Clearly, all this activity (and our colossal campfire meal) put Sarah to bed. But Joey is an unapologetic opportunist. When he heard the words “Jazz Festival” escape the lips of the fellow earlier that day in the gas station, his ears pricked up, his eyes brightened and he made no effort to hide his ever-broadening smile.
So with Sarah snugly and soundly nestled into her sleeping bag, and with twinkle-toes Joey determined to get back into town for a reggae show he’d caught a whisper of, I was left with the question of whether to stay down for the count, or drum up that extra little bit of energy needed to get back on my feet.

What I’m coming to learn about Joey is that, while his stubbornness and blind ambition have no doubt launched the beginning of my first ulcer, there are times when Joey’s right. As much as it pains me to admit it, it’s true. And one of my greatest challenges at this point in my life, is making the determination of when to listen to him and when not to. Tonight I really didn’t want to go anywhere, or do anything – it was raining, we were full, and I was plum tuckered. But I knew he was probably right this time.

Without Sarah, we saddled up and drove the mere mile or so into town and parked on College Street. The streets were pretty busy with foot traffic, which may or may not have been a regular occurrence for summers in Burlington. But most people were coming from the bottom of the hill, so we wandered downhill until we heard music off in the distance.
A walk through a waterside park led us to a massive tent, pulsating with light and sound and protected by two security guards with a gate. Joey and I began to walk into the venue, and one of the guards stopped us, said hello, and asked if we wanted to see the show. We nodded, he paused for only a second, and beckoned us in. Apparently there had been a $22 cover earlier in the night, which he seemed to be waiving for Joey and me.
I’m not a huge reggae fan. Of course everybody loves Bob Marley and the wondrous music he gave to the world. But I’ve heard a considerable amount of abrasive, cacophonic sounds calling themselves reggae that I just didn’t do it for me.

But one should never underestimate the power of the live music experience. This place was wall to wall with people dancing. The lights blasted greens and yellows into the crowd, with blues and reds shining over a stage filled with performers. The band on stage was Culture, a reggae act dating back as far as 1976 who really knew how to put on a show.

This energy in this place was unreal. Any memory of fatigue left my body with a flush of heat in its stead. The beat shook the ground beneath our feet and the crowd varied between swaying and leaping out of their skin, depending on who you were standing near. This band was electric and the audience ate it up, even in what were clearly the waning moments of the show.

Sadly, it wasn’t 15 minutes from our arrival before the band said their thanks, and the horde of dancing bohemians surrounding us began to simmer back down to earth and disperse. I thanked the guard on the way out for not charging us, since it would have been the shortest $22 concert of my entire life. But as 15-minute reggae concerts go, I don’t think I’ll ever match this one.

As much fun as this quick jaunt was, this does not lend Joey any more credibility than before. I’m simply patting myself on the back for knowing when to go along with one of his hare-brained schemes. And unless the ulcer kills me, I’m sure it’ll happen again fairly soon.


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