Seven Cayamo 2010 Artists Share Their Favorite Moments

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We just returned from our third Cayamo cruise, and it’s becoming my favorite week of the year. Five days in the Caribbean with a boat full of singer/songwriters like Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile, John Hiatt, Buddy Miller and dozens more. Pulling away from the dock in Miami with Scythian playing the hell out of their string instruments was an early highlight for me, but plenty of wonderful moments followed. Shawn Colvin, the surprise stow-away who kept popping up on stage to sing—she even entered the Open Mic contest under an alias. Having person after person come up to me stunned by the songwriting of Chuck Cannon. Playing blackjack with Rachel Yamagata. And hearing Shawn Mullins and Carlile duet on “Beautiful Wreck.”

My wife’s favorites included seeing some of the musicians on board jump up with the Second City comedy troupe and Brandi Carlile’s bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth cover Simon & Garfunkel during an encore. Plus zip-lining through the rain forest canopies of Belize, while I was SCUBA diving off the coast. But I wanted to know what it was about the trip that the musicians wouldn’t forget. Here are seven of the folks who played Cayamo this year and their favorite Cayamo 2010 moments:

1. Steve Earle: The Atmosphere
“Emmy and I hadn’t sung ‘Goodbye’ in a while. We used to do it 3 or 4 times a year, and for some reason we just haven’t ended up in the same place. But I like it out here. It’s a manageable size festival environment. The audience is relatively small so I feel like I can go out and have breakfast and do whatever I want to do and talk to people and get a better idea. It’s a pretty good cross-section of my audience, and I’ve got a business to run. What sucks about this? I’m seeing a lot of people that I really dig.”


2. Vienna Teng: The Pub Sessions
“I think walking into the English pub to see Luke Bulla and the Watkins [Sara and Sean from Nickel Creek and WPA] and Keith [Sewell, mandolin] from Lyle Lovett’s band just jamming with several folks. That was just amazing. I’d joined in the night before, but this time I was just listening—and also sitting next to Jay Bellerose, Buddy Miller’s drummer. And he was playing a violin case and a popcorn wrapper with some brushes, and it sounded just as good as a kit.”

3. Lissie: The Excursions
“Seeing Emmylou Harris sing was a definite highlight, but my best moment was when we took the tender boat into Belize City and boarded a bus with a really funny Belizean tour guide who took us out into the rainforest. There was a really calm, clear and lazy river nearby. My buddy Roberta and I grabbed a Red Stripe, got on this tractor-pulled cart that led us to the river and tubed on down in the sunshine. So relaxing, pure and beautiful! When we got out, we were carted back to our starting point, which had this great thatched hut eating area and we were served a super authentic and delicious Caribbean meal.. chicken, beans and rice cooked in coconut milk, and fried plantains. Another beer and some hot sauce, it was like a meal you eat after camping or something and it tastes a million times better than anything you’ve eaten ever before! It was such a perfect day! So yep, that was my best moment, but all the music and going to Mexico too was really wonderful.”

4. Glen Phillips: The Reunion
“I loved the first WPA show because I knew all the songs. Any set where I know all the songs is a good thing. I hadn’t had a chance to play with Greg Leisz. We were touring as a five-piece for the last couple months of touring that we did with WPA. It’s so great having Sara Watkins and Luke Bulla on the dual fiddles and the extra harmony. And Greg is like a pair of 3-D glasses. You can get by meat and potatoes without him, and then he plays and all the sudden everything has this insane depth to it. There’s been so many good shows. It’s an embarrassment of riches, from Emmylou to Brandi Carlile and Lyle. I mean where do you start?”


5. Katie Herzig: The Collaboration
“It’s a toss-up between our 11 o’clock show where we had everyone come up to do ‘Wish You Well’ or getting to perform it during Brandi Carlile’s set. I was here last year on the boat and that song was the first collaboration I got to do after we’d all met. Doing it a year later was significant to me because I spent the year getting to tour with those artists because I’d met them on the boat. I got to open for Brandi a bunch this year because she saw us playing down in the Atrium. And also Over the Rhine. I think I was standing there singing that song and thinking it was the perfect song to get a bunch of people singing on. And it was a moment that I realized how far I’d come in a year.”

6. Rachel Yamagata: The Music
“Brandi Carlile doing Johnny Cash songs and rockin’ it. Lyle Lovett and his whole band in their swanky suits playing beautiful music. Katie Herzig who’s becoming one of my favorite acts ever. The impromptu jam in the English bar. Sara Watkins playing with Steve Earle, Greg Leisz in the bar. Also when Brandi and Vienna [and two cello players] came up on stage to do ‘Worn Me Down.’ I didn’t even know Brandi was in the audience, and they were whispering like Brandi wants to come up and sing with you. Just the spontaneity of the whole thing.”

7. Luke Bulla (WPA, Lyle Lovett): The Late-Night Jams
“Last year I came to play with Glen Phillips. That’s when I was introduced to Lyle Lovett. But Keith Sewell and I were doing these late night jam sessions, and we were looking forward to doing some more of that this year. The night before last we were in the English pub, and Steve Earle came and sat in. Jim Cox from Lyle Lovett’s band was playing piano. Jay Bellerose came in and was playing brushes on my fiddle case and some half empty wine and beer glasses that were sitting around, and that was really fun. We jammed to probably three or four in the morning.”