“Do I need to change?” my dad asks.
“No, Dad, things are pretty casual in Nederland. A pair of jeans and a flannel shirt, and you’ll fit right in” I replied.
“Although you might want change your shoes” I added.
He had on blue canvas shoes with the name “Sperry” emblazoned across the sole. For some reason, my dad had brought “boat” shoes to landlocked Colorado.
“Mom told me to bring these shoes” he mumbled.
“Well, you would have been better off with some running shoes that at least had some decent tread. What other shoes do you have?”
“I got a pair of brown leather ones. I could put those on.”
“Sounds good. Let’s go.”
My dad wanted to take us out to dinner. With the construction in Boulder Canyon, we definitely weren’t going to Boulder. So it was off to Nederland.
As predicted, when we walked into the Branding Iron, people with weathered faces, blue jeans and flannel shirts sat at the bar or tables. But things got really interesting about halfway through dinner.
A man with wavy gray hair opened up a laptop, grabbed a microphone and began singing.
“It’s a karaoke bar, right here in Nederland.”
Soon after, a woman with shoulder length gray hair, and blue jeans took her turn.
I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought me down
I couldn’t help but laugh. Not at her singing, but the lyrics.
“What an appropriate song for Nederland, especially with the snowstorm coming.”
Finally, a guy that could have been a lookalike for an older Waylon Jennings stepped up. From the first licks of guitar, I guessed it was going to be a country song. I’d never heard it before, something about Land of the Seminoles.
When he started singing, I realized the resemblance to Waylon Jennings didn’t stop with his looks. He had the crooning, twangy voice to carry this country song off.
As the tunes went on, the woman started to dance, swaying her hips back and forth with a dreamy look on her face.
What I marveled at, was no one seemed bashful or self-conscious. They just belted out the words, giving it their best.
“Have you ever sung karaoke?” Bryon asked me.
“Once. My former boss at C&O Canal asked for a karaoke machine as part of her going away party. This guy, Gary and I sang Wild Thing. We were so incredibly bad that everyone just laughed their ass off.”
But in this restaurant bar on a quiet Tuesday evening in Nederland, no one seemed to care. No one seemed to care how out of tune they were. And the patrons didn’t seem to mind how talented the singers were either.
As I gazed upon the scene, it hit me. This captured the spirit of Nederland perfectly.
Down to earth people who weren’t trying to impress anyone.
Least of all themselves.