Despite a 5.2 earthquake shaking Jungle Jam on the second morning of the fest (possibly the aftershock of Oteil Burbridge’s rumbling bass the night before) the Costa Rica-based music festival continued Friday as attendees were treated to performances by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Max Creek and local band Florian Droids.
After being delayed by Costa Rican traffic, prog rockers Florian Droids played a shortened, 20-minute set at Doce Lunas. Later, on the same stage, Nicki Bluhm had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand as she belted a powerful cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” before closing with the popular “Jetplane.” Saxophonist Karl Denson sat in on a couple of tunes, adding energy and filling out the Grambler sound.
Friday night headliner Max Creek played an almost three-hour-long set of their most-loved originals including a lengthy, jammed-out “Windows” opener, “Blood Red Roses,” and “Emotional Railroad.” Lots of love songs appeared early in the set – possibly for the bride and groom who were wed that day and were rocking up front.
Missing from the stage this night was percussionist Jay Stanley, who fell ill and is recovering for today’s beach set. In Jay’s place was Oteil Burbridge, who shakes a mean tambourine and was all smiles filling in. Keyboardist Mark Mercier shined on “Columbus Stockade Blues,” and bassist John Rider was really animated the whole night, bouncing around the stage and trading licks with guitarist Scott Murawski.
As the band left the stage one by one, drummer Bill Carbone grew eight more arms and took some incredible drum runs before being joined by Murawski and Burbridge on “Same Things.” Covers included Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” Paul Simon’s spectacular “Diamonds On the Souls of Her Shoes,” the crowd sing-along “Yes We Can Can” by Allen Toussaint and The Beatles’ rager “Helter Skelter,” which ended the show close to 2am.