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Annabel Lukins, Jam Cruise Icon & MC, Talks Jam Room, Music Industry, & Favorite Moments

Annabel Lukins

Jam Cruise has grow to be one of many pinnacle occasions of the reside music scene. Every winter, the ship departs from Miami, touring across the Caribbean and internet hosting a few of the largest names within the jam and funk scenes throughout a weeklong musical celebration. Created by Cloud 9 Adventures, those that have been on the ship are little question accustomed to Annabel Lukins, a vibrant and fascinating firecracker of a lady who flits between units and serves because the Jam Cruise’s MC and Director of Artist Programming.

Annabel was employed as Cloud 9’s first worker in 2003, serving to to develop the corporate from a small start-up to one of many largest destination-event producers within the music scene. Along with Jam Cruise, the corporate hosts many different multi-day music experiences overseas, together with Panic En La Playa, Strings & Sol, Holidaze, and Holy Ship. Throughout this time, Annabel has turn into a strong presence within the music business, boasting shut relationships with just about any musician you possibly can identify within the reside music scene and incomes herself the title of the “artist whisperer.”

On the finish of the month, the fourth-annual Brooklyn Comes Alive will host the first-ever on-land version of the Jam Room, Jam Cruise’s famend nightly improvisational session. Stay For Reside Music received the prospect to talk with Annabel. Throughout our dialog, we spoke about Lukins’ historical past arising within the music scene, her relationships with artists, Jam Cruise, and what to anticipate from the upcoming inaugural on-land Jam Room periods. Learn on under!

MLN: You’ve grow to be a outstanding determine within the stay music scene. Throughout your profession, you’ve accomplished somewhat little bit of every thing when it comes to advertising, stage administration, and extra, however appeared to settle into Artists Relations early on.

Annabel Lukins: Sure, I really feel that exploring many areas of the enterprise has helped me progress through the years, however taking good care of artists is actually my completely satisfied place. And after over a decade of holding a title of Director of Artist Relations, I now put “Artist Programming” on my e-mail signature. However actually, what’s a title? I really feel like my character and strengths have allowed me the posh to pave my skilled path. So what’s Artist Programming? I assist books the bands and particular visitors for the occasions that I’ve helped construct through the years. I additionally assist curate the music schedules.

However my fundamental occasion—my child—is Jam Cruise. I’m the cruise director, the Jam Cruise mother, the on-board hostess. I’m Julie McCoy, and when you’re younger to know who that’s, look it up. I deal with the musicians and function the ship’s MC, so I’m the one which the passengers and musicians get to know. I’m all the time operating round 24/7 like a hen together with her head minimize off—dancing and fixing issues and making individuals completely satisfied. It’s such a pleasure to be round so many phenomenal individuals for therefore many days.

That’s my position on board, however all of us put on many hats at Jam Cruise—we’re a small firm doing nice massive issues. Being there from the start, I’ve been capable of watch Cloud 9 develop. To me, the development of a profitable firm is to empower individuals to help you, and I’ve a tremendous staff that is aware of precisely what to do and possesses expertise that I’m not as robust at. For instance, I hate spreadsheets. I do ’em when I’ve to, however relaxation assured I’ll delegate once I can.

I’m a individuals individual. I can appeal the pants off of most anyone. I’ve heard from many, many, many artists that they don’t wish to say “No” to me. “Because it’s you, okay.” That’s an asset to Cloud 9 and to myself, however don’t ask me to type a sophisticated excel sheet. You’ll find yourself doing it once more your self later and cursing since you truly thought I’d be capable of deal with it. [laughs]

Nigel Corridor Serenades & Dances With “Julie McCoy” On Jam Cruise

[Video: Annabel Lukins]

Ming Lee Newcomb: Are you able to speak a bit of bit about the way you got here up within the music business?

Annabel Lukins: I labored as an intern at PolyGram Data in New York Metropolis in school. My job was to name radio stations as soon as every week and ensure that they had our artists’ singles in rotation. In the future, a memo received despatched round saying Steve Miller was coming into the workplace. At the moment within the mid-’90s, Steve Miller’s Biggest Hits was in all probability probably the most performed albums anyplace, and I used to be an enormous fan.

