Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile Cruise the Caribbean: Exclusive Photos – Rolling Stone
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Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile Cruise the Caribbean: Exclusive Photos

Skyline Motel’s Kate York captures backstage moments with fellow artists, also including John Prine, Nikki Lane and Lucinda Williams

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves warms up before performing aboard the Cayamo Cruise ship.

Kate York

Billed Cayamo: A Journey Through Song, the 2015 Cayamo Cruise journeyed through the Caribbean with the perfect soundtrack onboard: Kacey Musgraves, Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Nikki Lane, Lucinda Williams, Holly Williams, Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale were just a few of the big names who played daily shows aboard the Norwegian Pearl ship for its musical January voyage.

Skyline Motel — a new band made up of seasoned songwriters — were also on the bill, with co-founder Kate York also doubling as Rolling Stone Country's vacation photographer. The singer-songwriter, who's penned songs for Hayden Panettiere and Little Big Town, tells us Cayamo didn't feel a bit like work to her, nor to likely any of the subjects she shot for this exclusive gallery.

"We were all in the casino late one night and I turned around, and she is on one of those handicap scooters, driving through the casino," York laughs of Musgraves, pictured above rehearsing for one of her Cayamo sets. "I hopped on, then Nikki hopped on and we're riding around. . .It turns out it was Brandi Carlile's grandmother's! Luckily, her grandmother thought it was funny, and Brandi told the story to the whole crowd [at her show]: 'My poor grandmom lost her scooter, and do you know who stole it? Kacey Musgraves!'"

Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams strikes a pose backstage after her Cayamo Cruise show.

Kate York

Lucinda Williams

"Lucinda had just gotten offstage with Brandi Carlile when I took this. They did a surprise sing-along as the final song [of Lucinda's set]," York says. "They were all smiles coming off the stage. Their mutual love for each other was contagious."

Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile warms up before her show aboard the Cayamo Cruise ship.

Kate York

Brandi Carlile

"She is such a perfectionist," York says of Carlile. "It's really cool to see an artist who's been at it this long still care so much. She was practicing harmonies with her guys before the show and just getting it all really tight."

Chris Coleman and Holly Williams

Chris Coleman and Holly Williams relax before performing aboard the Cayamo Cruise ship.

Kate York

Chris Coleman and Holly Williams

"They only stayed on the cruise for half of it, because no babies under six months can go," York says of the country singer-songwriter and Kings of Leon multi-instrumentalist, who welcomed their daughter last September. "Holly seemed OK, but Chris was dying! But they were FaceTiming with her a lot."

Buddy Miller, Nikki Lane

Nikki Lane, Buddy Miller and Shelly Colvin pose aboard the Cayamo Cruise ship.

Kate York

Nikki Lane, Buddy Miller and Shelly Colvin

"Buddy [Miller] is so sweet. . .and such a prude. I made him get in between these girls," York says of Nikki Lane and Shelly Colvin, wearing homemade "Buddy Fuckin' Miller" shirts as they flank the music icon. "Nikki was like, 'Buddy doesn't have any merch! We are making T-shirts!' And she did — right on the boat, right before her show."

Lucinda Williams, Nikki Lane

Lucinda Williams notices Nikki Lane's homemade shirt aboard the Cayamo Cruise.

Kate York

Lucinda Williams and Nikki Lane

"That was the artist's section on the pool deck," York says. "Everybody was having such a good time. It was a vacation for us, too, so everybody was having a good time and just felt comfortable letting loose."

Kacey Musgraves, John Prine

Kacey Musgraves and John Prine perform aboard the Cayamo Cruise ship.

Kate York

Kacey Musgraves and John Prine

"I think the best show had to be Kacey [Musgraves] with John Prine. They do a show every year on the cruise called 'Blind Faith,' where the people with special passes don't know who's going to be playing before they go. It was just Kacey and John singing each other's songs acoustic and swapping stories. It was incredible," York says. "She has a song about him [with the line], 'My idea of heaven is to burn one with John Prine.' She wasn't going to sing it, but she did. . .and when she got to that line in the chorus, everyone went crazy."

Sarah Buxton, Jim Lauderdale, Nikki Lane

Sarah Buxton, Erin McCarley, Jim Lauderdale, Nikki Lane and Shelly Colvin

Kate York

Sarah Buxton, Erin McCarley, Jim Lauderdale, Nikki Lane and Shelly Colvin

"'Hey, Jim, can I twist your arm?'" York jokes of what it took for Jim Lauderdale to pose in the middle of Sarah Buxton, Erin McCarley, Nikki Lane and Shelly Colvin, creating this "Lauderdale's Angels" moment.

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors perform aboard the Cayamo Cruise ship.

Kate York

Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors

"Their set was so happy," York says of the Nashville-based rockers. "So groovy, catchy, with great harmonies."

Buddy Miller, Kacey Musgraves

Buddy Miller, John Prine, Tracy Gershon and Kacey Musgraves chat backstage aboard the Cayamo Cruise ship.

Kate York

Buddy Miller, John Prine, Tracy Gershon and Kacey Musgraves

"Buddy never stops working. He played his own set but also played with a bunch of artists and hosted his radio show [with Jim Lauderdale]," says York. "I love the way Kacey is looking at him here. . .But what I really love about this picture is how John Prine is looking at Kacey."

Nikki Lane

Nikki Lane performs aboard the Cayamo Cruise.

Kate York

Nikki Lane

"I had so much fun shooting Nikki. She was really into it, like, 'Get me up here!' She kept jumping in front of the camera, or grabbing Lucinda [Williams] for a picture," York says of Lane. "She didn't even have a band on the boat; she just grabbed some friends to play with her — Erin McCarley, Shelly Colvin, K.S. Rhoades — and they barely rehearsed. It was awesome."

Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams performs aboard the Cayamo Cruise ship.

Kate York

Lucinda Williams Performs

"This was taken at Jim Lauderdale's show, where everybody gets up and plays a couple of songs," York remembers. "After Lucinda, we all got up and did a Grateful Dead cover together."

Nikki Lane, Doug Seegers

Doug Seegers and Nikki Lane rehearse for the 'Buddy and Jim' radio show aboard the Cayamo Cruise.

Kate York

Doug Seegers and Nikki Lane

"Here, we were all gathered in the back for Buddy [Miller] and Jim Lauderdale's radio show," York recalls. "Doug Seegers has known Buddy for a long time, way before he was homeless and before he had an album out."

Skyline Motel

Dave LaBruyere, Tom Bukavac, Sarah Buxton, Kate York, Ian Fitchuk, Daniel Tashian

Jill Andrews

Skyline Motel

"The first time Sarah [Buxton, pictured third from left] and I ever wrote together, the song ended up on the show, Nashville. And Daniel Tashian and I had been talking for years about doing a Fleetwood Mac kind of band with songwriter friends. So we talked to Sarah, Ian and Tom. . .We had all had separate careers with highs and lows and the thought was, 'Let's just do music for fun. Imagine that!'" York says of her band, Skyline Motel's evolution. "The first time Sarah, Daniel, Ian and I wrote together, we wrote the entire record in a night. It was insane: ten songs in one night, until about 5:00 a.m. We couldn't get it out fast enough."