Brighton Rock/Black’n Red

Rock and roll is both a fantasy and a vicious game, and it’s a long way to the top if you want to do it. Born from the mixture on American culture and music forms, evolving from the gyrations of Elvis to the myriad of styles in the sub-genre.

We love to rock here at Barber Shop Podcast and when we heard about a great late April date at The Molson Canadian Theatre at Hamilton Place, well, we had to jump in with all six feet.

Brighton Rock was a band hailing from these parts who connected all the dots in the 80’s, resplendent in their high hair and spandex attitude – a brilliant hybrid of female-friendly ballads and love songs combined with the driving guitars and drums of the dude army, a mix and match that saw many songs, records, videos and tours – they were indeed young wild and free. 

So it was a strange and wonderful happen chance meeting between drummers Mark Caverzan and Black n’ Red’s Jack Rogers that the convergence of the 30 year anniversary of that song, newly remastered and packaged with new material – aligned with the perceived need for a proper, final farewell show of BnR to provide the makings of a show. Not just any show, but a big rock show.  if you like balls-to-the-wall rock n roll, you will love both these bands. Chances are you’ll

Really like Gerry, Mark, Dave and Jack a lot too.

So on a cool Wednesday night in The Hammer, we sit down with fellas from both bands to talk about music, history, memories and out-and-out lies.  Leave it all onstage, leave them wanting more – leave it all to us, at Barber Shop Podcast


Lucid Lee & Little Child

We’ve seen Jo Boudreau a couple of times on the show as the front man for the sweeping opus that was The Monarch Project. Comprising six or seven members, the band served the pageantry and splendor of Boudreau’s arrangements well and the interplay spoke to audiences as strongly as the words, each providing a rare glimpse into the creative mind at work. The problem with any mechanism that complex is that one or two wrinkles can lead to the whole thing either crashing or grinding to a halt – and after a couple of productive years and excellent recordings – The Monarch Project ceased to exist.

What did not cease to exist – and prosper – was the mind of Jo Boudreau, alive and more awake than ever.

Upon meeting a sweet little thing by the name of Sarah Ivy Hardy, Jo was inspired to lend an ear and a hand in her professional progression – and in doing so, saw and heard something very special indeed. Their relationship bore fruit, and the scenic sonic layers and flavours she provided on keyboards, flute and glockenspiel (among others) dovetailed beautifully with Boudreau’s songs. Not only did one tiny human manage to wrap the compositions with both luxury and economy, she also provided the creative spark for new songs, new stories, new directions.

There is nothing better than the early, first rays of the new day breaking in the east. Nothing compares to that first bite, first kiss or first hit. For time eternal, the memory of that initial thrill carries the day for us all, and this episode sees Lucid Lee & Little Child is kinda like that. Early days, hope and potential abounding, and a sound born again for all our salvation. Something deep, something sweet is afoot – this week on Barber Shop Podcast. 



Every once and awhile we have a show that shines for all the right reasons – and baby, this is one of them. Sarasin has been making heavy metal thunder in the Hammer for 30 years now, a band of brothers steeped in the blackest of sabbaths and bluest of cults. If you wanted to be heard in this town, you’d better be good – and loud – and they were. Now, three decades is a long time and over the years the members changed but the credo did not. Always held high amongst their peers, the band never broke nationally in an analogue world on the precipice of the digital age. As good as it was, the limited venues, labels and opportunities saw them play fewer gigs and saw some extended hiatuses until the death of the heart and soul of the group seemed to spell the last chapter in this saga. Except it wasn’t.

Final wishes and a blessing to continue meant the last original member, Greg Boileau was on a mission to make Sarasin echo a generation of positive energy with the people and the punch necessary to get the job done.

Along with long time drum ace Roger Banks, Boileau sought the services of Les Wheeler on bass and fellow sniper Jim Leach on guitar to make a band that could rip with the best of them. Finding a singer big enough to take the reigns was cosmically solved when happen chance, a mountain of a bass player by the name of Michael Wilson stepped up to the microphone and blew everyone – including himself – away.

They practice. They record a testament from the floor – and they’re ready.

For the first time in four years, Sarasin plays live. Here. Now.


Addicted To Music with Dave Pomfret, George Douglas and Frank Koren

We need stories. Humans have made remarkable strides through our ability to record and learn from stories. Stories educate, entertain and impart wisdom from the thoughts, turned to words that then become books, movies… and songs.

