretty good music on there from her debut album, Red.
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Farnell Newton, Tony Momrelle, and Eric Roberson

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Karen Bernod

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Jodine Dorce, Maysa and me after Tony and Timotha’s show on Camouflage night! Loved it!

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The gang cuttin up!

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CJ Photographer Demetrius Robinson took it all the way there!!

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Good Night 🙂

Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 28, 2015
Grenada

grenadaDidn’t do much this day either. Bought souvenirs and especially looked forward to purchasing spices grown there like cloves, cinnamon, and ginger to name a few. Then back on the ship for more sunbathing.

Later on that evening, the real treat for me was Floetry.  Although I’d seen Marsha a few years back at City Hall Park in NYC, it was truly great to see her and Natalie on stage together again! Marsha sang colorfully and her voice was angelic.  Natalie, on the other hand, is spiritual as she spoke to the audience with such care, concern, and inspiration; she kept asking us if we were well and made us realize that we need to celebrate ourselves and look at the positive in our lives—very uplifting words she shared. I have always admired their talent, the way they vibe on stage and then their voices fused to virtually sound like one, although Marsha is singing and Natalie is flowing.

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Check out the Floetry interview and Q&A with Tony Richards

Musiq, well he’s another story. I’d heard over the years that his performances weren’t good. He was in NYC at BB Kings just before the cruise, and I heard rave reviews of what a great job he did with this concert. Therefore, I really looked forward to his performance. I was disappointed. His band joined him, including backing vocalists who sounded pretty good. However, the sound was really overbearing to the point that his voice faded in and out. He hit a couple of high notes but not enough to win me over. As a matter of fact, the audience members tried to tell him to turn down the sound, but either he wasn’t trying to hear them or it was out of his control. Or, maybe that’s the way it was intended to be. In particularly, I felt the drummer thought it was HIS show! He played thunderously loud. I stuck it out because I wanted to hear my song, “Buddy” which of course came at the end of the show.


Check out the Musiq Soulchild interview and Q&A with Tony Richards

Joey Sommerville’s Get Down Club
I only stayed for a few minutes but had a good fortune of seeing a bit of Farnell Newton (trumpet) and U-Nam’s (guitar) performances. Their set mirrored Gerald Albright and Norman Brown’s as they rotated taking the stage. After so many years of being somewhat familiar with U-Nam from Myspace days, it was a pleasure to see him perform, joined by his wife Shannon on sax. U-Nam has worked with many of the artists you know and love, like: George Benson, Eric Benet, Maysa, Marcus Miller and one of my favorites, Ty Causey just to name a few, but many many more. Farnell has also works with another fan favorite, Jill Scott and has worked with Bootsy Collins, Chaka Khan and another favorite of mine, Najee among many more!

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These pictures were taken in very low light with my phone camera and one of the days my main camera battery was charging 😦

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U-Nam and wife, Shannon

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Although I did not see her performance, I heard she was excellent! Keiko Matsui! Thought I’d share…

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“Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” lol (we used to say that as kids, there were no bedbugs, lol) I had to say that!

Good Night 🙂

Day 6 – Thursday, Oct 29, 2015
Tobago (Scarborough)

I went to a local beach with some friends and didn’t bother to take my camera out of my bag. I was underwhelmed. The sun was shining up until not long after we arrived and shortly after went into hiding for the duration of the time we spent there. The water was rough in the area where we lounged therefore, we had to walk a few feet to calmer water. I took a nap and when I woke up we got ourselves ready to head back to the ship.

Might I add my friends had to have coconut water from “the” coconut! The taxi driver took us to a few spots he knew of, even someone’s house who had a coconut tree. They weren’t home so we went to a couple of markets and played it real close to the time we had to be back to the ship. Ran into traffic like crazy and on an island like that, when you’re stuck, you’re stuck! The line was backed up forever to get back to the dock. FYI, the ship waits for no one. When they tell you what time to be back, you’d better make sure your ass is on that ship. If not, you’d better have some cash, credit card/s and your passport, or you’re shit out of luck! Thankfully, the driver was able to get out of that long line and get us to the ship with a half hour to spare :-/

Come to find out later, the hold up was getting Chaka Khan on the ship :-/

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This was the hut next to the one from where I bought a Roti. Of course, it was closed, and I couldn’t resist not taking these pics, lol! Especially the one below!

