June 22 2014
I’m proud to say that I’ve been to all four of the Adam Ezra Group boat cruises on Boston Harbor, and when Sunday dawned sunny and beautiful, I was more than happy to jump in the Impala for the 90 minute drive to Boston. I picked up my sail mates, and we headed into town for an early boarding. In years past, AEG shared their boat stage with a variety of great acts, all of whom had some stature both regionally and nationally- the first year it was The Atlernate Routes, the second year one of my faves, Max Creek, and last year it was a band with whom AEG frequently toured, Enter the Haggis. All of those bands were great, and welcome additions to the boat cruise, but this year, the Adam Ezra Group was going to anchor (as it were) the cruise on their own.
But as usual, expect the unexpected when it comes to an Adam Ezra Group cruise; shortly after boarding, Adam came up on stage to introduce a special unannounced guest, Joe Young. Young is going to be on August’s event, the Ramble- a charity show on Salisbury Beach hosted by Adam Ezra Group, and Adam wanted to showcase Young in front of his friendly crowd in advance. Young did four or five songs, heartfelt Americana that focused on quality songwriting and his assertive and emotive voice. I enjoyed the set, though was anxious for AEG to take the stage.
The band hit shortly after Young was done, and played for hours as the breeze picked up and the cruisers soaked up both the sunshine and the love that the band and crowd have for each other. The song selection, though relatively unimportant to these revelers, ran from staples like Flying (which featured a parade of jets heading for Logan airport over the boat) to more recent AEG songs like Steal Your Daughter, Miss Hallelujah, and even new material. One song I had heard before at the Strangecreek Campout in May, Hippie Chick. That song should become a staple for sure, with Ezra’s heartfelt combination of humor, sincerity, and playfulness. “She votes to the left but dances to the right…”
Another new song I believe to be called Hair Down and was another instant classic. You can tell that the band is fully in their stride, mainly do to an unrelenting tour schedule that always seems to make room for song writing and recording, somehow. As this was the boat cruise, there were some expectations, and the band did not disappoint with a rollicking version of Lonely Island’s “I’m on a Boat.” from Saturday Night Live. Josh Gold came out from behind his keyboard to supply the falsetto vocals that were once the territory of former bass player Rob Soper, and the crowd was ecstatic. Ezra supplemented the feel of that song by wearing his waterwings for the whole show.
I’m on a Boat
Another expected celebratory song, The Devil Came Up to Boston was performed, and you can tell that plenty of folks have been introduced to the band by this hilarious send up of the Charlie Daniels classic. Throughout the set guests came up to perform, mostly on percussion as former Entrain percussionist Sam Holmstock joined in and stood beside Turtle (AEG percussionist extraordinaire) for some amazing rhythms and later former Adam Ezra Group member Chappy came up and contributed on percussion as well. It was fun to watch the band having so much fun on this trip. There was a great moment where bassist Francis Hickey and fiddler Corinna Smith grabbed garbage can lids from the percussion area and stood enough to Alex Martin’s drum set that he could use those lids as cymbols. Everyone from cruisers to musicians were just having a blast.
The show concluded with Joe Young and Chappy and Holmstock and the whole AEG joining together for a spirited version of Tom Petty’s Free Falling. Even the Navy fellow who has performed with AEG before, translating the lyrics into sign language joined the party. The whole of the deck was singing along, and you just knew that a perfect day was had by all. The boat pulled into the dock but the band, knowing their crowd as they do, with enough time so that they could hang out and socialize with everyone. Hugs and pictures and the love were all passed around. It was no coincidence that this was easily the biggest of the four boat cruises, with the sunshine and the band conspiring to make for the best cruise yet.
Encore: Free Falling