On Friday night at Moncton’s Aberdeen Cultural Centre, local group Pony Rouge will be celebrating the release of their debut effort Ear Candy Goodness, a collection of eight instrumental songs running the gamut from surf rock and jazz through classical guitar.
The group is the brainchild of Dalhousie native Pierre Pitre. After moving to Moncton in the mid 90’s, Pitre became a staple of the local music scene, playing alongside Chris Colepaugh, Peter Post and others.
Given his extensive musical history, Ear Candy Goodness is, somewhat remarkably, Pitre’s debut release of original music, fulfilling a dream that he says has been decades in the making.
“I played in bands all through high school and had begun writing original material in the early 80’s,” Pitre begins.
Soon after, he enrolled in classical guitar at the Université de Moncton, which Pitre studied for two years before moving on to study jazz at St. F.X. in Antigonish, N.S.
Big life changes were in the wings for Pitre, however, with the birth of his first daughter. While he couldn’t have been happier to become a father, he was ultimately realistic about what that meant for his musical aspirations, at least in one sense.
“I wanted to earn money to support my family. I had done a bit of touring in the past and knew that it was necessarily a lifestyle I was interested in pursuing. Teaching music to others was something that more appealing at that time.”
PItre came by his interest in music rather honestly: His father was a member of a big band orchestra that often performed live on the radio dating back to the 50’s. A drum set had found its way into the Pitre household and while the instrument held some appeal to a teenage Pierre, it was the guitar that ultimately sealed the deal.
He may have been dazzled by Kiss’ seminal Alive release in 1975, but he found he had an equal, if not greater appreciation, for instrumental music across multiple genres.
“I always loved listening to classical music, the bulk of which doesn’t have any vocals. As I began to explore different kinds of music, I always gravitated more towards instrumental stuff. It seemed more universal; it spoke to me on a different level, because it seemed to afford the listener a level of interpretation that I wasn’t getting from other music.”
After having partially set aside his musical aspirations to raise his family, Pitre began dipping his toes back in the local music scene following the birth of his third daughter. As he continued performing with a myriad of local acts, he had also begun compiling sketches of various songs, recording them at home for later reference.
Pitre had made various stabs at putting an original music group together over the years, but consistently found himself dissatisfied with the results for various reasons.
In 2014, he decided to take another stab at putting a group together. The first call he made was to longtime friend and Moncton musician John Maher.
“John and I go back to when we were teens. We performed in different acts together over the years. He was always supportive of those various projects, and was always encouraging me to write original material.”
Pitre says the turning point for Pony Rouge was following his having enlisted drummer Patrick Browne to join he and Maher. things between the three of them had clicked in a way that felt exhilarating.
“Before bringing John and Patrick into the fold, pursuing original music was always a side project; it had been a wishlist thing for such a long time because I hadn’t met the right group of guys. With John and Patrick, it was obvious that we had found the right combination.”
Pitre proudly notes that some the songs on Ear Candy Goodness reflect his bilingual heritage while also paying tribute to his adopted hometown region of Southeast New Brunswick via songs like “La Botsford,” “Surf des Aboiteaux,” and “YQM,” a sly nod to Canadian prog-rock heroes Rush’s track “YYZ.”
Although it might have taken Pitre a couple of decades longer than he would have preferred, he is fiercely proud to have his new record finally seeing the light of day.
“I feel this album is a solid representation of who I am as a musician and as a resident of Moncton. I couldn’t be more excited to be sharing this music with the public.”
What: Pony Rouge CD Release for Ear Candy Goodness
When: Friday Oct. 7, 8 p.m.
Where: Aberdeen Cultural Centre, 140 Botsford St., Moncton
Admission is free