On a Cold Road
In 1994, Dave Bidini was a member of the Rheostatics and they were opening for one of Canada's greatest bands, The Tragically Hip, on a coast-to-coast road trip. On a Cold Road is a chronicle of Dave's own experiences on that trip, as well as a tribute to Canadian rock. It features anecdotes from many Canadian musical greats, including Gord Downie, Bruce Cockburn and BTO.
On a Cold Road was championed by Stacey McKenzie on Canada Reads 2012.
I was nothing but a pimply little question mark on the day my sister and I first walked into Ken Jones Music in Etobicoke. Sunlight streamed through the windows, dappling the guitars that hung behind the counter and bathing the small music shop at the back of the Westway Plaza in warm light. The store was cluttered with drums stacked on top of each other, keyboards leaning three deep against the walls, dusty racks of unread sheet music, long outdated band want-ads taped to the cash register, and ashtrays scattered across old chairs and window ledges. At the back of the store, young boys sat in tiny rooms plucking guitars through amplifiers that buzzed like heat bugs, the sound of their hammer-ons and finger-rolls and string-benders snaking out to where I stood, sucking it all in like sugar through a Pixie-Stik.
After our first taste of this place, my sister and I signed up for guitar lessons, which I grew to hate. My disdain might have had something to do with the fact that Cathy had mastered the basic chords and strumming technique before I'd grown my first finger callus. She out-licked me on "Kum Ba Yah," "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," and "House of the Rising Sun," which we debuted for our parents in our living room sitting on bridge table chairs behind music stands. I'd like to tell you that I rose to her challenge and went on to become a blurry-fingered virtuoso of the fretboard whose technique set the world's pants on fire. But I did not.
Instead, I quit.
From On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini ©1998. Published by McClelland & Stewart.