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3/26/06 - 4/1/06, Jamm In Jamaica,
Negril, Jamaica

For setlists for this week, visit www.donnabase.com

By Rand Knapp

Carol and I arrived on Friday, and chilled immediately. Jamaica is everything we heard it would be, and then some...Our very small hotel, Nirvana Negril, has a delightful staff, and we came to trust them immediately. Nirvana Negril is a great place to stay, can't say enough about it...small cabins, right on the beach, with private gardens, hammocks and 24 hour security.

At any rate, there are about 200 festival attendees, a very surprisingly low number. The plus side is that we already know many of them, and will certainly know the rest by week's end. Carol, Cindy (SugarMaple) and Doug M. have a leg up on me, as I missed half the festival. But still, it is a very accessible crowd...and everyone there are mighty fine folk...it is interesting talking to people and finding out which band they came for: DtB is about two-fifths, and the rest are split between the other bands, especially RRE, but Under Full Sail (the original Accoustic Hooka) has a strong contingency, as does Hot Buttered Rum.

Doug arrived later on Friday, shortly after us, and we had our first party at his cabana (it is RIGHT on the beach). Doug is in particularly fine spirits (isn't he always?). This is his second visit to Jamaica in as many months. Cindy arrived the next day, and is staying in the White Sands next door, but since she is part of our "gang," she spends much time at our place or Doug's place. I have yet to wander over to her place; she says our place is nicer, and she will stay there next time. Later, Ron K (from Portland) and his wife Carmen and three grown children arrived...they are also staying at Nirvana Negril... and then, Tim and Patrice found us, and they come over to "hang" too, so Nirvana Negril is sort of a "hub" for DtB fans, altho there are plenty of other fans (most we had not met before) spread up and down the beach. We also ran into Greg and Amy, plus Marty B, so our little "gang" is growing...Carol and the rest can give better info about all that since I missed the last three days :-( Oh ya, Tofer and Rickie too, we met them in Lake Tahoe. Plus Vickie and Brad, more great people...Also, Stacy and Phil, hardcore RRE fans we know from CA are down the beach from us as well.

So, some random observations:

The staff at our place (Nirvana Negril) is incredibly friendly and interested in what we are doing...particularly the younger staff.

We get a home-cooked meal once a day (included with hotel rate), and the women who cook are great...very friendly and VERY good cooks! Can you say "yum, yum?!"

Almost all the locals we have met are very cool and friendly.

The Island is stunningly beautiful!

The beach stretches for miles, and except for a handful of "all inclusive" places, there really are no mega-resorts...just lots and lots of small-ish places, all with a lot of character...most places would be OK to stay at.

Watch out for the bushes with thorns...ripped a new pair of shorts on one...I asked our shuttle driver what they were, and he said it was the "flower" plant," but then added he didn't really know, that is what everyone he knew called them.

The restaurants up on the cliffs (and hotels) are really great places to dine during sunset...plus you can go to Rick's and watch the cliff divers.

Now, a few notes about video issues:

The internet speed where we are at is pathetically slow...it seems like the entire Island must share one DSL ;-) I set up a wireless at Nirvana, but when Carol and I are both on it, we can hardly check our email...I ran a speed test...it came in at about 24kbs (modem speed from the early 90s!!) So, a webcast probably isn't going to happen, although an ex-Microsoft employee/Under Full Sail fan did a webcast for that band from the hotel the second night...so that hotel (Nirvana Escape) must have some bandwidth...Carol and Doug know more about that as I was not there... Carol told me today that she still has "hopes" that we can get some sort of webcast going, but my personal feeling is probably not.

I shot video the first night, not sure how many nights Carol shot while I was gone. Probably all three...

OK, and now the most important part for many of you...what the heck is DtB like with the new keyboard and drums? Well, I only saw them the first night and that was interesting...the keyboardist is good and I never noticed any keyboard "glitches"...However, the drummer sets the tone for the band, and thus, plays a much more important role...the first half of the first show, there was a bit of a struggle as the drummer tried to figure it all out...and more than once, Tara turned around sharply (and the crowd groaned a bit) when the drummer missed cued...finally, as songs were wrapping up, both Tara and Jeb would turn around and do this "body language" thing so the drummer would know "how" to wrap up a song...by the end of the first night, he actually was starting to "get it"... I was glad, however, that our RRE friends that had never seen DtB decided to leave right after RRE, and so missed a sort of lackluster performance by DtB...Carol and the rest need to weigh in on the next three shows; I have a feeling it just got better and better though. Sure am bummed that I missed them.

I am writing this from the San Fran airport on my way back to Jamaica..can not WAIT to make up for lost time!! On a side note, if I had not left, I would probably be burned to a crisp... Doug and I walked shirtless on the beach for about an hour the first day, and I got pretty red (not burnt, but almost). That tropical sun is really not to be messed with.

Carol and SugarMaple Cindy got massages the second day on our private hotel beach...looked to me like they really enjoyed it. May have to do that too...

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