In early January, Band of Heathens performed on Delbert McClinton’s Sandy Beaches Cruise. The band’s drummer, Richard Millsap, spent some portion of the day writing a diary because — as it just so happens — his father Dave Millsap used to play guitar in Delbert’s band in the 80s.
Over the course of the week, Millsap shared the ups and downs of the experience and is sharing them with the masses.
What started out 26 years ago as an annual get-together for a couple hundred people has turned into something much larger than Delbert and Wendy McClinton may have ever imagined. This morning, as I headed to Holland America’s MS Zuiderdam in Fort Lauderdale, FL, I joined 2,000 other musicians and fans who have flown in from all over the world for this festival on the sea. The annual Sandy Beaches Cruise is a week onboard a ship with world-class live music from noon to sometimes as late as 4am, with all you can eat food and free room service!! That, combined with the good vibes, the welcoming fellow cruisers that quickly become friends (or family), and the chance that the person who sits down next to you at the bar might be Delbert himself, makes this an incredibly special week that I, and many others, never want to miss.
I personally hold a very special place in my heart for this cruise. I first came on board with my father, Dave Millsap: a Ft. Worth guitar player who toured with Delbert for the better part of the 1980s. So although I’ve known Delbert and his family my whole life, and I’d known about the cruise for years, January 2010 was my first time on the cruise. It was also the week that I met my future wife. Lucy Wilson is the daughter of Teresa James and Terry Wilson of Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps. Lucy and her brother, Jesse Wilson (who joined The Band of Heathens a few years ago), have been going on the cruise with their parents since they were kids. I think it’s fair to say that I owe a huge deal of gratitude to Delbert, Wendy, their daughter, Delaney, and the rest of the cruisers for what it has given to me and certainly everyone else. Delaney will occasionally look at me and say “You’re welcome.” She is, without a doubt, right. Lucy and I felt honored to have the three of them at our wedding. It was the least they could do, being that our situation was their fault. The wedding felt like it could have almost been a cruise-on-land party, just by about half of the people there being cruisers, themselves. And I couldn’t have asked for a better band to kick off the reception than my dad on guitar and Delbert singing.
Teresa James and The Rhythm Tramps started the week with a fantastic set on the pool deck stage, located at the back of the boat. This stage and the theatre are the two main stages on board. The pool deck stage gives you an almost 360 degree view of the ocean. You can’t beat a show out there, especially with a group like the Rhythm Tramps. This band is all about groove in a Texas, Memphis, Muscle Shoals trifecta kind of way, and there isn’t a better band on board to get everybody in the mood for the headliner of the night; the man himself and the real thing, Delbert McClinton.
Delbert came out on stage and there was no question what his role is. With total control of the stage and the audience, he launched into his first set of the week, to a deck full of his fans and friends. He’s Texas and he’s Ft. Worth, but more importantly, he’s honest. He’s up there singing and it is in every way his true self. That’s life and there’s only one way to learn it. Delbert has his core band, but this being the friends-and-family experience that it is, you never know who is going to be asked to join any of the bands during their performances. Halfway through his set, he called up his long-time cohort and old writing partner, Glen Clark. Delbert & Glen said “hello
LA, bye bye Texas” in the early 70s and made a couple of records out there during that time. For me, the first D&G album is a “desert island” record. Please find it, own it, listen to it, and spread the gospel! When Glen got up on stage with Delbert, the stage transformed to an old Texas Roadhouse…maybe one of their old haunts on Jacksboro Highway they grew up playing in. Everyone was out on the deck watching this show ‘til the last note.
Delbert ended around 11:30p, just in time for the lido deck restaurant’s late-night buffet, which is just steps away from the stage. Anyone coming on this cruise for the first time will learn quickly: meals happen way more than just 3 times a day. So even though dinner was only a couple hours ago, I grabbed a plate and sat down with some friends for dinner number two. If this wasn’t the first night, next on the list would be to roam the ship to find one of the many late-night jams. Part of what sets this cruise apart from the other music cruises is the impromptu jams: groups of players all from different bands, headliners, and sometimes Delbert himself, playing together and having a great time. The respect that everyone has for each other on this boat, whether it’s musician to musician, or fan to musician, or musician to fan, is what makes this such a great experience for everyone. The boundary that separates artist and passenger is non-existent because it doesn’t have to be there at all. There are no “Artist Only” areas, or artist laminates, or anything that creates any kind of hierarchy onboard. Everyone is respectful, and welcoming, and we’re all here together to have the best week of our year.
