The Blake Shelton & Friends Cruise – A Review in Pictures

The Blake Shelton & Friends Cruise aboard the Norwegian Cruise
Featuring: Blake Shelton, Trace Adkins,
Lee Brice Neal McCoy, Easton Corbin,
Randy Houser, Jerrod Niemann, Jana Kramer,
Chuck  Wicks, Willa Ford, Tyler Farr, Rae Lynn,
Chris Cavanaugh, Brett Eldredge, Frankie Ballard,
JJ Lawhorn, McKenna Faith, Brinley Addington,
Logan Mize, HER and Kings County, Joanna Smith,
Maggie Rose, Clayton Anderson, Brandon and Leah, and Nik and Sam

1) Miami, Florida
2) San Juan, Puerto Rico
3) St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
4) Tortolla
5) Nassau, Bahamas

Day 1: Miami

Blake Shelton Welcolmes the Crowd
Neal McCoy Performs Poolside during the Sail Away Paty
Hung out with JJ Lawhorn & Chuck Wicks

Blake  Shelton Performs in the Arena

Spoke with Frankie  Ballard & Chris Cavanaugh, two future stars

DAY 2: At Sea
Q&A with Blake Shelton poolside

Frankie Ballard Show by the pool

JJ Lawhorn show at the Spinnaker Lounge

Met Blake Shelton

Randy Houser Show in the Arena

Chris Cavanaugh performed in the Atrium

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Home to the 1st ever Pina Colada

Neal McCoy at the Arena
Neal McCoy and Brett Eldredge

Brett Eldredge
Lee Brice

 Tyler Farr

 DAY 4: St. Thomas

Jerrod Niemann at the Arena

Tyler Farr withh Jerrod Nieman and Lee Brice at the Atrium

DAY 5: Tortolla and Joste Van Dyke Bay

The famous Soggy Dollar Bar

Brett Eldredge Poolside Concert

Lee Brice at the Arena (Best Concert/Performance of the trip)

Lee brought out Randy Houser, Tyler Farr & Jerrod Niemann for the encore

Chuck Wicks & Chris Cavanaugh in the Lobby Bar

Willa Ford at the Atrium

Tyler Farr at the bar

DAY 6: At Sea

Artist Q&A

Trace Adkins and Neal McCoy at the Pool

Logan Mize performs poolside

Jana Kramer performs in the Lounge

Trace Adkins meet and greet
Lee Brice  meet and greet
Neal McCoy  meet and greet

Easton Corbin  meet and greet

Randy Houser  meet and greet

Jerrod Niemann meet and greet

Trace Adkins at the Arena

Trace Adkins with Randy Houser

Chris Cavanaugh at the Atrium

Neal McCoy – Poolside under the stars

DAY 7: Atlantis, Bahamas

Jana Kramer

Tyler Farr performing in the Atrium

Hanging with Neal McCoy at the Easton Corbin show

Easton Corbin at the Arena

Partying with Willa Ford at the Bliss Nightclub

Artist jam session to finish things off

HERS and Kings County

Good friends, great times

Back to Miami

Legendary Musicians Show Their Love For Levon Helm in New Jersey

Love For Levon
October 3, 2012
Izod Center, NJ

Last night, where most of the world was watching the Presidential Debates or the last night of the Major League Baseball Season, a large group of legendary musicians celebrated the life and music of their friend, the late, great Levon Helm.  With a fairly simple stage setup, filled to the brim with drums, guitars, fiddles, saxophones, trumpets, and more, the show kicked off with a Q104.3 radio announcer, Ken Dashow, speaking about his first encounter with Levon.  The first two songs belonged to members of the Allman Brothers Band, first Warren Hayes and then along with Gregg Allman. 

The first half of the show was dominated by the Midnight Ramble Band, who would play weekly shows for fans with Levon at his home in Woodstock, New York.  It was very enjoyable to see each of the different artists come out and share short stories about Levon and sing one of his many songs.  Things kicked into high gear when Jakob Dylan, son of Bob Dylan and the lead singer of the Wallflowers sang a rocking cover of “Ain’t Got No Home”.  John Hiatt and Mike Gordon sang the famous “Rag Mama Rag” and the show took a short intermission.

The second half of the show was full of big names and great songs.  Grace Potter sang a soulful rendition of “I Shall Be Released” as she sat at a piano.  It was refreshing to see her step outside of her hard rock ways with her band the Nocturnals.  John Mayer came out for one of his two songs after that with Ray LaMontagne for “Tears of Rage”.  John stuck to what he does best, playing an amazing electric guitar.  He did not sign at all, but wow’d the crowd with his intrumental skills.