I missed the positive print within the memo that stated “Do not approach Steve Miller for any reason.” Truly, I in all probability noticed the positive print. It was onerous to overlook, as a result of it was apparently bolded and in all caps with asterisks earlier than and after. [laughs] I’m not an ideal rule follower.

Anyway, I noticed Steve Miller coming in as a chance to get his signature on my CD. When he walked out of his assembly within the President’s Workplace, he requested, “Hey, does anybody have a garbage for my sandwich?” I occurred to be proper there. I grabbed a rubbish bin and stated, “Here, Mr. Miller. I’ll take this for you.” He stated, “Thank you. What’s your name?” I stated, “My name is Annabel.” He stated, “Hi, I’m Steve.” I stated, “I know.” And I stated, “Mr. Miller, I’m so sorry. Would you mind signing my greatest hits CD?”

It was like I had kicked a pet. The whole workplace like, “Uhhhhh.” All of them have been shocked that I had blatantly disregarded the memo. I ran down the corridor, skipping and smiling, grabbed my biggest hits CD, and he signed it. I probably obtained fired after that, however I didn’t care as a result of it was at that second once I realized that I used to be snug round musicians. It took me a very long time and a whole lot of Grateful Lifeless and Phish exhibits earlier than I discovered my place within the music enterprise, however it was at the moment that I knew I used to be going to make it on some degree.

MLN: You’re an instance of a lady who’s not simply succeeding within the music business, however who can also be thriving. Are you able to speak slightly bit about your expertise as a lady arising within the music business?

AL: Once I was beginning, there weren’t many different ladies to look as much as, so my mentors and my influences have been all guys. I had a number of experiences with males making an attempt to beat me down, saying “You’re just a woman, and you’ll never make it.” That was simply the best way I used to be raised within the enterprise—name it robust love—and I needed to search recommendation from males on easy methods to be robust. Finally, individuals making an attempt to tear me down solely gave me extra confidence. Their unfavorable phrases turned phrases of affect versus insecurities. However, I needed to go as little as I probably might earlier than I might decide myself again up and understand that what they have been saying was not true. I ended being afraid, however I feel that it’s a must to be afraid earlier than you discover ways to develop.

Now, I attempt to mentor ladies that I see potential in and convey them up. I attempt to train them every thing I discovered and every part I do know now and ship them on their means. I’ve a number of ladies which might be simply crushing it within the music business, and I’m proud to say that I actually helped them obtain their objectives and comply with their goals.

MLN: Now, let’s shift to Jam Cruise. Simply to have it from the horse’s mouth and for many who is perhaps unfamiliar, what’s the Jam Room? 

AL: Years in the past, members of The New Mastersounds got here to us and stated, “Jam Cruise is one of the only opportunities we get to see musicians that we love for more than five minutes. We want to play together. Can you give us that opportunity?” So, we created a venue referred to as the Jam Room the place we arrange backline and musicians might go in and jam with one another. After a few years of simply seeing who confirmed up, we determined that discovering a number to get the night time began was slightly extra electrical, in order that’s what we’ve accomplished for a few years. It’s nice! I select someone who can kick it off after which the remaining is a free-flowing expertise of improvisation that may go in lots of instructions. As we wish to say, these are the moments on Jam Cruise which have by no means earlier than and can by no means once more occur anyplace.

MLN: How is it totally different out of your normal tremendous jam?

AL: The Jam Room is all improvisational music with no rehearsal. Artists can ask different musicians to return in and play with them, however that’s often the extent of the planning. So whereas tremendous jams are unimaginable for individuals to see totally different musicians coming collectively, there’s often a theme, there’s often a set listing, there’s often a rehearsal. On Jam Cruise, within the Jam Room, there isn’t. I feel that’s why Reside For Life Music requested us to assist curate the Jam Room at Brooklyn Comes Alive. We will select hosts, however they’re not going to rehearse or put a setlist collectively. They’re going to ask individuals to play after which that’s it. No matter else occurs is as much as the common music gods.

