Friday, October 10, 2014

Malt Shop Memories Cruise: How Do They Do It?

Pre-cruise package, with tee-shirts, 
lanyards, luggage tags & more
It’s no secret that the annual Malt Shop Memories Cruise—the Best Rock ’n Roll Party at Sea—is one of our favorites. The day our pre-cruise package arrives is always special. Mel and I are “alumni” of three previous Malt Shop sailings and each year we look forward to the next one.

While I’ve had a look at the onboard operation during our cruises, like many fellow passengers I’ve wondered how they put it all together and who creates the lineup every year on the Malt Shop Memories Cruise. It takes not only a deep knowledge and understanding of music from that era, but also a person with a strong personality that is passionate about this music genre and who has the ability to book the top stars to come on board and have the time of their lives with their fans. That man is Alan Rubens, who started his career in the music industry by producing records and managing artists and additionally had his own record company for many years. He has graciously answered questions posed to him for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise News about how the cruise lineup comes about and I am pleased to have permission to share his insights here.
Alan Rubens
Question: You have been developing the lineup for the Malt Shop Memories Cruise since its inception six years ago. What goes into your thought process as you create the lineup? How do you decide who to have on each year?
Alan Rubens: I constantly check which Artists from the Malt Shop era are touring—how good their shows are, how enthusiastic they are to perform and mix and mingle with our cruisers. They need to have a great show and the right kind of personality to enjoy what we have on board. I try to mix it up each year and not repeat the previous year or years. I like to find a new Artist that we haven’t had before—like this year, we have The Temptations and Peter Noone.

Q: You have been the executive producer of many popular Time Life box sets—Rock ’n’ Roll Era, Flower Power, Soul of the ’70s, and of course, Malt Shop Memories. What was it about Malt Shop Memories music that gave you the idea to build that box set into a live entertainment event six years ago?
A.R.: The wonderful enthusiasm that our customers had toward this music. The Malt Shop era is a special time—it isn’t just the ’50s or the ’60s—it really is the late ’50s and early ’60s—a time when a great portion of the population was growing up—the real first baby boomers. It was the time between the birth of rock ’n roll and the British Invasion, and it really was a special time in American pop music—filled with great songs and great artists.

Q: Given all your knowledge of music, what do you think makes the music of this era, 1950s-60s rock ’n roll so special?
A.R.: There was a changing tide in the culture of teens back then. They were experiencing a new kind of freedom, desiring to make the things around us feel like it was really their own, not their parents’. And the music was exactly that—written by teenagers for teenagers, and it became a soundtrack for the rest of their lives.

Q: Is selecting a great entertainer for our cruise different than selecting entertainers for other live events, in your opinion? Is it number of hits/size of their catalog? Personality of the Artist? All the above?
A.R.: All of the above. Of course, we need Artists that people remember and whose songs have a special place in everybody’s memory, but they also have to understand what we have here: a community that grew up together and wants to honor those times, feel young again—and they need to be the kind of person who wants to share all those same feelings with the cruisers, be part of that community, and hang out and visit that special time with 2,000 like-minded friends.

Q: Have you ever been star-struck by an Artist you have brought on these cruises?
A.R.: Not really star-struck—I have known many of them for many years. But I am still in awe of so many of them and their tremendous talent and the effort they put into pleasing each and every fan at every show.

Q: Can you share with us now who you are working to get for 2015?
A.R.: I am working on making 2015, our sixth sailing, very special. Here are just a few names: Neil Sedaka, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, The Four Tops, Chubby Checker, Little Anthony, Darlene Love, to name just a few …

Q: If I know a great addition, do you take suggestions?
A.R.: Happy to hear any and all suggestions.
I love that Rubens said rock ’n roll became a soundtrack for the rest of our lives. Our iPods are filled with Malt Shop era tunes here at Cruise Diva headquarters so I may have to steal that line! I’m also happy to share with you that I have received personal assurance that the Malt Shop Memories Cruise will continue to sail for many years and there are exciting plans to expand the cruises as well. As always, I’ll keep you posted as I learn the details.


Linda said...

Great post....and blog! I have never had the opportunity to go on a cruise or even to travel, so I really appreciate you sharing all this.

Linda Coffman, AKA Cruise Diva said...

Thank you! It's my pleasure to share :)