Nigel Barnes is a singer/song writer in Toronto. His melodic music style has been compared to artists ranging from James Taylor and Bill Withers to Bad Finger and Elvis Costello. In 2019, Nigel is turning his full attention to his music career, Nigel Barnes Music, and his band The Puppy Sale. 

Not so brief: 

I don’t have many memories of my birth place in Sheffield England, save the vague images of cobblestone and the iron gate at the entrance to the park across the street from our house… and oh yes, the pigeons. Born into Jamaican heritage, I grew up in Hamilton Ontario. I started playing guitar at age 10, and was teaching by age 13 at the Ontario Conservatory of Music. 

During my 3rd year of high school, I joined a band called Bik & The Ballpoints. Shortly after we formed, we competed, and won The Music for Safe Water battle of the bands at our high school. Music for Safe Water was an organization that was trying to bring safe water to 3rd world countries. The Battle of The Bands was organized and run by none other than Canadian treasure, Ian Thomas. This was significant because the prize was recording time at Grant Avenue Studios, and produced by Bob Doidge. It was my first experience in a studio and it all went by very quickly. All I knew was I wanted to do it again and again. We recorded 3 original songs, Out of Here, Night in Soho, and Falling Apart. Bik and the Ballpoints continued to play local venues as a cover band, mixing in a few originals. We played one of our last gigs at The El Mocambo in Toronto. 

After Bik and The Ballpoints, Chris Giacinti, the manager of a band named Façade, asked me to audition for the band. Although, I didn’t get the gig, (long story) I did meet drummer Don Kerr and bassist Steve Rapos and we formed a band called My Pal Hoagy. 

We played some 80’s covers including Peter Gabriel’s Shock The Monkey, U2, Pride (In The Name of Love) and our own energetic version of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. Greg left and was replaced by Joel Leblanc and we wrote some original material together. Joel, whom we affectionately referred to as Jake, (I don’t remember who coined that moniker or why) was a Robert Fripp disciple and could do things on the guitar that I couldn’t even imagine. He went on to become a successful producer in the U.K., most notably a remix track with P.M. Dawn. 

After My Pal Hoagy, I didn’t play at all until joining Hot Cheez & the Fondue of Funk.  The circumstances that brought me to that group are a little blurry in my memory, but I still treasure that time as one of my best musical experiences and education. Although, we were just a cover band, we had some very high-level personnel. 

After we disbanded, there was another long period of musical inactivity, but I was still writing tunes here and there, but no recordings. Eventually, I started going to an Open Mic in the east end of Toronto at a bar called the Renaissance Café. From that Open Mic was born a community called Coffeehouse. Through this community, I met some wonderful singer/songwriters. Among them Ellen Carol, Richard Weisdorf, and Lance Doty. Lance and I played a couple of shows as a duets called Flip The Switch. The name was a nod to those of us who were frustrated musicians working corporate jobs during the day and trying to turn on our creative side at night. Later, we expanded adding Ellen and Richie. and called ourselves Some of The Parts. 'Some' instead of 'Sum' was my dad humor. This led to my 2006 album, It Is What It Is, which included performance from, Ellen Carol, and the late Lance Doty and Charlie Bowers. 

Fast forward to today. My dear friend Stephen Rapos owns a studio called The Sauce Box in Warkworth Ont. We are conspiring to bring my music to the masses. To that end, I have also enlisted the services of the very talented producer and recording artist, Mitch Girio. 

We have recorded a single, Time For Letting Go, (Mitch on bass, Don Kerr drums, Gloria Hall vocals) which will be followed by releases from the Saucebox, Black Mark, and Playin’ It Cool. All of these tracks will be released under the name The Puppy Sale. 

Nigel Barnes 



Instagram, Twitter @thepuppysale 

Facebook: The Puppy Sale

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