Last week my sister asked if I could come along with her to a show. She bought the tickets on impulse and my brother-in-law had no interest. The band I only vaguely recognized, a few hits, and I was along for the fun of it. I checked with the bosses and they said sure, I can just come in early that day and not use any time off. The show was Thursday in downtown New Bedford at our local theater, so it was a pretty simple plan. I got out of work, had a beer at home, and met her and my brother-in-law downtown for a burrito and a beer and the show.
As soon as I get there I can see she's a little worn out. She's still rocking a hangover after sucking down martinis with Oktoberfest chasers at the Adele show the night before. She starts trying to weasel her way out of the show. "Would you be mad if I bailed?" "Do you know anyone that can grab my ticket," etc. Well I remain blank, because she tries this kind of crap of getting people to give her an out all the time, so I just don't say anything at all. I figure if I can get a beer and a burrito in her, she'll dive into it and start feeling better. We go to another bar, sit on the deck in a nice evening, sip on a Coffee Porter, and she's perking up. Cool - evening saved. We walk to the venue, get a block away from the doors, and she bails. At the time the opener goes on, where she either has to go to the show and sit through it, or go to her car and go home, she bails. At the last possible second. And I'm mad - I don't give a fuck about this band, and I rearranged my schedule, and I just turn around and drive home.
Cut to two days later. We're on Martha's Vineyard with our whole family at a house they rented for the weekend for my stepmother's birthday. All she wanted was our family together at one of her favorite spots, and for the sake of keeping transportation simple, I coordinated with my sister to catch the ferry together over to the island. She'd apologized and made up for the whole thing by driving us to the ferry, making us coffee in the morning to make the ride easier, all that. We spent the day in the popular tourist towns, and we commiserated that, as LMNO can attest, everything the Vineyard does, Provincetown does better: you can shop, cheaper, and barhop, cheaper, but with drag queens. We get out of an overpriced bland seafood dinner and walk along the docks where the bars and restaurants abut yacht tie-ups, just the whole group of us ambling along on a beautiful night.
One of the bars starts playing a song. After the first few notes, my sister says "Oh I love this song," and starts getting into it. "I don't really recognize it," I said. The lyrics start, she's singing along, and both my stepsisters and a lot of the bar patrons are singing along. My sister is nudging me and hamming up the singing:
Rock me mama like a wagon wheel,
Rock me mama any way I feel,
He-ey mama rock me.
Alright, I recognize this but it's not exactly my jam. The three of them continue the song well after we pass the bar, well after we can hear it all. One of the yacht parties looks at our group and says "What, that's it?" and they burst back into the chorus.
He-ey mama rock me.
The singing fades, and we run out of dock to walk down. The big group of us all start having our own conversations again and my sister sidles up next to me. "So no recognition of that song" she asks. And I think about it. Yeah I've heard it, everyone has, but it's-
And it hits me. It's Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show. It's the band we were going to see two days previous.
And her grin, I swear to you, was the color of the blood moon.
Edits: spelling, mild phrasing