Tonight after work I met Steph in one of the places we miss the most, Davis Square in Somerville, Mass. Both of us spent quite a few years living in that terrific area and we don’t get back as much as we should, although we are attempting to remedy that with a couple of planned trips this month. Tonight we had a great dinner at The Burren, an Irish pub owned by some folks who came over from Ireland roughly ten years back. The Burren houses many great memories for me, none more than the dozens of Tarbox Ramblers shows I’ve seen there. They were pretty much the house band every Saturday night from 1998-2002 or so and it was a guaranteed good time, no matter what. I converted many friends from just a “passing interest” into Tarbox fiends at The Burren and I myself was exposed to them through another friend.
So tonight it was sweet to sit in a relatively quiet Burren, reflect just a little bit and have a simple but tasty dinner with my wife. Afterwards, we walked outside into what truly felt like the first real night of summer – balmy enough where we move just a little slower than usual, but cool enough where the comfort meter was right there at the red. I’m mixing words: it was a perfect night.
So onward we walked along the brick walkways of the square, towards my car to head on home when we heard, in the distance, the sound of a big band! You could hear the deep, deep tuba burping, some drums banging and as the volume elevated, signaling that we were getting closer, they emerged, walking around a corner in the distance on the bike path near the subway station. There were 9 or 10 of them and they were approaching us, blowing horns, flutes, playing banjos, drumming and then stopping and all singing in unison. It couldn’t have been more obvious that these people were having the time of their lives.
Onlookers walked right along with them – children, people on bikes, elderly, professionals – and others ran up to snap pictures. Everyone had a smile on their face and the smiles on the faces of the people actually playing the music was just the best kind of virus you could ever hope to catch. The band itself was a mish-mash of the human race – middle aged women, young men, old men, heavy people, skinny people, you name it. It didn’t matter what you looked like or what class you belonged to. The unit was bound together by two simple but important things: happiness and music. Those two things typically go hand-in-hand anyway.
So we stopped and smelled the roses. You really couldn’t help but stop and take it in. They marched closer and closer, one of the women in the band joyously leg kicking with each blow of her horn and beat of a drum. They came to within three feet of Steph and I, who were standing at a tall chimney-like structure in the middle of the path, and they stopped for a breather. There was discussion about what song to play next, how they should all work on all turning-around at the same time and then one of them looked at us and said “parade practice!” I’m not really sure if they were actually practicing for a parade and I didn’t care. As Steph said, it was the best thing she had seen in a month – and I concur.
After a “one…two…..three” they struck it up again, did a circle right around us and the structure, then made their way back down the path, kicking, skipping, singing and playing the hell out of their instruments. As the sound of the big band slowly inched away from us, hopefully to conquer someone’s sadness or bad day, we headed back to the car and made our way home.
Welcome back, summer. Stay awhile, won’t you?