Cruise control: Austin acts bring their music to the high seas

Ray Wylie Hubbard and his band perform on the 2018 Outlaw Country Cruise in the Caribbean. Contributed/Will Byington © 2018

Caribbean cruises planned entirely around on-deck concerts aren’t a new concept, but they’ve become increasingly popular in the last few years, especially in the winter months. And quite a few Austin musicians have gotten in on the action.

One that returned to docks last week, the Outlaw Country Cruise, not surprisingly featured a handful of locals, including Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jack Ingram, Dale Watson, Rosie Flores and Jesse Dayton. They joined marquee performers such as Rodney Crowell, Lucinda Williams, the Mavericks and Blackberry Smoke. The trip, presented by veteran music-cruise presenter Sixthman, is tied to satellite radio company SiriusXM’s “Outlaw Country” channel. Jeremy Tepper, the channel’s format manager, provided us with photos of Austin artists on the cruise, taken by photographer Will Byington.

Dale Watson and pedal steel player Don Pawlak perform on the 2018 Outlaw Country Cruise in the Caribbean. Contributed/Will Byington © 2018

Rosie Flores performs on the 2018 Outlaw Country Cruise in the Caribbean. Contributed/Will Byington © 2018

Jack Ingram performs on the 2018 Outlaw Country Cruise in the Caribbean. Contributed/Will Byington © 2018

Electric guitarist Jesse Dayton performs with the Supersuckers on the 2018 Outlaw Country Cruise in the Caribbean. Contributed/Will Byington © 2018

Lucas Hubbard, left, joins his father Ray Wylie Hubbard on the 2018 Outlaw Country Cruise in the Caribbean. Contributed/Will Byington © 2018

Another Austin act was on hand for the cruise’s pre-departure kickoff in New Orleans. A “Ponderosa Stomp”-styled party included Eve & the Exiles as the house band, backing such acts as Augie Meyers, Roy Head and Lazy Lester.

Blues great Lazy Lester joines guitarist Eve Monsees and her band the Exiles at a pre-departure party for the 2018 Outlaw Country Cruise. Contributed/Will Byington © 2018

The 2019 Outlaw Country Cruise is scheduled for Jan. 27-Feb. 1, departing from Tampa Fla. Tickets aren’t yet on sale; these events generally run from the high hundreds to a few thousand dollars per person, depending on the type of accommodations and how early tickets are purchased.

It’s far from the only such music-themed cruise available in the winter months, when it’s almost as if a mini-festival season happens on the water while North America is waiting for spring and summer fests. Another that’s happening right now is Cayamo, which departed New Orleans on Feb. 4 and returns on Feb. 11. More of an Americana-themed trip, it features Austin artists Patty Griffin, Hayes Carll and the Band of Heathens, sharing stages with the likes of John Prine, Brandi Carlile, Richard Thompson and Margo Price. As with the Outlaw Country event, Cayamo is presented by Sixthman.

Way ahead of the curve on the cruise front is Texas blues-rock great Delbert McClinton, who’ll celebrate the silver anniversary of his Caribbean journeys next January. Last month he wrapped up year 24 of his Sandy Beaches Cruise, with Austin acts aboard including Marcia Ball, Kimmie Rhodes, Shelley King, Mingo Fishtrap and Red Young.

Ball will return for the cruise’s 25th year, and Austin band Shinyribs also has already been booked. McClinton, meanwhile, will be in Austin this weekend, playing a concert Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Paramount Theatre, and then joining author Diana Finlay Hendricks at BookPeople at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, to promote her new McClinton biography “One of the Fortunate Few.”

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