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The James Brown Tribute was a complete surprise for me because it was not advertised as part of the lineup. Hosted by Wayne Bruce, the master musical director for the main stage shows assembled this monster band to allow James Brown to be relived and remembered.

The scenario is set to Wayne Bruce wanting to go on with the show and every time he tries to proceed, there’s always someone finding their way onto the stage to interrupt him and the band. This was pretty much the same concept from 2013, The Donald Byrd Tribute–so much fun!!

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Eric Roberson performed “Sex Machine” and “Please Please Please” and it was just ridiculously hilarious. Eric is a fool and as my mother used to say, “No fool, no fun”! Eric and DMo did a fantastic job playing the roles of James Brown and Bobby Byrd! Eric had the audience in tears; he fell into the audience and managed to get his hands on one of the ladies’ purses and I tell you, it was outright comical!!

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Cleophus (Chance Howard) in the audience

Here comes Chance Howard as Cleophus the 5th, Candy Dulfer’s friend (musical director and singer/musician in his own right) down the aisle, interrupting the show to claim his place on the stage, and then performed “I’m Black and I’m Proud”.
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The Horn Section – Jeff Bradshaw, Farnell Newton, Marqueal Jordan, and Marcus Anderson “Gonna Have a Funky Good Time”

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Chris “Big Dog” Davis on keys

 

The Underground Soul Lounge
Karen Bernod is a sista friend in the indie soul world where ONUTSS had the honor of presenting her at a listening party in 2006. So when I heard she would be one of the featured Underground Soul Lounge artists, I was overjoyed and so happy for her that she would gain a new fan base! That’s what it’s all about! I love that Capital Jazz gives underground/indie artists the opportunity to shine where people discover for themselves new music from artists they witness live and in color. Karen’s performance of Nina Simone’s Four Women stoked a fire in the audience that yielded a standing ovation! She also performed one of my favorite Incognito songs where she sang lead, Yesterday’s Dreams—made me a happy lady!Karen

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Eric hosts the Underground Lounge. In the background, Steve the Singer and Lisette Titi

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Us with Joonie who performed at the Underground Soul Lounge as well. I missed him…

Check the Indie Soul Discussion panel with Frank McComb,  Rhonda Thomas, Karen Bernod, and Tony Momrelle moderated by Jodine Dorce

I know of Marion Meadows but was not familiar with his music so I made my way to see the last half hour or so of his performance. Oh, how glad I am I did! Marion is a really Kool Kat and told a New York story about this phrase while setting up one of his songs. The backbeat was tight too and Marion gave each of them a mini solo shine… I really loved that part! Joey Sommerville also made an appearance on Marion’s set and that’s pretty much the way many of the performances went; artists jammed with each other. If you missed one of them at their show, there was good chance to see them on another artist’s stage! NICE!

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Marion and Joey Sommerville

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At The Atrium – Party over here!!

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Sweet Dreams 🙂

Day 7 – Friday, Oct 30, 2015
Barbados

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After a beautiful day on the beach in Barbados, we returned to the ship to engage in song with the wonderful George Benson who gave us all great music and those classics you love!
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Check out George Benson’s interview and Q&A with Pat Prescott

Costume Night
I never participate in Halloween (not since I was a kid; go figure, my son was born on Halloween). This night was really a lot of fun! There were so many creative costumes people came up with that gave me ideas to consider if I ever decide to dress up again!

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Mine was easy; I used my get up from last year’s Harlem Renaissance themed family reunion. There were plenty of us on board with the same idea in mind!

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Laura as Moses

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I think this is the woman (with the Afro, bottom right) Michael Colyar was talking about–the omelette line)

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DMo as Sho Nuff and the Robersons with their One Night Stand (she is pregnant with their 3rd boy)

Comedy Night
Comedy host was Michael Colyer and his girlfriend, Kelli took the stage for a few (I believe it was to introduce Michael). Laughter is always good for the soul and mine was filled with it!  Tony Rock, Gary Owen, and Arnez J. respectively had my cheeks hurting throughout the entire show as all of them had me dying laughing! Check the facial expressions and gestures, too funny! Almost forgot to include this–the next morning while I was on the line at breakfast, this mo-fo–Arnez J. jumps in front of me to get some grits!! Who did he think he was? Michael Colyar? He says that’s what he does everywhere he goes. If you didn’t listen to Michael’s interview, go back and listen to the story where he talks about a woman he gets in front of on the omelette line, lol. All I could do was laugh at Arnez when it dawned on me who he was…

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Arnez J.