But being that it is night 1 of 7, and most people had a long day of travel, almost everyone’s gameplan is to take it easy tonight and save the night owling for tomorrow. (Yes, when it’s a week-long party, there is strategy involved.) And with that…I cannot wait for tomorrow and the rest of this week!
Today started out a little earlier than expected. Since there wasn’t much happening last night, after Delbert’s show, I ended up getting to bed around 1am. Lucy and I took our breakfast out on our balcony and enjoyed a nice, calm morning. With our breakfast came the Captain’s daily announcement, this time with news that, over the next 24 hours, waves will get up to 15 feet. (“…wear sensible shoes and watch out for doors closing on their own…”) Get the motion sickness gear ready! There are plenty of people on board who aren’t affected by seasickness at all. Lucy and I can be sensitive to it, so we always bring homeopathic motion sickness aids – essential oils, ginger chews, acupressure wristbands (they really do work!) – and usually after the first couple of days, we start to get used to it and don’t need them anymore.
Some of the highlights of the day included starting out with a rockin’ set from another Ft. Worth-born artist and friend, Casey James. After, I went back to my room for a little nap (again – strategy is necessary) and set my alarm to make sure I could be up and back out on the pool
deck early enough to get a good spot for The Mavericks. There was a chair set up on stage at the front, where Raul Malo usually leads the band, which seemed curious. Raul rolled up to the stage with one leg up on a scooter, and his foot in a cast. And although he had to sit during their set, it had absolutely no effect on the energy the band put out. For an hour and a half, they had everyone out on the pool deck on their feet and dancing to the hypnotic groove that is The Mavericks.
Next, I walked up to the Crow’s Nest for the 5pm Red Young “happy hour” set. Red Young is a phenomenal keyboardist and singer, born in Ft. Worth, and is one of the busiest players on the boat. You’ll see him throughout the week sitting in with different artists, but he also has a couple of daily shows: happy hour at 5pm with a full band, and the late night hang at 1am with grand piano, upright bass, brushes on a snare drum and guest vocalists. Today’s happy hour band was “Texas Red and the Can’t Hardly Playboys” a la Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. On stage along with Red were players from 5 different bands. Before they kicked off the first tune, Red introduced the set by saying “…this is the music we all grew up on…”. I really appreciated this comment because everyone on that stage was playing with artists on the boat who differ in style, but they’re coming together for this special show to play the music of their youth, and their passion for western swing is something they all have in common. James Pennebaker (guitar with Delbert’s band) kicks off the set singing and playing fiddle, “In my heart, lies a melody…”. As their playing, I experienced a bit of a surreal moment. James is from Ft. Worth and he and my dad went to high school together and toured together in Delbert’s band. There is a photo of my dad at the hospital holding me as a newborn and standing next to him is James. Also on stage is Teresa James, who is my mother-in-law, Red Young, a friend I’ve known for years, Danny Cochran (drums), a dear friend and mentor from Ft. Worth and someone I’ve known since I was a kid, and David Jackson (bass), another dear friend who, it just so happens, was the officiant at my wedding. David is an incredibly delightful person and has a very impressive musical background and history. For the sake of keeping things in context I will only say that he played bass on the first Delbert & Glen album. It’s all connected! At least, we’re all connected and Delbert is the common thread. I’m constantly reminded of just how close this family of cruisers and musicians on board is, to me. I’m 30 years old, but I come on this cruise and still feel like a kid, hanging out with all of my “aunts and uncles”.
The McCrary Sisters were next on my list and I knew I had to watch at least one of their sets. As I make my way up to the Lido Deck I can start to make out a churning groove and then the words “Wade In The Water”. The Pool Deck is at the mercy of the three McCrarys and their band with a chorus of guest vocals that include Etta Britt, Bonnie Bishop, and Danny Flowers (songwriter who penned “Tulsa Time”). Their band was made up of Derek Phillips on drums, Bob Britt on guitar, and Aaron Hatmaker (Mingo Fishtrap) on bass. Regina McCrary gets that tambourine going with a wicked dance and you can’t help but get happy and move!