Cyril Neville, Ian Neville, Taz, Nikki Glaspie, Robert Randolph, & Roosevelt Collier – Jam Room – Jam Cruise 2014


[Video: Nunu Zomot]

Ming Lee Newcomb: What are a few of your favourite moments or favourite mixtures that you simply’ve seen within the Jam Room?

Annabel Lukins: I’ll inform you one. Ed Williams from The Revivalists requested me to be a Jam Room host. He could also be within the jam band scene, probably a bit bit much less recognized than Karl Denson or no matter, however he’s a monster. I knew he’d be good, however I had no concept his session can be that good. It was probably the greatest Jam Room nights we’ve ever had. And I particularly keep in mind laughing within the Jam Room at 4 o’clock within the morning listening to those musicians play collectively in a means that they by no means had earlier than, considering to myself, “This is Jam Cruise.” And to today that Jam Room, it is going to go down as certainly one of my favorites. Ever.

Let’s see. I can do a pair others too. Each time Col. Bruce Hampton led, he was superb. His complete define of life is improvisational: “Everything is nothing, and nothing is everything.” There was by no means going to be one single observe that was deliberate. Plus, so many individuals are interested in his weirdness. He was barely a human, and so everyone needed to see what it was wish to play with an alien. Made no sense, however made complete sense, such as you get it, however you’re confused. That’s simply who he was. That’s the epitome of the Jam Room.

Then, Nikki Glaspie was additionally one among my favorites. She utterly broke the principles of the Jam Room. She had a setlist, she had a rehearsal. I knew about it, however I didn’t cease her. These Jam Cruise artists are like my youngsters, and I don’t allow them to get away with quite a bit. I’m a troublesome mother, as a result of somebody has to maintain everyone in line. However, Nikki is such an excellent musician—I’ve a lot private and professional respect for her—that I let her get away with the organized Jam Room. And it was so good! So over-the-top good! Mindboggling. She’s so exact, and her ear is actually on one other degree. It was superb.

MLN: Are you able to speak a bit of bit about what it means to you for this custom on Jam Cruise you helped foster, the Jam Room, to be taking by itself life off the boat?

AL: Properly, honored. Due to the Jam Room and due to Jam Cruise normally, excursions and bands have been shaped. Two people who find themselves in several bands play collectively within the Jam Room after which they find yourself forming their very own challenge or happening the street collectively.

Additionally, what’s improvisation? How do individuals profit from music that’s utterly distinctive? It permits individuals to not solely focus and concentrate but in addition let go. They need to hear each single notice, however then, additionally they need to let the music take them to a spot of peace and calm that’s utterly unbiased of anything— they’re simply within the second. You understand, all of us get so distracted by life. Typically being stunned is enjoyable, you already know? We all know what a variety of pop songs are going to sound like, and, I imply, that’s superb, it’s nice. It makes the world go spherical. However these spontaneous moments are extraordinarily uncommon and must be cherished.

MLN: How did this partnership with Brooklyn Comes Alive evolve?

AL: I feel all of us have the identical aim, you realize? I imply, we stay for reside music—all of us. Individuals who love Jam Cruise additionally love your group as nicely. It’s humorous as a result of once I lived in New York Metropolis, I began an e-mail referred to as “The LMA’s” or “The Live Music Addicts”, the place I’d work out what exhibits have been enjoying in New York Metropolis and put an inventory collectively. There wasn’t an inventory server again then; there was barely e mail. I gathered individuals’s emails and despatched out the calendar of the New York Metropolis music exhibits for the week. I put an asterisk subsequent to those that I used to be going to, which was most of them. And it caught on; everyone requested to be on my LMA listing.

I’d both be at Wetlands or the Lion’s Den 5 days within the week. All of us got here collectively and professed our love for reside music, and now you guys are available and take it to an entire new degree, which is so fantastic. I really like studying the articles that you simply guys write as a result of they’re so full of ardour, such as you get it. You’re not information writers—you’re music followers—and it makes an entire distinction since you guys stay for stay music.

MLN: Talking of relationships, you talked about being referred to as the “artist whisperer.” How have you ever fostered these relationships with musicians over time?