Soul Sessions with Eric Roberson Part II

Lysette Titi, George Tandy Jr. and Eric Roberson

Lisa Locke and DaChonne Nicole

Amber Harmon and Sol Edler

Maurice “DMo” Macklin and Eric Roberson

Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 31, 2015
Fun Day At Sea!

Winding down to the last day of the cruise was about getting in my last bit of sun and just chillin.

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Line Dancing/Stepping lessons. Not sure of which one–plenty of takers though…

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It was a joy to see Chaka Khan looking lovely and still sounding good! The band tightened it up with the rock thang going on with You Got the Love and that’s where the background singers stole the show for me!

Although I don’t know her personally, I was really happy to see Toni ‘TJ’ Scruggs as a member of the backing vocalists. She refers to herself as a vocal musician and I like that term! Toni has worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment in addition to Chaka like Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Lalah Hathaway and Rahsaan Patterson (which is how I discovered her). Lucky for me, I met Toni at the airport on the way home and what a pleasure she was to chat with for a few. Toni is below with the low fro, glasses, and big hoops.

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The background vocalists displayed incredible energy and took their opportunity to shine on!

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Check out the Chaka Khan interview and Q & A with Lenny Green

The Whispers are just timeless! Walter and Scottie sound just as good the day your ears first heard their voices! The band was tight and Mr. Suave, Leaveil Degree keeping the dance moves on point, he always delivers! Nicholas Caldwell and Leaveil keep my eyes on them while they command the stage with their suave steps. I missed Nicholas for this performance.

Sadly, as I am writing this post Nicholas passed away January 5, 2016. I’m just heart broken…

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It was a delight to see Gerald as a guest musician with the Whispers! See how this works?

Check out The Whispers interview and Q&A with Lenny Green

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And to all, the last Good Night 🙂

As of December 1st, the Capital Jazz organization announced the first two artists for the 2016 cruise!! Drum Roll!!! Ledisi!!! and Incognito (2013)!!! I love and will take them, but my Wish List consists of:

Mint Condition
Eric Benet – check
Down to the Bone
Snarky Puppy
Liv Warfield
Angela Johnson
A Zhane reunion
Mark de Clive-Lowe
KC and the Sunshine Band
Walter Beasley (since he couldn’t make 2015)
The Foreign Exchange
Carol Riddick
Loose Ends
Carmen Rodgers
DJ Hollywood
A Soul Cypher (like the 2015 Soul Train Awards)
Blue Magic (saw them in November and they were excellent!)
Marcus Johnson
The Clark Sisters
Tamala Mann
Kat Williams
Jill Scott
Omar
Janita
David Sanborn
New Edition/BBD

My Predictions

Ledisi – check
Will Downing
Brian Culbertson
The OJays
Marcus Johnson
Yolanda Adams
David Sanborn
Boney James
Dave Koz

Since the first artists announcement, here are additions to the lineup:

Eric Benet – see my wish list
Nick Colionne
Howard Hewitt
Ken Ford (2013)
Jazz Funk Soul featuring Jeff Lorber, Chuck Loeb, & Everette Harp
Lee Ritenour
Angie Stone
Jose James (YAAAY)
BWB – Norman Brown (2015), Kirk Whalum (2014), and Rick Braun (2013)
Kindred the Family Soul
Algebra Blessett
Patti Austin

Check out the 2016 Talent Lineup thus far

I hope you’ve have taken a few minutes to view the Capital Jazz TV highlights and interviews that permitted you to glean more information about the artists you know and love. Although I was there, I did not sit in on any of the artists’ Q&A, so I appreciated hearing them talk about themselves and their careers. The questions the audience asked of them were interesting and the responses, truly enlighting.

This post was an absolute pleasure to take up much of my time to present to you! At some points I was truly all over the place, checking and rechecking for typos and stuff. I was eager to get it completed and thankfully brought it all together. Reviewing the photos and videos brought back such wonderful memories that made me grateful for my life, period! I appreciate live music even more than yesterday, I laughed out loud, and thrilled I was able to cruise with such wonderful people!