My last stop for the night was down to the Theater to catch some of Glen Clark’s set. Glen has been a friend for a long time and I am a big fan of his music. Another Ft. Worth boy on board with a colorful history including being bandmates with and a songwriter for Bonnie Raitt as well
as the music composer for the ABC sitcom series, ‘According to Jim’. Glen has a thing you hear from Delbert and other Texas musicians of the same generation. There’s a strong blend of R&B/Rock and Roll/Country and like Delbert, Glen delivers a story. It’s no surprise they got along so well in their younger days and found each other again a few years ago for another Delbert & Glen release (Blind, Crippled, & Crazy). There is no imbalance in quality between words and music with either of them and with Glen Clark’s new album, he reminds everyone of the importance of song. His new band consists of John Bryant on drums (Delbert McClinton, Ray Charles’ 1975-1977 band), Jim Milan on bass (Anson Funderburgh, Doyle Bramhall II), and on guitar, James Pennebaker from Delbert’s band got up at some point and joined Glen on a few numbers.
One of today’s highlights was an event that I was particularly excited about. I couldn’t miss the Mars Czar. It may seem random that that in between blues/r&b shows, you can go spend 90 minutes watching a man explain quantum mechanics theories and the science behind the NASA exploration of Mars. But here you have Scott Hubbard, a professor at Stanford University. The Mars Pathfinder mission was his idea and he is currently a consultant for Elon Musk’s SpaceX program. His presentation is fascinating, to say the least. Perhaps he would find a lecture on Texas shuffles to be equally fascinating?
I was feeling a little tired after the lecture and thought it best to take a nap and recharge. I put on one of the many on-demand movies that are on the tvs in every cabin and passed out. I feel like including this tidbit only because I want to stress how this week holds a different experience for everyone. Maybe you don’t take any naps and you don’t watch one movie in your room…maybe you watch every artist on board at least once, or maybe you only have 3 or 4 artists that you want to see and the rest of the time you spend enjoying the ocean view from your balcony and treat this week more like a vacation…perhaps a few visits to the spa? The point is, you can do whatever you want and that’s ok! Post midday siesta brought me to dinner time, which happens more than once a night. Remember…whatever you want! There are a few dinner options and I tend to eat in the dining room at the back of the ship on decks 2 and 3. I have been eating vegan for almost 10 years and the most vegan/vegetarian options can be found in the dining room. Be aware that if you want to eat an entirely vegan/vegetarian meal and have plenty of options, you are requested to pre-order your dinner the night before, so that the kitchen can plan ahead of time.
Seth James sounded great at the B.B. King stage. Another, Ft. Worth musician…go figure! I had never seen Seth solo, but was familiar with him being in Cody Canada and the Departed and I knew he and my dad were friends. Seth had a really cool vocal delivery with some tasty guitar playing. I came in the room when Lee Roy Parnell got up to sit in on his set. Seth’s core band is Lewis Stephens on keys, Clint Simmons on drums, and Nick Jay on bass. I’ve known Nick for a few years, as he played on a track or 2 on my band’s 2013 album, Sunday Morning Record, and
he did some touring with us when we were in between bass players. Now, on the other hand, I’ve known Lewis for years. Lewis is also from Ft. Worth and I grew up seeing him play with my dad and I’ve played music with him since I was 9 years old. Lewis spent years on the road with Freddie King and then with Delbert along with my dad.
We had a show tonight that was supposed to be out on the pool deck, but the weather was nasty enough for every outside show to be moved indoors. There were a few moments when the boat got moving pretty good, I wasn’t sure what I would do to keep from sliding off the drum throne! The kit was moving one way and I was moving the other. No worries, though; we all made it through with no incident. As our set ended, I saw Tony Braunagel sitting side stage and it turns out he was playing next with Portland based blues singer, Curtis Salgado. I ran my gear to the room and came back to catch some of Curtis’ set. It was a really vibey trio set with Curtis, Tony, and Alan Hagar on guitar. No bass guitar on stage. Unconventional for some settings, but not necessarily for blues and folk music. One of my favorite Josh White albums is just Josh singing and playing guitar with a drummer. Some of those old Jimmy Reed cuts didn’t have a bass player, but a second guitarist who would mimic the sound and lines of a bass guitar. This is the 2nd year of Curtis having his own shows on the boat and I look forward to seeing more of him.
Walking around the boat in the late hours, I came across a pretty cool jam at the Lincoln Center Stage that consisted of Chip Vayenas on drums (Mingo Fishtrap), Harmoni Kelly on bass (Bonnie Bishop), Will McFarlane on guitar (Jimmy Hall), Dane Farnsworth on piano (Mingo Fishtrap/Marc Broussard) and 3 saxophone players; Paulie Cerra (Teresa James), Max Abrams (The Mavericks), and Dan Bechdolt (Mingo Fishtrap)! They were playing a Stevie Wonder tune and the room was filled with cruisers and musicians.