Everyone sings about love, perhaps the greatest personal/universal experience of them all, but if you listen, addiction is likely the subject behind almost as many great tunes over the years. Take one moment and consider the sheer number of musical greats we have lost over the past fifty years to overdose and substance abuse and it staggers the mind. Think about the great artists, writers and musicians who have wrung their hearts out, laid bare the perils and shared their stories of the bottle, the needle or the powder and you begin to realize that these ports are merely the canary in the coal mine. 

Some would argue there is a glorification of the party life within the trade, others that it is merely the trappings, but either way , at some point, the party is over. For some it is until the next holiday, others the next weekend, and for some, the first moments of consciousness – and the start of the cycle all over again. 

For it is that moment of stark consciousness as it hits the addict that it has to stop – that every person in recovery can remember with extreme clarity. That moment in time where the cost is too great and the bottom too hard when the first tentative steps towards recovery happen is in every way a rebirth, and for that, every person fighting daily needs to celebrate their very own Soberthday. 

Tonight’s guests all have their own dates etched in their minds. Frank Koren has 14 years, George Douglas is in his seventh and this very night is Dave Ponfret’s 6th soberthday and we wanted to celebrate. Dave is about to release his new CD “A Devil’s Urge” in May and it is a wonderful testament to his skills as a writer and musician. We play three songs from it and feature Dave performing “Alcohol & Pills” by Fred Eaglesmith. Frank Koren brings the newly released “Uncommon Journey” and plays his track as well as a live rendition of Sweet Virginia that had everyone singing along. Last but not least, George C.W. Douglas plays the prophetic Long View by Todd Snider and a great selection from his CD “Greetings From Big Muddy” along with his own stories of tragedy and triumph. 

So, this one goes out to the people who don’t want to feel because they feel too much. This show is for the daughters, sons and lovers who are there or getting there. If you’ve been clean for 90 days or 90 years, you still deserve to celebrate the fact that you’re winning a tough fight.

A lot of love, a lot of honesty, and a lot of joy were had this night as we all had a great time being grateful, tuneful and being ourselves.




Caroline Wiles

Never heard of her. Now I can’t get her out of my mind. It started raining this night the moment I started writing and the thunder crashed at the end of the first sentence. I tell you this only because we too often take for granted the simple majesties that make an average life spectacular.

Being a bit of a snob, it takes something more than beauty and charm to turn our heads. No, it takes a mastery of the craft and something more…something ethereal and grounded at once.

Musicality is like humour or sexiness, there are many different ways to convey it but you either have it or you don’t. Caroline has the chops, the word-smithery and the painful and playful experiences that fuel the creative soul. Taking a vested interest in music early on, she did not follow any pre determined musical destiny, but instead found her own way through the stages that marked her journey. Taking her guitar and a few books, she ground out the covers and classics, honing and improving her tools on the way to the promised land. Writing and arranging her own material, a voice so rich and sweet, texture and light in the noise. Lo-and-behold, one sunny day she’s making some waves and a one day a high caliber speedy recording schedule with limited resources produced a sweet debut CD produced by Hamilton studio stalwart Bob Doidge that showed something gorgeous can sometimes arise from tight schedules and positive tension.

This fine Wednesday night Caroline Wiles shows exactly how it’s done, bringing both Doidge on bass and his long time friend and string slinger Mike McCurlie on guitar and mandolin to showcase her newest CD “Lover’s Lane” and create a truly memorable and intimate experience.

Never heard of her before.



Michelle Titian

Michelle Titian (rhymes with magician) is a name that’s been familiar to music lovers for some time now, a musical family and an early start saw to that. Exactly what form her music would take is her junk drawer next to the stove, with the memories and turns-of-phrase mixed in a jumble with the riffs and melody lines. Some of these things are used immediately while others are bundled and stored for that time that’s sure to come when she needs them.

Blending the stylings of the 60’s singer-songwriter era with the 90’s resurgence in acoustic full band sensibilities and a very solid Steeltown vibe (read: fearless, varied) the people and places all added another layer, another texture to the picture – another meaning to the line. Diving in and going hard when able and kicking back to cement friendships and woodshed invariably leads to a new crop of songs for the fire – and like a fire they tend to draw people close and provide a feeling of community.

We got to welcome her and the whole band on a special pre-taped episode from Sunday March 6 to air on Wednesday March 23 – the week our producer Ryan is on his honeymoon drinking and eating and debauching his heart and belly full. 

Bringing her world-class drummer of a hubby Tone Valcic along with bassist Colin Lapsley and guitar god Andrew Aldridge, Michelle Titian is in fine form, soaring thru some live magic and a few cuts from her self-titled CD. We talk about the old days, the new days, some truths and legends of The Hammer, never losing sight of where we are, never losing touch with where we came from.