AL: Nicely, I look previous musicians’ devices. I join with their personalities. I discover out about their lives. That really helps me study extra about them as musicians. Why do they play the best way that they do? What are the ticks of their character that affect them to be a sure approach? I wish to spend time with them outdoors of the venue. I’m not an individual who goes backstage after a present. I wanna go earlier than it begins as a result of that’s once I get to spend time with them. I need to go to dinner with them. I wanna speak on the telephone with them.

George Porter Jr. and I’ve simply have an affection for one another that has been nurtured and strengthened through the years—not simply on Jam Cruise, however outdoors of that. Ivan Neville is one among my closest pals, and we speak on the telephone on a regular basis and share within the pleasure of one another’s lives. Anders Osborne is one in every of my greatest pals. We met once I was in school. The private street we’ve trudged collectively is intense and delightful and long-lasting.

Anders Osborne – “Annabel” (written for Annabel Lukins) – Jam Cruise 14


[Video: Gr8flGrrl]

Annabel Lukins: These are three of them. However then there are individuals like Tom Hamilton, Marc Brownstein, Aron Magner, Joe Russo, Eric Krasno, Brendan Bayliss. These are individuals I grew up with at Wetlands. Wetlands was a household, a group. Peter Shapiro and I do know one another from highschool. We’ve been pals virtually longer than he’s been buddies with anybody else, so I see him in a unique mild than others do. To so many individuals, he’s an icon, however to me, he’s “Shappy”—the Pete Shapiro that I grew up with—and I really like and recognize him for what he’s turn into and he feels the identical means about me.

I put my coronary heart into every individual, and I empathize with their tales. Everyone has a narrative, and I feel one of many issues with the Steve Miller state of affairs was he’s only a man that has a narrative. You’re a lady that has a narrative, I’m a lady that has a narrative. Typically when individuals revere these musicians, they put them on these pedestals. They grow to be their idols, which is nice, however I actually wish to get to know musicians as individuals. We create relationships, group, household. My mother and father are lifeless, and my sister lives in New York Metropolis. So apart from my sister, husband, and daughter, I don’t have a lot of a household anymore. I have to create my circle of relatives, and I do this with musicians—it’s necessary to me. One way or the other, my coronary heart is ready to increase in ways in which typically different individuals’s aren’t capable of just because it’s onerous to be weak. However it’s value it to place myself on the market utterly.

MLN: George Porter Jr. is among the hosts for the inaugural on-land Jam Room session at Brooklyn Comes Alive. He’s been a staple on Jam Cruise for years. You’ve already talked about him, however are you able to speak somewhat bit extra about your historical past with him and his historical past with the Jam Room?

AL: George has been on virtually all of our cruises. He’s simply one of the crucial influential musicians within the jam band scene, the reside music scene, and the New Orleans music scene. All of those are essential to Jam Cruise. He’s one of many forefathers of funk. Who wouldn’t need to play with George Porter Jr.?

So we deliver him on and I make him a Jam Room host yearly. His units are a number of the most original ever, as a result of he by no means, ever asks individuals to take a seat in with him. Often, hosts say, “Hey I’m hosting the Jam Room tonight, you want to come and play?” They usually’re like, “Oh yeah, sure I’d love to.” However individuals simply present up as a result of it’s George. He additionally actually by no means performs plenty of recognized songs. Songs will develop inside the jams, however he doesn’t just like the music to cease, whereas typically units will begin and cease and begin. He likes it to only be a jam, and that’s what it’s: that’s the Jam Room.

George Porter Jr.’s Jam Room – Jam Cruise 2014


[Video: TheFunkItBlog]

Ming Lee Newcomb: What concerning the different Jam Room session at Brooklyn Comes Alive hosted by Karina Rykman and Turkuaz’s Craig Brodhead?

Annabel Lukins: George Porter Jr. represents the New Orleans aspect of issues. For the opposite session, we have been fascinated by what different space envelops the vibe of Jam Cruise? Brooklyn, New York. So, we approached Karina Rykman and Craig Brodhead trigger we would like this different aspect to be a bit edgier with a bit extra rock.

