Here is the fourth part of Heater History. Part III can be found here: http://www.heatergirl.com/archives/124
If you’ve spoken to me at all over the last two years, I probably mentioned the bar Not My Dog a minimum of five times over the course of our conversation. It is easily my favourite bar in the city. And not for the usual reasons people love bars. Yes, there is consistently great music there and a ludicrous beer selection for such a small place, but the reason I love Not My Dog is all the wonderful people that the place has brought into my life. Prominent among said people is Heater Girl drummer and one of my best friends Stoo Byfield.
The first time I went to NMD, about a week or so after We Are French’s Warren McGoey invited me after I played a particularly good open mic set at the Caddy, I didn’t know what to do with the place. When I walked in, my twelve-string acoustic strapped to my back, I couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. The bar was packed to the brim and noisy as all hell. But it wasn’t the kind of noisy I was used to encountering at bars. It was a warm noise, a friendly noise. People were just sitting around and talking cheerfully with whichever person they happened to find themselves nearest to. I stood in the doorway dumbfounded and even contemplated just walking out.
But before I could make any decision for myself, a group of people sitting on a couch waved me over. After pulling a “look-behind-me-no-one-there-really-me?” I approached them. They introduced themselves and ask me my name. They offered me a seat with them and that was that. I would be spending every possible Wednesday night at this bar for the next two years.
Once the open jam got started, I was impressed by the level of musicianship of each performer. Then the terrible thought of having to play in front of all these great musicians dawned on me. It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt nervous at an open mic. As I got up for my set, someone approached me, asking what I was planning on playing and if he could play drums for me. I’d never played with someone at an open mic before and was nervous not about skill level but my own. I told him I’d be doing a cover of Cody Chesnutt and the Root’s “The Seed.” He immediately cracked a smile and said, “I’ll do my best Quest Love impersonation.” With one simple sentence, the drummer set me completely at ease, not just regarding his prowess but also our ability to work together. I felt like I played a great set and met for the first time that night many people who I now count among my dearest friends.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t clearly remember my first ever conversation with Stoo. I remember seeing him play his own songs for the first time at the Caddy, a few weeks after my first trip to the Dog, and losing my mind. All I could think was why has he only been playing drums here till now? The first original song I ever heard him play was “Taller Than”, which to this day is one of my favourites ever. Again, I can’t rightly recall how our first conversations with each other went or even what it was that he and I ended up bonding over, but by early March Stoo would ask me if I wanted to go to We Are French’s rehearsal space so I could teach him my songs. When I asked him why, he simply said “I need to record you” which still stands as one of the most flattering things any one has ever said to me, let alone another musician who I so greatly admire.
While the Not My Dog is where Stoo and I would first meet and come to know and respect each other’s work, it would take a bar we both despised to truly cement our friendship and eventual collaboration. That bar was The Moonside.
to be continued next week with Heater History, Part V: The Moonside Experiment.
wishing you all contentment and cotton candy,
PS: Apologies for the late post. I know I committed to getting these up every friday, but my five-year-old laptop recently decided to quit on me and until I can find a replacement, posts will happen whenever I manage to purloin a computer from someone else. Hopefully that whole situation will be rectified forthwith.