Euphoria, exhilaration, happyness🙂 satisfaction, peace and calm, the sunshine (more than just the sun) and a relaxed state of mind, are all of the emotions I felt throughout this music-filled vacation! The money I spent to partake in it was worth every penny!!

I will always remember my Capital Jazz experiences and hope you enjoyed this ride with me! If you’ve been inspired to attend a future CJSC, don’t delay! As you have gleaned from this post, this is a popular cruise. When the info for 2017 is announced in the spring of 2016, be ready! The folks who missed out on the 10th anniversary cruise will definitely be the first to grab cabins for those they lost out on for 2016! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

Here’s a look at the highlights from 2015 (watch to the end, you’ll see/hear what I’ve been talking about).

Hope you ENJOYED!!

Peace and love to all of my #musicheadswhoalsodontmindtravelingonwater
Pam aka Sista Suga

Capital Jazz Super Cruise VII (Me, the Newbie)

I brought this post over from Blogger and made a few edits:

Enjoy!

As long as I’ve known about the Capital Jazz Fest for the past 15 years or so, I had never attended either the fest or the super cruise–until this year.  I attended the 7th annual Capital Jazz Super Cruise and had the time of my life!! As many of you already know, I LOVE MUSIC! So for there to be over 30 acts, four ports of call (Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Curacao and Aruba (my vacation home), and the vast array of activities in addition to the all of the DJs that kept the party going, I was in Musical Heaven as you can probably imagine. Before the real party started on the cruise, Friday night there was the Mix and Mingle:

Darien Dean, Cruise Host and Me

Darien Dean, Cruise Host and Me

Darien Dean, Cruise Host and one of the Fun Patrol Cruise Hosts

Darien Dean, Cruise Host and one of the Fun Patrol Cruise Hosts

Day 1 Ft. Lauderdale/Sea

Here are a few pics upon sail-off from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. as I was truly a happy camper at sea!

(photos courtesy of my iphone)

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The excitement had been building ever since I put my deposit down in August 2012. As I eagerly checked for the artists that were going to perform, of the first five I believe that were posted were tops on my fav list that included Najee, Rahsaan Patterson and Incognito!!! Need I say more? Going to the Capital Jazz Super Cruise Website to see which artist they announced gave me something to look forward to every time I thought about it. And with each new artist announcement, it got better and better. There’s really no need to know in advance who’s going to perform. If you wait for that, the ship may not have a cabin for you 🙂 Here is a shot of the dance floor as people had completed registration and entered onto the ship. DJ Frances Jaye welcomed everyone aboard! Nice, right?

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Above photos courtesy of my iPhone

Above photos courtesy of my iphone

The first night on sea was a fun-filled night with Incognito as the first act to perform. I wasn’t sure of what the climate would be for taking pictures, so I didn’t shoot this night. Anyway, my goal was to make sure I had the opportunity to say hello to Bluey of Incognito. I had been trying to catch up with him since 2006, when I’d seen Incognito live in NYC for the first time, along with other NY/NJ Cog Heads. There! Not only did I have the chance to say hello, but took a picture with him to boot!!

Hello Bluey!

Hello Bluey!

Since I bumped into some of the members of Incognito at the bar I wanted someone to get “me” in the mix of a couple of pictures. I asked Matt Cooper, keyboardist and sometimes drummer to take a shot of the ladies of Incognito and me, and this is what he shot…

Vanessa Haynes and the back/side of me

Vanessa Haynes and the back/side of me

See that elbow in the corner? That's Natalie Williams. Umm hmm!

See that elbow in the corner? That’s Natalie Williams. Umm hmm!

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Tony Momrell of Incognito and me

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Here is the crew with big beautiful smiles, Vanessa Haynes, Matt Cooper, Deborah Bond (another Cruise Hostess) and Natalie Williams!

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Caught giving instructions on how to take the picture (me and hubby)

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Loving the back of this blouse!

Day 2
Half Moon Cay

Ok enough of my babbling! I shot plenty of pictures and just a little bit of video footage, so I have plenty to show you! (Yeah, I was busy!)

This was a lot of fun as you can tell; not too much of anything but relaxing on a cloudy, light rainy day watching some football while waiting for the rest of the crew to head back from Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.

