The 9th Annual Classic R&B Weekend at Hershey Lodge

Hubby and I commemorated our 25th wedding anniversary in November 2015 and just couldn’t figure out how we should celebrate.  Until… My sister told me she was going to this classic soul music-filled weekend. I told her it sounded familiar and when I saw the promo video, BAM!! There it was.

The ALL INCLUSIVE Weekend of Parties, Food, Fun, and Entertainment provided by Voice Distributions & The Sessoms Group I’d heard about for years–since ONUTSS days. Yeah, I know. I will soon tell you all about ONUTSS!

This was a wonderful follow-up to the Capital Jazz Super Cruise 2015 as we had just returned from a few weeks earlier. Luckily the organization still had room so we booked the 9th R&B Classic Soul Weekend right away.

We had a lovely time being submerged in music once again! The weekend started on Friday once we arrived in Hershey PA at the Hershey Lodge and checked in, which by the way was the best check-in I’ve ever experienced! When we reached the counter we gave them our names and they, in turn, provided us with an envelope that contained our keys to the room, and to top it off a Hershey chocolate bar. That was it! No credit card hold, registration or anything else. Off to our room, we explore to find a beautiful room with an interior door that led to the outside where there was room for parking and a bench, which was a nice touch but the folks sitting on it 3:00 am had no idea they were interrupting precious sleep right in front of the room’s window .

The Hershey Lodge had an extremely warm and homely feel to it. The staff was friendly and the rooms and building overall were really comfortable. The Hershey Kisses theme was all over the place–from the building’s entrance to the wallpaper in the bathroom!

With such an abundance of people in attendance for this Classic R&B Weekend event, it was amazing that the attendees didn’t take up all of the rooms.  There were plenty of families there to enjoy the Hershey Lodge offerings as well.

Friday night entertainment consisted of up and coming artists, comedy, and DJ sets. Seven acts were on tap for Saturday in addition to the banquet and recognition.   Since we had a late brunch, we came in at the tail end of the banquet and missed dinner.  By the time the last act came on (Tavares) we needed to eat. I looked forward to seeing them but we had to catch the restaurant before midnight closing. Now this part I think the organization could have split the performances between Friday and Saturday. It was really long to sit for seven acts in a row.

And may I say, the band that played for all of the artists, I believe, was outstanding!  Wish I could tell you who they were…

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One of the hosts, don’t know his name.

Meli’sa Morgan
I enjoyed Mel’sa’s performance, she engages the audience and as you can see, she wanted to be close to them!
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That’s Meli’sa’s fiance in the bowtie

Shirley Jones and The Jones Girls
Shirley still sounds good and the assistant vocalists were right on point!   Vonetta or Fonetta Baker (I couldn’t understand which one is her name and googled it but no luck) Anissa Hargrove (the only reason I got her is because she has her own project), and Shontell (couldn’t make out her last name). If anyone knows who these ladies are please let us know. Shirley gave them their shine as they were all soul stirring and well deserved. Check out Anissa “Twinky” Hargrove and listen to a few of Anissa’s Snippets on Soundcloud

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The Jones Girls (Shirley Jones, original member)

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Blue Magic
They blew my mind–and hubby’s too as you will hear, lol. They were in great form although one of them was in a car accident over that weekend and still insisted on performing. I don’t know his name but he is the third one who entered onto the stage with an assistant.   They gave us a stellar performance! In my humble opinion, I think the producers should have saved the best for last! But then again, I would have missed all of this GOODNESS!

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Billy Paul
Eighty years young and his performance was a pleasure to experience for the first time!  The organization had five years worth of scheduling conflicts booking Mr. Paul, so indeed it was a blessing to have finally booked him for this event.  Sadly, Billy Paul passed away on April 26, 2016

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Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes
They were snoozers and performed most of Teddy Pendergrass’ hits; they should have gone on first.

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The Emotions
By the time The Emotions hit the stage, it was just about time to hop over to the restaurant and “throw some groceries down my neck”! (LOL, Quote from the movie, Smokey and the Bandit LOL).  The little of their performance I caught, they were ok.
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Tavares
Tavares closed the show, and I missed a good portion of their performance.  After dinner, I rushed back to the venue and caught the last couple of songs 😦 I missed them perform my song, “Check It Out”!

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The 10th Annual Classic R&B Weekend

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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