John Sponarski is one of the singer-guitarists who front the country-rocking powerhouse Portage and Main, along with the impressively hirsute Harold Donnelly. Rounded out by keyboardist Georges Couling, bassist Ben Appenheimer, and drummer Dave Gens, the group sounds like what might result if you transported everyone who set foot on-stage in The Last Waltz to an East Van rehearsal space in 2013.
Best local release other than yours:
“I’d have to say Rob Butterfield’s self-titled record. He recorded it live at the China Cloud with Colin Cowan and Jenn Bojm. It’s an incredible record. He’s just a really awesome songwriter who I feel is yet to be really known or respected in the scene in the way that he should be.”
The year’s best gig:
“Zeus at the Biltmore [on April 13]. Incredible band. Zeus is a great working man’s rock band with an artsy flair that really has tone for days. The moment that really blew me away was when they had the Yukon Blonde boys up [on-stage], and I believe they covered Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’. The Yukon Blonde boys are really good buds of mine, and it was just this moment of sheer excitement and energy on-stage. They had just come off a tour together, and you could tell that friendship had been kindled between all of them.”
Your house is on fire. What album are you saving?
“Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams. Not necessarily my favourite album of all time, but it’s just an album that constantly gives me inspiration, and I always seem to go back to it. Heartbreaker is such an incredible record, and it’s also beauty in simplicity, and just great songs, and it’s not overproduced.”
Chip Wilson’s paying, so where’s dinner?
“Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a very long time is just trying to get, like, 15 guys together and going down to Memphis Blues [1342 Commercial Drive] and ordering one of those $160 platters of gluttonous protein and just having a total bro-down, drinking beer and listening to the blues and eating mounds and mounds of meat. It may sound kind of disgusting to some, but it’s an evening I’d like to have at some point in my life.”
We’re reshooting the video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. Who’s your topless costar?
“Louise Burns, I feel, is just a total babe. She’s been dubbed a style icon, but she’s just an amazing person. Not only is she obviously very attractive, but she’s super talented and very down-to-earth, and just a lovely, lovely girl, and doing so many things behind the scenes in the Vancouver music scene now.
Let’s make this city more fun by opening a venue. Where?
“Commercial Drive and East 1st. There’s a lot of places that have music down there, but there’s nothing that I would really consider a venue, like a Biltmore or a place that is a dedicated music venue. How many venues are there in East Vancouver? Once you’re past Main Street, what else is there?”