Last weekend Great American Country host Suzanne Alexander left the frigid temperatures in Nashville to board the Holland America Eurodam on the Country Music Cruise featuring Kenny Rogers, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Ty Herndon, Jamie O’Neal, Anita Cochran and many more artists. She recently checked in with us to share what a great time she’s been having!
Tuesday: We have left the port of Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos. A few hours on the beach felt great after being aboard the ship since Sunday! I met up with JoDee Messina in one of the shops and had to tell her what a great show she performed on the first night of the cruise. She did her old fan favorites like “Heads Carolina,” but it was really nice to hear the latest songs she’s compiled for her new album on her own record label. Her new CD will be released in March and was put together by the fans. Jo Dee said they choose everything, from the songs to the art work to the album’s title. And if the songs she did in her set are any indication, her fans might want to think about starting a label of their own! “A Woman’s Rant” is one of those new songs which came from Jo Dee’s personal experience, being a mother of two, a wife and a daughter, with hardly any time for herself. The audience gave her their approval.
The audience also gave their approval to Ty Herndon along with Anita Cochran. They had a packed house with fans spilling over into the hallway just to hear these two banter and sing their favorite classic country duets. There is a great chemistry between them and the highlight is when they play off of each other. One starts a song and the other — without knowing the song — has to figure out what it is and jump in. They covered classics from Conway and Loretta to George and Tammy.
The ship is somewhat like walking Lower Broadway in Nashville. It has music pretty much at every turn. As you finish seeing one performance, you’ll find another show starting up at another bar. The early morning main stage on Monday was filled to the max, with fans checking out the music of the brother/sister duo The Roys along with The Gatlin Brothers. The Roys displaying their bluegrass chops caused some fans to drop their jaws at how good they were! Then the Gatlins took the stage singing Gospel favorites. As they proclaimed to know every Gospel song there is, it prompted fans to start shouting out their requests.
Another highlight of being on this ship — getting to see the incomparable Patty Loveless! I have to say its a big thrill to be in the dining area and see Patty walking by, having just fixed a salad at the salad bar along side everyone else on board. I should say it now: Yes, celebrities are just like us. Patty hasn’t performed in nearly four years and she and the fans were anxious for her show. I sat in the same row as who I now refer to as “Double Trouble”, a.k.a. Ty Herndon and Anita Cochran. Both were jumping out of their skins and were on their feet with rousing applause after every song. To say that Patty Loveless did not disappoint would be an understatement. Her fans were overheard throughout the theater remarking how she’s better than ever. There’s no one like her. You could hear the occasional ” I love you Patty!” being screamed out from the darkened room. Not only did she sound great singing her hits “You Can Feel Bad”, and “Blame It On Your Lying Cheating…Heart,” but she looked younger, like she’s actually aged backwards! There’s a bit of a “Benjamin Buttons” thing going on with her. Her fans expressed their desire to see her tour again and one can only hope she received the message loud and clear and felt re-energized to hit the road! We shall see.
In addition to the shows, there’s lots to do in between concerts, like seeing artist interviews, doing karaoke with the Opry staff, or taking in a “Family Feud” game with Jamie ONeal and other artists participating. There’s never a dull moment. If one does need a little downtime in their cabin, the TVs are programmed with special country music content, from the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter to classic Opry footage to taking in the concerts that have been performed on the ship.
It’s time for a little rest as I get ready to see Restless Heart tonight, Vince tomorrow night and then Kenny Rogers…and those are just the prime time shows! The music goes to well after midnight. Cruisin Along…