In fact, Karina can play with whoever, like Marco Benevento. She is a ridiculous bass participant, so vibrant and energetic. Plus, I actually needed to have a feminine on the staff of the hosts, as a result of I assumed that was essential. It goes again to what we have been speaking about and the male-dominated music business. After which, Craig is only a group participant. Craig is a superb musician, nice guitar participant. He’s simply an all-around constructive man, and he kicks ass. I assumed having that rock aspect of the Jam Room was additionally gonna be tremendous enjoyable, in order that’s why we did that. The remaining once more can be as much as the musical universe.

Karina Rykman Experiment – “Voodoo Lady” Jam – Littlefield – Brooklyn, NY – 12/21/17


[Video: Karina Rykman]

Ming Lee Newcomb: What sort of music do you wish to take heed to personally?

Annabel Lukins: It’s fairly apparent that I’m a jam band woman. Nevertheless, Bon Iver is among the most influential artists in my life. I’m so emotionally moved by his music and even traveled to his pageant in Eau Clair, Wisconsin, on my own on an 18-hour mission the place I slept on the ground of the airport. I used to be 43 years previous on the time, so I need to actually love them to topic myself to airport-floor sleeping at my age. Bruce Hornsby opened for Bon Iver. They’ve an unimaginable connection, which I feel is fantastic. Bruce Hornsby, Béla Fleck, Phish, and Bon Iver are my favorites. If you need a fifth, you possibly can add the Grateful Lifeless as a result of if it wasn’t for Jerry Garcia, I wouldn’t be the place I’m right now.

Bruce Hornsby, Justin Vernon, Aaron Dessner, & Brad Prepare dinner – “Black Muddy River” – Eaux Claires 2016


[Video: Joel B]

Ming Lee Newcomb: Are you able to speak about a few of your favourite musical moments that you simply’ve been part of or that you simply’ve seen?

Annabel Lukins: This can be a very huge query. Let’s see. Béla Fleck and Bruce Hornsby did a duet—I feel it was in both Fairfield or Hartford, Connecticut, within the ’90s? I used to be in all probability in my teenagers on the time. Seeing them collectively, simply the 2 of them, enjoying one another’s songs was a musical spotlight of my life. Plus, I used to be with my father, who actually was the catalyst for me falling in love with music.

One other one is Phish at Huge Cypress, with them enjoying all night time. I had a very cool and random job so I used to be capable of go backstage. I babysat a number of the employees’s youngsters through the day, however had every night time off for the exhibits! That’s a win-win, proper? I keep in mind consuming scrambled eggs and french toast at 5 o’clock within the morning, and it was the perfect breakfast I’ve ever had. I keep in mind any time I needed to go to the toilet—this was approach earlier than cell telephones—it was like, “Okay, if I’m not back in 20 minutes, come looking for me.” I keep in mind having a flashlight, stepping over our bodies of folks that have been handed out.

It wasn’t a lot concerning the music because it was concerning the expertise of being there: how enjoyable it was for all of us and the way thrilling it was to rejoice the Millennium along with Phish enjoying till 7 within the morning. It was in all probability probably the greatest experiences of true freedom.

Phish – Massive Cypress


[Video: tdunski]

Annabel Lukins: I’ll additionally add the primary Grateful Lifeless present that I ever went to in ’91. I had gone to Lehigh College in Pennsylvania and selected that faculty as a result of I had this imaginative and prescient that I used to be imagined to comply with women and be within the cool sorority. I don’t assume in my coronary heart that I needed that life, however I didn’t know any higher—that was simply the trail that was laid out for me, so far as I knew. It was a rush night time in school, and we have been presupposed to be in any respect the sororities. This lovely, tall woman with lengthy blonde hair and tie-dye and Birkenstocks on got here as much as me and stated, “What are you doing tonight?” And I stated, “Well, we’re supposed to be rushing.” She stated, ” Nicely do you need to go to a Lifeless present?” And I used to be like, “Sure.”

I walked into the Lifeless present, and I instantly fell to my knees. The very first thing I stated is, “Where have you people been?” All the things modified at that second. I by no means joined that sorority. I by no means went again to the life that I assumed I used to be supposed to steer. The life I used to be meant to steer turned clear and true for me, and immediately, I used to be set on a model new path.

