Jam Cruise Discovery: Con Brio

January 12, 2016admin



“Does anyone else ever feel like the best version of themselves on Jam Cruise?” said Travis Book of Infamous Stringdusters, a massive double bass held gingerly in his hands. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, music-lovers were dancing freely, a beer in my hand and the other held high, I couldn’t believe this feeling of pure bliss was really happening.

In case you don’t know what Jam Cruise is, it’s a 5-day music festival on the MSC Divina that features some of the world’s (and history’s) greatest live musicians ever to hit any stage. From drum overlord, Bernard Purdie (James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles); voodoo king, Dr. John (“Wrecking Crew” member, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame); and trombone master, Fred Wesley (James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic); to modern-age musical royalty like Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, and Lettuce to name a few (and catch my breath). We’re talking legends.

After the mournful loss of Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival, Jam Cruise has become by favorite festival to date. If you like live music no matter the genre, good vibes from everyone you meet, and traveling the world, there’s really no reason not to do a little self-discovery along with a few thousand fellow soul-searchers…on a boat…in the middle of the friggin’ sea. Oh, let’s not forget the 24-hour buffet. Hello, pizza.

Okay, the point of this piece isn’t to state the absolute obvious, and express compliments at a profusely alarming rate, it’s to highlight the magic behind discovering a great act for the first time. It’s like love at first sound. Your feet are moving, your eyes close, and the intense connection can almost be tasted. That’s how I felt when I casually walked onto the pool deck for Con Brio‘s set.

It seems like San Francisco is just some massive West Coast assembly line just shooting out awesome after awesome. These guys are no exception. Not only can each band member ease into the musical caliber of some of the aforementioned musicians, but Ziek McCarter’s Michael Jackson-esque vocals pierce your soul (and some parts of your libido) the moment they cut through the air. With notes of James Brown and D’Angelo, and a dash of Al Green class, Con Brio really does live up to their name, “with vigor”. It takes serious talent and insatiable stage presence to draw every audience member in the way they did that night.

Take every party scene in Animal House, the Flashdance chair scene for a little raunch, and some Shaft opening credit cool…maybe you’ve come close to the excitement we all felt at the jam. I’ve gone ahead and selected a few live recorded videos I so happily researched, but I have to say, Con Brio really has the type of magic you have to see to believe. Hopefully they swing down South sometime soon…no pun intended…or is it?

Image courtesy of: Death and Taxes