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Sandy Beaches Cruise Diary, Day 1

This week, Elmore is out at sea with the Sandy Beaches Cruise. Suzanne Cadgene will be sending in diary entries as she chronicles her nautical experience.

I arose Saturday morning and watched the falling snow with mixed emotions. My reactions vacillated between anxiety (Will my flight be cancelled?) and euphoria (I get to wear a bathing suit! Outdoors!). With that, I threw my wrinkled summer clothes and my overworked travel chargers in a bag and headed for the Sandy Beaches Cruise.

Sunday AM, had waffles at our Miami hotel with photographer Laura Carbone, bassist Terry James and his lovely vocalist wife Teresa, and headed to (where else) the local vintner, for a bottle of wine. Taxi to the port, and we’re off and running. It’s only about 55 degrees here in Miami, but by this afternoon, we’ll be starboard, and headed south!

Delbert McClinton on the Sandy Beaches Cruise. Photo by Laura Carbone
Delbert McClinton on the Sandy Beaches Cruise. Photo by Laura Carbone

Lines like Disneyland, snaking up and down our departure pier, but it turned into a fun 45 minutes since, as we rounded yet another hairpin turn around nothing at all, we met new and almost always interesting people in line. The young band backing Jimmy Hall was stoked: the bass player, all of 23 years old, had never been out of the US before. Gary Nicholson progressed, 20 people in front of us, at exactly the same pace, but we only crossed paths once. Immediately infront of us, Delbert McCllinton’s keyboard player didn’t receive half the attention their son, 11-year year-old Yates McKendry did: apparently the kid’s quite a musician, so we’ll have to give him a listen.

Marcia Ball at the Sandy Beaches Cruise. Photo by Laura Carbone
Marcia Ball at the Sandy Beaches Cruise. Photo by Laura Carbone

Photographer Laura Carbone and I took a grand tour, starting on the 13th deck, and worked our way down to 9 before being prompted to the mandatory “How To Don A Lifejacket” lecture in the main performance space. It was much more fun going back for Marcia Ball later in the evening, but in between we steamed out of Miami with one of the most unusual sunsets ever.

The beautiful Miami sunset. Photo by Laura Carbone
The beautiful Miami sunset. Photo by Laura Carbone

We traded origami technique with two couples from California over tapenaki before heading back to the main theatre to see Marcia Ball front a bands as smokin’ as she is, then headed outdoors to catch Wayne Toups, who kicks Zydeco up more than a notch with extra heavy-duty percussion and a good shot of hard rock. Toup’s a particularly joyous player, but proved he’s got plenty of grit and soul on “Tell It Like It Is,” among others. Rick Lagneaux has recently returned to the band, and his guitar solos kept pace and then some with Toups’ melodeon.

Rick Lagneaux (left) and Wayne Toups at the Sandy Beaches Cruise. Photo by Laura Carbone.
Freddie Pate(left) and Wayne Toups at the Sandy Beaches Cruise. Photo by Laura Carbone.

Our host Delbert McClinton treated us to his favotes and brought up Glen Clark, who joined him for many of the tunes on their new album, Blind, Crippled & Crazy (see Elmore Sept-Oct 2013 for review). You’d think after over an hour of bopping to McClinton’s witty lyrics and the band’s bluesy rock that we’d be tired, but, running on pure euphoria, we headed for a jam session at 1 AM wher Raul Malo, among others, carried on a jazzy session until close to 3 AM.  Finally the drummer said he had to be ready to play at 11 AM the next day, and maybe he should call it quits. We took the hint and fell asleep to the sound of the waves. Tomorrow is another day.

Paul Thorn with a few copies of his favorite magazine. Photo by Laura Carbone
Paul Thorn with a few copies of his favorite magazine. Photo by Laura Carbone

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