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Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise October 2013

Irma Thomas & the Fabulous Thunderbirds headline cruise #21


New Orleans music legend Irma Thomas

New Orleans music legend Irma Thomas

Photo by Rick Olivier, courtesy Rounder Records

The good folks at The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Caribbean Cruise have recently announced the line-up of their October 2013 "Mayan" cruise and the roster offers an awesome marquee of blues, R&B, blues-rock, roots-rock, and soul talents to entertain a boatload of enthusiastic music fans. Pre-booking of the cruise has already started, so make your plans soon because these ocean-going floating house parties have a way of selling out quickly!

The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Caribbean Cruise

Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise #21 will take place from October18th through the 25th, 2013; departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and stopping in Key West for the first weekend of the "Fantasy Festival," sort of a Mardi Gras party in the Keys with plenty of food, music, and madness. From there the ship sails down to New Orleans for a day of fun, then to Progresso, Mexico the port closest to the Mayan ruins (where you can ask them about that notorious calendar of theirs). The week-long blues cruise promises a "festival atmosphere" with autograph sessions, over 70 scheduled shows, and nightly jam sessions among the performers.

Among the headliners confirmed for the October 2013 cruise are New Orleans musical legend (and American music treasure) Irma Thomas and her band the Professionals; those bad boys of Texas blues, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, led by harp wizard Kim Wilson and featuring guitarists Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller; and roots-rockers Los Lobos, the band celebrating its 40th anniversary together in 2013. Other special guests on the cruise include the ever-popular blues pianist Marcia Ball; the roots 'n' blues supergroup that is the Royal Southern Brotherhood, which includes New Orleans musical royalty Cyril Neville, guitarists Devon Allman and Mike Zito, bassist Charlie Wooton, and drummer Yonrico Scott.

New Orleans Flavor

The October 2013 blues cruise offers up a decidedly New Orleans flavor. Aside from the aforementioned Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, and Royal Southern Brotherhood, who all have roots in the Crescent City, seagoing fans can feast on a musical combo that includes the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians, guitarists Eric Lindell and Anson Funderburgh, and New Orleans blues scene institution Walter "Wolfman" Washington. For those wanting a taste of something different, you can check out the hard-rockin' Tommy Castro and his band the Painkillers, or the jump 'n' jive lively blues of Rick Estrin & the Nightcats.

One of the big attractions of the now thrice-yearly cruises is the nightly blues jam sessions. Guest performers on the cruise get together and jam, the sessions often extending until early in the morning, leaving both performers and the audience pleasantly exhausted. The jam host for the October cruise will be International Blues Challenge winner Randy Oxford, with special guest Lee Oskar. There are plenty of talented players available for the nightly jam sessions, with other performers confirmed for the cruise including the following:

  • Ruthie Foster
  • Guy Davis
  • Albert Castiglia
  • Samantha Fish
  • Lucky Peterson
  • Popa Chubby Band
  • Leon Blue
  • Professor Louie
  • Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers

Headline Performers

As always, the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise offers up a diverse range of performers, any one of which would command top dollar from a local performance in your hometown. Singer Irma Thomas is a bona fide musical legend with decades of excellence to her name. Officially proclaimed the "Soul Queen of New Orleans" by city officials, Thomas recorded a number of minor R&B hits during the early 1960s, and although she never enjoyed the commercial success of contemporaries like Etta James or Tina Turner, her recordings have been just as influential. Thomas's 2006 album After The Rain, recorded after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home (and hometown), earned the singer her first Grammy™ Award, while 2008's equally acclaimed Simply Grand album brought Thomas her seventh of nine Blues Music Awards.

As they approach their own 40th anniversary, the Fabulous Thunderbirds enjoy a storied history of their own. Formed in 1974 by singer and harp player Kim Wilson and guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, the T-Birds soon earned a spot as the house band at the legendary Antone's in Austin, Texas where they performed their own tunes and backed up visiting artists. The band's most commercially fruitful period came during the mid-to-late 1980s, when they helped kickstart the decade's blues music boom with acclaimed albums like 1986's Tuff Enuff and the following year's Hot Number. Vaughan left the band in 1990 to play with his brother Stevie Ray and to later pursue a solo career, but Wilson has kept the T-Birds rolling along with talented fretslingers like Duke Robillard, Kirk Fletcher, Kid Ramos, and the late Nick Curran. The current version of the Fabulous Thunderbirds has signed with Severn Records for an album release sometime in 2013.

For updated information, check the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise website for more details on confirmed performers and ticket availability.

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