Chillin’ the Most with Packway Handle Band: Day Four

Editor’s note: Local bluegrass group Packway Handle Band is currently sailing the high seas on Kid Rock’s Chillin’ the Most cruise. Thankfully for us, they’ll be blogging about their experiences all week long.

Andrew Heaton: Yesterday was the big outdoor concert at Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas. Things happened, I suppose, but nothing so grand as the 3-and-a half-foot-around-in-diameter platter of chicken Biryani that appeared at the main dining hall for dinner back on the ship. The Biryani was really good, and I guess I did briefly wonder who was supposed to eat it all. I ran to get my camera to get proof of the massive pan of Indian food, which had become the highlight of my day, and when I returned, the shot I got of it became the new highlight of my day (see photo below).

We were scheduled to play late on the final night. As we headed out, we confided in each other that we had heard murmured around the boat that “things are going to get weird tonight.” They really did. People were familiar with us now, but no less enthusiastic. I did not sleep last night,  and I am way past too tired to get into it all. 

Zach McCoyI’m glad this happened. I was skeptical at first, not knowing how we would be received. In the end, we made an impact, had fun and met some very interesting people. I have way too much to process right now, but I would like to thank Sixthman for having us and treating us so well. Lastly, we would like to thank Monsieur Rock for giving us the opportunity. It’s safe to say that we all hope to be a part of it next year.

A list of oddities that were also of note:

  • A man with a 12-point buck tattoo on his entire back with the words “Hunt to Live” etched into his skin
  • The amount of shit that the cruise staff puts up with
  • The number of Kid Rock fans that refer to him as “Bob” like they’ve known one another for years

Tom Baker: Hard to believe everything happened in five days. Yesterday, we sort of visited the Bahamas. The ship stopped at Great Stirrup Cay, an island privately owned by the Norwegian cruise line. It is pretty fascinating, because they have literally sculpted the island. There is an enormous man-made lagoon on one end of the island and a deep channel cut through the rock that runs from one side to the other. I’m not sure the intention of this channel, but it’s hard not to want to race a jet ski through it. Most of the passengers disembarked the ship to spend the afternoon on the beach. There was a game of “Battleshots,” which I believe was a variation on Battleship with shots of liquor involved. Snorkeling was also on the docket for a lot of the passengers. An assortment of musicians played covers from a stage on the beach. Michael and Josh jumped up for a Hall & Oates song.  


Everyone was back on the boat by 5 p.m.-ish and the ship headed back to Miami. The crowd was already good and drunk at the beginning of the evening and ready to make the most of the last night. We headed out to play our set at 11:30 p.m.

Michael Paynter: I have lost track of the days on board. I honestly thought that by this point there just couldn’t be any more momentum.  Surely, people would start yielding to the inevitable crash, but it somehow rose to a new climax. My day started out with taking a tender boat to the “Redneck Paradise” island—complete with a stage set up for some of the musicians on board to bust out cover tunes to the crowd in the early afternoon. I was thoroughly impressed by the stage setup, and after all, it was time for Josh and I to fulfill our destiny as Hall and Oates.  We played “Kiss On My List,” which was song 15 out of 17, so I had plenty of time to inspect my surroundings. I tried to find the game of “Battleshots” that was going on, but I honest-to-God couldn’t distinguish the difference between the normal pavilion and the pavilion designated for a cruise-sanctioned drinking competition.  

I listened as Trailer Park Ninjas backed up several different guest musicians with classics like “Superstition” and “American Girl.” They were a great band and they held their own while saxophones dueled for world domination and tired, raspy voiced crooners belted out every last little bit they had left. Like us, all of the musicians during the cover set had had only a few hours of sleep. Josh and I ran through our song a few times on the island with the ship on the horizon—a very picturesque moment. Then it was our turn to channel our inner H&O.  It went off without a hitch, and then we got to hang out with the rest of the musicians until it was time to head back to our home away from home, the ship.  

The rest of the day for me was filled with great conversations with a Black Hawk pilot from Boise and four and five-timers that had been there since the cruise’s inception. We were all standing on the pool/puke deck and could catch a glimpse of several beer cans and bottles floating in the pool water. 


By this point, it had actually become a small community with people all looking out for each other. It finally made sense that people make life-long friends at this annual event and make arrangements to share cabins with one another. The night continued with an all-out purge of people getting rid of everything they brought on the cruise—a party free-for-all. ‘Twas a fitting last night, with everyone not ready for it to end, just yet. Thanks, Sixthman!

Josh Erwin: All anyone had said to us since Wednesday was that it gets crazier on the last night of the boat. The delivery of the warning was the interesting part. It was relayed to us in the way that pharmaceutical companies tell you about possible side effects that have been known to occur—very matter-of-factly.

The day started with a trip to Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas for Michael and I to jump on stage with the Trailer Park Ninjas, who had 17 cover songs they would be backing up different artists for. We were immediately drawn to Hall & Oates’ “Kiss on My List,” since we’ve played it together before. Of course, I took John Oates’ role, complete with Magnum PI Hawaiian shirt and Speedos, for the stage. The band nailed the arrangement behind us with bass, keys, full drum kit and additional “la la la la” harmonies.  It was a blast, and the beach crowd loved it.

Back to the boat to take care of final day band admin: checking out merchandise, settlement, luggage organizing, etc. The night’s theme was ’80s metal. Packway does well with costumes and garb, so we were looking pretty good for the 11:30 p.m.–1:30 a.m. guerilla sets. First stop was at the Gummy Bear sister’s cabin [named for the rum-soaked Gummy Bears they share with us at sunset]. The Black Hawk helicopter pilot and Mrs. Gummy Bear fans are from Michigan and were awesome hosts. The room was packed and someone had the blinking GPS lantern and life preserver on, declaring she was having the best night of her life.  We moved onward to the stairwells and noticed more and more dilated pupils.  


The company of the final trip up the elevator included a fiddle player from Drake White’s band, Cara with a tambourine, a few longtime followers and a girl who could barely hold up her body with her feet on the ground. She spent the ride muttering something underneath the singing, shouting, stomping and singing going on about Tom’s banjo, stroking the instrument in an odd manner while staring blankly at everyone with her left eye’s missing eyelashes and long gone eyeliner. We made it back to the room after we were instructed by Cara that there was a final party by the stage by the Casino. The room was filled with a thick smoke haze, and everyone still standing, making the best of the final hours before porting at Miami at 6 a.m.

Overall, PHB succeeded. Thanks to Sixthman, Kid Rock’s say in having us on the boat and the unexpected excitement by the people who joined the sold-out cruise. Here’s hoping to be a part of next year’s Chillin’ the Most cruise. See y’all at the 40 Watt on Apr. 25!