Gareth's Perfect Birthday Banjo

It's a brand new morning on the day of my 33rd birthday, and I thought I'd ask for help.

here's the deal...

(first, a little history. Feel free to skip if you just want the meat and taters)

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Music is my favorite thing in the Universe.


Since the moment I was born unto this earth, I've had a very special relationship with sound. I've been humming and singing made-up tom foolery since I could crawl (I still do this), and whenever my parents would play music I would STOP, sit down, and immediately listen to what was happening. They said I was engrossed. My mom would play music through headphones for me when I was 5 or 6 and I would be so completely entranced that I would not move from that spot until I was ready to focus on something else.


After 8 years of piano lessons (of which I did not vibe with one bit), I found my Dad's old guitar in the garage when I was about 14 years old. Curious, I picked it up and asked him about it. He told me he used to get together with his buddies and chord along some basic folk tunes, even though I have never seen him play guitar. He bought me a book. I learned three chords and sat on the beach and played and sang my heart out for hours on end.


And so it began.


What started out as finding my Dad's old guitar turned into self-recording 4 albums in my bedroom before the age of 22, which turned into learning electric guitar, which turned into joining every band I possibly could. Not a lot has changed.


Except for finding my true musical love along the way.


Back in 2011, when I was living in Fargo, North Dakota, I purchased a banjo from a pawn shop on a whim. I thought, "this is neat, I wanna try it out". I noticed learning banjo was considerably easier and more fluid than me playing any other instrument. I goofed with it here and there, but never put too much stock in it.


In 2018, everything changed.


Unwilling to go on pharmaceuticals for a deep and chronic depression I had suffered for a decade, I flew to Ecuador with some people I barely knew to engage in an Ayahuasca ceremony. I had no idea what to do, and really, dying felt like the only way out of the hole I felt my spirit to be trapped in. I needed guidance, and I got it.

I separated from the woman I thought I was going to marry, quit my job, and moved out of the house I thought I was going to build a family in. I moved back to Winnipeg with my Dad and started my whole life over.


It was the summer of 2018 where I met Matt Chaput. I'll never forget it. He had brought a 4-string acoustic bass to the Winnipeg Folkfest campground and I had my banjo. Underneath the Circus Tent, a massive drum jam was happening at the front, with a sea of people watching and vibing. We grabbed our instruments, and, facing the opposite direction of everyone, started jamming. We could not hear each-other AT ALL, but we frailed and hammered and hooted and hollered away in rhythm with drum jammers and laughed and laughed and laughed.


After the festival was over, he invited me over to jam with some his buddies. I was reticent. I said "okay, but I want to make sure that we will have our own thing, if I don't vibe with your buddies". He assured me we would continue to play music together regardless as to what happened at a trial band practice. 

I showed up to a practice, and magic happened. We became Heartsleeve.

One thing lead to another, and before I knew it, people selling me stuff at the local music shop were asking me to play shows with them. We were a real band, and I was the lead singer playing banjo...


let me tell you, not in a million years would I have guessed I'd be a banjo player fronting a band. I always imagined myself holding a microphone yelling "ALRIGHT MOTHER FUC*ERS, ARE YOU READY!?" and then a huge metal breakdown erupts, but here I am.


I couldn't be happier.


Oh wait, yes I could....


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I want a new banjo.


I am not rich.


I feel really weird asking for financial help for this.


There is nothing more that I want to do then play banjo for the rest of my days. I've tried to rationalize and skimp out - I've shown my banjo teacher a couple of mid-range banjos I can afford, and he firmly believes that I deserve a quality instrument that will stand the test of time. Daniel Koulack (my instructor) is helping me locate the perfect banjo for my playing style, and I'm oh so excited to feel and play this new instrument when the time is right.


I'd like your help in making that time sooner than later!


Today is my birthday, and I thought I'd severely humble myself and ask for your financial support in getting me the instrument of my dreams. 


No matter what, I'm going to keep playing banjo and keep putting out music, but I'd love any help that feels good to give. I promise to reflect it back with the music I create.


Thanks <3.







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Gareth McNichol-Briggs 
Winnipeg, MB

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