Blues on board

Blues Cruise 2 features an evening of fine dining and live blues music on a replica Mississippi River paddle boat

By Rachel McPhail  /  Contributing reporter

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 - Page 12

The Blues Society on Taiwan (BSoT) has spent the past decade promoting and showcasing blues music. Although better known for its popular Blues Bash events, the BSoT decided to splash out last year on a complete blues-themed party on board a replica Mississippi paddleboat on the Tamsui River. Inspired by similar events in the US, the inaugural Blues Cruise was a resounding success — tickets sold out weeks in advance, and over 300 people were on board for the blues, food and atmosphere.

“Last year was fantastic,” BSoT founder DC Rapier told the Taipei Times. “A comment we heard many times was that it was over too quickly. This year, the plan is to keep the party going for at least another hour after the boat returns to the dock.”

The boat itself is impressive even without a party on board. It features three decks, promenades, fancy smoke stacks and a bright red paddle wheel. The fully-enclosed, air-conditioned ballroom on the first deck has more than enough space for enthusiastic dancers to cut a rug or two, while the third deck is open to river breezes.

The music starts before the boat leaves the pier, with the first band serenading guests as they board. Once the cruise gets underway, electric acts will be in the ballroom, and acoustic performances will be on the open third deck. A buffet-style meal, which last year included traditional Creole favorites, will be provided by Capone’s in the second-deck dining room.

This year’s musical line-up is a mixture of first-timers like The Vicious Cabaret and Blues Direction, and returning acts such as Rapier’s own BoPoMoFo, the popular Muddy Basin Ramblers and entertaining one-man-band Mike Mudd. A third-generation harmonica player, Mudd is happy to be playing this year’s event.

“There’s a show, and there’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” he said. “That’s really what the Blues Cruise ends up being.”

To help enhance that experience, event organizers hope attendees will dress up befitting the cruise’s Mississippi riverboat ambience — everything from Southern belle hoop skirts to gaudy Mardi Gras garb is encouraged. Guests will have to be fairly creative in order to out-dress the performers, however. Said Rapier, “I’ll be wearing red tails and a white top hat.”