Meet the Martels!
Click on the name below to access personal bio.

Standing: Milt BudarickBill Chambers Tom AmbeauBert DesRochersLarry French
Sitting: Russ StrathdeeMadeleine FrenchGary French

Gary French-2010

Gary French

Gary is a key part of The Martels' audience appeal and is a fantastic musical talent. As a young rocker, Gary began his musical career banging on his mother's pots and pans. Eventually, Gary, along with twin brother Larry, started their first rock and roll group, The Peppers, around 1957 while still in elementary school.
This early effort soon became The Corvettes, a group that lasted for six years and eventually backed pop artist and Canadian Music Hall of Fame Member, Bobby Curtola on his tours in Ontario and across Canada. In the 1970's and into the 1980's, Gary continued to play as a professional drummer and singer throughout Canada and the U.S. before returning home to the Huronia area once again striking up a band with his brother Larry and old musical mates.
A highlight of each show, Gary's tribute to Roy Orbison has become a legendary fan favorite and show stopper.

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Larry French

Larry French is The Martels' lead guitarist and musical director. Like his brother Gary, he is a founding member of the group playing with The Peppers and The Corvettes. In 1978, it was Larry who was approached to resurrect the old Teen Town Reunions as part of Midland's Centennial Celebrations. The dance was held at the Midland Legion, the site of the original Martels sock hops and was sold beyond capacity within days. Twenty one years later, The Martels have become The Martels Rock n' Roll Show under Larry's musical leadership and guitar riffs. Larry's musical influences include Duane Eddy and Chuck Berry, artists which continue to make up part of The Martels repertoire even today. When asked how long he will continue to perform Larry says "As long as we're having fun." It's 2006 and they're still having fun!

Larry French - 2010

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Bert DesRochers - 2010

Bert DesRochers

Bert DesRochers is The Martels' keyboard player. He was born and raised in Penetanguishene and began his musical career as a classical piano student under the knuckle- rapping gaze of local nuns. To say he was less than enthusiastic about these lessons would be an understatement and it took a bribe (a portable TV) to convince him to hang in there for two years. As a high school student in Ottawa Bert studied rock and roll under a jazz teacher and never looked back. In the early days of The Martels, each hall the group played had to supply a piano for Bert since traveling with a full sized piano in 1959 was a bit of a challenge. One night the band was booked to play in Parry Sound. When he got to the hall the piano was smashed beyond repair. When Bert asked who destroyed the piano he was told "The Killer played here last night." With Jerry Lee Lewis safely out of town, Bert rustled up a piano from a church and the show went on. These days Bert prides himself in owning the latest in keyboard technology and spends many hours working on reproducing the unique sounds of the various artists from the 50's & 60's. When he's not playing piano, Bert can be found at his boat dealership, or out fishing on Georgian Bay.

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Tom Ambeau

Rhythm guitar player and drummer Tom Ambeau is also one of the group's founding members. In 1958, Tom switched from guitar exclusively to drums to allow Gary more time to sing up front. And now Tom and Gary share drumming responsibilities in the show. Tom recalls that the group's first gigs at the Midland high school and the local High "Y" Club. But the first big show he remembers took place at Camp Borden, backing seventeen year old Bobby Curtola. "We were accustomed to crowds of 200 or 300 people but when the curtain went up we were facing nearly 1,000 people. My knees were knocking until we began to play and then everything was fine." To Tom, the music has made the band like brothers, a relationship he cherishes very much. And when he is not making music Tom keeps busy in his various business enterprises!

Tom Ambeau - 2010

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Milt Budarick - 2010

Milt Budarick

Bass guitar player Milt Budarick is a Midland native who's been with The Martels since the group's first incarnation as The Peppers. In the beginning, Milt was the only band member to own a car (a red 1959 Pontiac convertible) and with trailer in tow, hauled the group and its equipment to their many gigs. It was in that capacity, as driver, that Milt encountered some enthusiastic border customs officers who were not familiar with rock and roll. Fortunately, these stops were nothing more than minor inconveniences. Milt also recalls a time when The Martels were hired to back up Gordon Lightfoot at the Dunlop Street Arena in Barrie. After working all week to learn Lightfoot's songs, the boys were told that they needed only to play along with their volume off while Lightfoot lip-synched to his records. Not wanting their hard work to go to waste, Milt remembers the band slowly turning their volume up on stage until eventually, Lightfoot had to sing. Milt can not remember ever working with Gordon Lightfoot again after that. Milt continues to be a valued member of The Martels, laying down the bass beat for the group's unique musical repertoire. Milt would like to thank his many fans for their years of support.

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Bill Chambers

Bill Chambers: Bill grew up in Barrie and began his musical career playing in a local band with some high school buddies. In 1967 he was a founding member of the group Lisle that toured from 1970 to 1974 playing the club scene six nights a week. During that time the band had success with hit singles “Goin’Away” and “Shelly Made Me Smile” from their album Smile with Lisle. He then moved on to record “Canadian Lady” with Chambers and Mathias who toured until 1975. Settling back in Barrie he formed the group Steamer and played the Barrie area for several years before moving to Midland. Bill has been a singer/guitarist for several bands in the Midland area including “Old Habits” where he earned the Male Vocalist of the Year award in 1997 from the Georgian Bay Musicians Association. Bill suffers from G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome) and as fellow Martels will tell you, you never know which guitar Bill will show up with at a gig…… he has many.
Bill has known the Martels for many years and looks forward to rock ‘n rolling with them for many more.

Bill Chambers-2010

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Madeleine French - 2010

Madeleine French

Madeleine French is also one of the three lead singers for The Martels. This talented and energetic young lady also sings backup and plays keyboard and percussion. Born and raised in Penetanguishene, Madeleine began her musical career at a tender age as part of her father's group, The Varietones. The family band performed for teens in the Penetanguishene area on Friday nights and for an older crowd on Saturdays. Following the Friday night gigs Madeleine would sometimes coax her father into taking her to Midland to catch the last act The Martels show. She has always thought that The Martels possessed a unique rock and roll sound and her enthusiasm for their music has never dimmed. When it came time to add a female voice to The Martels Rock n' Roll Show, Madeleine was an obvious choice. Her voice takes people back to the days of Brenda Lee, Little Eva and Shirley Mathews adding a refreshing female dimension to the show.

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Russ Strathdee

"Dr. Sax" Russ Strathdee is The Martels Rock n' Roll Show sax player extraordinaire and has been with the show since 1989. Russ hails from Toronto and began playing piano before switching to his beloved saxophone. At age 17, Russ joined a progressive jazz band before moving on to his first rock and roll band, The Hound Dogs. Russ has backed most of the big name bands out of Toronto including Robbie Laine and the Disciples, and The Majestics featuring Shawn and Jay Jackson. Russ played the original Club Blue Note and had his own bar band at Yonge Street's famous Zanzibar Tavern. Now located in Barrie, Ontario and retired from a successful career in Information Technology, Russ is a very busy saxophonist in the Huronia area and beyond. His sax solos at each dance never fail to bring the crowd to their feet and wow even his own band mates. Dr. Sax is a Martel worth the price of admission alone.

Dr. Sax (aka Russ Strathdee) - 2010

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