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This article was published 14/4/2016 (490 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Playoffs? Here? Not so much. But if you hum a few bars...
Both the Jets and Moose — and their suffering fans — are on the outside looking in this spring, but local singer-songwriter Del Barber can’t get hockey off his mind, and he’s on a mission to prove he knows his way around a rink as well as a studio.
Barber is releasing a new album — his fifth — The Puck Drops Here, today.
The 14-song collection is an homage to hockey; covers of songs that have become part of the soundtrack to "our" game, ranging from Stompin’ Tom Connors’ The Hockey Song and Tom Cochrane’s Big League, to the punk-inspired sounds of the Hanson Brothers’ Hockey Night Tonight. There are also three Barber-penned originals.
Barber, 32, spent much of his youth on the ice, and even earned an MVP award during his final year of high school hockey in St. Norbert.
His love of the sport was solidified at a much younger age.
"I was obsessed, absolutely obsessed with the game from the time I was old enough to understand the basics of sports," he says. "My parents wouldn’t let me play organized hockey until I was 12, which seemed like a total crime to me at the time. I felt like I was so late coming to it...
"My parents put me in years of skating lessons and camps before they let me step on the ice, and after that it was just complete obsession and devotion to it until the time I was 18."
It was that passion, coupled with the fact no one had done a compilation of this kind before, that inspired Barber to make it happen, and happen fast — it took just one 3 a.m. email and his whole team was on board. A week after that, they were in the studio recording.
"There wasn’t a lot of contemplation or worry, it was just one electric moment where I thought, ‘This would be a good idea,’ and everybody else agreed, which basically never happens in my life," Barber says with a laugh.
That impromptu, fun feel carried through into recording. Barber asked a handful of friends he plays music with to be his backing band and dubbed them the No Regretzkys.
"The whole thing was trying to be playful with something we usually take way too seriously," he says. "It was a lot less serious and pointed and intentional; it was sort of just something we just got together and made, and it was the most fun studio experience I’ve ever been a part of.
"It’s just another excuse to play music with friends — it was kind of like a game of shinny, just pick-up and make it work."
Though each song holds a special place, it’s Ron Hynes’ ballad for hall of fame goalie Terry Sawchuk — the aptly titled Sawchuk — that especially appeals to Barber, both as a hockey fan and a Western Canadian Music Award-winning songwriter.
"It’s just such a great narrative, such a great story about that classic Winnipeg goaltender. That’s the kind of song I wish I had written, for sure," he says. "Super long-winded, has a million words, not everybody loves, but that songwriters usually marvel at."
Don’t expect Barber and the No Regretzkys to be hitting the road anytime soon, though. Originally, Barber says he had "grand ideas" to play small rinks and community clubs, raising money for local hockey teams, but when it came down to it, due to the record’s content, it just didn’t seem like a practical plan.
"Some of the stuff is just so far out of our wheelhouse, I just couldn’t imagine going from playing these sweeping, country-type ballads to playing heavy-duty punk-inspired songs... I don’t know how we could tour it, I don’t know who would come," he says, laughing.