Another winner – on Barber Shop Podcast  



Bassist Show #1

Low down and dirty is the only way to go if you ask any bass player. With great tone comes great responsibility and the bass players who have the job thrust upon them never last and impress the way honest-to-goodness bass players come to their instrument. Big, deep and heavy, the rumble and groove of the bass makes any kind of music better when it’s got a nice, round bottom. It’s no big surprise that those who handle the bottom end are responsible for far more than counting beats, they are the ones who make the girls dance. The bass is a sexy instrument not because of the way it looks, but because of the way it makes you feel. Bass masters Tiny Basstank, Joe Varga and Gerry Gregg tune up and plug in and drop the groove.

I don’t think I had a better time than I did tonight. Chances are neither have you. 



Martin Verrall and Raven’s Request

Martin Verrall is an interesting dude, and what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. Vested and feted as an artist and writer, the poetry he creates has been made into music here for the better part of three decades.

Think equal parts Cohen, Dillon, Strummer and Aqualung – Verrall has worked with some of the best in the music business and some who have no business being musicians. His gravely raspy vocal slur and layered lyrical landscapes are at once sweet and brutal. The niceties of music completely lost on his singular fractured vision. Dark, haunting imagery interspersed with beautiful truths via the fractured mirror we view our experience mark the signature features of Martin Verrall’s music regardless of who he is playing with and what stage of his career you might be listening too.

Raven’s Request is an ensemble of sound makers and shape shifters who’s names might change here and there but whose mission is always loud and clear, a tour de’ force of both rapiers and artillery.

Comprising Mike Williams in bass, Christopher Wilson on guitar and his fine wife Monica Wilson on drums this visit, Raven’s Request make hay on some of Martin’s music and pour the coal on hand over fist.

Loud and swilly, pensive and petulant, sharp and slightly dulled the whole crew does a great job this fine spring night answering the riddle that is Martin Verrall.



Rocket & the Invaders

Music serves many purposes and has many forms in life, but for those in the fight it’s a history book, a pirate map, and a rubber room to live and re-live life’s best moments. Robin Magder Pierce was around in the exclusive days of vinyl and cassette, during the time Hamilton was souping up their bluesy roots with rock and roll and punk music, staking a claim to the sounds of the day with some truly memorable acts that still resonate today. Teenage Head kicked the door in and when The Shakers ran in after them, a guitar slinger named Gibbons was part of that faction that eventually spawned a few great offspring such as The Trouble Boys and Atomic Tim and the Sinz. These bands in turn drew in the players and the producers that made more than just music. Robin was a young, pretty little thing with talent and desire. The raw ability drawn out over the years, singing and writing with increasing confidence.

Over time, life has a funny way of working out the kinks, holding onto the pawn tickets that are long overdue. Such was the case with Robin, for after what can only be described as an extended down period, she found herself with the ambition and desire to write and perform her own brand of power pop punk again. Lucky for her that old rock stars never die – they just move slower – and she was able to grab some very key players to open this latest, greatest doors in her musical life.

Stopping by on a February night, Rocket Robin and the Invaders (Claude DesRoches – drums, Mike Williams – bass, David Evans – guitar) talk about the good old days and bring a few tapes (yes…TAPES) of the roots that support this new growth. 

So sit back and relax, let the barber do his thing as we roll with Rocket and the Invaders on Barber Shop Podcast. 


Hello Harvard

It’s truly inspiring when you get reminded that there will always be great lyrics, sweet harmonies and acoustic interplay in music. In the dog-eat-dog world of music there is always a hard row to hoe, and you’d better have your shit together if you’re going to take a serious stab at it. No use having your shank break before you hit the vitals, no second chance at a first impressions around here.

Hello Harvard is the pairing of Andrew Bontempo  and Johnny Pomykacz, their youth, energy and millennial eyed views and personalities working well in and out of the band. They make the kind of music that has a rich tradition of modern, poppy guitar rock ditties with a wry, urbane outlook – a refreshing familiar tonic to the overly processed crop of new talented so feted in the paid content media today. This is something you can sink your teeth in, assuage your appetite and not feel bloated. Clean and neat, there’s just enough stubble to make the difference between boys and men, between cynicism and wonderment.

Shimmering production accentuating the natural chemistry mark the six tracks of their debut EP Silly Things, a solid first effort that will surely get some notice. 

Playing live as an acoustic duo or plugged in and going full out, the guys show they’ve got the riffs and vocal strength to carry a room – and tonight they’re here with a coveted out-of-towner “ghetto pass” so that they might perform and pontificate at BOXO Studio on the last Wednesday in February.

Tune in for a real buzz on this classic episode of Barber Shop Podcast.