Top Pocket began as an R & B band in the summer of 1985. Its original line-up included current members Michael Bergauer on bass and Don McDougall on drums in addition to Conrad (CJ) Griffith on vocals, Ray Dlugokecki on sax and Dave Lonsbury on guitar.

Very soon after, a good friend of theirs, Andy Klaehn, booked a jazz gig in Brantford. He hired both Michael and Don and jazz guitarist extraordinaire Glenn Murch. The night was such a success that Don and Michael went home with the idea of changing styles of music for the band. This love for instrumental jazz led to a dramatic change in Top Pocket’s focus. As the original members were not so inclined, Andy and Glenn joined and the “new” Top Pocket Jazz Quartet was born!

Move ahead a few years to the early 90’s and the Top Pocket Jazz Quartet was VERY busy playing TWO house gigs at two different clubs each week for a number of years - to packed houses. They were the first after hours house band in the KW region, starting their show at midnight at The Circus Room on King Street in Kitchener on Saturdays (I guess technically it was Sunday morning!). That gig eventually became a more reasonable 9:00 start on Tuesdays after a few months. At the same time, they were playing to loyal fans at the Coyote Bar, upstairs on King Street, in downtown Kitchener, on Thursday evenings.

At the time they were known for playing an eclectic mix of styles: be-bop, fusion, latin, traditional and even jazz versions of pop tunes or TV themes could be heard during one of their shows.

The group eventually disbanded as the individual members pursued other projects and teaching interests.

However, in 2006 there was such an interest in putting the band back together from the public it would seem the band members couldn’t go anywhere without somebody asking “Are you guys ever going to get back together?” The pressure was such that Andy decided to take the bull by the horns and booked the band into a matinee performance at the legendary “Rex Hotel” in Toronto. Rehearsals started with new band member Andriy Tykhonov on piano and the new and old band mates proceeded to connect and re-connect, both musically and emotionally. The show at the Rex was a big success and led to talk of possibly continuing to work together.

Later that year, Paul Stouffer replaced Andriy on keyboards and was an immediate perfect fit for the band, coming into the first rehearsal offering new and exciting original material. The band jumped at the opportunity and a new Top Pocket was born! From those rehearsals came a new energy and an entirely new interest in performing original material.

Top Pocket performed two shows at the Registry Theatre in April of 2008 and 2009. Both shows were recorded and have just been released as the album Top Pocket “11:11”. With a CD release held at the Registry Theatre on April 9th, 2010, an appearance by Top Pocket at the Registry Theatre in April became an annual event. With a new approach, new energy and an album of new material, the band decided to return to its original moniker from 25 years ago and drop “Jazz Quartet” from its name.

All four band members are very honoured to have been nominated for the 2009 and 2010 KW Arts Award!

In the fall of 2011, Andy Klaehn and Top Pocket decided to go their separate ways. After more than 20 years of working together, we wish Andy all the success in the world!

In October, Top Pocket started intensive rehearsals and writing sessions with our new saxophonist and flutist Robin Habermehl, in preparation for our first gig (and Robin’s Top Pocket debut) at The Jazz Room in UpTown Waterloo. The evening was completely SOLD OUT and was a resounding success!!!

With Robin on board, Top Pocket has a lot of things in the works for 2012, including a potential set at the UpTown Waterloo Jazz Festival (July 20 to 22), a show at The Waterloo Region Museum as part of their “Live on the Patio” series (August 19th), a potential showcase at Ontario Contact ( in October and a return performance at The Jazz Room in the fall! Top Pocket is currently in rehearsals and writing sessions, not only for their upcoming shows, but in preparation for the recording of a new album, a follow up to the successful “11:11”, in the fall of this year, to be released in the spring of 2013.

Top Pocket