Friends with benefits


You’re gonna need your friends. It’s a lyric that a friend of mine once wrote, with the sentiment that, one of these days, when your chips are down, you’ll need support, so be nice to people.

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It’s good life advice for anyone, and it’s certainly coming to fruition for two long time members of the Vancouver music scene whose health has suffered setbacks, and for another whose luck ran out in a nasty way. All three of them will be the focus of three separate events held by their rock ‘n’ roll brethren over the course of the next week throughout Vancouver.

For 25 years, Stan Heisie worked the door at the top of the stairs of the venerable Railway Club at the corner of Seymour and Dunsmuir Streets. He was the antithesis of the typical thuggish Vancouver bouncer: Stan was friendly and kind, always greeting patrons with a smile, even if they were trying to weasel their way past the line, or past him.

Once you got to know Stan, it was hard to get by him for a whole other reason: he deeply loved music and would talk your ear off about all his favourites, like the Flamin’ Groovies, the Zombies or the Young Rascals.

Some who work in the clubs night in and night out, as Stan did at the Railway from 1988 to 2012 (and at the Savoy before that), get burnt out and bitter. Not Stan. He was just as much a fan as he was an employee, and counts Billy Cowsill, the Mummies, and the Nervous Fellas some of his all-time favourite Railway Club shows.

In recent years, Stan has battled a string of health problems, which prompted his friend and one-time Railway Club co-doorman Richard Chapman to throw a party for Stan this Saturday, April 22, at the Fairview (898 West Broadway), fittingly entitled Stanfest. The bill is filled with some of Stan’s favourites, like the aforementioned Vancouver rockabilly legends the Nervous Fellas, along with Ana Bon Bon, Mike Van Eyes Band, Billy Hopeless, and many others.

Source: Contributed photos


It will be a busy week of giving for Hopeless, a longtime local punk luminary. Besides taking part in Stanfest, Hopeless has organized Jaystock 2017, a benefit for Jay Millette, his friend and bandmate in the Black Halos. Earlier this year, Millette (who relocated to Toronto a few years ago) lost his home, all of his possessions, and his cat in a devastating apartment fire. Already, over $20,000 has been raised for Millette from a GoFundMe campaign, and proceeds from the benefit on Friday, April 28, at SBC Restaurant (109 East Hastings) will go to Millette, as well. The Spitfires (another one of Millette’s former bands) will perform along with local Ramones tribute act the Ramores, and many others.

And finally, this Friday night at Pat’s Pub (403 East Hastings) the rockabilly community will rally to raise a glass – and some much-needed funds – for Mick Tupelo, who many credit as one of the first purveyors of “psychobilly” in Canada, in the stompin’ tradition of the Cramps, Reverend Horton Heat, and the Meteors. For decades Mick was the face of Vancouver mainstays the Deadcats. A few years ago, Mick was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, which has severely affected his life in every facet. He is in dire need of a specialized wheelchair, which insurance won’t cover. That’s when his pompadoured pal Serge Lotosky stepped up, organizing Mickfest, which will feature plenty of Vancouver’s finest pomade enthusiasts: the Bad Beats, the Wett Stilettos, the Deadcats and many more. 

Let’s hope that when the going gets tough for you or me, we have the friends, the love, and the community that surrounds these three.

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