Just up the stairs from the Lincoln Center Stage is the Ocean Bar and I finally stayed up late enough to catch Red Young’s 1am set. Tonight, it’s Red on piano, Brannen Temple on snare with brushes and hi hats (Lee Roy Parnell), Ed Friendland on upright bass (The Mavericks), and sitting in were different horn players and guest vocalists, including Teresa James, Shelly King, and many of the other headliners. The bar was totally packed with everyone enjoying the perfect night cap. Everyone knows that if you stick around Red’s sets, you are in for a real treat: old standards, instrumental jazz, and the great American songbook. Once again, Red gets these players together and introduces them to the cruisers in a totally different musical setting than what everyone’s used to seeing them do.
We docked in San Juan early today, though Lucy and I slept in until about noon. We needed it after Red’s set, last night! We were up there until about 3am and people were still hanging when we left. Since we are in the U.S. everyone now has their phones back out, after not having them for a few days, which is mostly a good thing. I was able to text people to make plans for going to
shore, instead of hoping I would run into them while walking around the boat. We made the trek down to the gangway and greatly welcomed the stable and grounding concrete. The last couple of days were a little rocky with strong winds and big waves, so we were more than happy to have a port day!
First stop was catching up with my bandmates from the Heathens, Gordy Quist and Trevor Nealon at a fantastic local coffee shop that we’ve been to before, Cafe Cuatro Sombras. An americano and a local specialty pastry seemed about the right call, while we waited for more to join us for lunch. We reserved a rooftop table at Punto de Vista and had about 40 minutes to kill, so we walked around old town San Juan. Having been here a couple of times before, we skipped the highly recommended tour of the San Juan fort and decided to see the Castillo Cristobal, the north shore of San Juan, and the beautiful waters of the Atlantic. On the walk, in between local shops and restaurants, we saw plenty of cruisers and Delbert McClinton shirts walking past us with smiles and “Hey y’all”s. The lunch at Punto de Vista was fantastic, complete with buy one, get one free Mojitos, the local favorite dish: mofongo, and a wonderful rooftop view of the city of San Juan.
Back on the boat, I caught Doyle and Debbie’s second show on board, and it was fantastic! It’s a country satire with musical accompaniment and is a welcome change of pace, when you’re otherwise listening to music all day, for a week. Their show is a staple of the Nashville scene with a residency at the Station Inn they have been doing for years.
A few times during the week, at the stage called B.B. King’s, is a songwriters show. A handful of songwriters are invited on the boat to participate in this unique (and in a way, behind closed doors) sort of insight into the world of music. You may not recognize their names or faces, but you will surely know the songs. The talent that graces this stage is very strong. Tonight’s lineup was Bill Kirchen, Sharon Vaughn, Al Anderson, and Shawn Camp. Every night it is a different line up of writers. Also on board this year are Gary Nicholson and Bob Dipiero, among others, and in the past it has also included the likes of Donnie Fritts and Spooner Oldham. Each show, 4-5 writers sit next to each other on stage and take turns sharing their songs and the stories behind them. Sharon Vaughn performed a beautiful rendition of a song she wrote, “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” that was made famous by Waylon Jennings. This intimate version had her singing with Al Anderson accompanying her on the acoustic guitar. One of the other particular notable moments was Shawn Camp telling a story of how he played a song for Willie Nelson about 5 years ago and only recently heard back from Willie’s camp about Willie wanting to finally cut the song and how it will be coming out very soon. What a cool sneak peek for any die hard Willie fan, getting to hear a preview of what’s to come!
Well, it was an early morning for all musicians and the cruisers in odd-numbered cabins that want to get any merchandise signed by an artist…Day 1 of the 10am Crow’s Nest autograph
session! Luckily the Crow’s Nest has the best coffee on the boat! Espresso machine for the win! Any coffee at 10am for the win! All of the artists on board are sitting behind tables throughout the Crow’s Nest, equipped with sharpies (some with the sunglasses and ice cold water combo) and ready to sign CDs, shirts, and whatever else for the cruisers!
I left the autograph session to head down to the theater for the Drumarama, hosted by Tony Braunagel, a Grammy-winning producer and drummer, and long-time friend of Delbert’s. Tony somehow wrangled the drummers on the boat to get together and talk about everything from playing styles, to inspiration, motivation, technique, and purpose. There were a couple of drum kits set up and with the help of Red Young and a few other instrumentalists, the show also included a demonstration of different playing styles with just about every drummer on the boat getting up behind a kit at some point. Unfortunately I had split early because my band was scheduled to sit in at a show that was happening on the pool deck.
