Ya gotta love the shared bash-fest that is the web. When I posted some Instagram videos from Joe Bonamassa’s “Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea IV” cruise on February 26 through March 2, 2018, a snarky comment stated, “I can’t think of something that represents the blues more than a bunch of rich white people on a ship.”
Well, I guess someone always has to throw mud at something wonderful. I was there, however, and for whatever it’s worth, here’s my take on what went down…
● The Sixthman crew—who produce the cruise in tandem with Bonamassa’s J&R Adventures—are like having your own personal concierge. Everything is taken care of. I never had to worry about what to do, or where to be. Like all of the cruisers, my only “job” was to relax and enjoy myself—well, that is, if I wasn’t being the working press.
● Yes, the fans were predominantly white people of a certain age, but it’s wrong to assume all attendees were affluent. I talked to people who saved two years to make the trek, and it’s their only vacation.
● It was uplifting to see more than 2,000 people support live music, and they devoured it. Even the least-known acts in the smallest venues on the ship enjoyed enthusiastic audiences.
● The artists played their asses off, signed autographs, hung with guests, and often jammed with each other.
● Bonamassa works like a demon to ensure every passenger is enjoying themselves. Special little gifts are distributed in every cabin, he plays surprise concerts and joins jams, and shares stories about his vintage-gear obsession.
● The cruise supports Bonamassa’s Keeping the Blues Alive charity, which raised $70,000+ for music education on this outing.
● It’s a boat full of people who love what we musicians do for them. It’s hard to be snarky about that, right?