When we were kids, my best friend’s parents owned our small town’s lone music store. Jordon Zadorozny (later of Blinker The Star) and I spent a lot of time at his folks’ Music Loft on main street Pembroke, Ont. — trying guitars and basses, keyboards, drums or hanging in the store’s mezzanine, playing new records we bought up the street. I’d put finger picks on every finger and play the xylophone, maybe sneak a sip of the scotch hidden under the bench in the instrument repair booth.
I bought my first instruments there. A black Vantage bass was my first, later a 1973 Gibson Grabber and probably a cord of drumsticks. My brother got a 1973 Telecaster, a 1968 Gretsch double anniversary and a cheap Yamaha acoustic. I got lessons through the Music Loft — in the second-floor room across the hall from a bar for air force veterans. Jordon and I did our first bits of multi-track recording in the store on Sundays when the Music Loft was closed. I once connected every Boss pedal in the store between a pedal steel guitar and a Yamaha guitar amp. I was hoping to recreate One Of These Days by Pink Floyd, but it’s said the ensuing sound is what caused the city’s tourist-attracting swallows to fly away for good.
The Music Loft had one employee: Richard Souliere. I was a kid and I idolized Richard, with his long hair and job selling guitars. He taught me how to string and tune one. Richard had a band — Travesy, a trio featuring him on lead vocals and guitar, his brother Tommy Souliere on drums and Paul Brszyenski bass. But even cooler was the fact that Travesy had a goddamn record. A 7″ single. I Love You Babe, backed with It’s Not Fair, was recorded at the former Mark Studios in Ottawa and released independently in 1983. Jordon had a copy, so I asked Richard for one and got it. Both tracks are great, but I really loved the flipside. I put it on lots of mix tapes.
Well, years go by, the Music Loft burned and suddenly Richard wasn’t a part of our lives anymore — apart from occasionally seeing him in the grocery store. I moved away for school and rarely saw him. But a few months ago, on the occasion of Jordon’s 50th birthday, we got talking about Richard, Travesy and It’s Not Fair. Neither of us had our copies of the single anymore and I decided I needed one. I sent Richard a message to see if he still had some — and lo and behold, he did and was happy to pop one in the mail.
As is my practice, when the record arrived I went to Discogs to log it in my inventory — fully expecting to be the first person to do so. But I was not. It was already there. And here’s where things get crazy. According to Discogs, my copy was the seventh one registered to one of its 600K members. So it is indeed rare. But — Discogs also tells you how many of its registered users have put the record on their “wantlist.” There were 30 people.
Wait, what? Surely they must all be from Pembroke. Nope — Texas, Germany, Japan, New York, and a whole bunch which don’t specify where they’re located. It turns out a certain strain of music fans have found out about this small-town single and consider the mysterious and hard-to-find Travesy to be long-lost power-pop gods. The record had sold six times on Discogs — once for as much as $411 CAD in Nov. 2017. The least it sold for was $239 in Oct. 2022.
Holy smokes. For the record, folks, I have nine albums of my own as Area Resident. They’re all on Discogs. I’ve not sold a single one that way in three years. So I reached out to Richard to let him know there are dozens of people across the globe who are spending Taylor Swift-level cash on his 40-year-old single. He was shocked and delighted. So, I offered to sell some for him through my account if he had any more. So, that’s what we’re doing — at the Music Loft Sidewalk Sale bargain price of $100 each. To date I’ve shipped four to Japan, one to Germany, one to France, one to Montreal and two to the GTA. I’ve also sold one here in Ottawa.
In case you’re wondering — because I was too — the name Travesy is not a typo. It’s not supposed to be Travesty. Richard and his bro are Francophones and the name is derived from the French word traverse, meaning to cross over. Pembroke is a border town with Quebec. In order to get there, you have to cross over.
The band began as a five-piece with a country vibe, playing gigs around the Ottawa Valley on weekends. But Richard really wanted to play rock and write his own songs, so they dropped two members and became Travesy. And now they can say they’re known around the world.
How about a reunion, Richard? Next we gotta get your songs on Spotify. I wonder where the masters are…
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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.