Cayamo took place Feb. 10-17, 2023 aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line ship Pearl as she sailed out of Miami bound for Tortola in the British Virgin Islands as well as St. Maarten. Each act played three or more shows and it all began with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band playing a memorable "sail away" show as the Pearl pulled out of Miami. Shows from other acts on their maiden Cayamo voyage were stand-outs too. The entire festival was a blessing and it was only appropriate that the a capella gospel group The Fairfield Four took the crowd to church. The long-running group sang a selection of favorites including "Standing in the Safety Zone," "Rock My Soul," a slow and somber version of "Amazing Grace," "There Must Be a City" and "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray." The group also performed "Lonesome Valley," one of the cuts they had on the soundtrack to the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" film. Shouts of "amen!" issued from the crowd and the stage as fans enjoyed the group's joyous harmonies, and when bass singer Joe Thompson was spotlighted you could almost feel your bones rattle as his deep tones seemed to rumble straight out of the heavens.
Many of Cayamo's first-timers this sailing were women and they put on a wide variety of shows. Michaela Anne played songs like last year's "If Only You Knew" along with older cuts like "By Our Design," which she explained was about her marriage (her hubby was playing drums) and the pointed but amusing "If I Wanted Your Opinion." The latter was preceded by an explanation of how the song came about when she tired of getting unsolicited advice, primarily from men.
Other highlights included Allison Russell's rendition of "Persephone," played on the Pearl's pool deck stage where she cut a striking figure as the wind blew her long braids, the mesmerizing sound of guitar instrumentalist Yasmin Williams who demonstrated amazing dexterity, and superb three-part harmonies from the Burney Sisters, who consistently got raucous applause every time they played.
Steve Poltz also was a favorite and he played a big tribute show to the Rolling Stones. Poltz brought lots of the other acts to the stage including fellow first-timers Twisted Pine who played a version of "Dead Flowers" in the style of the late Townes Van Zandt.
Cayamo audiences are known for their fondness for all types of music and all the players on this year's sailing were well-received, stars and developing acts alike. Right in the middle of the cruise the Pearl hit the islands so that Cayamoans could get off the ship and have some fun ashore; next up we take tours in Tortola and St. Maarten!
Cayamo information is always available here.
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