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Represent your favorite team’s jersey, why don’t cha!

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One of my absolute favorite artists, Rahsaan Patterson performed!  I was too late to get a decent seat to take pics/videos but did stumble across this video interview.  Love these!

 

Later on that night, in the wee hours of the morning Maimouna Youssef and Zo perform and ERRO is the host.  Joining Zo on stage were Jarrard Anthony, Deborah Bond, Chante Cann and Eric

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Eric and Maimouna

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Deborah Bond (Cruise Hostess) and Zo!

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Deborah Bond and Jarrard Anthony

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Jarrard, Eric, Chante and Deborah

The music man behind the Underground Lounge band!

I was really happy to run into Jodine Dorsey on this trip! It was like being home with my soul family!

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Eric, Jodine and DMo

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It was a real pleasure to meet Zo since I am such a fan of his music

Day 3
Day at Sea

The Doug E. Fresh Block Party was truly one of many my favorite highlights of the cruise!

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The Legendary Chris Washington rocked the Lido Deck just like I like it!

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Ain’t no party like a Doug E. Fresh party!

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If it looks like fun, well, yeah it was BIG fun!!

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DJ Frances Jaye checkin it out from the sideline

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Partaaaaay People!!!

Later on that night, into the wee hours of the morning, we were entertained by the King of Indie Soul and one of the funniest entertainers ever! He’s got so much class and a personality anyone would be proud to kick it with–Mr. Eric Roberson, and other performers who participated with the Soul Sessions. Please forgive me for not knowing everyone’s name. All of the performers were outstanding and really made me happy that I was there to witness such great talent!

ERRO Show

Eric Roberson Hosts the Midnight Jam Session

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J Soul

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Ty Causey

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Chrisette Michele’s Vocal Assistant (sorry, don’t know her name)

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Jarrard Anthony’s Wife

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Jarrard Anthony

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Chrisette Michele

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David P. Stevens

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Chante Caan

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Doug E. Fresh

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Vanessa Haynes (Incognito)

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Phil Perry

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Jarrod Lawson

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Natalie Williams (Incognito)

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DaChonne Nicole has a lovely voice! She is also the wife of Keyboardist, Carl Browne and was a background singer for ONUTSS presented artist, Mike Hammond!

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The Band

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Alex Moseley of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

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Carl Browne

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Demont Peekaso Pinder, awesomely talented artist!!

Day 4

LaRomana

Artists, Ken Ford, Stephanie Mills, Larry Graham and Graham Central Station graced the stage this day and I tell you, there was nothing like visiting exotic islands to return to the ship with talent on top of music.

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Ken Ford

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When we returned from LaRomana, Ken Ford performed and is fabulous on that electric violin! Later on for the main show we had the pleasure of enjoying Stephanie Mills and Larry Graham.

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Stephanie Mills

 Not sure if anyone has heard but Ms. Mills showed her back to the first audience and pissed a lot of them off. There were various stories of what happened and since I was not there, I’ll leave it at that. At the second show, which is the one I saw she was a little strange but many thought it was because she was a bit woozy from the movement of the ship. Nevertheless, she put on an excellent show.  Her voice is still magnificent and her background singers’ voices were awesome as well.

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Larry Graham still got it, y’all! This was my first Graham Central Station experience and I would go and see him perform again in a heartbeat!

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Graham Central Station

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Larry Graham and his lovely wife

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The audience was invited onto the stage to party with the band

You should know the routine by now–Later on that night, in the wee hours of the morning… One of the many Jam Sessions took place with Gerald Veasley and a bunch of jazz artists who got together for some good ole funk, jazz, soul and all that!!

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Jeff Bradshaw on trombone–he is a beast!!

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Gerald Veasely, Joey Sommerville, Najee, Pete Belasco, and Jonathan Fritzen

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Day 5

Curacao

Curacao was the late day/night so when we returned to the ship it was late evening and see who we came home to? Yes, Uncle Charlie. This was also my first time seeing Charlie Wilson and everything I’d heard about his performance was true!

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He rocked that ship and put on a total production! Look at his girls and the wardrobe changes he made.

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I was delighted to hear all around the Lido Deck while eating, the Capital Jazz radio station was playing in the background. It’s those small details that make such a big impact on a first timer like me.

