5. Michael Franti and Friends
You'll never find a more energized, energetic, and effusive performer than Franti. With a guitar strap emblazoned with the word "Love," you can be assured he's offering complete truth in advertising. His Mohawk-touting guitarist may look like a British punk poser, circa 1977, but the group's songs of unity and inclusion get even the most hardened cynic up, dancing, waving one's arms, and generally singing along. Sample scenes: a barefooted Franti wading into the audience and up to the balconies, offering hugs and high-fives all the way; a crowd of kids invited up onstage to practically steal the show; and some love-struck couples slow-dancing while Father Franti gave his blessing. The songs are simple and straightforward, while the good vibes they emit are all too obvious. Here's a guy you just want to squeeze with a man hug that tempts you to never let go.
6. Brett Dennen
Exceptionally tall, with a strikingly youthful demeanor and a seemingly single-minded sweep of red hair draping his brow, singer/songwriter Brett Dennen is all too aware of the fact that he stands out in a crowd. That makes him a bit self-conscious, he confided, but when he's onstage, all hint of shyness quickly dissipates.
Seemingly spontaneous, his combination of an awshucks personality and a random stage shuffle gave him a somewhat eccentric demeanor. Still, his appearance takes second place to his instantly engaging music, currently represented on his most recent album, Smoke and Mirrors. With a crack band and the faithful following garnered onboard, the title seems like something of a misnomer. Five albums on, his unlikely charisma and skilled songcraft seem to have him destined to be a star. (Notable aside: We saw him grooving to the aforementioned Yacht Rock Revue, leading to suspicion that he's a pop purist at heart. And if that wasn't proof enough, when we ran into him on the final night of festivities, he confided that he was on his way to catch them again.)
7. Vicci Martinez
Our local girl made us proud when she made the finals on the TV talent show The Voice. And indeed, that voice was everywhere on the cruise, sitting in with Train, Michael Franti, and seemingly everyone else. A Broward resident, Martinez reportedly had her faith renewed, telling her audience that after some period of doubt, the reception she received has her more committed than ever to pursue her craft. And from the way the crowds received her, she's clearly making the right decision. Viva Vicci!