Sometimes, things just get weird — in the best way. I was reminded of that last weekend, when a seemingly routine out-of-town music gig went another way entirely.

I had a show Friday night with longtime music buddies Joe and Marc at the new Fat Tuesdays restaurant in Martinsburg, WV, just across the state line. My wife and I decided to make a weekend out of it and reserved a nearby hotel room.

Then the weirdness kicked in. We checked in to the hotel and I went back to the car to pick up a few things. As I walked past the front desk, the clerk gave me a giant Cheshire cat grin and said, “How do you like your room?” “It’s fine,” I responded, confused.

When I returned to my room, I understood the clerk’s interest, since she already knew something I didn’t. Two of my sisters were there. They live in Missouri. Surprise!

But the surprises did not end there. We went to the gig restaurant, which was packed, and the manager told me he once was married to the piano player in an old band of mine. She lives in Ohio now. He called her up and I talked to her for the first time in, oh, at least a dozen years or so.

Then the gig went really well, and at night’s end, the band was given three more shows — one a month for the next three months. Here’s a clip my sister recorded on a cell phone, so you’ve been warned about the recording quality (but it’s still fun — and remember, we played this as a trio with no drums).

I got to spend the next day with my sisters, giving them a little tour of West Virginia’s eastern panhandle (I’ve been there many times, thanks to Paw Paw):


…and then bringing them to the National Mall at night — one of my favorite things to do with visitors.

That was the first time in more than a year that I had seen any of my five (five!) sisters. I’ll catch up with one or two others when we all go to Tybee Island, Ga. in May, but our current adult realities mean that we’ll rarely see each other any more. It was a great weekend and a great gig, and as someone who generally doesn’t like surprises, I have to say that this was one of the best surprises ever.

Previously: A simple song | Hokum home

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