Sunday, January 07, 2007

Jam Cruise 2007

Day 4: Waving the Tie-Die Flag

Photo Credit - David Vann

Not since the days of Tupac and Biggie has there been an East Coast/West Coast rivalry as heated as Jam Cruise’s Presidential Debate. In the weeks leading up to our departure, HeadCount organized Jam Cruise’s first presidential debate, kicking off over 20 grassroots campaigns throughout the nation’s various local music scenes. Candidates made friends, created witty MySpace pages, and added those new friends to their carefully crafted, witty MySpace pages, setting the stage for the biggest day at the polls since last year’s Jammys. And, since arriving on the MSC Opera Tuesday, two one-name candidates have emerged as frontrunners from the pack of luggage-clad wooks: “Lot Dog” and “Adam.

Lot Dog is a San Francisco scenester with ties to Jambase and the public support of Bay Area upstarts ALO. His onboard friends are known to wear sparkly animal costumes and
his secret weapon is a suitcase full of promotional slap-on bracelets (remember those?). Adam is a New York-based Relix staffer with the support of Northeast jam titans the Disco Biscuits (minus Marc Brownstein, whose HeadCount ties prevent him from participating in the election). His onboard friends walk the tight (pants) rope between hippie and hipster and his secret weapon is a stack of promotional fliers recounting a recent trip to a Manhattan strip club. Both candidates have received onstage support from their hometown heroes and the race is neck-and-neck (or at least Berk-and-Berk) on the eve of election night. At press time, both candidates are preparing for this evening’s Presidential Debate, where Brownstein is expected to ask “the tough” questions, like how many times have you posted Trey’s mug shot on someone else’s MySpace page today, what’s the difference between a > and -> on a setlist, and does freedom of speech truly exist on PT?

And, while we’re pretty confident tomorrow’s election will end better than Tupac and Biggie’s longstanding feud, Jam Cruise’s heated race has brought to light two distinct hippie-rock approved music scenes. Last night, while Adam and Lot Dog discussed strategy with some of jam nation’s best spin doctors (Chris Baron is not onboard, alas), the Disco Biscuits went head-to-head with an all-star San Francisco Grateful Dead tribute. And, with a few exceptions, fans lined up along party lines, with West Coasters paying tribute to their roots on the sixth floor and East Coasters vacating the casino for the first time in days to see the Disco Biscuit’s fan-selected “ocean set” by the pool (a few muckrakers have already begun looking into instances of possible schedule gerrymandering). Lucky for Chicago-based Umphrey’s McGee and the boat’s New Orleans contingent, everyone seems to be down with Middle America and the Big Easy, though we hear rumors that Adam is going to snag Brendan Bayliss as a running mate and Lot Dog will add a Neville to his ticket at the eleventh hour.

Photo Credit - David Vann

But perhaps when Jam Cruise returns, jam nation is in need of some good, old-fashioned carpetbagging. For instance, what if a handful of Bisco Kidz migrated west or some of ALO’s posse were liberated east? Either way, one of the best things about a destination event like Jam Cruise is that it places fans from all over the country on the same, 12-story ship. While festivals like High Sierra and Gathering of the Vibes often draw regional followings (understandable given their location), Jam Cruise entices fans from all over the country (including Alaska, which went without jam music for a good 15 years between the Grateful Dead and String Cheese). For an East Coaster like myself, its nice to know that the hula-hoop is alive and well in other parts of the country and, for West Coasters, I’m sure its comforting to know that Philly kids still wear their hats at inappropriate angles. Indeed, all jamband fans are created equally.

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