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top pocket


Throughout Top Pocket’s 33 year history the band has endured an early change of focus (from R&B to Jazz), one break up, one reunion (that has lasted 15 plus years to the present day), a few members leaving to be replaced by the two current members, an expansion from 4 members to 6, then settling on 5 with the addition of a guitarist (Frank Koren out of Hamilton, followed by Alex Showdra and now Ralf Buschmeyer). Throughout the long history that is Top Pocket, 2 of the 5 current members (Michael Bergauer and Don McDougall) remain, having been in the band from the very beginning. Another focus change happened when Paul Stouffer joined the band and they went from playing standards to focusing on performing and recording their own original material. This was strengthened even further when Robin Habermehl joined in 2011; bringing in even more original material. The band now performs 100% original material both in live performance and on record [2011’s “11:11” and 2016’s “rocket in my (top) pocket”]. The band will be recording a new live album at the legendary Jazz Room in Waterloo, April 5, 2024. Scheduled to be released later this same year. It will featuring 80% material that has never been previously recorded including two tunes written by Don McDougall (I know…a drummer) and his writing partner Alex Showdra, a number of tunes penned by Ralf Buschmeyer, and one song that appeared on the band’s previous album “Rocket…” but has been totally rearranged for this recording. They claim to have “finally got it right” with this arrangement.



Robin Habermehl: Saxes, Wind Synth and Flute

Ralf Buschmeyer: Guitars. 
Paul Stouffer: Keyboards and Harmonica
Michael Bergauer: Bass and choreography

Don McDougall: Drums and stuff…


Robin Reid Habermehl


Raised in a musical family Robin started singing at age two and never stopped. At age 6 he started Clarinet lessons and grew up in the Preston Legion Band where he performed from age 8 until 19 years of age. Robin has been a full-time musician for 46+ years and private teacher.

▪         Started playing in local Rock and Dance bands at age 16 and while at Preston High School performed lead roles in musicals and also performed in the school band on clarinet and saxophone.

▪         At age 22 moved to Toronto to further his musical journey playing in club and dance bands and studying with several of Toronto’s top players during the three years in Toronto 1976 to 1979.

▪         In 1980 auditioned the Central Band of the Canadian Forces in Ottawa and stayed there from 1980 until the summer of 1994 playing internationally in concerts and Embassies.

Robin left the service in 1994 and moved to Kitchener On and started Robin Reid Music where he taught private Clarinet, Saxophone and Flute lessons along with Singing lessons.  He has been the Musical Director of the Ceremonial Band of the Waterloo Regional Police Service for 19 years, and the Musical Director of the KW Big Band Theory Jazz Orchestra for 8 years.

In 2019 retired from Big Band Theory and stayed on as sub “Friend of the Band” periodically replacing members of the sax section when those players were unavailable. He also has been the Musical Director of the Local New Horizons Seniors Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble for the last 6 years. Robin has been a member of Top Pocket for about 10 years and composes original music for the band as well as playing saxophone and flute.

In 2012 Robin wrote and produced a Musical Tribute to the Canadian Forces returning home from Afghanistan called “Kandahar A Modern Soldier’s Story”. To rave reviews.

Robin writes and arranges music and performs to this day and hopes to continue to do so into his sixth decade.

Robin endorses Seawind Phil Dwyer Professional Model Alto and Tenor Saxophones

Paul Stouffer 


Paul began his lifelong musical interest at the age of nine, formally studying classical piano with Dr. Glen Kruspe, and the Gordon Delamont Jazz Arranging Series, in Toronto. 


Continuing his musical journey, Paul:

▪        worked as Musical Director with show band, Robbie Lane and the Disciples 1971-1975

▪        was Keyboard Department Manager at Sherwood Music, Kitchener 1976-2017. (Wow - 41 years!)  

▪        adjudicated Pop and Jazz Piano at the Stratford Kiwanis Music Festival

▪        worked in theatre, arranging music for the Blyth Festival


At his project studio, Paul provides private lessons in jazz piano, music theory, composition and improvisation. He also uses his broad musical talent and experience to guide musicians in the song writing, arranging, producing and recording process. Paul is regularly asked to contribute his keyboard skills to other artists’ projects.


On joining the already popular band, Top Pocket, Paul’s suggestion of writing original music, helped set the stage for the band’s new direction, with all five band members eventually contributing to the writing process.


In addition to writing and performing with Top Pocket, as well as his studio project work, Paul continues to be actively engaged in leading his own pop, rock and jazz ensembles in corporate settings.


“With a beautiful Touch, Paul can really swing.” - Laurence McNaught, The Registry Theatre, Kitchener.


Ralf Buschmeyer


Ralf Buschmeyer is an Ontario-based freelance musician and educator.  He currently teaches for Heritage College in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada and plays with a variety of musical acts.


