Not Drinking and Driving and the Dancing Cowboy
The Nathan Down Tour Saga Continued
By Aaron Binder
I wondered that if I had ever had the desire to attend a Dungeons and Dragons convention if this venue would ever be considered a second place to the creepy dude’s nerdcave. After all, it had arched woodwork in front of the stage, a barstaff as friendly as 2432 kittens, and music that just seemed as though it belonged exactly where it was.
I had found my way to the Sly Fox Tavern.
Nathan had picked up this show at the behest of Celine, a beautiful housewife who would go on to explain that she ‘was but a simple seamstress, weaving the fabric of success into his (Nathan’s) career’. Obviously a statement like that deserved a follow-up conversation and I was the person to hold it. As I came to know Celine, it became quite literal that this man I happened to be on tour with had impacted hearts and minds across the country.
Other people made their graceful appearances and ensured that their input was heard. Kasey, the man with the plan that particular night, made his way up to us wearing nothing less than some sort of Poison themed cowboy hat, a charming yet mischevious smile, and a guitar that looked as badass as Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Number One’.
After chatting with some of the Kingston locals, Celine Gillis and many a pal, Nathan went up and played an impassioned set for the folks in attendance. Now this is where it is important to note that it wasn’t just women and a promoter in attendance. Take a look at Rick, cowboy extraordinaire. Emily and I had come into this show with the understanding that it may be our last chance to work together; we left with a greater belief in humanity.
Rick is one of those guys that approaches you, cowboy hat worn in fashion that is not just authentic, but ingrained. Attitude of a pauper but the wisdom of a king. Rick was truly a down-home boy with a penchant for the right words at the exact right time. By the end of the evening, not only had we made friends, but we had gained allies in our quest to promote the local band.
There wasn’t a person there at the end of the night that hadn’t been touched by a deeper understanding of music. Sometimes at a show the light will hit a performer a certain way, the acoustics of the room feel more important and the crowd sits in awed deference without making that perfect kind of silence where they are encapsulated by the beauty of the performance that you know it is something special and only believable to the people were there that night.
The encapsulation of a soul-wrenching performance, however, must always come to an end. By 3 am it was the end for us and after parting way with so many great people, we began what should have been a short 20 minute trek back to Emily’s parent’s house. Now here’s the first thing; trying to navigate in the dark is difficult, trying to navigate in the dark after playing a show is like parting the red sea. We thus found ourselves running back and forth along the road that should have connected to Emily’s dirt laneway.
So naturally we were stopped by an officer.
Here’s the second thing, officers of the law are always suspicious of musicians. That night was no different so Nathan, diligent driver as he was, had to perform a breathalyser. Here’s the third thing, almost every musician alive will have a beer or two while performing. We’re sitting nervously in the passenger seats, awaiting the results of this incredibly dire situation, nails are being gnawed, prayers are being prayed to deities that long ago lost meaning.
Finally he returned. And that’s when we learned Nathan also has an enviable ability to process alcohol through his system – his reading came back a big fat zero. We continued on our way, found our destination and watched the sun come up over a pristine Northern Ontario lake, too alive to sleep, too tired to move.
Remembering The Sly Fox crew, it may be another bar with people in just another town but it is much more than that to so many humans. It’s bigger than Nathan Down, it is bigger than the project we had set out to accomplish, it is a venue with a community of people that understand what it is to be alive, and that is one of the most important lessons we learned on tour, how to be people. In Renfrew we learned the value of friends, in Kingston we learned the value of being human.
Thanks Sly Fox, you were truly one of the greatest stops on tour.