It was a quiet Friday night at Benoit’s Wine Bar and I was there to meet a few friends. It was jam night with Dave Marfleet, but on this night, Marfleet was by himself.
It didn’t seem to matter to him that no one else came out to play – he just jammed with himself instead, setting up riffs on his six-string bass, looping them through a pedal and then playing over top of them. Occasionally, he would sit at the piano and play that.
A one man jam night if you will.
The bass is an odd instrument; it has the reputation of being played by your less talented friend that just wants to be in a band. That’s until you see someone who really knows how to play and you realize how it can drive a song, creating the rhythm and melody at the same time, as Marfleet told me.
“I’m proud to be a bass player,” he said during an interview at Mountain Music last Friday. “Bass is the foundation of the band. You don’t walk into an architecturally impressive building and say it has a nice foundation, but it’s there, and it wouldn’t be there without that.”
Marfleet grew up in Mississauga, Ont., learning the piano when he was five and taking up bass later when he reached junior high school so he could play in the school band.
He played in a rock band called Iron Flail, the highlight being an opening slot for Bon Jovi and the Goo Goo Dolls at Canada Place in Toronto. After that, was an alt-rock band he described as being something like Incubus.
He attended music school at Humber College, where he played in a jazz-funk band called Knuf. It was while at college that he started getting into jazz and also started using his loop pedal while practising and eventually in public places.
“I would be sitting at home playing and I’d get lost in this pedal for hours,” he said. “It’s been good for venues like Benoit’s. It’s more of a background music sound. It’s not in your face.”
He moved out west in 2007, first to Panorama ski resort, where he hosted jam nights at the mountain and in nearby Invermere. Then he came to Revelstoke.
In town you can catch Marfleet playing electric or upright bass in a number of bands – Shin Bang, Turtle Mountain, Cole Train and Highway One. He also plays piano in the Swing Monkeys and teaches bass and piano at Mountain Music.
“The calibre of musicians in this town is really surprising,” he said.
While he played several nights a week in the winter, right now, Friday’s at Benoit’s is his only regular gig.
Last summer he went to a music camp hosted by Grammy-award winning bass player Victor Wooten near Nashville. The camp looked at the connection between nature and music and Marfleet said the experience watching Wooten and many other top bass players play helped inspire what he does at Benoit’s.
“It was pretty mind-blowing,” Marfleet said. “That was a wicked experience. Hearing Victor doing his thing was my basis for doing what I am doing now.”
Dave Marfleet hosts jam nights at Benoit’s Wine Bar every Friday at 9 p.m. You can also look for shows with his other bands throughout the summer.