Out the door at 10 AM for the autograph session. Half the passengers got autographs on Friday, the rest on Saturday. We traipse, CDs in hand, past every artist working on the ship. Sitting at tables intended for a cabaret audience, Paul Thorn and the Band of Heathens amiably sat munching fresh fruit slices and signing whatever was placed before them. At the end of the line, Delbert McClinton and band.
Unlike the rest of the crowd, who went back to their cabins to stash their prizes, we walked out with the Mavericks for a photo shoot at the stern. Half an hour later we had spent some quality time with some very nice guys, and we walked away with great shots and a few new friends. The camera loves keyboard player Jerry Dale McFadden, who obligingly mugged it up. Guitarist Robert Reynolds, a wildlife lover, showed us his rescue gull, a bird which had flown too far out to sea to get home without help: now it’s a stowaway, eating Norwegian Cruise Line French bread on Reynolds’ balcony until we’re close to shore.
Back to the room to file a story and battle the Internet demons which apparently inhabit every ship. The satellite went down, so we lost this battle, but not the war.
Off to hear Wayne Toups one more time, then to a private performance by Chuck Cannon, who treated as few dozen faithful for an acoustic showcase of his own songs, some serious, some spiritual, some, like “Strange,” just whole lot of fun. Afterwards, Cannon’s wife Lari White joined us for some photos and a discussion about life as both parents and working musicians—something they’ve had success with over the last 20 years.
After a little photo editing and writing, we went back to the pool to find the three successive performance scheduled relocated, the decks drenched and blowing under high winds possibly explaining our satellite trouble. When two opposite doors of a passageway opened, unsuspecting passengers were blown back about three paces.
There’s no such thing as too much Richard Thompson, so we went to his last, and most relaxed performance of the cruise. Chatty and smiling, Thompson didn’t back off on his usual intensity, and got several standing ovations during the evening, mot notably after the extended jam on “You Can’t Win,” early in the set. As people sat back down Thompson joked “We’re just warming up.” He announced a cong from his upcoming EP, “Wounding Myself,” and a woman in the audience shouted “Yeah!,” prompting Thompson to shake his head at mime a “What?” response back to her.
Two highlights of the performance, for me, were his beautiful “Wall of Death” and the encore “Daddy Rolling Stone.” Thompson plays three guitar parts at once, and also seamlessly mixes rock, psychedelic, Spanish and Celtic guitar into a style like no one else on the planet.
Late at night, Paulie Cerra sat in with Red Young and blew us away with his sophisticated sax and raspy, one-of-a-kind vocals. We’re going to be looking for Cerra, but tomorrow’s already here, and we need a couple hours’ sleep.