Day Four: Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea II

Day 4 - Thursday, February 18, 2016: Our adventure is coming towards its end, and as the Norwegian Pearl powers its way through relentlessly choppy waters towards Miami, it’s a last chance for cruisers to get up close and personal with the stars of the show.

Up in the Stardust Theatre, Vintage Trouble are kicking off the day with a soothing round of bloody Marys and bingo. “What happens if someone shouts bingo without having a full house?” asks frontman Ty Taylor. You have to buy the whole room a round of drinks or run around naked, comes the reply. “That’s a punishment?! Bingo!”

Beth Hart is opening up about her life and her craft in a Q&A, while Joe Bonamassa is living the guitar geek dream, hosting a chat with Norm of Norm’s Rare Guitars in California, the pair reminiscing about the precocious 12-year-old Joe coming into the shop for the first time and presenting its owner with a signed headshot. He’s in his element discussing the history of some of the finest axes known to history, and so, it seems, are his followers.

Some of the smaller bands on the bill are given a final chance to shine, Daptone’s The James Hunter Six bringing some UK soul into the mix, their frontman exuding twinkly, cheeky charm and the band belting out diesel-powered R&B with enough punch to power the ship.

Young Canadian power duo Black Pistol Fire, meanwhile, are an electrifying revelation, offering up a set possessed by the demons of rock’n’roll and forcing them out through their amps to run riot. Drummer Eric Owen is a whirl of limbs and hair, hammering out a ferocious beat while singer/guitarist Kevin McKeown contorts his lean frame, howls at the moon and beats screams of fury from his instrument. Expect them to be the next bass-free blues-rock stars to tear open a portal into the wider musical consciousness.

It’s fancy dress night, and so a pair of Elvises (Elvii?) and Sonny And Cher are whooping wildly in appreciation, which is something you don’t see every day. So, as Keeping The Blues Alive II draws to a close and preparation for Keeping The Blues Alive III begins in earnest, here are 10 things we’ve learned from this year’s adventure.

  1. Despite spending the best part of a week sailing there and back, Joe Bonamassa has still never set foot in Mexico.

  2. JD Simo and his wife are major Doctor Who fans, and will happily out-nerd anyone in a conversation about time lords.

  3. The lizards in Cozumel, Mexico are the size of small cars.

  4. Shemekia Copeland is hilarious and ought to be given her own HBO special.

  5. Joe-Bo is a brave little soldier just for being here - he gets seasick and has to wear wristbands to counterbalance it.

  6. The idea of getting into a hot tub with a group of strangers is revolting, but apparently acceptable three piña coladas in. We remain unconvinced.

  7. Vintage Trouble will beat any of you in a dance-off.

  8. Jarekus Singleton’s drummer will beat any of you in a drum-off.

  9. Drunk Elvises will beat any of you in a drink-off.

  10. The vast majority of fans on the ship have vowed to be here to do it all again next year

Keeping the King alive: one, possibly drunk, Elvis impersonator...

Keeping the King alive: one, possibly drunk, Elvis impersonator...

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.