Etta Britt organized a tribute to “our fearless leader” Delbert McClinton and she enlisted the help of different artists on the boat to each get up on stage and perform a Delbert song. We got up and played “Livin It Down” from Delbert’s 2001 album, Nothing Personal. “My ship came in and she sunk it, I was the toast of the town and she drunk it…” That’s how you start a song! We pulled up Teresa James during our set, for her to sing the last verse. It was wonderful to see everyone get up and show their love for the man who brought us here, all together, in the first place.
As I walked back through the Lido Deck restaurant to get back to my room, I saw a table full of drummers. Who’s got the joke? I joined the group and it was about an hour of sharing stories before I had to split. This time it’s not to catch a show, but to lend a helping hand to a fellow drummer. Clint Simmons (Seth James) and I were chatting the night before at Red’s late night set and he mentioned the provided Hi-Hat cymbals onstage their playing at were not sitting well with him. I told him that I brought my own and he was welcome to use them, because on a boat full of singers and guitar players, drummers have to stick together!
Marc Broussard was on the pool deck tonight and I recognized almost half of his band as the Mingo boys; Roger Blevins was up on guitar, Dane Farnsworth was on keys, and then there was Marc’s rhythm section, Chad Gilmore on drums and Jay White on bass. Marc is one of the newer acts to the cruise and he’s quickly become one of the favorites. That down home bayou soul goes over well, with this crowd.
Looking for my wife and a night cap, I found her in the casino with her family. They were playing the quarter machine that nobody ever wins. Since I finally made it to the casino I thought to try my hand at some proper gambling. Not having any sort of inclination to this behavior, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually gambled. I tried and only lost $2, which I consider a win, anyways.
The 2nd and last day of the morning autograph sessions had me awake and in the Crow’s Nest by 10am. The band and I had to leave early to go set up and sound check for our 12pm pool deck show. There was a little bit of morning rain, but the sky cleared up pretty quickly and we were good to go for our first outdoor set of the week. We had a great set with a great crowd and the sun was out with a much welcomed breeze.
After our set, was Seth Walker. Seth has been coming on Delbert’s cruise as long as I have and it has been a real treat to watch him all of these years. He has had different bands and I believe this to be his best yet. The bass player and keyboardist had been with him before, but the drummer was new and man he was perfect for Seth. He played just right between tight and loose and very dynamic, like Seth’s songs. The other night we caught a bit of Seth in the Theater and he played a cover I haven’t heard anyone else do; Bobby Charles’ “I Must Be In A Good Place Now”. It was just Seth and his guitar, and man, was it right. It was a really nice choice for that room.
I took a little break and ran up to the Crow’s Nest to have an espresso and touch up on my journaling for the week, so far. Red Young and Brannen Temple showed up to start setting up for Red’s 5pm set and Brannen and I started talking. I’ve known Brannen for about 12 or 13 years but this is about the only time I see him, now that I don’t live in Austin anymore. We mostly talked about the music on board, specifically the drummers, and how cool it was to have someone like Mike Clark on board and to be able to see him play and hear his stories.
I ran out to the pool deck to catch some of Teresa James’ set, before having to head to my room to get ready for dinner at the Pinnacle Grill restaurant. The Heathens were invited to a dinner with a couple of cruisers and Raul Malo. I brought my wife along and it was a wonderful meal with wine, champagne, and lots of laughs. The discussion topics included Black Oak Arkansas, touring in Spain, and that Bennigan’s in Texarkana…if you’re a touring musician, you know the one. Raul is another person that I’ve known for a while. When I started coming on the cruise, he was on board as a solo act and didn’t start coming with The Mavericks until a couple of years later.
The Mavericks are playing tonight and I know it will be a late one and I will not feel like writing later, so I will check back in, tomorrow.
Last night was a late one. The Mavericks played an incredible set to a packed deck of cruisers and musicians. Although they have already played a couple of sets, this was the first one that was outside at night and that’s when The Mavericks truly shine. It’s always a highlight of the week, for me. A big group of us were standing in the back, by the sound booth, with some of the Shinyribs and Mingo band. After their set, we went down to the casino and rotated between a
couple of bars in the area for a good amount of time. We may have gone up to eat once or twice in the lido deck restaurant…It was also the last night of Red Young’s 1am set, so there was a good hang happening at the Ocean Bar.
