…and this is Winter in Miami where I'm boarding the Norwegian Pearl--host to the Moody Blues Cruise III. The Orchestra Starring Former ELO Members will join the Moody Blues, Zombies, Vanilla Fudge, Mark Farner (Grand Funk), Chuck Negron (Three Dog Night), John Waite and others on a five day cruise to Key West and the Bahamas. Sure, it sounds fun, but make no mistake, this is a work trip.
When you go on a work trip like this it's best to bring your muse. You don't want to be lost at sea without inspiration.
Here's a bendy panoramic shot taken above the Pool Deck. There's a big stage, sound booth under the blue and white striped pavilion, merch table, etc. Oh, and a hot tub if you like your rock with warm jets.
The Orchestra played, I mean, worked two shows on the pool deck. Our first show began at 5pm on Day 2 as the Pearl departed Key West, heading east toward the Bahamas. We faced the rear of the ship so the sun was in our eyes…brutal working conditions. Where's OSHA when you need them? We also held a Q & A session where fans of the band asked great questions and also offered us many, many nice compliments. You know, exactly the same work conditions as most other jobs.
Left to Right: Louis Clark Jr, Louis Clark Sr, Glen Burtnik, Eric Troyer, Mik Kaminski, Yours Truly and Gordon Townsend.
Our second performance began at 7:30pm on Day 4 as the boat headed back to Miami. Here are some of the nice people we met on the Cruise.
Speaking of nice people, I got to reconnect with the very funny and crazy talented Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night. (The bag he's hoisting into the frame of the picture has an image of young Chuck...) If you get a chance, buy his book "Three Dog Nightmare." It's not all laughs, as the title suggests. But ultimately Chuck's story is triumphant, considering how perilously close he came to losing everything. If you're wondering about the cartoon sea creatures in the background, our dressing room serves as a kids area when old rock bands aren't onboard. So, in effect, it's a kids' room year round.
One of the best parts of rock cruising is the chance to be a fanboy. That's Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad with his arm around me. (His was the OTHER act that sold out Shea Stadium). I bought the first GFR album "On Time" when I was 14 and I know every note on that record. So of course I brought the album cover with me on the boat and Mark generously signed it. I love it. If you get a chance to see him perform, which he's doing currently, you will note that his voice is ALL there. Dude can wail! And his guitar playing is highly underrated and under-celebrated IMHO.
The food at the buffet was free and available most hours of the day and night. So, yeah, the cruise ended up being about a four pound trip!
The Moodies Cruise was really nice, but I have to admit…there were times on the ship when it was pretty windy and cold…and who signed up for that? So before we head back to Maryland, it's probably best that we immediately hit Disneyworld for our annual three night residency at EPCOT. Here's a view from the top of the water slide at the Disney Beach Resort, our home for five nights.
These lake boats shuttle folks between hotels and attractions.
This shot was taken backstage. The squiggly clouds are residue from the successful launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket which was carrying a communications satellite weighing 11.6 thousand pounds. Cape Canaveral is sixty miles away.
This shot was taken in the Magic Kingdom. The squiggly water splashes are residue from the successful launch of a faux wooden log that descended 50 feet, delivering a screaming man weighing 175 pounds to an embarrassing photo op. One daughter, who was visiting Splash Mountain for the first time, shared my feelings about the ride. The other pulled off the coolest shot of the year.
Ok, back to work. The Orchestra played three half-hour shows each night for three nights. The fans took great pictures and the staff at Disney treated us really well as usual, which is why we love playing there. Here's a shot by Mark Walters that I like a lot. Thanks, Mark!
"Hey Hey Hey!" is what we say. Note the mirror image double cutaway guitars. Totally planned. Photo by Diane Tartaglia.
In this remarkable shot by Michael Lucas, all four stringed instrumentalists seem to be lost in thought, reflecting on who-knows-what when they might ought to be focusing on the show.
Even if we can't really hear each other above the noise, Mik and I usually manage to find a laugh onstage. Photo by Donald Austin.
This shot by Kimmy G is probably during Roll Over Beethoven, a song which requires Glen and I to pay attention to what we're doing.
And just like that…the Cruise…and Disneyworld…drifted into memory…and back we went to our alleged everyday reality. Hey, the snow is gone!