Next up was a real highlight to me as a die hard country music fan.  Dierks Bentley and Eric Church took over the next twenty minutes with amazing tributes to Levon.  Dierks sang two famous The Band songs and started off with the melodious “Rocking Chair”.  He performed it in true Dierks fashion with a clear profound country-folk sound that certainly would have made Levon proud. 

Surprisingly to me, he followed it up with the famous song “Chest Fever” and brought out legendary band mates of Levon’s, Jon Randall, Jessi Alexander, and the amazing Garth Hudson.  The cover became a jam out, just as the original The Band version and Dierks again nailed the vocals.  The crowd was on their feet during the entire song and really seemed to show their respect for Dierks’ performance.

Up next was country music’s newest superstar, Eric Church.  Eric came out with his usual aviator sunglasses, but his performance was very scaled down in comparison to his live shows.  He was very focused on giving an intimate performance as he sang two lesser known Levon Helm songs, “A Train Robbery” and “Get Up Jake”.  Both songs are very lyrics driven as they build a story as it goes along. 

Eric commented between songs that “In a world where there is a lot of bought fame, Levon was always about the music. I learned to march to a different drummer from Helm.”  And then he let loose Eric Church-style on “Get Up Jake” as he pounded his chest a few times and displayed his normal live actions.  The crowd gave him an overwhelming standing ovation when he finished that lasted a bit longer than any of the other artists that performed before him. 

Joe Walsh of the Eagles followed with a duet with Robert Randolph.  Joe Walsh was easily the most animated of all the performers that night as he let completely loose and used every inch of the stage.  He performed a thunderous version of “Up On Cripple Creek”.

My Morning Jacket took over the stage for a few songs.  I honestly had never heard their music before and really did not know much about them, other than them being in an American Dad episode.  However, they really showcased some incredible musical talent.  The songs they performed became true jam-outs.  And when they were joined by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd for the classic song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” the entire Arena became a full on sing-a-long.  That song became the true highlight of the night for all. 

Roger Waters told a story about a red Arkansas hat that Levon had given him.  Roger actually brought the hat with him on stage and said it has become his fishing hat and will be one of his prized possessions until the day he dies.  Roger sang a beautiful rendition of “Wide River to Cross” and then invited the entire ensemble on stage.

 At that point, all the musicians from the night stood together with three microphones and sang the classic The Band song: “The Weight”. 

Roger took over one microphone, Lucinda Williams another, and Dierks Bentley and Eric Church shared the third microphone.  It was a touching way to end a great tribute to amazing legend.  Levon surely must have been looking down and thanking all in attendance for keeping it going. 

1. “The Shape I’m In” – Warren Haynes
2. “Long Black Veil” – Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes
3. “Trouble in Mind” – Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Mitterhoff
4. “This Wheel’s on Fire”- the Midnight Ramble Band with Larry Campbell on vocals
5. “Little Birds”- the Midnight Ramble Band with Amy Helm and Teresa Williams on vocals
6. “Listening to Levon” – Marc Cohn
7. “Move Along Train” – Mavis Staples
8. “Life is a Carnival” – Allen Toussaint and Jaimoe
9. “When I Paint My Masterpiece” – John Prine with Garth Hudson
10. “Anna Lee” – Bruce Hornsby
11. “Ain’t Got No Home” – Jakob Dylan and Rami Jaffee of the Wallflowers
12. “Whispering Pines” – Lucinda Williams
13. “Rag Mama Rag” – John Hiatt, Mike Gordon
14. “Baby Don’t You Do It” –  David Bromberg and Joan Osborne
15. “I Shall Be Released”-  Grace Potter
16. “Tears of Rage” – Ray LaMontagne with John Mayer
17. “Rockin’ Chair” – Dierks Bentley
18. “Chest Fever” – Dierks Bentley, Jon Randall, Jessi Alexander, and Garth Hudson
19. “A Train Robbery” – Eric Church
20. “Get Up Jake” – Eric Church
21. “Tennessee Jed” – Larry Campbell with John Mayer
22. “Up on Cripple Creek” – Joe Walsh and Robert Randolph
23. “Ophelia” –  My Morning Jacket
24. “It Makes No Difference” – My Morning Jacket
25. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” – Roger Waters with My Morning Jacket
26. “Wide River to Cross” – Roger Waters and Amy Helm
27. “The Weight” – Entire Ensemble

Video of the Ensemble Cast performing “The Weight”