Lyle Lovett on the Cayamo Cruise
Feb 18, 2008
The next series of columns will be more than just individual music reviews, they will all be from the Cayamo Songwriter’s Cruise I attended. I include the link here to my “From the Back Porch” columns that talk more about the cruise itself.
A Little Bit About the Cruise
I had the good fortune of having a best friend in high school, Genevieve, who loved music as much as I did. We worshipped the Joni Mitchell god, the Laura Nyro god, the gods of James Taylor and Crosby Stills Nash and Young, the god of Cat Stevens, the Carly Simon god, the Bette Midler god, not to forget the 4 headed Beatles god, the two headed Simon and Garfunkel god, and the Donovan and Melanie gods and the gods of all great songwriting in the 1970s. Music was our religion. Music was our bloodstream.
Genevieve called me a few months back and said, “Kimmy, I booked passage on this music cruise. Patty Griffin is coming, can you come with me?” I was floored and amazed because she took me as a guest, which is one of the biggest gifts I’ve ever received in my life, only surpassed by my husband and the conception and delivery of my children.
So this week, I left the deep snow and ice of our igloo in Maine, and I got on a Jet Blue airplane and arrived in the surreal reality of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the palm trees were standing in their glory, and the banyan trees with their multiple trunks, and the gorgeous blue and green of the tropical evening fluttered at us like a three dimensional postcard. We stayed overnight with her lovely friend, Lisa, and the next morning we drove to the port of Miami where the looming, hotel-sized cruise ships were all parked, like planets docked at a space station. Or like pretty Borg cubes shaped like cruise ships. I was overwhelmed by the hugeness and couldn’t wait to be assimilated. Resistance was futile.
We entered the queue with hundreds of other people, got registered to our room and found out that our concert tickets had been screwed up so that we were assigned different seating from one another. Now, here I have to say, that the Sixthman/Cayamo Cruise employees were just exceptional. They should be a peacekeeping force sent to the Middle East. They were able to take the emotional reaction and roiling ensuing screams out of the womb of their conception in our brains, and before they whooshed out in an ugly broken water of afterbirth and other hideous ingredients, they found and presented us with new tickets that were not only TOGETHER, but were uprooted from the highest, nosebleed, balcony seats, into the front row of the orchestra pit. All hail Andy Levine and his hearty (and hardy - both meanings apply - see dictionary.com) band of merry men and ladies who served us well during our sail on one of the seven seas. Avast Ye Swabs and Polly Wanna Cracker. But I digress again.
Anyway. So we were in our little cute room leaving our bags, and then we found ourselves on the Lido deck of the Carnival Ship, Victory, stuffing ourselves with delicious morsels from the never-ending buffet. And after that, we went to the front row of the orchestra pit of the Caribbean Lounge in front of the stage where Lyle Lovett was about to come out. And we sat next to a man and young lady and I said, “Genevieve”, which is my friend’s name, and the young lady looked up at me, because that was her name too, and the two Genevieves were amazed to find a twin namesake seated exactly next to each other in the front row. What are the odds of that?
So, after oohing and aahing about that, the lights went down and out came Lyle Lovett and a smaller version of his Large Band, all gussied up in suits and ties. Lyle had on a blue suit with a gray tie and a white hankie tucked neatly in the breast pocket. His hair was curly but neatly trimmed.
I own one Lyle Lovett album, Lyle Lovett Live In Texas. He has a truly handsome voice. He has a Prince Voice. If you were ever a little girl, and you tried to imagine what a Prince’s voice would sound like, and then you heard Lyle, you would say that he has that kind of voice. It’s a very handsome voice. True and sincere and brave - as if it were wearing a Prince suit, with a blue cape and a white sash and a sword and a crown. If you can imagine a voice wearing all of that.
His stage presence is professional and comfortable. He has the most recognizable face on the planet. I don’t think anyone else looks like him, although I have never seen photos of his family, perhaps they all look like him. His face is comprised of wonderful lines, which create a crinkly, crackly grin. If the sun had a grin it might look like Lyle.
I will not pretend to know his music well, nor will I critique it. It was thrilling to be sitting in the presence of such excellent musicians. His band was comprised of a lovely young man on mandolin and vocals, named Keith Sewell. There was a guy named John Hagen on cello and Lyle asked him, (paraphrased) “Wasn’t there a problem with your bags?” And John said yes, and Lyle said, “What aren’t you wearing?” And it seemed like it was probably his boxers, although you would never have known because he was wearing a suit, and he had a cello between his knees. Then there was Mitch Watkins on guitar, James Gillman, I think, I couldn’t hear very well over the applause, on congas and the famous Russ Kunkel on drums.
They played a 90 minute set with songs like, “I will rise up”, “Up in Indiana”, “My Baby don’t tolerate”, “If I had a boat”, “I live in my own mind” and “Closing Time”. (By the way, many of these songs are on his new album, It's Not Big It's Large.)
John played a beautiful cello solo. There was a hilarious anti-cheatin’ song called “Keep it in your Pantry” and many others. A lot of them mentioned cups of coffee and gettin’ up in the mornin’, and horses and North Dakota, and songs of dreaming, longing, images of farmhouses and love. He has an endearing stage presence and seems like a delightful man.
Now as one final note, the next morning we had to do something called a lifeboat drill that they called a MUSTER. So Genevieve and I ran downstairs and got in line in front of our lifeboat with our life preservers around our necks and we turned around and Lyle Lovett was standing behind us. We said, “Hullo, Mr. Lovett” and shook hands and he introduced us to his beautiful fiancé, April. And then he said, “And Mr. Hiatt”. And Genevieve and I had never heard or seen him before so we were embarrassed for not recognizing him. John Hiatt and his wife, Nancy, were extremely personable and friendly. And we saw John Hiatt perform that night. But that is another column.
Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.
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