Six Months Later: The Bar Owner With a Heart of Gold

Six Months Later
The Nathan Down Tour

By Aaron Binder
Photos by Emily Sheff

This guy cut a rug the whole night and managed not to spill a drop of beer!

Sometimes your life can change so fast that you’re not sure the eyes perceiving the big, green, blue world today are the same ones that you viewed everything through yesterday.  After the admittedly over the top party of the night before, we all felt a little…outside of ourselves the following day.

Hangovers and a 2 hour drive aside, it sure as hell was a beautiful day to be driving into the small town countryside of the Ottawa Valley.  We began our traverse in the middle of the afternoon, after picking our probably now ruined bodies up off the proverbial floor and tossing them into the slightly cramped car, but hey, who are we to complain?  We’re here because we love it.

We passed through Renfrew an hour into the drive and stopped for some lunch just a few doors down from where Nathan would play later that night.  Afterward we continued on to Pembroke and found our lodging for the night.  There we met Keith, one of our favourite people on the tour and a trend that would continue later on that night.

I wonder if this has been turned into a Wal-Mart yet.

After Nathan cooked up some ridiculously good for being on the road burgers, we took the drive back to Renfrew and arrived only 45 minutes this time around.  The bar may not have been hopping quite yet, but it would be by the time Nathan kicked out the jams for his second set.

As great as Huxley’s was for music, this is what made it great, the phenomenal community.

Now, as much as I do love talking about music and how awesome it is being on tour, there is one person I have to introduce you to, Tina, and as we’d come to know her, the bar owner with a heart of gold.

Yes, go ahead, gather up those pre-conceived notions of what a bar owner with a heart of gold may look like.  You’re probably picturing some baggy-looking woman in her late 50’s, the kind that used to be pretty at one point but was scorned, never learned how to love again and threw herself into the drink only to become the wizened old beer-wench at your local watering hole, dishing out advice to all the young biddies.  The kind of person that’s rough around the edges…very rough around the edges, but will jump in front of a car for you.

Right?  Completely wrong.

This is Tina:

Not only is she a total babe, but she is by far one of our favourite people from the tour.  So what’s she doing in this story aside from being generally awesome?  She’s one of those rocket-fueled relationships that can change your life and perspective on everything.  On top of that, after we introduced ourselves, I don’t believe we paid for a single drink the rest of the night, thus is her respect for the traveling music show.

Tina is one of those people that can, to quote a famous Sloan song ‘see the good in everyone’, and she does it well.  After Nathan finished playing, she shut down her bar to all but a few faithful patrons and the tour crew.  We chilled out for almost 3 hours afterward and experienced some of the coolest people on the whole tour.

She invited me back to the kitchen to have a chat and that’s what we did for the next hour, people walking in and out and the two of just talking the way humans always should.  Those are the moments that make touring, hell, living absolutely worth getting up every morning no matter how bad you just want to pull the sheets back over top of your fraying mind.

I honestly don’t even remember the specifics of what we were talking about, but it must have been awesome because I still remember it to this day and will for a very long time.   Our chat was finally interrupted by some sort of fire related incident, or maybe it was a shattering bottle, heck, I don’t know, but we found ourselves back in the main bar and back into the debauchery.

To quote myself from another article on this topic:

“The place is a total dive, but the best kind of dive where they have a stage, washrooms that are perpetually under construction, a pool table with an uneven leg, locals that know each other by name, and by far the best part is the total babe of an owner that makes fun of her regulars as often as possible.”

That’s what made this night of the trip so incredible, the people, the community and their acceptance of us being there for the next short period of time possibly to never return, but just accepting it anyway.  As we drove back to the hotel that night, we didn’t really know what tomorrow would bring, but it came easier knowing that we had made a bunch of amazing friends that night.

Next up:

Not Drinking and Driving and the Dancing Cowboy

Last Time:

Coke and Strippers

Learn More:

Emily Ruth Photography

Nathan Down Official Website

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