Day Three: Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea II

Day 3 - Wednesday, February 17, 2016: It’s land ahoy as we head into day three of this floating blues festival, and as we disembark on the little Mexican island of Cozumel 50 miles south of Cancún, bands and fans scatter (after making their way gingerly past some frankly terrifying human statues lurking outside the ship) to enjoy a spot of snorkelling, exploring or a serious session of filling themselves up to the eyeballs with cheap local tequila.

For our own part, your representatives of The Blues Magazine take bold steps to strike out on our own, and promptly get lost, finding ourselves stranded on preposterously beautiful beach in the middle of nowhere with only a very large and inquisitive iguana for company. He didn’t say much but we think he was called Juan. Luckily, a kindly taxi driver sets us back on track, and after a visit to the Mayan ruins there’s just time for tacos and a look around the pretty town before getting back on board - alongside some distinctly wobbly shipmates - to get back to the matter in hand.

Robert Randolph And The Family Band ease us back out onto the waves up on the pool deck, while inside in the theatre, Simo (one of our bands to watch for 2016 in issue 26) are whacking up the decibels with their hairy, flare-y, not very sweary take on 70s blues-rock, frontman JD Simo breaking down any barriers by perching on the lip of the stage to peel out a solo like a barefoot, guitar-toting Kermit The Frog.

It’s Joe Bonamassa’s last show of the cruise, and it’s one for the hardcore fans in awe of his technical prowess as opposed to the casual fan. Solos string out for what seems like days, meandering off until it looks like they’ll never find their way back to where they started. Of course, though, the miraculously do. The theme is Laid Back Luau (as evidenced by Bonamassa’s dressed-down look - he’s getting more casual in his attire by the day), and as the faithful lose themselves in a strung-out homage to Are You Experienced, there’s clearly not much to stress about at this moment in time. Finally snapping out of his reverie, Bonamassa announces that the cruise will return for a third year in 2017, and several hundred people plan their next holiday on the spot.

Things are getting a little more country up in the Spinnaker Lounge, where sister act Larkin Poe are busy making the slide guitar look incredibly cool, and country-blues sound incredibly mainstream. By the time they’re done, most people have disappeared off into their cabins, having peaked too soon on dry land (let’s blame is on the heat eh?), but in Bar City the Homemade Jamz Blues Band are rewarding those still conscious with a rousing take on Bill Withers classic Ain’t No Sunshine. Sadly for Blues Traveler, by 11pm they’re playing to an empty Stardust Theatre, and it’s time to call it a night in anticipation of one more day at sea tomorrow.

(Image credit: Phil Wallis)

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.