Last night, I found myself at Target in the “travel size” aisle, which can only mean one thing: THE ROCK BOAT IS NEAR!! With just about 75 days to go until TRB14, I am in two states of mind: 1) Sheer panic that I haven’t gotten back on that work out train that I promised myself that I would this year so I will love myself in pictures and 2) Utterly excited for what is always the best week of my year.
I went on my first Rock Boat in 2003 with a group of 10 friends that have these days scattered due to marriage, kids, and life. Anyway, I had no idea then that The Rock Boat and the community that surrounds it would ten years later be the source of my favorite memories, turn me on to ridiculously good music, introduce me to people all around the world who have become my best friends, and ignite a passion for “discovering” and helping to promote unknown bands.
There’s a lot I remember about my first Rock Boat, but there are two vivid music memories that today I would call “Rock Boat Moments.” The kind of moment that is so awesome that everything else around you goes quiet. When you catch yourself holding your breath because you literally forgot to breathe. So because it’s almost Christmas and you can never have enough nostalgia (and for Miranda, who I am trying to convince to come on her first Boat)… My first Rock Boat moments.
1) Meeting Cary Pierce from Jackopierce.
Backstory: It was 1993. I was a freshmen in college and being exposed to all kinds of new stuff after living a relatively sheltered first 18 years. I bought the very first AWARE compilation from the campus bookstore, and Jackopierce’s “Vineyard” was track 3. My obsession with the song was instantaneous – the hopeless romantic in me pictured falling in love with a boy during a summer romance and having him chase me until I agreed to stay on the Vineyard for the year with him (ironically, the first boy I met at WC, who ended up becoming a very good friend, had a summer house on The Vineyard).
Ten years later, I find myself on The Rock Boat, where Cary Pierce, one half of Jackopierce, is playing. I’d seen Jackopierce a few times, but never in a million years did I think I would ever MEET them. I’d met an amazing couple at The Rock Boat pre-party the night before, and we went to see Alex Woodard play within a few hours of getting on the Boat. While we were sitting at the show waiting for it to start, Cary walked right in front of
me. I mean five feet from me. I gasped as he walked by, and Gina looked at me and said, ‘What?” I said, “That was Cary Pierce!” She asked who he was, and I gave her the short version of what I just said above. So she goes, “Well, you have to meet him then!” and leapt out of the booth to chase him down. The next thing I knew, Cary freaking Pierce was standing in front of me. “Hi, I’m Cary,” he says. And me, ever brilliant…. “I know.” Anyway, he was a complete sweetheart and asked if I wanted to take a picture. I just nodded. And here it is…
I love this picture for so many reasons. First of all, it was probably my very first “personal” Rock Boat moment. Secondly, Cary is just the most adorable thing ever. Thirdly, I look like a 5 year-old on Christmas morning. Could I be cheesing any harder? Look at the way I’m holding my hands together! And finally…I was SOOO skinny, and I LOVED those pants.
2) The Edwin sings in the casino at 3 AM moment. No, really. It was 3 AM. This will make sense to some of you.
Backstory: The summer after my sophomore year in college, Rob made me a tape of a band he said was going to be huge. They were called Hootie and the Blowfish. By the third week of my junior year, I’m pretty sure the girls on the hall were considering evicting me from the dorm because I played “Let Her Cry” approximately 50 times a day. I set about learning everything about them… which led to Edwin. And a new obsession was born. After I moved to North Carolina in 1998, it became pretty easy to see Edwin regularly, and he rocketed into my Top 10 musicians of all time.
So, two days in on the Boat, I’d met a fella (we’re still friends today!), and we’d spent the better part of the evening sitting in the back at a few shows … and we ended up in one of the dining rooms eating pizza at 2:30 in the morning (Emerson Hart sat two tables over from us…I lost my shit) before we parted ways. As I tipsily walked my way back toward my cabin, I was coming down a hall when I heard a very familiar voice singing… It was 3 AM, and I came around the corner and ran smack into Edwin McCain playing with another musician (Francisco Vidal, for all my TRB folks reading this) in the casino bar. There might have been 20 people watching him. I stood there, transfixed, watching this performer whose songs I knew inside out, sing to me and a handful of other people like we were the only people in all the world. He was clearly having a blast, and while he has probably had many more nights like it in his time, it is a moment that I will never forget, and one that will always live in my best memories. Edwin’s back on The Rock Boat this year… can’t wait!
There really is nothing like The Rock Boat. Sixthman, the company that started The Boat almost 14 years ago, has created an experience that is truly unmatched. I go on this trip, and just know that these types of moments are going to happen…not just once, or twice, but over and over again. Because it’s happened year after year for me. Writing out these memories that live in my head only makes me all the more excited about heading back out on the high seas with great music and great friends … and more Rock Boat moments.
More Rock Boat: What the heck is The Rock Boat? | Okay, so what bands are playing this year? | Damn, I need to book a cabin.