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Sarnia ex-pat returns for gig with his Ottawa ‘spi-fi’ surf band

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Cathy Dobson

Jeff Welch figured his new band would last six months at best.

Thirteen years later, the Sarnia native continues to tour regularly with Reverb Syndicate and is preparing to release the group’s fifth album.

Why didn’t he think it would last?

Reverb Syndicate is far from mainstream, explains the 40-something bass player.

“When we got together (lead guitarist) Mike Bradford said he wanted to play classic surf instrumental and music from the spy movies in the 1960s.  He grew up with bands like The Shadows and The Venturers, pioneers of this genre, and wanted to give it a try.

“I thought it would be interesting to do something all instrumental with no vocals. But I didn’t think we’d be doing it for long,” said Welch.

“In 2005, we didn’t realize how large the niche is for this kind of music. It’s very accessible and really fun,” he said. “People love to dance to it.”

Welch grew up in Sarnia and is a St. Clair grad. He says like many of his peers in the ‘80s he had little incentive to stay after high school.

He left for university and joined the public service in Ottawa where he continues to work on Indigenous issues.

The other band members are from Ottawa and make time for Reverb Syndicate outside their 9-to-5 jobs. They regularly play area bars and have toured Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes with each album. They’ve twice toured the U.K. and have a standing gig in New York City each year.

Welch said when he visits family in Sarnia he’s been impressed by the changes.

“I always hoped Sarnia would have something to keep me here and now I see downtown has gone from nothing but a bunch of boarded-up window fronts to a revitalized community.

“I can see why people would have reason to stay in Sarnia now.”

He’s never played to a hometown crowd before but decided to add a stop on the band’s current tour promoting the release of “Last of the V8 Interceptors.”

The new album is a tribute to classic car movies like ‘Dirty Larry, Crazy Mary,’ an action cult film starring a ’69 Dodge Charger.

Welch and his bandmates composed the 11 tunes by writing the soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist, he said.

“It’s a throwback to the Steve McQueen classic car chase movies.”

He described the new album as “fast, poppy and really danceable” with “a little more kick to it” than previous releases. “Last of the V8 Interceptors” is available on CD, vinyl and several online platforms.

Reverb Syndicate is comprised of Jeff Welch on bass, Mike Bradford on lead guitar and Michael Sheridan on drums.

They’re coming to Sarnia for an afternoon show on Sunday, Nov. 11 at The Refined Fool.


WHAT: Reverb Syndicate, spy and surf rock band

WHERE: The Refined Fool Brewing Company, 1326 London Rd.

WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 11.  3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

TICKETS:  No tickets. No cover.

The Arts Journal reflects everything cultural about Sarnia.  Send your ideas to [email protected].


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