Cayamo Music Cruise 2018 preview

By Paul T. Mueller – Cayamo 2018, a “festival at sea” focused on singer-songwriters, celebrates its 10th anniversary (and 11th sailing) beginning Feb. 4. The cruise for the first time will depart from New Orleans, en route to a seven-night western Caribbean voyage with stops at Cozumel and Harvest Caye, off the coast of Belize.

More than 40 performers – some solo, some with bands – will provide the entertainment, which at times will span more than 12 hours a day of continuous shows. Six venues, ranging in size from a few dozen to several hundred, will accommodate the performances. That’s in addition to the usual after-hours jams, consisting mostly of amateur musicians but often featuring drop-in contributions by the professionals.

Cayamo’s big names return

Big names in the lineup, in no particular order, include Cayamo veterans Richard Thompson, John Prine, Brandi Carlile, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, Lee Ann Womack, Paul Thorn, Jim Lauderdale, and Shawn Mullins – the only artist to have sailed on every Cayamo. Other veterans, possibly less familiar but no less capable, include Scott Miller, Hayes Carll, John Paul White, John Fullbright, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Brian Wright, Michael McDermott, Drew and Ellie Holcomb and Max Gomez.

The roster also includes a healthy crop of Cayamo newcomers, such as Margo Price, JD McPherson, Charley Crockett, Joe Pug, Lindi Ortega, The War and Treaty, Steve Poltz, Devon Gilfillian and Michael Logen. Other rookies include three acts – solo Caleb Caudle and duos Flagship Romance (Shawn Fisher and Jordyn Jackson) and Heart Society (Teneia Sanders-Eichelberger and Benjamin Eichelberger) who were voted aboard by Cayamo passengers in the annual Soundcheck competition.

Given the festival’s focus on the singular visions of singer-songwriters, duos and bands are, as always, in the minority. Those that made the cut include the rocking Band of Heathens, throwback crooners The Cactus Blossoms, Nashville soul sirens the McCrary Sisters and pop folkies Humming House. The complete Cayamo 2018 lineup can be found here.

Cayamo’s tributes and special shows

Tribute shows honoring John Prine and Tom Petty are on the schedule, as are several “Unlikely Sets” – songwriter rounds featuring several artists who might not share a stage otherwise. Previous Cayamos have shown that musical magic frequently results from such unexpected combinations.

In addition to shows, the week’s activities will include a “Tales and Ales” craft-beer tasting hosted by Paul Thorn; a screening of the film American Folk, starring Cayamo musicians Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth, with a Q&A to follow; an “Artisans & Crafts” leatherworking workshop with Jonny Fritz, a member of the trio Traveller; a songwriter workshop with Fritz and his Traveller bandmates, Cory Chisel and Robert Ellis, and guest jams with backline equipment and assistance provided by Sixthman, the company that produces Cayamo and several other music cruises.


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