I might additionally say U2 at Bonnaroo 2017. From the primary word, I used to be immediately catapulted again to my childhood when U2 was considered one of my favourite bands. They have been an anthem for my life rising up. I’ve seen them many occasions, however there was one thing about Bonnaroo and U2. I labored at Bonnaroo 16 out of 17 years, and having Bonnaroo get U2 as a band was actually particular. There’s an expression, “Dance like nobody’s watching,” and I actually had individuals watching me—as a result of they have been feeding off of my power, as a result of I simply was so completely happy listening to that music in a spot that I’m so snug in. Perhaps that was a part of it too: a cushty band in a cushty place. It was extraordinary. I’ll always remember it. It was so cool.

U2 – “Beautiful Day” & “Elevation” – Bonnaroo 2017

[Video: Brian Ruschman]

Annabel Lukins: And I’ve yet one more. It was September 10th, 2001. We have been at Wetlands, and the long-lasting membership was closing in two weeks. Everyone went to Wetlands each night time earlier than it closed, as a result of there have been particular exhibits created for the ultimate days. That night time was Mike Gordon, Stanley Jordan, Warren Haynes, and DJ Logic. We have been all there till four within the morning. It was an unimaginable present, however little did we all know how a lot impression that present would have on our lives, as a result of the subsequent morning was September 11th.

All of us went residence that night time, and our good friend labored at one of many companies the place everybody died—we simply assumed he was lifeless. And since none of us might speak to one another, as a result of there have been no landlines, no cellphone, no web for over every week, we simply assumed the worst. The one means we might talk with one another was to go personally and see one another and join with one another nose to nose. There was no public transportation. We have been on lockdown. By some means, the phrase acquired out that Storage A Trois was enjoying at B.B. King’s Blues Membership. We—that is the New York Metropolis Freaks—all one way or the other communicated with one another that we have been all gonna meet there.

All of us went, and in walked our good friend Greg! I’ve chills eager about this. All of us have been in full shock and disbelief—we have been so confused. We have been all so glad to see one another, we have been all so related. We stated, “What happened, you should be dead!” and he stated, “I know I should be dead.” He advised us that he went house that night time on the Wetlands at four o’clock within the morning, wrote a word to his boss, and stated he was gonna be taking a half day. His life was actually saved by rock and roll, and so are all of ours.

The fourth-annual Brooklyn Comes Alive is about to host the first-ever on-land version of Jam Cruise‘s famed Jam Room. The festival will return to Brooklyn’s beloved Williamsburg neighborhood on September 29th for an all-day music marathon at Brooklyn Bowl, Music Corridor of Williamsburg, and Tough Commerce. Impressed by the colourful musical communities of Brooklyn and New Orleans, Brooklyn Comes Alive brings collectively greater than 50 artists, permitting them to hold out ardour tasks, play with their musical heroes, and collaborate in never-before-seen formations. For extra info, ticketing, and to see the complete schedule for Brooklyn Comes Alive 2018, head to the pageant’s web site right here.

Brooklyn Comes Alive is sponsored by Denver-based firm, Pure CBD Trade, which creates and sells a variety of CBD/cannabidiol merchandise (What’s CBD?) from concentrates, tinctures, extracts, lotions, lotions, and extra. Using CBD has gained a lot notoriety as of late, to be used as each a well being and wellness complement and to deal with circumstances reminiscent of epilepsy, PTSD, most cancers, and a variety of psychological issues and can also be used for anti-inflammation, nausea discount, sleep assist, and extra. Pure CBD Change was co-founded by Gregg Allman Band organist/keyboardist and Brooklyn Comes Alive musician Peter Levin again in 2017.

Pure CBD Change focuses on low-THC hashish merchandise with excessive CBD content material. They work inside the Colorado Industrial Hemp pilot program to distribute non-psychoactive tinctures, extracts, lotions, and extra everywhere in the world. The corporate has featured by corporations like VICE, Excessive Occasions, Leafly, and extra.

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