Ralf picked up his first guitar at the age of 13 and hasn’t set it down since. Growing up, Buschmeyer was influenced by artists like Ray Charles, Eric Clapton and Booker T & the MGs, who collectively inspired him to first start playing music. Since then, his musical style has evolved from blues and rock to R&B and jazz, resulting in a unique sound that resonates with any music lover. As an accomplished jazz guitarist, instructor and composer, Ralf Buschmeyer’s music echoes the eclectic journey he’s taken and graciously invites the audience along for the ride.

Over the years, Buschmeyer has carved out an impressive career path for himself. Keen on learning every aspect of his craft, Ralf studied alongside jazz great Lorne Lofsky at Hamilton’s Mohawk College, where he developed and honed the skills that would eventually make him a dynamic studio musician, intuitive live performer and incredibly well-rounded artist. During this time he served as musical director and composer for Rogers Cable TV show ‘The Metal Mike Show.'



Adam Rapa, PJ Perry, Ingrid Jensen, Eric Marienthal, Bobby Shew, John Daversa, Peter Appleyard, Sean Jones, Frank Mantooth, Al Kay, Guido Basso, Ralph Bowen, Amy Sky, Joe Magnarelli, Gary Smulyen, Peter Bernstein, The Platters, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Johnny Tilotsen,  Phil Dwyer, Jack Semple, Hugh Fraser, Phil Nimmons, Curtis Grambo, TR3, Sean Jones, Kevin Turcotte, Steve Slagle, Mike Tomaro, Amos Garrett, Paul Wertico, Calgary Civic Symphony, Gary Fjellgaard, Susan Jacks, Brad Turner, Lisa Brokopp and Gene Watson.

Michael Bergauer


Michael Bergauer, at the age of 7, began studying under his father Mike Sr., a well-known local musician and noted music educator. He began playing professionally at the age of fourteen with the dance band Brass Line.


A true veteran, Michael has worked with a variety of ensembles for the past 30 years including local big band legends Opus II and The Dublin Corporation.


Other bands include Contraband, Jeff Griesbach's Trio, the Ultimate Choice Jazz Band, the Red Rocket Review, the Irish band Kelly's Heroes and the Top Pocket Jazz Quartet. Michael has played in theatre orchestras in numerous musicals including My Fair Lady, Canterbury Tails, Godspell, 3 different productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Guys & Dolls and Shrek.


In addition to Top Pocket, Michael's current performance schedule also includes the Very popular Group Therapy and the OCD Horns.


Don McDougall


Don McDougall is a graduate of the Humber College Music Program. He began studying drums at six years of age with the late, noted percussionist Gary Tomlin. At the age of 17 he began his professional career with Opus II, a nine-piece show band. Over the next 39 years, he has performed or recorded with legendary jazz musicians Pat LaBarbera, Peter Appleyard, Nancy Walker, Duncan Hopkins, Mark Eisenman, Jane Bunnett and Blues great Mel Brown.


He has been the drummer/ percussionist /producer and leader with local jazz favourites “Top Pocket” for 34 years, releasing two albums: 2010’s “11:11” and 2015’s “rocket in my (top) pocket”. Spent 25 years playing drums on the Canadian country music scene with numerous artists including recording artist and numerous CCMA Award Nominee Colin Amey.


For the last 10 years, Don has been performing and recording with the Gary Cain Band releasing their debut recording “Twangadelic Bluesophunk” in 2017. Following overwhelmingly positive world wide response to the recording, the band was a semi-finalist at the 2018 International Blues Competition in Memphis, Tennesee, played a sold out Massey Hall opening for George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and performed at the Augusti Bluus Festival in Haapsalu, Estonia. In 2019 they toured France and Spain in June, Northern Ontario and the Midwest United States in July and Texas in September. The boys will be hitting the road again in the summer of 2022 with shows in Ontario and Quebec in June and an overseas tour of Scotland and England in July!


Don has played drums and percussion in numerous musical productions including Jesus Christ Superstar at Kitchener’s Centre in the Square; Drayton Entertainment’s “Cinderella”, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and two seasons of “The Sound of Music”; Royal City Musical Productions “Blood Brothers”, “Willy Wonka”, “Nunsense”, “Seussical”, “Singing in the Rain”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Into The Woods”,“Sweeney Todd” and in November of 2019 “Mama Mia”; KW Musical Production’s “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”, “The Full Monty”, “Bye, Bye Birdie”, “Grease”, “Shrek, the Musical” and in October of 2019, “Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert Event”; Sundance Productions (New York City) and BB Promotions (Mannheim, Germany) 60th Anniversary “West Side Story” World Tour in 2016.


He was also Second-in-Command, Assistant Director of Music and leader of The Drumline for the Ceremonial Band of the Waterloo Regional Police Service from 2011 to 2016.

Donnie endorses Headhunters Sticks and Creations

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