I didn’t get back to my room until 5am which is why I didn’t get up and off the boat early for our 2nd and last port stop, Half Moon Cay. This is a cruise ship owned island, so it lends itself to the feeling of an amusement park more than an untouched island in the Bahamas, but it still has that picture-perfect blue water and white sand as far as you can see. It was 10am and although the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed, the urge to get off the boat and jump in the water drove me upright. Lucy and I got off with the Heathens’ keyboardist, Trevor. There was no ramp to a dock, because the boat was anchored off shore. Every so often there are tender boats that board cruisers and take them to shore. As the tender we were on was filling up, I saw some of the Mingo Fishtrap guys, Delbert’s band, and the Mcrary Sisters walking on with their swimsuits and shades, you know, the typical beachwear. Which all makes sense except the wind started to pick up and the clouds started to roll in and what should follow but a nice little Caribbean rain storm?? The 15-20 min ride to shore was a cold and wet one. People were wrapping their towels around themselves and shivering. Sunglasses were coming off and it felt like we might as well be crossing the Baltic Sea, headed for Denmark. By the time we got to shore, the sun broke through and the rain was gone! We were ready for sunscreen and a little beach time!
We found a little spot on the beach and grabbed a few chairs with some of the Shinyribs band and kids of some of Delbert’s band. We were there for a couple of hours and headed back in time to make one of the last couple of tenders before the ship’s departure.
The first show on our schedule was Mingo Fishtrap in the theatre. I’ve been watching this band for 15 years, since I was in high school and would catch them at Ridglea Theater in Ft. Worth. Their lineup has changed and their sound along with it, but they’ve only gotten better and they are some of the greatest and funniest guys on the boat. I walked in to catch them kick off their James Brown medley. They go through a handful of songs from the Godfather of Soul and man, are they tight. Roger Blevins is chanting “Soul” and the band is nailing hits and everyone in the crowd is into it.
After Mingo, Lucy and I headed to our room to pack. We had just enough time before dinner and Marcia Ball’s set to at least begin to get our stuff together. We had a little more to pack, this year, than normal. I thought to spruce up our room with some string lights and some hangable fabric for the walls. We never spend a lot of time in our room, but we will usually have people over for drinks and a little hang and the added decor was a nice touch. I walked a couple of floors down to the Theater and as I got closer, I heard a strong second line groove coming from the drums, then the horns and the soaring voice of the ‘Long, Tall, Marcia Ball”. It was a Mardi Gras party in there! The band started breaking off with player after player stopping playing until it was just Marcia and her piano stride. Unbreaking from this, she was shouting over the mic all the while and I may as well have been in New Orleans. She sure can make you think a parade
is marching through! On the other side of things, the only time I have teared up on this cruise is when I’ve heard Marcia fold into a dirge on the piano and start to sing “Louisiana 1927”. Up on stage with Marcia was Red Young on B3 organ, her long time band of Don Bennett on bass, Mike Schermer on guitar, Eric Bernhardt on sax, and newcomer Mo Schohorn on drums.
It was only fitting that the grand finale of an incredible week on this boat is Delbert! In the past, this show goes one of two ways; Delbert will either play a few songs and then start to get all of the other artists and bands up to each do a song, or if he’s feeling it, he’ll play an entire set. Short of a few guests, Delbert ended up doing the whole set with his band. He started out the show by having one of his oldest bandmates, Bruce Channel, get up for a couple of tunes. Delbert played harmonica on the 1962 number one hit by Bruce, “Hey, Baby!”. This song even took the pair to Europe, for a tour where at one show, the opener was The Beatles! Bruce has been coming on the boat for years and by the end of the song, he’s got everyone singing A Capella “Hey, Baby!”. Backstage, there were a lot of musicians hanging and saying their goodbyes while some were watching the show from side stage. All the while, Delbert was up there, going through the catalog of songs we all know so well. It was a bittersweet show, but everyone knows where we will be in a year. For this one week, we all get to put the day-to-day on hold and come together over one unifying factor; the love for music. And Delbert. It always comes back to Del. At this point, I know a pretty good majority of the people coming on this cruise. If I haven’t met someone, all I know about them is they took time away from home and put some of their hard earned money toward being here and that says enough for me to know we can get along. I’m not trying to sell this cruise to you, but if anyone is a glowing poster boy for Sandy Beaches Cruise, it’s me.