Love, Family, Rock-n-Roll & Whiskey

Moments that Make Life Rock… a statement or more so call to arms you’ll see a lot in this blog and in your interactions with Sixthman. When the team here strips back all the planning, the lights, stages, speakers, announcement emails, event programs and banners in the terminal and around the ship…what’s most important and what is core to why we exist are the moments we aim to set the stage for…for our guests, artists and partners on board and for our team day in and day out.

During late October about a few years ago on the sixth Simple Man Cruise, our music festival at sea hosted by Lynyrd Skynyrd, I experienced a moment that would change the way I interacted with my family by bringing "moments that make life rock" to me almost on a daily basis.

“If I leave here tomorrow”

It was the last night of the cruise, I popped in the Stardust Theater on our home away from home, Norwegian Pearl, to get a feel for the room knowing it was Skynyrd’s last set of the event. I happened to walk in just as the band was closing out the show and kicking right into Freebird. I stood in the aisle for a bit on the second level – looked all around the room and started heading up the steps towards the exit. As I did, an older guy put his arm around my shoulder and patted me on the back. He had a smoke stained yellow beard, wavy shoulder length hair and a black leather jacket with cool patches all over it. For a  second I thought I had gotten in his sightline of the show and that he was about to let me have it… but his request was much different. He pulled me in (a little closer than I expected) looked me right in the eyes and said, “young man, you need to stay and listen to the rest of this song… it represents love, family, rock-n-roll and whiskey all in one… it’ll change your life son!” Being born in 1971 I’d heard Freebird more times than I could count on rock radio and a few times live so mostly out of respect and partly out of a new found curiosity, I stayed put next to my new friend and focused all my attention on the stage.

“Things just couldn’t even be the same”

I won’t dive into all the details, but suffice it to say… the combination of mind-bending trio of guitar solos, images of the band’s departed frontman Ronnie Van Zant on the back screen, the entire crowd singing every word and yes, the golden eagle statue they wheel out on stage all came together for a ten minute mini-religious experience for me and the 1,000 other cruisers that were also all practically levitating as the last chords and cymbals brought the song to the end everyone hoped would never come.

“Cause I’m as free as a bird now”

Fast-forward to Christmas Eve two months later. My family and I had a great dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. We’d been celebrating the holiday with a few bottles of wine and instead of the usual tradition of letting the kids open one gift the night before the big day… for some reason we hit the basement to jam as a family. Various combinations of us had played down there from time to time and I had been messing with the chords to Freebird since stepping off the ship along with our youngest son on vocals…but in some crazy classic rock Christmas miracle we all settled into an instrument and after a short sound check of sorts (and to teach the bass line to my wife Bridget – who had never picked up a bass), we took the stage to a group of adoring fans (my in-laws, brother-in-law and our 15 year old cat).

“Lord knows I can’t change” 

As you can see by the footage, the song was pretty off key… pretty off beat… pretty much a train wreck and at the same time, pretty much a moment that will last forever for our family. Coming together that night inspired us to make not just listening to music and going to shows a priority, but to make actually playing together an ongoing source of fun and bonding for our family. Rarely does a day go by when any three of us, sometimes more, head to the basement to jam on some 70’s & 80’s favorites (and even some originals these days) all in the spirit of rockin’ out as hard as Skynyrd did that night in the Stardust. We even have our own band name ~Buenos Diaz~ and are working on our own concert t-shirts. ☺

“Won’t you fly high free bird”

So it turns out my friend that night at the show was right… the song really is a bundle of “love, family, rock-n-roll and whiskey (or wine) all in one… it really did in some small way change my life for the better. One of the most rewarding things about being a part of Sixthman is that we get to be with our guests the moment they experience what it is we do. We, along with the bands and fans, get to be a small part of the experience of setting the stage for these moments and more times than not, our guests deliver moments right back at us… and it means the world.

“For I must be travelin’ on now”

So, if there is a song that has special meaning to you, that has shaped your life in a memorable way… please share it and your story below, we’d love to hear it… it’s sure to inspire others as much as it has inspired you. Hope to see you out at sea soon.


–Anthony (