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Day 6

Aruba!

And what a wonderful performance to come back to–The Donald Byrd Tribute!! The band Spur of the Moment was the backing band for many of the artists. This day the band’s front man, Wayne Bruce hosted the show, and every time an artist came on stage they did either of Donald Bryd’s songs. Bruce was not having it! Every time a new artist joined in they had this cute back and forth thing going that prevented Bruce from playing his favorite Donald Byrd song, Rock Creek Park–of course until the show’s finale.

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Wayne Bruce and Joey Sommerville

 

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Najee

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Wayne and Jeff Bradshaw

The band performing Do it Fluid

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Gerald Veasley

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Trina Broussard, Vanessa Williams and Jason Morales

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Wayne Bruce

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Rick Braun

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Wayne and Gerald

Later on that night, waaaay into the wee hours of the morning…The Soul Lounge presents J Soul and Pete Belasco

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J Soul, the Black Sinatra

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J Soul f/Deborah Bond on one of his tracks, “High”.

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Demont Peekaso Pinder, who blew me away throughout the trip with his on-stage-painting of the artists! He is also known as Painter of the Stars.

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The Band! Antone “Chooky” Caldwell, bass guitar, Chris “Biscuit” Bynum, drums and Dre King, Keyboard and music director.  Hard working and making everyone they played for sound that much better!!

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Pete Belasco with his mix of a soft and falsetto voice, and the band.

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Day 7
Day at Sea
Almost at the end of the road but before we get there, more goodies! During the day we had the pleasure of witnessing The Average White Band take us back to the good ole days.

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Ty Causey did his thing–I was ecstatic! I am one of Ty’s biggest fans as he is one of smoothest crooners of today, fulla love and soul!

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Mr. Lover Man, Ty Causey

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The band and backing vocalists (although Ty mentions their first names, I wish I knew their full names). They all held Ty down like they’d been doing it forever!

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The evening held the distinguished Najee, Phil Perry and Alex Bugnon.

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Alex Bugnon in his zone! (and Sol Elder back there–chillin)

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Phil Perry always brings it!! Boy can this man saang!

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Najee visited the audience and whattaya know, he came to the row in front of where I was sitting, and allowed me to get this closeup! #happyme!

 

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Wonderful performance by these great talents!

Day 8
Day at Sea
The last day of the trip included a full day of sun for me! Later on that evening, Anthony (the FIRECRACKER) Hamilton blazed onto the stage fired it up! I mean, he was all over that stage, dancing and carrying on like nobody’s business, lol!! I had a hard time focusing my camera on him and his band because they were jumping around like Mexican jumping beans!!!

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Ok, so there you have it–from my point of view! As far as activities, other music related discussions, panels, workshops and such, there was plenty to do on the Carnival Freedom–leaving no room for boredom–only relaxation if that’s what one deemed necessary.

What I loved most of all about my first experience with the Capital Jazz Organization is that they did a great job with the entire production of this cruise. From the moment we got on line to register to the point of debarkation after the eight-day music rendezvous, everything was well organized. They paid extra attention to every detail!

In closing, if this sounds like an ad or promo for Capital Jazz, it is! If the pictures don’t tell the story, I don’t know what else to offer. I promise any music lover like me, that you will totally enjoy all of the artists you are able to see in concert and the many activities from which to choose. Personally, I didn’t make time for anything but music and getting my sun in.

Thinking about going on the next Capital Jazz Super Cruise? The Carnival Freedom sails on October 18th for the 2014 cruise that has a talent line-up that is out of this world! I’m sighing, wishing I could be on it… I digress. There may still be cabins available on the ship if you act fast! Here is what’s left so far. Folks sign up waaaay in advance and on the ship from the previous trip, so get on it, doggonit! And while you’re at it, take a look at the Talent Line-Up for this year, a peak at what else went down last November, and where the ship is going this year and 2015!

Highlights courtesy of Capital Jazz TV

Here are some additional shots to enjoy!

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Before I let you go one last comment:
It wouldn’t even matter where the ship is going for me, that’s just a bonus on top of enjoying my favorite artists while discovering new ones in one place! You just can’t beat it!!

A family friend, gave me a new photography moniker:

Love in Music,
PAMarazzi Nichols